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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis had a special message for parents today, as he encouraged them to pray for their children by blessing them at the beginning and end of the day.
Wrapping up his series of catecheses on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, on the first Wednesday of Advent, the pope today reflected on the last of the spiritual works of mercy: praying for the living and the dead.
Focusing on the former, the pope said: “How many different ways there are of praying for our neighbor. They are all valid and acceptable to God if they come from the heart.”
The Holy Father extolled in a special way the practice of parents blessing their children before school and at bedtime, saying: “I think in a particular way of the mothers and fathers who bless their children in the morning and at night. This custom still exists in some families: blessing one’s child is a prayer.”
He also commended the practice of praying for those who are ill, and of “silent intercession, at times with tears, in so many difficult situations.”
In off the cuff remarks (featured in the video below) Pope Francis held up the example of a young business who visited Santa Marta this week to pray for his employees.
“Yesterday a good man came to Santa Marta; he was a businessman. That young man had to close his factory because he couldn’t manage anymore and he was weeping, saying: ‘I don’t feel that I can leave more than 50 families without work. I could declare bankruptcy: I would go home with my money, but my heart would weep for these 50 families for the rest of my life.’
“This is a good Christian who prays with his works,” the pope continued. “He came to Mass to pray that the Lord might give him a way out, not only for himself, but for the 50 families. This is a man who knows how to pray, with his heart and deeds, he knows how to pray for his neighbor.”
“It did me much good to hear it,” he said.
The pope concluded today’s audience and his series of catecheses on mercy by encouraging Christians to “ commit ourselves to praying for one another, that the corporal and spiritual works of mercy might increasingly become the style of our way of life.”
Here below is the English summary of the pope’s address.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we conclude our series of catecheses on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The last of the corporal works of mercy, burying the dead, is not untimely, when we think of the many people who risk their lives in order to give decent burial to the victims of war and armed conflict in various parts of our world. Like Joseph of Arimathea, who offered his own tomb for the burial of Jesus, we Christians devoutly bury our dead in hope of the resurrection. The last of the spiritual works of mercy, praying for the living and the dead, is especially meaningful in this month of November, when we commemorate all the faithful departed. Prayer for the living and the dead is an eloquent expression of the communion of saints. Let us open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, who knows our deepest desires and hopes, and embrace in our prayer all those in any kind of need. May the corporal and spiritual works of mercy on which we have meditated throughout the Holy Year continue to inspire and guide our Christian lives on the path of God’s mercy.