At the general audience Francis prays for the victims of the earthquake in Indonesia and - recalling Stalin's Holodomor - for the "many children elderly women who today suffer the martyrdom of aggression in Ukraine". His hopes that the World Cup in Qatar can be an occasion for "encounter and harmony, fostering peace and brotherhood among peoples".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Closeness and prayers for the dead and injured in the earthquake on the island of Java in Indonesia. And, as every week, thoughts for the martyred Ukrainian people who "suffer today the martyrdom of aggression" concluded Pope Francis' general audience today with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Continuing the cycle on discernment, in his catechesis the pontiff dwelt today on the theme of spiritual consolation. "It is a profound experience of inner joy," he explained, "that allows one to see God's presence in all things; it strengthens faith and hope, and also the capacity to do good. The person who experiences consolation does not give up in the face of difficulties, because he or she experiences a peace that is stronger than the trial. It is therefore a great gift'.
The pope explained, "in consolation the person feels enveloped by the presence of God, in a way that is always respectful of his own freedom".
"We think of so many saints and holy men and women," he added, "who were able to do great things, not because they considered themselves good and capable, but because they were conquered by the pacifying sweetness of God's love. In times of consolation, when we are consoled, we feel like doing so much good, always. Instead, when there is a time of desolation, we feel like closing in on ourselves and doing nothing...".
Even with regard to consolation, however, care must be taken to distinguish 'originals' from 'imitations'.
"If authentic consolation is like a drop on a sponge, it is gentle and intimate," Francis continued, "its imitations are louder and more showy, they are straw fires, without consistency, they lead one to withdraw into oneself, and not to care about others. False consolation eventually leaves us empty, far from the centre of our existence'. Instead, "when we feel happy, at peace, we are capable of doing anything. But let us not confuse that peace with a passing enthusiasm, because enthusiasm today is, then it falls and is no more'.
Pope Francis concluded, "we must beware of false consolation, which 'can become a danger if we seek it as an end in itself, obsessively, and forget the Lord. As St Bernard would say, one seeks the consolations of God and does not seek the God of consolations'.
In his greeting to the faithful, Pope Francis then returned to call for prayer for peace in the world and an end to all conflicts.
"This Saturday," he recalled, "is the anniversary of the Holodomor the extermination by starvation in 1932 and 1933 caused artificially by Stalin. Let us pray for the victims of this genocide and let us pray for so many children women elderly children who today suffer the martyrdom of aggression".
Citing the World Fisheries Day celebrated on Monday, he urged respect for the "rights of fishermen who by their work contribute to food security, nutrition and poverty reduction in the world".
Taking his cue from the figure of Fr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli, a Comboni priest and doctor missionary who died in Uganda in 1987 and was proclaimed Blessed on Sunday in this African country, he hoped that "his extraordinary witness will help each of us to be worthy of an outgoing Church".
Finally, he also addressed a greeting to the players, fans and spectators following the World Cup being played in Qatar from various continents. "May this important event," he commented, "be an opportunity for encounter and harmony, fostering peace and brotherhood among peoples.