At the end of the Angelus on Sunday, 16 October, Pope Francis invited the faithful to join participants in the “Aid to the Church in Need” initiative, “One million children Praying the Rosary” for peace in the world, entrusting the people of Ukraine and all people who suffer due to war, violence and poverty, to Our Lady. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s reflection which he shared in Italian with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel from today’s Liturgy concludes with a troubling question posed by Jesus: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8); as if to say: “when I come again at the end of time” — but we could also think, even now, at this time of life — “will I find a bit of faith in you, in your world?” This is a serious question. Let us imagine that the Lord came on earth today. Unfortunately, he would see many wars, much poverty and many inequalities, and at the same time, tremendous technical achievements, modern means, and people who are always rushing, who never stop. But would he find someone who dedicates time and affection to him, someone who would put him in first place? Above all, let us ask ourselves, “What would he find in me, if the Lord were to come today, what would he find in me, in my life, in my heart? What priorities would he see in my life?”
We often focus on so many urgent but unnecessary things. We occupy and preoccupy ourselves with so many secondary realities. And perhaps without even realizing it, we neglect what matters most and we allow our love for God to grow cold, to grow cold bit by bit. Today, Jesus offers us the remedy to rekindle a tepid faith. And what is the remedy? Prayer. Prayer is the medicine for faith, it is a tonic for the soul. However, it needs to be constant prayer. If we must undergo a treatment to get better, it is important to follow it well, to take the medicine consistently and regularly in the right way and at the right times. This is necessary in all of life. Let us think of a houseplant: we have to water it consistently every day. We cannot soak it and then leave it without water for weeks! Even more so with prayer. We cannot live only on strong moments of prayer or occasional intense encounters, and then “go into hibernation”. Our faith will dry up. We need the daily water of prayer, we need time dedicated to God, so that he can enter into our time, into our lives; consistent moments in which we open our hearts to him so that he can daily pour out on us love, peace, joy, strength, hope, thus nourishing our faith.
This is why Jesus says to his disciples today — to everyone, not only to some! — “that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (v. 1). Now someone might object: “But how can I do that? I don’t live in a convent. I don’t have much time to pray!” Perhaps a wise spiritual practice which is a bit forgotten today, and which our elderly, especially the grandmothers, know well, can come to our aid with this real difficulty. These are so-called aspirations. The name is a bit outdated, but the substance is good. What are they? They are very short, easy to memorize prayers that can be repeated often throughout the day, in the course of various activities, to remain “in tune” with the Lord. For example, as soon as we awaken, we can say: “Lord, I thank you and I offer this day to you”. This is a short prayer. Then, before an activity, we can repeat, “Come, Holy Spirit”. Between one thing and another, we can pray thus, “Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I love you”. Really short prayers that help us stay in contact with the Lord. How often we send text messages to the people we love! Let us do this with the Lord as well so that our hearts remain connected to him. And let us not forget to read his responses. The Lord always responds. Where do we find them? In the Gospel which should always be kept at hand and should be opened several times every day, to receive a Word of life directed to us.
And let us go back to the advice I have given many times — carry a pocket-size Gospel in your pocket, in your purse. So that when you have a minute, open it and read something, and the Lord will respond.
May the Virgin Mary, faithful listener, teach us the art of praying always, without losing heart.
After the Marian prayer, the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, on 10 October last year, the first phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened, with the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission”. Since then, the first phase of the Synod is taking place in the local Churches through listening and discernment. The fruits of the synodal process underway are many. However, in order for them to grow to full maturity, it is necessary not to rush. Therefore, in order to have a more relaxed period of discernment, I have established that this Synodal Assembly will take place in two sessions. The first from 4 to 29 October 2023, and the second in October of 2024. I trust that this decision will promote the understanding of synodality as a constitutive dimension of the Church, and help everyone to live it as the journey of brothers and sisters who proclaim the joy of the Gospel.
Today, in Boves (Cuneo), Fathers Giuseppe Bernardi and Mario Ghibaudo — parish priest and assistant parish priest, killed in hatred of the faith in 1943 — will be proclaimed Blessed. In extreme danger they did not abandon the people entrusted to them, but assisted them even to the point of shedding their blood, sharing the tragic destiny of other fellow townspeople killed by the Nazis. May their example kindle in priests the desire to be pastors after Christ’s heart, always alongside their people. A round of applause for the new Blesseds!
This Tuesday, 18 October, the Organization “Aid to the Church in Need” is promoting the “One million children praying the Rosary” for peace campaign. I thank all the children who are participating! Let us join them and entrust to Our Lady’s intercession, the martyred people of Ukraine, and other people who are suffering due to war and any form of violence and poverty.
Regarding poverty, tomorrow is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Everyone can give a hand toward a society where no one feels excluded because they are poor.
I greet all of you, people from Rome and pilgrims from various countries: families, parish groups, associations. In particular, I greet the musical band from Freiburg that I heard playing — you are good; the “Comelico” Choir from Santo Stefano di Cadore, the Association of the Militia of the Immaculata, the representatives of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations and the Spanish Federation of the Self-Employed. I also greet the faithful from Chajarí, Entre Ríos Province (Argentina) who are over there. May God bless them!
I wish you all a happy Sunday. And, please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and Arrivederci!