VATICAN CITY – People must find harmony between prayer and the demands of daily life, Pope Francis said.
“It is inhuman to be so absorbed in work that you no longer find the time to pray. At the same time, prayer that is far from life is not healthy,” the Pope said on June 9. during its weekly general audience.
“Time spent being with God rekindles faith, which helps us in the practical realities of life, and faith in turn nourishes prayer without interruption,” he said.
The audience was held in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where the Pope spent the first 30 minutes chatting at length with individuals, blessing them or the items they had brought, signing books and greeting the children. . While the pope was maskless, attendees were required to wear masks, but many ignored social distancing rules when they gathered along the barricades to greet and speak with Pope Francis.
In his main audience address, the Pope continued his series on prayer by examining the importance of perseverance and ceaseless prayer.
How is it possible to stay in a constant state of prayer, especially when people’s lives are busy or filled with disturbances or distractions? asked the Pope.
One tradition offers what is called a “prayer of the heart” and is based on repeating in faith the words: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”, until these words match the rhythm of the breath, and it’s spread throughout the day, he said.
“Indeed, we never stop breathing, not even while we are sleeping, and prayer is the breath of life,” he said.
Having a heart in a constant state of prayer, he said, is like having a flame perpetually alight even when performing daily chores, walking or standing in line. Even short and brief prayers, like “Lord have mercy on us” or “Lord, help me” are sufficient, he added.
“Prayer is a kind of musical score, where we put the melody of our lives,” he said.
Prayer is therefore not intended to come into conflict with daily duties and obligations because it acts as “the place where every action finds its meaning, its reason and its peace”, he declared.
It is not easy to do, Pope Francis said, but it is enough to remember “that God, our Father, who is to take care of the whole universe, always remembers each of us. Therefore, we too must always remember “and find time for him.”
Work and prayer are complementary, he said, like the symmetry of the human body with its two hands, eyes and ears.
So, while it is inhuman to have to work so much that you do not leave time for prayer, he said, it is also harmful to live a prayer life far removed from real life. In this case, the prayer becomes “spiritualism, or worse, ritualism”.
Remember, he says, that Jesus did not stay in his glory forever on Mount Tabor but came down from the mountain with his disciples to resume his daily journey.
This spiritual experience has remained in their hearts as the light and the strength of faith and a light and a strength for the days of trial to come, the Pope said.
Prayer rekindles faith, which sustains daily life and nourishes prayer, creating a positive feedback loop that now “ignites that flame of Christian life that God expects of us,” he said.