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Prayers from the Pope

August 16, 2008
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Pope Benedict XVI's vacation has come to a conclusion and he's back at Castel Gandolfo, 30 kilometers south of Rome. The Pontiff resumed the Wednesday General Audience and spoke about St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Maximilian Kolbe and the feast of the Assumption. Before he spoke about that he made some comments that impressed me very much. It was a very Fatherly moment:
I would like to thank, once again, all those who welcomed me and followed my stay in the mountains. It was a time of serenity and relaxation, during which I did not forget to lift to the Lord all those who have entrusted themselves to my prayers. Truly, many, many people write me asking me to pray for them. They share with me their joys and their worries, their dreams, their problems at home and at work, their hopes and the desires they carry in their hearts along with the anxiety caused by uncertainty that all humanity is experiencing at this moment. I can assure you that I pray for all and for each one of them, especially in the daily celebration of Mass and when I say the Rosary. I am well aware that the first service I can give the Church is my prayer, because in praying I put everything in God’s hands with the faith that He Himself gave me.
It seems so obvious that the Holy Father prays for people, but it's something I never thought about (in the same way a few years ago I never considered saying prayers for the Pope... for whatever reason the thought never crossed my mind!). Through the Holy Father's comments, we see him as a shepherd to the flock, a man of love, compassion, and hope. I find this public pronouncement of solidarity with all members of the Church not only endearing, but quite comforting.
Thanks for your prayers, Holy Father.
To read the entire August 13th General Audience, translated by Salt + Light's Alicia Ambrosio, read the rest of this entry.
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Photo Franco Origlia/Getty Images
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Having just returned from Bressanone, where I was able to spend some time resting, I am very happy to be here with you, the residents of Castel Gandolfo and Pilgrims who have come here to see me. I would like to thank, once again, all those who welcomed me and followed my stay in the mountains. It was a time of serenity and relaxation, during which I did not forget to lift to the Lord all those who have entrusted themselves to my prayers. Truly, many, many people write me asking me to pray for them. They share with me their joys and their worries, their dreams, their problems at home and at work, their hopes and the desires they carry in their hearts along with the anxiety caused by uncertainty that all humanity is experiencing at this moment. I can assure you that I pray for all and for each one of them, especially in the daily celebration of Mass and when I say the Rosary. I am well aware that the first service I can give the Church is my prayer, because in praying I put everything in God’s hands with the faith that He Himself gave me.
One who prays never looses hope, even when faced with situations that are difficult and even humanly desperate. The Sacred Scripture teaches us this, and the history of the Church testifies to this. We can find many examples of situations in which prayer alone sustained the saints and people of Christ. There are some saints from recent times who we can look to for examples of this. Two of them we will be commemorating this month: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, who we remembered August 9th, and Maximillian Kolbe, who we remember tomorrow August 14th, on the eve of the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both of these saints ended their earthly journey being martyred in Auschwitz. It may seem that they lost, however it is in their martyrdom that the fullness of the Love that wins over the darkness of egoism and hate, shines. These words are attributed to St. Maximilian Kolbe during the height of Nazi persecution: “Hate is not a creative force: only love is.” He showed his love heroically, generously offering himself in exchange for one of his fellow prisoners, eventually dying in the starvation chamber (of lethal injection) on August 14th 1941.
On August 6th of the following year, Edith Stein, three days away from her own dramatic end, told her fellow sisters in her convent in Echt, Holland, “I am ready for anything. Jesus is also here, among us. Until now I have been able pray very well and I have said with my whole heart "Ave, Crux, spes unica " (Hail the Cross, the only hope) Witnesses who were able to escape the horrible massacre tell us that Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, still dressed in her Carmelite habit, walked towards her death fully aware of what awaited her. Her calm and peaceful demeanor set her apart from the others, and she was still attentive to the needs of others. Prayer was this patroness of Europe's secret. Even after attaining mystical union, a deep closeness to Christ in the peace of her contemplative life, she still had to live out the mystery of the cross. (Lettera Apostolica Spes aedificandi, Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XX, 2, 1999 p.511).
"Ave Maria!" was the final invocation on Maximilian Kolbe’s lips as he held out his arm to those who were going to kill him with carbolic acid. It is moving to see how humble and trusting, turning to Mary is always a source of courage and serenity. While we prepare to celebrate the solemnity of the Assumption, which is one of the Marian observances most dear to the Christian tradition, let us once again entrust ourselves to She who from heaven watches over us at every moment with maternal love. We say this every time we say the Hail Mary, asking her to pray for us, “now and at the hour of our death”
Thank you.

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