VATICAN - Pope Francis: prayer is the "invisible force" of monks and nuns that sustains the mission

Wednesday, 26 April 2023 pope francis   mission   evangelization   monasticism   prayer  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "I understood it was Love alone that made the Church’s members act, that if Love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood", wrote Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face in one of her manuscripts. The Carmelite from Lisieux, proclaimed Patroness of the Missions by the Church, was cited by Pope Francis during today's General Audience, Wednesday, April 26, in the course of the new catechesis of the cycle dedicated to the passion for the proclamtion of the Gospel and apostolic zeal. After presenting the figures of Saint Paul and the martyrs, "who proclaim Jesus with their lives, to the point of giving their lives for Him and for the Gospel", Pope Francis drew attention today to "another great witness that runs through the history of faith: that of the nuns and monks, sisters and brothers who renounce themselves and who renounce the world to imitate Jesus on the path of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and to intercede on behalf of all".
"Looking at the monks and nuns - the Pope said at the beginning of his catechesis - we might ask: how can people living in monasteries help the proclamation of the Gospel? Wouldn't they do better to put their energies into the mission?". A rhetorical device, used by the Pope to immediately reaffirm forcefully that "in reality, the monks are the beating heart of the proclamation: their prayer is oxygen for all the members of the Body of Christ, their prayer is the invisible force that sustains the mission". This is why" added the Pope "it is no coincidence that the patroness of the missions is a nun, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus".
Alongside the Saint of Lisieux, Pope Francis also presented as a witness to the missionary force of monastic life a saint from the East, the Armenian monk Gregory of Narek, who lived around the year 1000, "who left a book of prayers, in which the faith of the Armenian people, the first to embrace Christianity, is poured out; a people that, joined to the cross of Christ, has suffered so much throughout history". St. Gregory of Narek, whom Pope Francis proclaimed Doctor of the Church on April 12, 2015, was reproposed as a witness and interpreter of what the Bishop of Rome called "universal solidarity", exercised through intercessory prayer. "Among the monks and nuns", the Pope remarked, "there is a universal solidarity: whatever happens in the world, finds a place in the heart, in their heart, and they pray, and they pray. The heart of monks and nuns is a heart that captures like an antenna, it picks up what happens in the world, and prays and intercedes for this. And in this way: they live in union with the Lord and with everyone". In imitation of Jesus – continued the Successor of Peter "monks take upon themselves the problems of the world, the difficulties, the ailments, many things, and they pray for them. And these are the great evangelizers. Monasteries are … but how can they live closed up, and evangelize? It is true… because with the word, for example, by intercession and daily work, they are a bridge of intercession for all people and all sins. They weep, even shedding tears, they weep for their sins – after all, we are all sinners – and they also weep for the sins of the world, and they pray and intercede with their hands and heart raised up". This is why the monks and nuns – continued Pope Francis – are like a "“reserve” that we have in the Church: they are the true strength, the true force that carries the People of God forward, and this is where the habit comes from that people have – the People of God – of saying “Pray for me, pray for me”, when they meet a consecrated man or woman, because they know there is a prayer of intercession"
Pope Francis concluded the catechesis with a suggestion and a prayer: "It will do us good – to the extent we are able – to visit a monastery, because there one prays and works. Each one has its own rules, but their hands are always occupied: engaged in work, engaged in prayer. May the Lord give us new monasteries, may he give us new monks and nuns to carry the Church forward with their intercession". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 26/4/2023)