Pope at Santa Marta: In praise of God
(Vatican Radio) It’s easy to pray for a grace, it’s far more difficult to pray in praise of the Lord, but this is the prayer of true joy, said Pope Francis at Mass Thursday morning in Santa Marta.
Reflecting on St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, which joyfully elevates a prayer of blessing to God, the Pope noted that this is something “we don’t normally do”: Instead giving “praise to God is pure gratuity” and in doing so we enter into “a great joy”.
“We know very well how to pray when we want to ask for things, even when we want to thank the Lord, but a prayer of praise is a bit more difficult for us: we are not used to praising the Lord. We can do this better by remembering all of the things that the Lord has done for us in our lives: ‘In Him – in Christ – He chose us before the creation of the world’. Blessed are you, Lord, because You chose me! It is the joy of a paternal and tender closeness”.
“Prayers of praise” – he continued – bring us this joy, [the joy of ] being happy before the Lord. Let’s make a real effort to rediscover this!”. However, continued Pope Francis the “starting point” is “remembering” this choice: “God chose me before the creation of the world”.
“This is impossible to understand or even imagine: The fact that the Lord knew me before the creation of the world, that my name was in the Lord’s heart. This is the truth! This is the revelation! If we do not believe this then we are not Christian! We may be steeped in a theist religiosity, but not Christian! The Christian is a chosen one, the Christian is someone who has been chosen in God’s heart before the creation of the world. This thought also fills our hearts with joy: I am chosen! It gives us confidence”.
“Our name – said the Pope – is in God’s heart, is in God’s bowels, just as the baby is inside its mother. Our joy lies in our being elected”. Pope Francis continued that we cannot understand this with our head alone. [We cannot understand this] even with our heart. To understand this we must enter into the Mystery of Jesus Christ. The Mystery of His beloved Son: ‘He has poured out his blood for us in abundance, with all wisdom and intelligence, making known to us the mystery of His will’. And this is a third attitude to have: entering into the Mystery “:
“When we celebrate the Eucharist, we enter into this Mystery, that one cannot fully understand: the Lord is alive, He is with us, here, in His glory, in all His fullness and gives His life for us once again. We must learn this attitude of entering into the Mystery every day. The Christian is a woman, a man, who endeavors to enter into the Mystery. The Mystery cannot be controlled: this is the Mystery! I enter [into it]”.
A prayer of praise – concluded the Pope – is therefore first and foremost a “prayer of joy”, then a “prayer of remembrance: ‘How much the Lord has done for me! How tenderly He has accompanied me, how he has lowered Himself: like a father bows down over a child to help him walk”. And finally a prayer to the Holy Spirit that we may receive the grace “to enter into the Mystery, especially when we celebrate the Eucharist”.