Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, during which he saluted the participants in the International Eucharistic Congress. “At this time,” said Pope Benedict, “our thoughts and prayers are with all those taking part in the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Ireland.”
I invite all of you to join me in praying that the Congress will bear rich spiritual fruit in a greater appreciation of our Lord’s gift of himself to us in the Eucharist and a deeper love of the mystery of the Church, which draws us into ever fuller communion with him and with one another through the daily celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
The Holy Father’s salute to the Congress and those participating in it came at the end of his weekly General Audience, during which he continued his catechetical series on prayer in the writings of St Paul the Apostle.
The principal focus of the Pope’s remarks this Wednesday was the Apostle’s testimony to his own experience of contemplative prayer. Defending the legitimacy of his apostolate, Paul appeals above all to his profound closeness to the Lord in prayer, marked by moments of ecstasy, visions and revelations (cf. 2 Cor 12:1ff.). Yet he speaks too of a trial which the Lord sent him lest he become conceited: a mysterious thorn in the flesh (v. 7). Paul therefore willingly boasts of his weakness, in order that the power of Christ might dwell in him (v. 10).
Pope Benedict went on to say that, through this experience of mystical prayer, Paul realized that God’s Kingdom comes about not by our own efforts but by the power of God’s grace shining through our poor earthen vessels (cf. 2 Cor 4:7).
We see that contemplative prayer is both exalting and troubling, since we experience both the beauty of God’s love and the sense of our own weakness. Paul teaches us the need for daily perseverance in prayer, even at times of dryness and difficulty, for it is there that we experience the life-changing power of God’s love.
Following the catechesis, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English, in which he welcomed pilgrims and visitors who are taking part in various international gatherings underway in Rome this week: I am pleased to greet the participants in the Twenty-first Intercoiffure World Congress. I also welcome the visitors from the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. My cordial greeting goes to the pilgrims from the Catholic Society of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I thank the Cantores Minores from Finland and the other choirs for their praise of God in song.
Pope Benedict concluded his English remarks with a blessing: Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, New Zealand, Samoa and the United States I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
The Holy Father’s blessing followed his appeal for the International Eucharistic Congress, underway in Dublin, Ireland this week. The Congress opened on Sunday, June 10th, and runs through Sunday, June 17th.