Pontiff Offers St. Stephen as Model of Scripture-Centered Prayer

Says We Should Make 'Real Contact' With God, With the 'Abandonment of Children'

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By Kathleen Naab

VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging the faithful to nourish prayer with listening to sacred Scripture, just as the first martyr did.

The Pope continued his audience series of catecheses on prayer today, considering the long passage in Acts of the Apostles that relates the prayer of St. Stephen immediately prior to his martyrdom.

The Holy Father explained how the stages of the prayer showed Stephen's intimate understanding of Scripture.

From this, the Pontiff drew lessons for our prayer today.

"We may ask ourselves: Where did this first Christian martyr find the strength to face his persecutors and in the end to attain to the gift of himself?" he asked. "The answer is simple: from his relationship with God, from his communion with Christ, from meditation on the history of salvation, from seeing God’s action, which in Jesus Christ reached its summit."

"Our prayer, too," the Holy Father said, "should be nourished by listening to God’s Word, in communion with Jesus and his Church."

Benedict XVI went on to note how Stephen's prayer shows that he "sees the figure and mission of Jesus prefigured in the story of the relationship of love between God and man. He -- the Son of God -- is the temple 'not made by hands' where the presence of God the Father becomes so close that it enters into our human flesh, in order to lead us to God -- in order to open to us the gates of Heaven."

"Our prayer, then," continued the Pope, "should be a contemplation of Jesus at the right hand of God, of Jesus as Lord of our, or my, daily life."

"In him, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit," the Pontiff said, "we too can address God, we can make real contact with God, with the faith and abandonment of children who turn to a Father who loves them infinitely."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-34708?l=english