By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Even though it is in the nature of every human being to seek God, creating the kind of inner state necessary for prayer is difficult, Pope Benedict XVI said.
“Prayer is first and foremost a matter of the heart where we experience God’s call and our dependence on his help to transcend our limitations and sinfulness,” the pope said May 11 at his weekly general audience.
Pope Benedict’s catechesis was the latest in a new series of audience talks about prayer.
Prayer is an inner activity, “a way of being before God,” and not a series of formulas, words and gestures, he said. Because prayer is rooted so deeply in the individual’s inner being, it is “not easily decipherable” and is “difficult,” he said.
Prayer is a privileged moment for self-giving and putting oneself before “the invisible, the unexpected, the ineffable,” and for that reason “the experience of prayer is a challenge for everybody, a grace to be invoked and a gift” from God, he said.
Despite the current climate of secularism in which God is overlooked or eliminated from one’s life, there are also “many signs that tell us there is a reawakening of the religious sense, a rediscovery of the importance of God” in people’s lives, the pope said.
The prediction that humanity would gain freedom, dignity and autonomy by replacing religion with pure reason “has failed” and the two World Wars from the past century have severely tested the belief that reason bereft of God would bring progress, he said.
“Man is religious by nature” and the yearning for God is inscribed in the heart of every human, said the pope. People know they cannot find the answer to all of life’s mysteries and questions either within themselves or in empirical science, he said.
The pope said that throughout time, humanity has sought deeper meaning. “The digital man, like the caveman, looks to religious experience for a way to overcome his finiteness and to secure his precarious earthly adventure,” he said.
“Who am I, what is the meaning and purpose of our life, (what is) good and sin, the source and purpose of pain, the path to real happiness, death,” and the final judgment after death are all questions surrounding human existence, he said. Because people cannot answer these questions alone, they must turn to God who is able to fill such deep needs and desires, he added.
Pope Benedict asked everyone “to pray more frequently, to listen in the silence of our hearts to God’s voice and to grow in union with God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, with the one who is infinite love.”
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Editor’s Note: The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20110511_en.html.
The text of the pope’s audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20110511_sp.html.
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