Pope Francis renews his request for prayers for his predecessor in "these difficult hours."
Vatican News released an update on Benedict XVI’s health this December 29, after Pope Francis requested the faithful to pray for the Pope Emeritus on December 28, saying he is “very ill.”
Responding to questions put to him by reporters, the director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, said, “The Pope Emeritus managed to rest well last night, he is absolutely lucid and alert and today, although his condition remains serious, the situation at the moment is stable.“
Bruni also said that Pope Francis “renews his invitation to pray for him and to accompany him in these difficult hours.”
The 95-year-old Pope Emeritus spends his time in prayer for the Church, as he has done since his retirement in 2013.
In February, he wrote that he is facing death with “good cheer.”
Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life. Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my “Paraclete.”
What do we pray?
On December 28, the Vatican social media channels released a simple prayer that can be found here.
The Church invites us to pray assiduously for the grace of final perseverance, both for ourselves and for others. This applies in a special way for those who face an imminent death.
The Catholic Encyclopedia explains succinctly: Final perseverance is the preservation of the state of grace till the end of life. The expression is taken from Matthew 10:22, “He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.”
In fact, as the Catechism tells us, we pray for this grace each time we say the “Our Father.”
The petition “lead us not into temptation” implores the Spirit of discernment and strength; it requests the grace of vigilance and final perseverance.
While we are called to a firm hope in the “great gift” of final perseverance, we should recall that this grace cannot be merited, and we should pray for it. We should be mindful that Satan also perseveres in tempting us to the last hour.
The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death. In the ancient litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray: “From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord”; to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us “at the hour of our death” in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death.CCC 1014
Thus, we pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, that God will be very close to him “in these difficult hours.” That he will comfort and strengthen him, give him peace and healing, and grant him a holy death.
A brief prayer to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
I give you my heart and my soul.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Assist me in my last agony.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
May I sleep and take my rest in peace with you.