In Times of Anguish, Prayer Restores Taste for Life, Says Pope

Reflects on Psalm 142(143) at General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- In times of anguish, prayer, accompanied by the commitment to do the will of God, restores a genuine taste for life, says John Paul II.



The Pope made that observation today at the general audience in Paul VI Hall, when he offered the 7,000 pilgrims on hand a reflection on Psalm 142(143).

Referring to the dark tone of the Psalm, the Holy Father spoke of the man of prayer, "prostrate in the dust of the earth, which is an image of the sepulcher."

The Pontiff mentioned the "long dead," among whom the author of the Psalm "seems already to be relegated."

"The very existence of the Psalmist is devastated," the Pope said. He "has no breath, his heart seems like a piece of ice, unable to continue beating."

The most profound existential depression is experienced when the believer is no longer able to address God. "The disappearance of the divine countenance makes man fall into desolation, in fact, into death itself, as the Lord is the source of life," he said.

At such times, only crying out to God enables us to be lifted from the abyss, the Pope explained. "Hasten to answer me, Lord; for my spirit fails me," the Psalmist writes.

"Precisely in this sort of extreme limit flowers trust in God, who does not abandon," the Holy Father said.

In that situation, prayer becomes a commitment: "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God," the Psalm states.

The Pope said: "We must make our own this admirable request. We must understand that our greatest good is the union of our will with the will of the heavenly Father, because only in this way can we receive all his love, which brings salvation and the fullness of life. If it is not accompanied by a strong desire of docility to God, our trust in him is not authentic."

The Psalmist "raises a true and proper profession of faith in God the Savior, who breaks the anguish and restores the taste of life, in the name of his 'justice,' in other words, of his loving and salvific faithfulness," John Paul II noted.

"Arising from a particularly anguishing situation, prayer leads to hope, to joy and to light, thanks to a sincere adherence to God and to his will, which is a will of love. This is the power of prayer, generator of life and salvation," the Pope concluded.

The Holy Father was continuing his series of reflections on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament, which may be consulted at www.zenit.org/english/audience.

This was the Pope's last scheduled meeting with pilgrims in the Vatican this summer. On Thursday he moves to the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.