05/18/2022, 16.26
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Pope: protests are also a form of prayer

During this morning’s general audience in St Peter’s Square, the pontiff focused on the figure of Job, warning the faithful against the type of religiosity that “explains everything, but” whose “heart remains cold.” Speaking to the men and women religious inspired by Charles de Foucauld, Francis said that his spirituality “helped me so much to overcome crises and to find a way of Christian life that was simpler”.

 

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke about life's hardships during this morning’s general audience, noting that it is important to address one's cry to God for He is ready to listen.

In his address, the pontiff delivered his tenth catechesis on old age centred on Job, the proof of faith and the blessing of waiting.

Job is “a witness of a faith that does not accept a ‘caricature’ of God, but protests loudly in the face of evil until God responds and reveals his face.”

It is important to “understand the power of Job’s cry” in order “to overcome the temptation of moralism due to the exasperation and bitterness of the pain of having lost everything.”

After losing wealth, family and health, Job found himself talking with his friends. At that point, God spoke and rebuked Job's friends “who presumed they knew everything, to know about God and about suffering, and, having come to comfort Job, ended up judging him with their preconceived paradigms.”

May “God preserve us from this hypocritical and presumptuous religiosity!” may he “preserve us from this moralistic religiosity and that religiosity of precepts that gives us a certain presumption and leads you to phariseeism and hypocrisy.”

While Lord gets angry with Job’s friends, He praises Job because, even when he was angry against God, he refused to accept that God was a "Persecutor". That is the turning point in job's conversion of faith. It is simple faith in God's resurrection that changes the vision.

“[S]ome people are overcome by an accumulation of evil that truly seems excessive and unjust,” Francis noted. “We have been impressed by their cry, but we have also stood in admiration at the firmness of their faith and love in their silence.”

The pontiff cited as examples the parents of children with severe disabilities, people who are permanently infirm, and those financially strapped.

“At certain junctures in history, the accumulation of burdens gives the impression that they were given a group appointment. This is what has happened in these years with the Covid-19 pandemic, and is happening now with the war in Ukraine.”

Christians cannot look at such situations and see them as “as justified responses to the sins of the victims, as if they deserve it”. Victims have the right to protest against the mystery of evil, the pope said.

“Sometimes I meet people who approach me and say: ‘But, Father, I protested against God because I have this and that problem…’. But, you know, friend, that protesting is a way to pray when it is done like that.”

Just as children protest against their parents to draw their attention and ask them to take care of them, so do those who want to protest against God for a pain they have in their hearts, for they must know that God listens to them.

“God is a Father. God is not afraid of our prayer of protest, no! God understands. But be free, be free in your prayer. Don’t imprison your prayer within preconceived paradigms!”

God lets Job vent his anger and listens to him, while he does not approve of his friends, whose religiosity “explains everything, but” whose “heart remains cold.”

Job's profession of faith is completed at the end with the experience that makes him say: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you” (42:5).

“This testimony is particularly believable if it is picked up in old age, in its progressive frailty and loss. Those who are old have witnessed so many of these experiences in life!”

It is therefore necessary to follow the example of the elderly who manage to turn resentment for loss into tenacious waiting for God's promise. Despite the many sufferings, their heart is at peace.

“[T]hey have this peace, a peace, I would say, that is almost mystical, that is, the peace from an encounter with God to the point they can say, ‘I knew you because I had heard about you, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.’ These elderly people resemble the peace of the Son of God on the cross who is abandoned to the Father.”

Before the general audience, Pope Francis met with members of the Association of the Spiritual Family of Charles de Foucauld who travelled to Rome for the canonisation of this great figure, which took place on Sunday.

Speaking to them, Francis said that “his spirituality did me so much good when I was studying theology, a time of maturation and also of crisis, and which came to me through Father Paòli and through the books of Boignot which I read constantly, and helped me so much to overcome crises and to find a way of Christian life that was simpler, less Pelagian, closer to the Lord. I thank the Saint and bear witness to this, because it did me so much good.” 

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