The “Our Father” helps us to confront the difficulties in our lives, said the Holy Father on Sunday. In reciting the prayer, we never find ourselves alone as our voices are "intertwined with that of the Church."
This Sunday’s Angelus took place amidst the festive atmosphere of Castel Gandolfo’s "Sagra delle pesche," an annual festival celebrating the local peach production. For the occasion, the Holy Father was presented with a basket of local white peaches which were blessed at a nearby parish, shortly before the Angelus.
During his catechesis, the Pope reflected on Sunday’s Gospel from Luke in which Jesus is asked by the disciples to teach them how to pray. To this, Benedict XVI said, "Jesus does not make objections, He does not speak of strange or esoteric formulas, but with great simplicity He says: 'When you are praying, say, “Father...,' and he taught the Our Father, taking it from his own prayer, with which he addressed God, his Father."
We learn these words from St. Matthew's Gospel from the time we are young, he pointed out. "They imprint themselves in our memory, mold our lives, they accompany us up to our last breath. They reveal that we are not already completely children of God, but we must become them and be them ... through our ever deeper communion with Jesus.
"Being children becomes the equivalent of following Christ," he said, quoting a passage from the first "Jesus of Nazareth" book.
The Our Father prayer "takes and also expresses” our human and spiritual needs, he explained, alluding to the phrase "Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins."
The Pontiff noted that this “is not an 'asking' to satisfy one's own wishes, as much rather as gaining from it friendship with God, who - as the Gospel says - "will give the Holy Spirit to those that ask it of him.
People throughout history have become "friends of God" through prayer, he added, saying that among them was St. Teresa of Avila. And it was she, he pointed out, "who invited her sisters to 'beseech God to deliver us from these perils forever and to keep us from all evil! And although our desire for this may not be perfect, let us strive to make the petition. What does it cost us to ask it, since we ask it of One Who is so powerful?'
"Whenever we recite the Our Father, our voice is intertwined with that of the Church, so that he who prays is never alone.“
Concluding the thought with a quotation from a 1989 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Christian meditation, Pope Benedict said, "From the rich variety of Christian prayer as proposed by the Church, each member of the faithful should seek and find his own way, his own form of prayer.... therefore, let himself be led ... by the Holy Spirit, who guides him, through Christ, to the Father."
He ended his catechesis in prayer for the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, the location of the tomb of St. James, whose feast is celebrated on Sunday. He also asked that the Virgin Mary "help us to rediscover the beauty and the depth of Christian prayer."