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Pope Urges Trust-filled Prayer
Notes St. Alphonsus' Teaching That Prayer Is Necessary for Salvation
By Kathleen Naab
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging the faithful to turn to God in prayer with trust, seeing God as a Father who takes care of us.
The Pope said this today as he resumed the Wednesday general audiences, following his customary summer break. The Holy Father gave his address in Castel Gandolfo, where he is staying at the papal summer residence.
Continuing with his reflections on prayer, the Pope spoke of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who describes prayer as "the necessary and sure means of obtaining salvation, and all the graces we need to attain it."
"This sentence sums up the Alphonsian understanding of prayer," the Holy Father proposed. "First, in saying that it is a means, he reminds us of the end to be attained: God created out of love in order to be able to give us the fullness of life; but because of sin, this goal, this abundance of life has, so to say, drifted away -- we all know this -- and only God's grace can make it available."
The Pontiff recalled Alphonsus' statement that "He who prays is saved. He who prays not is damned!" And: "To save one's soul without prayer is most difficult, and even impossible ... but by praying our salvation is made secure, and very easy."
The Holy Father noted the saint's teaching that there is no excuse for failing to pray, "for the grace of prayer is given to everyone ... if we are not saved, the whole fault will be ours, because we did not pray."
Benedict XVI went on to reflect on prayer as a necessary means, emphasizing that "St. Alphonsus wanted us to understand that in every situation in life, we cannot manage without praying, especially in times of trial and difficulty. We must always knock at the Lord's door with trust, knowing that in all things He takes care of His children, of us. We are invited, therefore, not to be afraid of turning to Him and of presenting our requests to Him with trust, in the certainty of obtaining what we need."
The Pope thus invited the faithful to ask a "central question": "What is truly necessary in my life? With St. Alphonsus I respond: 'Health and all the graces we need for this'; naturally, he means not only bodily health, but above all also that of the soul, which Jesus gives to us. More than anything else, we need His liberating presence, which truly makes our lives fully human and therefore full of joy. And it is only through prayer that we are able to welcome Him and His grace, which by enlightening us in each situation, enables us to discern the true good, and by strengthening us, makes our will effective; that is, it enables it to do the good that is known. Often we recognize the good, but we are unable to do it. Through prayer, we arrive at the point of being able to carry it out."
The Pope concluded with the idea that "our relationship with God is essential for our lives."
"Without a relationship with God, our fundamental relationship is missing," he said. "And a relationship with God develops by talking with God in daily personal prayer, and by participating in the Sacraments; and so it is that this relationship can grow in us, and that the divine presence that directs our path, enlightens it and makes it secure and serene can also grow in us, even amid difficulty and danger."
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