Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI appealed for "an immediate cessation of the bloodshed of innocent people" in Nigeria, whose situation worries the Pope. "While I raise a prayer for the victims and for those who suffer", he said today at the end of the general audience, "I appeal to the perpetrators of the violence, to immediately stop the bloodshed of innocent people. I also hope for the full cooperation of all sectors of society in Nigeria, so that they do not pursue the path of revenge, but that all citizens might cooperate in building a peaceful and reconciled society, in which the right to freely profess their faith is fully protected."
Previously, in catechesis, the Pope had stressed the fact that when one prays, one usually turns to God asking for help, which "is normal", "even what the Lord taught us, the Our Father, is a prayer of petition and it teaches us priorities, it cleans and purifies our prayers and our hearts". But it should not be only this: when turning to God we should also express gratitude, "if we are attentive, we see that we receive so many good things and therefore it is necessary to say thank you", and even praise, "if, despite all the problems, we see the beauty and goodness of his creation."
The prayer continues to be the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis for the general audience: in particular, the prayers in the Letters of St. Paul. Today, to the nine thousand people present in Paul VI auditorium at the Vatican, he spoke of the first chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians, "which begins with a prayer, which is a hymn of blessing, thanksgiving and joy."
The Pope recalled the Pauline passage: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ. He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love, having predestined us to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will."
Here, he explained, there are "the elements that push man to thank God: first because He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him in love". "He called us into existence before creation, we have always been in his mind: he has known us and loved us."
"Communion with God belongs to God's eternal plan and includes all the men and women of the world, because it is a universal call to holiness." "The Father has predestined us to be his sons through Jesus Christ": this is the "gratuitousness of his divine plan for humanity: he chooses us not because we are good, but because he is good." "God is goodness, he creates because he wants to communicate his goodness to us and wants to make us holy." The love of God is so concrete that it enters into history and accepts the journey of suffering and passion, so real that it participates in human life until death." "Paul invites us to consider how deep is the love of God that transforms history, that changed his own life".
The prayer of St. Paul, Benedict XVI emphasized, shows "the action of the three Persons: the Father who chose us before the foundation of the world, the Son who redeemed us through his blood and the Holy Spirit, the deposit of our redemption and future glory."
Prayer, the Pope concluded, becomes "a way to get used to being together with God. It generates men and women inspired not by selfishness, the thirst for power, the desire for possessions, but by gratuitousness, the desire to serve, to be friends of God, and only in this way can light be brought into the world".