Paul VI Audience Hall 27 May 2020
Fr. Peter Charles Crowther obl. sbso | The Presbytery, Bury Lane, Withnell, Chorley, PR6 8SD | Tel 01254 830 995 | Reg Charity: 232709
© 2020 St Joseph's Catholic Church, Withnell. All Rights Reserved.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today’s catechesis is dedicated to the prayer of the just.
God’s plan regarding humanity is for the good. Yet in our everyday lives we experience the presence of evil: it is an everyday experience. The first chapters of the Book of Genesis describe the progressive expansion of sin in human living. Adam and Eve (see Gn 3:1-
Evil becomes even more explosive with the second human generation, it is stronger: it is the story of Cain and Abel (see Gn 4:1-
Cain’s descendants develop crafts and arts, but violence develops as well. It is expressed in Lamech’s sinister song that sounds like a hymn of vengeance: “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for bruising me […] If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-
Yet, in these first pages of the Bible, another story is also written. It is less apparent, humbler and more devout. It represents the redemption of hope. Even though almost everyone behaves cruelly, making hatred and conquest the driving force behind human affairs, there are persons who are capable of praying to God with sincerity, who are capable of writing humanity’s destiny in another way. Abel offers God a sacrifice of first-
Reading these accounts, one has the impression that prayer is an embankment, that is humankind’s refuge before the wave of evil that is growing in the world. We see well that we pray even to be saved from ourselves. It is important to pray: “Lord, please, save me from myself, from my ambitions, from my passions”. Those who pray in the first pages of the Bible are peacemakers: in fact, when it is authentic, prayer liberates us from our instinct toward violence. It is a gaze directed toward God, so that He might return to take care of the human heart. We read in the Catechism: “This kind of prayer is lived by many righteous people in all religions” (CCC, 2569). Prayer cultivates flowerbeds of rebirth in places where human hatred was only capable of sowing a desert. And prayer is powerful, because it attracts the power of God, and the power of God always gives life: always. He is the God of life, and He brings about rebirth.
This is the reason why God’s lordship is transmitted down the chain of these men and woman, who are often misunderstood and marginalised in the world. But the world lives and grows thanks to God’s power that these servants of His attract through their prayer. They are like a chain, which does not make a lot of noise, that rarely makes the headlines, and yet its importance is such that it restores trust in the world! I remember the story of a man: a head of government, important, not of this time, from times past. An atheist who did not have religious feeling in his heart, but as a child used to hear his grandmother who prayed, and this stayed in his heart. And in a difficult moment of his life, that memory returned to his heart, and he said, “But my grandmother prayed…”. In this way he began to pray with the formulas his grandmother used, and there he found Jesus. Prayer is a chain of life, always: many men and women who pray, sow life.
God’s path and God’s story is transmitted through them: it is passed down to the “remnant” of humanity who have not been conformed to the law of the strongest, but have asked that God accomplish His miracles, and above all that He transform their hearts of stone to hearts of flesh (see Ez 36:26). And prayer helps this: because prayer opens the door to God, transforming our heart, very often made of stone, into a human heart. And it takes great humanity, and with humanity one prays well.
Greeting in English
I greet the English-