As I write this column, I am also following online the Mass for the Swiss Guards who, normally on May 6 each year, hold the moving swearing-in ceremony for new Swiss Guards. If you speak some Italian (and a bit of French and German), you might be interested in watching this, whenever you have time (https://www.guardiasvizzera.ch/paepstliche-schweizergarde/it/chi-siamo/). After Mass there will be an awards ceremony in another part of Vatican City, The actual swearing-in ceremony has been postponed and will take place, hopefully with family and friends, on October 4, 2020.
POPE FRANCIS: PRAYER IS THE BREATH OF FAITH
At today’s general audience, held in the library of the Apostolic Palace, as has become traditional during these months of the coronavirus pandemic with strict social distancing rules in place in Italy and Vatican City, Pope Francis began a new series of catecheses on the them of prayer.
As is customary, multi-lingual monsignori from the Secretariat of State were present and gave summaries of the papal catechesis in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish.
“Today we begin a new series of catechesis on prayer,” stated Pope Francis. “Prayer is the breath of faith, a cry arising from the hearts of those who trust in God. We see this in the story of Bartimaeus, the beggar from Jericho. Though blind, he is aware that Jesus is approaching, and perseveres in calling out: ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
“By using the phrase ‘Son of David’,” explained the Pope, “Bartimaeus makes a profession of faith in Jesus the Messiah. In response the Lord invites Bartimaeus to express his desire, which is to be able to see again. Christ then tells him: ‘Go; your faith has saved you’. This indicates that faith is a cry for salvation attracting God’s mercy and power.”
The Holy Father noted that, “It is not only Christians who pray but all men and women who search for meaning on their earthly journey. As we continue on our pilgrimage of faith, may we, like Bartimaeus, always persevere in prayer, especially in our darkest moments, and ask the Lord with confidence: ‘Jesus have mercy on me. Jesus, have mercy on us!’”
After the catechesis, in greetings for Italian-speaking faithful tuning in to the online general audience, Pope Francis pointed out that “the day after tomorrow, Friday, May 8 the intense prayer of the ‘Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary’ will rise at the Shrine of Pompeii. I urge everyone to join spiritually in this popular act of faith and devotion, so that through the intercession of the Holy Virgin, the Lord may grant mercy and peace to the Church and to the whole world.”
POPE APPEALS FOR END TO EXPLOITATION OF FARM WORKERS
Following the general audience catechesis on prayer and summaries in various languages, Pope Francis made the following appeal: “On May 1st, I received several messages about the world of work and its problems. I was particularly struck by that of the farm workers, among them many migrants, who work in the Italian countryside. Unfortunately, many are very harshly exploited. It is true that the current crisis affects everyone, but people’s dignity must always be respected. That is why I add my voice to the appeal of these workers and of all exploited workers. May the crisis give us the opportunity to make the dignity of the person and the dignity of work the centre of our concern.”