Pope: Avoid escalation, hasten ceasefire in Ukraine
At the general audience, the pontiff issued a new call to prayer after the missile attack that caused death and damage to many civilian infrastructures. In his catechesis, Francis spoke of the desolation in our spiritual life that shakes the "aseptic serenity that makes one inhuman". Disquiet as "a response to the objection that the experience of God is a mere projection of our desires".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Hasten, Oh Lord". This is Pope Francis' prayer today at the end of Wednesday's General Audience for the "tormented Ukraine" grappling with the new shower of Russian missiles on civilian targets.
"I have learned with sorrow and concern the news of a new and even stronger missile attack on Ukraine that has caused death and damage to many civilian infrastructures," the pontiff said, without referring directly to the two deaths that also occurred within Polish borders.
"Let us pray that the Lord will convert the hearts of those who still point to war and make the desire for peace prevail for the martyred Ukraine, to avoid any escalation and open the way to a ceasefire and dialogue. May the Lord give Ukrainians consolation and fortitude in this trial and give hope for peace," he added, recalling in prayer also "the innocent victims of the terrorist attack that took place in recent days in Istanbul".
Earlier in his catechesis, he had resumed the cycle of reflections on the theme of discernment, dwelling on the feeling of desolation that is not foreign to the spiritual life. "Even this state, can be an opportunity for growth" Pope Francis explained. "In fact, if there is not a little dissatisfaction, a healthy sadness, a healthy capacity to dwell in solitude, to be with ourselves without running away, we risk always remaining on the surface of things and never making contact with the centre of our existence".
He continued, "desolation provokes a "shaking of the soul", which is also indispensable in the spiritual life because "a perfect but aseptic serenity, when it becomes the criterion for choices and behaviour, makes us inhuman, indifferent to the suffering of others and incapable of accepting our own. Without considering that such 'perfect serenity' is not achieved by this path of indifference". In this regard, the pope recalled great figures of saints such as Augustine of Hippo, Edith Stein, Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, and Charles de Foucauld, who found precisely in their own restlessness "a decisive push to turn their lives around".
Desolation is also a school of gratuitousness. "Being desolate, offers us the possibility to grow, to begin a more mature, more beautiful relationship with the Lord and with loved ones," the pontiff observed, " a relationship that is not reduced to a mere exchange of give and take. It is a way to learn to be with the Lord, because "the spiritual life is not a technique at our disposal, it is not a programme of inner 'well-being' that is up to us to plan. No. It is a relationship with the Living One, irreducible to our categories".
In light of this, desolation becomes "the clearest response to the objection that the experience of God is a mere projection of our desires. Instead, those who pray realise that the outcomes are unpredictable: experiences and passages of the Bible that have often thrilled us, today, strangely, do not arouse any transport. And, just as unexpectedly, experiences, encounters and readings that one had never paid attention to or would prefer to avoid - such as the experience of the cross - bring unexpected peace".
Francis concluded, "Whenfaced with difficulties, never be discouraged, but face the trial with decision, with the help of God's grace that never fails us. And if we hear within us an insistent voice that wants to turn us away from prayer, let us learn to unmask it like the voice of the tempter; and let us not be impressed: let us simply do the opposite of what it tells us".