Prayer a Life-and-Death Matter, Says Pope

Asserts That It Is Not a Way to Evade Reality

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Prayer is "a question of life or death," as our relationship of love with God depends on it, says Benedict XVI.



Addressing the crowds gathered today in St. Peter's Square to recite the midday Angelus, the Pope drew this lesson from the day's liturgy, which recounted the transfiguration of Jesus.

The Holy Father explained that "prayer is not something accessory, it is not 'optional,' but rather a question of life or death."

"Only one who prays, that is, who entrusts himself to God with filial love, can enter into eternal life, which is God himself," added the Pontiff, who on Saturday finished a weeklong spiritual retreat.

Benedict XVI spoke of the moment when Jesus went up the mountain to pray together with Peter, James and John: "For the three apostles, to go up the mountain meant to be involved in Jesus' prayer, who often withdrew to pray, especially at dawn or after sundown, and sometimes during the whole night.

"However, on that occasion alone, on the mountain, he wished to manifest to his friends the interior light that invaded him when he prayed … his countenance was altered and his raiment became dazzling, reflecting the splendor of the divine person of the Incarnate Word."

In history

The Pope took Christ's conversation with Moses and Elijah to represent his dedication to the mission the Father had given him.

"In his intimate dialogue with his Father, he does not leave history, he does not flee from the mission for which he came into the world, though he knows that to attain glory he will have to go through the cross," Benedict XVI said.

He continued: "What is more, Christ enters this mission more profoundly, adhering with all his being to the will of the Father, and he shows us that true prayer consists precisely in uniting our will to the Father's.

"Therefore, for a Christian to pray is not to evade reality and the responsibilities it entails, but to assume them to the end, trusting in the faithful and inexhaustible love of the Lord."

Benedict XVI concluded by inviting believers during Lent to pray to Mary, "teacher of the spiritual life, to teach us to pray as her Son did so that our life is transformed by the light of his presence."