• on 12th January, 2016

Pope Francis: "It is the prayers of faithful that bring change to the Church, not the Popes"

By Courtesy: IACOPO SCARAMUZZI (original news publication here).

Prayer does miracles and prevents a hardened heart that has forgotten what piety is. Pope Francis said this in this morning’s homily for the daily mass at St. Martha’s House. “The prayers of faithful bring change to the Church,” Francis stated. “It is not us Popes, bishops and priests who move the Church forward but the Saints”. 

Francis began today’s homily by commenting on the Bible passage about Anna, a woman who, frustrated by her own infertility, turns to God in tears and beseeches Him to give her a son and Eli, a priest, who observes her from afar, from his seat at the temple. He mentioned these figures to illustrate that we can be people of faith yet still lose our sense of piety beneath the ashes of judgement and constant criticism. The above scene from the Book of Samuel first recounts Anna’s words and then the thoughts of the priest, who is unable to hear what the woman is saying shows a spiteful shallowness in dismissing her inaudible mutterings: all he sees before him is “a drunk” woman. All that sobbing, however, leads to a miracle of God: “Anna prayed in her heart, her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. This is the courage of a woman of faith, who, in the midst of her pain and tears, asks the Lord for grace. The Church is full of good women like her! They go to pray as if they had placed a wager… But let us think back to one great woman, St. Monica, who, with her tears managed to obtain the grace of her son’s conversion, St. Augustine’s conversion. There are many like her.” 

The priest is a “poor man” who “I sympathise with in a way,” Francis said, because “I also find flaws within myself that bring me closer to him and help me to better understand him. How easily we judge others, how easily do we not have the respect to say: ‘I wonder what lies in their hearts? I don’t know, but I will not say anything…’”. When “a person’s heart is lacking in piety, they always think the worst” and they are not aware of those who pray “with pain and anguish”, “entrusting that pain and anguish to the Lord”: “Jesus experienced this prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, when his anguish and pain were so great that he sweated blood. Yet he did not blame His Father: ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ Jesus’ response is similar to the woman’s: meekness. Sometimes we pray, we make our requests to the Lord but often we do not reach the point of struggling with the Lord, shedding tears, asking, asking for grace”. 

The Pope told a story about a man in Buenos Aires whose dying 9-year-old daughter was taken to hospital. He visited Our Lady of Luján and spent the night clinging onto the gate of the shrine, asking for the grace of healing. The next morning, when he returned to the hospital, his daughter was well again: “Prayer does miracles. It does miracles whether they are Christians, lay faithful, priests or bishops who have lost their piety. The prayers of faithful bring change to the Church. It is not us Popes, bishops and priests who move the Church forward but the Saints! And these are the saints, saints like this woman. Saints are those who have the courage to believe that God is the Lord and that he can make anything happen.” 

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