12/27/2023, 13.56
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Pope tells faithful, 'no dialogue' with the devil, guard your 'heart' against 'temptation'

In the first general audience after Christmas, the pontiff introduced a new series of catechesis centred on "vices and virtues." Starting with the story of Adam and Eve, the pontiff said that the "dynamics of evil and temptation" is represented by the "serpent". In his greetings, he called to pray “for martyred Ukraine and the people of Palestine and Israel".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today addressed the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall for his weekly general audience, the first after Christmas; in it, he began a new series of catechesis "on vices and virtues".

For the pontiff, the faithful must guard the heart, defend themselves from temptation because the devil is "astute and intelligent", and not engage in dialogue with him; instead, they must “close the door."

His opening point was the start of the Bible, the book of Genesis, and the story of the progenitors to speak about the "dynamics of evil and temptation".

In the earthly paradise, with its apparently "idyllic" picture, “a character appears who will be the symbol of temptation: the serpent”, an "insidious" animal because it "seduces" and moves "slowly, slithering along the ground”. At times, one does not even notice its "presence" because it manages to "camouflage itself well in its environment.”

With Adam and Eve, the serpent also knows how to show itself as a "refined dialectician" endowed with malice on the question of God and the tree of knowledge. The “prohibition is not intended to forbid man the use of reason," the pontiff explained, but as a "measure of wisdom" because we must not feel we “are the master of everything” for “pride is the beginning of all evil.”

Citing a passage from the Gospel of Mark, Francis notes how God, by forbidding a single fruit among the trees in the garden, seeks to preserve man from the "presumption of omnipotence", from feeling himself master "of good and evil". But Adam and Eve failed to “resist” the serpent, causing everything to "collapse."

“With these accounts, the Bible explains to us that evil does not begin in man [. . .] but much earlier, when one begins to fantasize about it, to nurse it in the imagination and in thoughts, and ends up being ensnared by its enticements.”

The story of Abel's murder does not occur when the stone is thrown but before, when the "grudge" fed the "monster" inside Cain.

In this case, "God's recommendations are worthless” because “One must never dialogue, brothers and sisters, with the devil. Never! You should never argue” with him; instead, follow the example of Jesus who in the wilderness "cast him out" and to “the temptations, He did not respond with dialogue.”

"The devil is a seducer," the pope went on to say. “Never dialogue with him, because he is smarter than all of us and he will make us pay for it.”

On the contrary, he warned, when he arrives, we must "close the window, close your heart” to defend yourselves “against this seduction" since he knows how to be a seducer and is a "great theologian."

Francis recommends closing the door and guarding the heart since "he who guards his heart guards a treasure". “May the Lord help us in this work."

In his greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, the pontiff renewed his call to pray "for those who suffer from the terrible consequences of violence and war."

"Let us pray," he said, "especially for martyred Ukraine and the people of Palestine and Israel. War is evil: Let us pray for the end of wars."

“May the child of Bethlehem cast his light upon all of you,” Francis said, addressing young people, the sick, newlyweds and the elderly. He also invited them to seek inspiration in the Gospel for the "daily actions of the new year".

Lastly, he greeted English-speaking pilgrims, with special affection for those from Hong Kong and [South] Korea.

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