Pope, Like Peter, Says He Feels the Church's Prayer

Thanks the Faithful for Support, Especially in Difficulties

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today continued with his reflections on prayer in the early Church, discussing St. Peter's miraculous escape from prison.

The general audience in St. Peter's Square was the occasion for the Pope to speak about the union and fervor of the first Christians as they prayed for the first Pope's release, and how that carries over even today.

As the Church was praying, Benedict noted, meanwhile, Peter, in prison, "was sleeping."

"In such a critical and dangerous situation, it is an attitude that may seem strange but that rather denotes tranquility and confidence," he reflected. "[Peter] trusts in God, he knows that the solidarity and prayer of his own surround him, and he abandons himself totally into the Lord’s hands. So must our prayer also be: assiduous, united in solidarity with others, fully trusting in God who knows us intimately and who cares for us to the point -- Jesus says -- that 'even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore.'"

The Holy Father also commented on a passage from James that speaks of prayer in the early Church.

"It is a community in crisis, in difficulty, not so much on account of persecutions, but because of the jealousies and contentions present within it (James 3:14-16). And the apostle asks why this situation exists. He finds two principal causes: the first is allowing oneself to be dominated by one’s passions, by the dictatorship of one’s own will, by egoism (James 4:1-2a); the second is the lack of prayer -- 'you do not ask' (James 4:2b) -- or the presence of a prayer that cannot be defined as such -- 'you ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions' (James 4:3). This situation would change, according to St. James, if the whole community were to speak with God, if they were to pray assiduously and of one accord."

Drawing from these lessons, the Pontiff affirmed how "the Church, and each one of us, passes through the night of trial, but that the unceasing vigilance of prayer sustains us."

He added his personal experience of this reality: "I too, from the first moment of my election as Successor of St. Peter, have always felt supported by your prayer, by the prayer of the Church, especially in the moments of greatest difficulty. I offer you my heartfelt thanks. Through constant and confident prayer, the Lord frees us from chains, he guides us through every night of imprisonment that may grip our hearts, he gives us serenity of heart to face life’s difficulties -- even rejection, opposition and persecution."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-34752?l=english