09/07/2022, 12.01
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Pope expresses closeness to mothers of prisoners

At the general audience, Francis' thoughts and prayers for women who grieve for their children, also recalling the many suicides in penal institutions. Continuing the catechesis on discernment begun last week, the pontiff invites us to read the lives of the saints because "their actions speak to our lives and help us understand their meaning".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis addressed his thoughts and prayers to the mothers of the young detainees "so that their hope may not be lost," this morning at the Wednesday general audience, this week held in St Peter's Square.

Reminding the groups present of the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which the Church will celebrate tomorrow, the pontiff explained how Our Lady had "experienced God's tenderness as a daughter, full of grace, to then give it as a Mother through union with the mission of her son Jesus."

He went on to say how this made him "wish to express my closeness to all mothers and in a special way to those who have suffering children, sick, marginalised, imprisoned children." Then he asked for special prayers for the mothers of prisoners: "Unfortunately, in prisons there are many people who take their own lives, sometimes even young ones. A mother's love can preserve them from this danger. May Our Lady console all mothers afflicted by the suffering of their children".

Previously - continuing the new cycle of catechesis on the theme of discernment, begun last week - the pontiff had taken his cue today for his reflection from an episode in the life of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, a reference figure for reflection on this spiritual dimension.

While at home convalescing after being wounded in battle in a leg, he asked for something to read. Francis recalled, "He loves tales of chivalry, but unfortunately only the lives of saints can be found at home. Somewhat reluctantly he adapts, but in the course of reading he begins to discover another world, a world that conquers him and seems to compete with that of knights. He is fascinated by the figures of St Francis and St Dominic and feels the desire to imitate them'.

The Pope drew an important characteristic from this: 'TThere is a history that precedes one who discerns, a history that it is indispensable to know, because discernment is not a sort of oracle or fatalism, or something from a laboratory, like casting one’s lot on two possibilities. The great questions arise when we have already travelled a stretch of the road in life, and it is to that journey we must return to understand what we are looking for. Ignatius, when he found himself wounded in his father’s house, was not thinking of God at all, or of how to reform his own life, no. He had his first experience of God by listening to his own heart, which presented him with a curious reversal: things that were attractive at first sight left him disillusioned, whereas in others, less dazzling, he found lasting peace..

Taking up the example of Ignatius, the pontiff invited the faithful to "read the lives of the saints, because they show the style of God in the life of people not very different to us, because the saints were made of flesh and blood like us, in a narrative, comprehensible way. Their actions speak to ours, and they help us to understand their meaning'. Because 'discernment,' he concluded, 'is the help to recognise the signs with which the Lord makes himself encountered in unforeseen, even unpleasant situations, as the leg wound was for Ignatius. From these can arise a life-changing encounter, forever'.

Finally,the Pope once again spoke of those suffering in Ukraine and in the other conflicts that are bloodying the world. "Faced with all the war scenarios of our time," Francis said, "I ask each person to be a builder of peace and to pray so that thoughts and projects of concord and reconciliation may spread throughout the world. We are experiencing a world war: let us please stop. To the Virgin Mary we entrust the victims of every war, especially the dear people of Ukraine'.

Photo: Flickr/Ankur Panchbudhe

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