Pope Francis continued his teaching series on sharing the Gospel with the world, considering this April 26 a group of people, and two specifically, who would not be normally associated with spreading the Good News.
They have, he said:
… a heart that captures like an antenna, it picks up what happens in the world, and prays and intercedes for this. And in this way, they live in union with the Lord and with everyone. And one of them said: “I have voluntarily taken upon myself all faults, from those of the first father down to the last of his descendants, and I have held myself responsible for them.” This is what Jesus did!
They take upon themselves the problems of the world, the difficulties, the ailments, many things, and they pray for them. And these are the great evangelizers.
Who are they?
Who are they? They are the monks and nuns of the world, said Pope Francis, who “renounce themselves and who renounce the world to imitate Jesus on the path of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and to intercede on behalf of all.”
The Pope pointed to St. Therese of Lisieux, a patron of the missions, even though she didn’t leave her Carmelite convent in France.
He also offered the example of a monk that he proclaimed Doctor of the Church, Gregory of Narek.
This saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church spent much of his life at the monastery of Narek, south of Lake Van. A theologian and great mystic author, he deeply explored the themes of divine mercy, spiritual combat, and the love of the mystical life.
He died around 1005, leaving abundant written works, including a commentary on the Song of Songs and many poems, hymns, and odes.
Gregory of Narek was recognized as the 36th doctor of the Church by Pope Francis on April 12, 2015. He became the second doctor to come from an Eastern Church, after Ephrem the Syrian, declared in 1920 by Benedict XV.
The Reserve forces
Speaking of monks and nuns today, Pope Francis said that “by intercession and daily work, they are a bridge of intercession for all people and all sins.”
They weep, even shedding tears, they weep for their sins – after all, we are all sinners – and they also weep for the sins of the world, and they pray and intercede with their hands and heart raised up.
Let us think a little of this – if I may permit myself the use of the word – “reserve” that we have in the Church: they are the true strength, the true force that carries the People of God forward.
Go to visit!
But Pope Francis drew from this an invitation:
The People of God have the habit, he said, when they meet a consecrated man or woman, to ask them, “Pray for me, pray for me.”
“Because,” he said, “they know there is a prayer of intercession.”
It will do us good – to the extent we are able – to visit a monastery, because there one prays and works. Each one has its own rules, but their hands are always occupied: engaged in work, engaged in prayer.
May the Lord give us new monasteries, may he give us new monks and nuns to carry the Church forward with their intercession.