The Catechesis of Pope Benedict XVI

General Audiences: On Prayer
Pope Benedict XVI

Pope-Benedict-XVI-addresses-200-000-pilgrims-at-his-final-General-Audience

1. Christian Prayer
At the General Audience on 4 May 2011, in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father began a new catechetical series on the subject of prayer.. In his first catechesis, the Pope drew attention to the fact that in ancient cultures, prayer was almost always addressed to God.

2. Prayer and the Religious Sense
At the General Audience on 11 May 2011, in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued his new catechetical series on the subject of prayer. In this catechesis, the Pope said that, despite the growth of secularism, there is evidence that man is religious by nature, and that he “bears within him the desire for God.”

3. The Prayer of Abraham
At the General Audience on 18 May 2011, in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued his catechetical series on the subject of prayer. In this catechesis, the Pope reflects on examples of prayer from the Old Testament, beginning with the Patriarch Abraham.

4. The Prayer of Jacob
At his General Audience on 25 May 2011, in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued his catechetical series on the subject of prayer. In this catechesis, the Pope reflected on the account in Genesis 32 of the Patriarch Jacob wrestling with God all night at the ford of the Jabbock.

5. The Prayer of Moses
At his General Audience on 1 June 2011, in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued his catechetical series on the subject of prayer. In this catechesis, the Pope reflected on the Prophet Moses, his role as mediator between God and Israel, and his intercessory prayer for God’s mercy.

6. The Prayer of the Prophet Elijah
“The primary aim of prayer is conversion: the flame of God that transforms our heart and enables us to see God”, and thus to live in accordance with God and live for others. The Pope said this in his catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday 15 June 2011, held in St Peter’s Square.

7. Prayer in the Book of Psalms
At the General Audience on Wednesday, 22 June 2011, in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued his catechetical series on the subject of prayer. The Pope began a new stage in his catechesis, entering “the book of prayer” par excellence, the Book of Psalms, with the intent to comment on particular psalms in the comming weeks.

8. Keep the Holy Bible Within Reach
On Wednesday, 3 August 2011, the Holy Father resumed his General Audiences at Castel Gandolpho, continuing his catecheses on the “school of prayer.” In this catechesis, the Pope suggested for vacation reading books of the Bible that are less well known, for example, Tobit, Esther, Ruth.

9. God Speaks in Silence
Monasteries are true and proper oases of the spirit in which God speaks to humanity. The Pope said this to the faithful at the General Audience of Wednesday, 10 August 2011, that was held in the courtyard of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo.

10. In Madrid with the World’s Youth
The day before departing for Madrid, for the 26th World Youth Day, the Holy Father asked the faithful, taking part in the General Audience of Wednesday, 17 August 2011, at Castel Gandolfo, to join with their prayers in this important ecclesial event. The Pope went on to explain “rumination” on truths of the faith in mental prayer.

11. A Colourful Alphabet
Art is one of the paths that lead men and women to the encounter with God, the source of every form of beauty. This was the topic of the Holy Father’s reflection at the General Audience on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, for the faithful in the square outside the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo.

12. The Cry of Anguish that Opens the Heavens
God never abandons his People, he hears its desperate cry. And that cry becomes a prayer of thanksgiving since humiliation is transformed into glory and death into life. This sums up the Catechesis on Psalm 22 which the Holy Father offered the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall on Wednesday morning, 14 September 2011, at the General Audience.

13. A God Who Answers the Cry of Man
When people ask for help, God answers. In the Holy Father’s Catechesis to the faithful in St Peter’s Square at the General Audience on Wednesday, 7 September 2011, he reflected on Psalm 3, in the Jewish tradition attributed to King David, in which the Psalmist cries out to God to save him from his foes.

14. Who Can Find Grass and Water in the Desert
On 5 October 2011, at the General Audience in St Peter’s Square, resuming his Catechesis on prayer, the Holy Father commented on the image of the shepherd who “knows each one of his sheep and calls them by name; and they follow him because they recognize him”. This week Benedict XVI reflected on Psalm 23[22].

15. Open to Hope, Steadfast in Faith
The history of humanity, even though it is marked by suffering, is a history of salvation. For this reason we must “always be open to hope and steadfast in faith in God”, the Pope said to the faithful on Wednesday, 12 October 2011, at the General Audience in St Peter’s Square. The Holy Father was reflecting on Psalm 126[125].

16. The History of God’s Goodness from Creation to Salvation
At the General Audience on 19 October 2011, the Holy Father spoke of the “Great Hallel”, Psalm 136[135]. This solemn prayer of thanksgiving was traditionally sung at the conclusion of the Passover meal, he said, so it “was probably also prayed by Jesus at the Last Supper celebrated with his disciples”.

17. The Alphabet of God’s Law
At the General Audience on 9 November 2011, in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father returned to his series of Catecheses on prayer. He focused his meditation on Psalm 119[118], a long and solemn canticle on the Torah, the Law of the Lord.

18. True Kingship is Service and Gift of Self
At the General Audience on 16 November 2011, the Holy Father concluded his Catechesis on Christian prayer by commenting on Psalm 110 [109], one of the famous “royal Psalms”. The Pope said that it was perhaps “originally linked to the enthronement of a Davidic monarch”. The Church interprets this Psalm as a prophecy of Christ.

19. Windows Open to Heaven
Addressing the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the General Audience on 30 November 2011, the Holy Father announced that having reflected in previous Catecheses on some examples of prayer in the Old Testament, he would now be examining the prayer of Jesus.

20. With the Heart of a Child
At the General Audience on 7 December 2011, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall, continuing his series on the prayer of Jesus the Holy Father focused his meditation this week on the Cry of Messianic Exultation of Jesus Christ.

21. Hearts Open to the Needs of Those Beside Us
At the General Audience of 14 December 2011, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father continued his Catecheses on the prayer of Jesus. In prayer, the Pope said, Christians strengthen their “personal relationship with God” and at the same time open “their hearts to the needs of those beside them”.

22. The School of Prayer in the House of Nazareth
At the General Audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall, on 28 Decmber 2011, the Holy Father spoke of the Holy Family, the house of Nazareth, as a “school of prayer” where one learns “to listen, meditate on and penetrate the profound meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, following the example of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.”

23. The Food That Gives Strength to the Weary and Bewildered
At the General Audience in the Paul VI Hall on 11 January 2012, the Holy Father commented on the prayer with which Jesus instituted the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the food of pilgrims which becomes strength for those who are weary, worn-out and bewildered.

Origins of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
“How can we give a convincing witness if we are divided?” asked the Holy Father regarding the New Evangelization during the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 18 January 2012. The Pope gave a short history of the ecumenical movement over the past century.

24. The Church Is Born From Jesus’ Prayer
The Church is born from Jesus’ prayer, and thus becomes “the place in which Christ’s same mission continues”, the Holy Father said at the General Audience in the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday, 25 January 2012. The Pope continued his Catechesis on Christian prayer in light of the Jewish feast of expiation “Yom Kippur”, commenting on the priestly prayer which Jesus offered at the Last Supper.

25. Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane
At his General Audience, on 1 February 2012 in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father continued his Catechesis on prayer, reflecting on the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. The Pope spoke of the human freedom brought about by saying Yes to God, exemplified in the Son’s obedience to His Father.

26. The Prayer of Jesus as He Faces Death
At the General Audience on 8 February 2012, in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father, in his series of reflections on Christian prayer, reflected on the cry of Jesus from the Cross. “In the most difficult situations, when it seems that God does not hear, we must not fear to entrust to him our overburdened hearts.”

27. Ever in God’s Hands
At the General Audience on 15 February 2012, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, continuing his series of Catecheses on the Christian prayer, the Holy Father reflected on Jesus’ prayer in the imminence of death, in particular, the three words from the Cross recorded by St Luke.

28. Wordless Is the Word
At the General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday, 7 March 2012, bringing the series of his Catecheses on prayer to a close, the Holy Father reflected on the importance of silence in Jesus’ life and on the Christian’s relationship with God.

29. Without Mary There Is No Church
“It is impossible to talk about the Church if Mary is not present”. This comment of St Chromatius of Aquileia on the Acts of the Apostles was taken up by Holy Father at the General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday, 14 March 2012.

 

30. The Church That Prays Finds Harmony in Times of Trial
At the General Audience on Wednesday, 18 April 2012, the Pope resumed the series of his Catecheses on prayer with a reflection on the “little Pentecost”, as Luke tells it in the Acts of the Apostles. The Holy Father emphasized the union in steadfast prayer of the Church under persecution.

31. Charity and Justice a Spiritual Service
At his General Audience in St Peter’s Square on 25 April 2012, the Holy Father pointed out that charity and justice are not only “social actions” but are a “spiritual service,” part of the Church’s mission. This “unity of life between prayer and action” is exemplified by the Saints.

32. St Stephen’s Prayer
God never tires of reaching out to man; even if he often encounters an attitude of misunderstanding and diffidence, if not of “obstinate opposition”. The Holy Father said this to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square at the General Audience on Wednesday, 2 May [2012], with reference to the witness and prayer of St Stephen, the Protomartyr.

33. Peter Trusts in God
During the General Audience in St Peter’s Square on 9 May 2012, the Holy Father spoke to the faithful about the last episode in St Peter’s life recorded in Scripture, his imprisonment, in which he “completely abandons himself into the hands of the Lord”.

34. Prayer Sets Men Free
Prayer helps us overcome every form of slavery, it liberates us from contradictions, and allows us to live in authentic freedom as the children of God. The Holy Father offered this reflection at the General Audience on Wednesday, 16 May 2012, to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square.

35. Christianity a Religion of Trust
In his General Audience of 23 May 2012, in St Peter’s Square, the Pope explained the fatherhood of God as having two dimensions, the first as our Creator, a relationship shared by all human beings, the second as our Father by adoption, reserved to those who receive the Holy Spirit from Christ, the true Son.

36. God Comforts in Trial and Tribulation
Living every situation united to Christ is the only way to overcome discouragement in the face of suffering and troubles, Benedict XVI said to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square at the General Audience of Wednesday, 30 May 2012.

37. Prayer the Power to Overcome Weakness
Prayer has the power to help us get the better of every human weakness, to avoid the snares of the Evil One and overcome every other adversity. This was the subject of the Reflection, which the Holy Father, continuing in his series on prayer, offered the faithful at the General Audience on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall.

38. Prayer Brings into Being Men and Women Who Can Love
In his General Audience of 20 June 2012, the Holy Father continued his catechesis on prayer, speaking about the hymn that introduces St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, “which is a hymn of blessing, an expression of gratitude, of joy.”

39. The Way of Christian Life
At the General Audience on Wednesday, 27 June 2012, the topic of the Holy Father’s Catechesis was the Hymn to Christ in the Letter to the Philippians, proclaiming His saving work, from the humiliation of the Cross to the glory of the Resurrection.

40. St Alphonsus Mary Ligurori and Prayer
The Holy Father addressed the faithful taking part in the General audience of 1 August 2012, in Piazza della Libertà, the square outside the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo. Resuming the General Audiences after the summer break, the Pope focused his Catechesis in Italian on the teaching of St Alphonsus Mary Liguori.

41. The Spirituality of St Dominic Guzmán
On 8 August 2012, at the General Audience in Piazza della Libertà, Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father spoke about St Dominic Guzmán, the 13th-century Spanish mendicant who founded the Order of Preachers. Continuing his series of reflections on prayer, on the Memorial of this “man of prayer” the Pope reflected on the nine ways attributed to the Saint.

42. Prayer in the Book of Revelation
On 5 September 2012, after arriving at the Vatican from Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI resumed his teaching on prayer with the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall. From the Book of Revelation, we learn that “in prayer that we become ever more aware of Jesus’ presence with us and in us.”

43. Prayer in the Second Part of Revelation
In a continuation of his catechesis on Prayer in the Book of Revelation, at his General Audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall on 12 September 2012, the Holy Father said that Revelation teaches us that, “by raising our gaze to God’s Heaven,” in faithful fellowship with Christ, we learn to see the events of our lives in a new light.

44. The Liturgy Is Service and Participation in Divine Action
The liturgy is “service in the name of/on behalf of the people” and participation in “God’s Action”. The Holy Father said this at the General Audience on Wednesday, 26 September 2012. He reminded the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square that the Second Vatican Council began 50 years ago “with the discussion of the draft on the Sacred Liturgy.”

45. The Christian Liturgy: Heavenly Worship Open to All
The Christian liturgy is the “worship of a wide open heaven”. That is why “there are no ‘strangers’ in the liturgical community”. The Holy Father said this, continuing his reflections on prayer, at the General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday, 3 October 2012.