The Vatican

The Pope at the Audience: "I assure you of my prayers for Nigeria".

David Fernández Alonso-December 2, 2020-Reading time: 3 minutes

In his catechesis during the first General Audience of December, Pope Francis made special reference to a particular dimension of prayer: blessing. He also paused to pray for the tragic massacre in Nigeria and to remember four martyrs of El Salvador.

The Wednesday General Audience continues to be held in the Library of the Apostolic Palace due to the health emergency.

The Holy Father emphasized in his catechesis today the dimension of prayer that refers to the blessing: "Today we dwell on an essential dimension of prayer: the blessing. We continue our reflections on prayer. In the creation narratives (cf. Gen 1-2) God continually blesses life, always. He blesses the animals (1:22), he blesses man and woman (1:28), and finally he blesses the Sabbath, the day of rest and enjoyment of all creation (2:3). It is God who blesses. In the first pages of the Bible there is a continuous repetition of blessings. God blesses, but also men bless, and it is soon discovered that the blessing possesses a special power, which accompanies the one who receives it for life, and disposes the heart of man to allow himself to be changed by God (Conc. Ecumen. Vat. II, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 61)".

Jesus Christ, the great blessing

Francis wanted to underline what is for us the great blessing: the Son of God made man, Jesus Christ. "The great blessing of God is Jesus Christ, the great gift of God, his Son. He is a blessing for all humanity, a blessing that has saved us all. He is the eternal Word with which the Father has blessed us "while we were yet sinners" (Rom 5:8), says St. Paul: the Word made flesh and offered for us on the cross.

And after going through some passages of Scripture where one can appreciate God's blessing, the Pope encouraged everyone to extend the Lord's blessing: "The blessing of the Lord is a blessing for all of us.We cannot only bless this God who blesses us, we must bless everything in Him, all people, bless God and bless our brothers and sisters, bless the world: this is the root of Christian meekness, the ability to feel blessed and the ability to bless. If all of us did this, surely there would be no wars. This world needs blessing and we can give blessing and receive blessing. The Father loves us. And we have only the joy of blessing Him and the joy of thanking Him, and of learning from Him not to curse, but to bless. And here only a word for the people who are accustomed to curse, the people who always have in their mouths, even in their hearts, an ugly word, a curse. Each one of us can think: do I have this habit of cursing like this? And ask the Lord for the grace to change this habit so that we have a blessed heart and from a blessed heart cannot come a curse. May the Lord teach us never to curse, but to bless.".

"I assure my prayer for Nigeria."

pope prays for nigeria

The Pope took a special moment to assure his prayers for the hundred farmers killed last Saturday in Nigeria. "I wish to assure you of my prayers for Nigeria, sadly once again bloodied by a terrorist massacre. Last Saturday, in the northeast of the country, more than one hundred farmers were brutally murdered. May God welcome them into his peace and comfort their families; and may he convert the hearts of those who commit such horrors, which gravely offend his name".

He also paused to remember the fortieth anniversary of four American missionaries murdered in El Salvador. They are Maryknoll nuns Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline nun Dorothy Kazel and volunteer Jean Donovan. On December 2, 1980, they were kidnapped, raped and murdered by a group of paramilitaries. They were serving El Salvador in the context of the civil war. The Holy Father assured that "these women lived their faith with great generosity. They are an example for all to become faithful missionary disciples.".

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