VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has requested prayers as he and all the pilgrims attending this year’s World Youth Day, prepare to make their way to Krakow, Poland.
The Pope, who leaves Wednesday, said Sunday that he is traveling to Krakow in order “to encounter these boys and girls,” as well as “to celebrate with them and for them the Jubilee of Mercy, through the intercession of St. John Paul II.”
“I ask you to accompany us with prayer,” he told the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square during his weekly Angelus address July 24.
Francis also expressed his gratitude towards all those working to welcome the pilgrims coming to Poland for the international event, along with the many bishops, priests, religious and laity.
He then turned his thoughts to the many people who cannot attend in person, but who will follow the event through means of communication. “We will all be united in prayer.”
The 31st World Youth Day is being hosted in the homeland of its founder, St. John Paul II this week, starting Tuesday and running through next Sunday. Pope Francis himself will take part in the international gathering starting July 28.
Before leading the crowds in the Angelus prayer, the Pope delivered a reflection on the day’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches his followers how to pray to the Father.
The word “Father” is the “secret” of Jesus’ prayer, he said. “It is the key which he himself gives us, in order that even we can enter into that relationship of confidential dialogue with the Father.”
The Our Father allows God to “manifest his holiness in us” and advance “his reign,” making it possible for him to exercise his “loving lordship in our lives,” he explained.
The prayer taught by Jesus addresses three basic human needs — “bread, forgiveness and help in temptations” — none of which we can live without, the Pope said.
Beginning with the “bread,” Francis explained how it is “the bread of pilgrims,” adding that “it is neither horded up nor wasted.”
Forgiveness, meanwhile, is above all else “that which we receive from God,” he said. It is the “awareness of being sinners, forgiven by infinite Divine Mercy,” which allows us to make “concrete gestures of fraternal reconciliation.”
Without this awareness of being a forgiven sinner, a person “can never make a gesture of forgiveness or reconciliation,” the Pope said. Such an act “begins from the heart” and the feeling of being a forgiven sinner.
Finally, the expression “Lead us not into temptation,” he said, “expresses the awareness of our condition, always exposed to the dangers of evil and corruption.”
“We all know what a temptation is,” he remarked, off the cuff.
Francis went on to reference the two parables also given in the Gospel reading. The first parable is about one friend asking another for a loaf of bread; even though he may refuse at first, he will eventually respond if his friend is persistent. The second points to the analogy between a father, who knows what is good to give his children, and God the Father.
Both of these parables “want to teach us to have complete faith in God, who is Father,” the Pope said. “He knows our needs better than we do, but wants us to present them with audacity and insistence, since this is our way of participating in his work of salvation.”
Finally, Francis stressed the importance of the Holy Spirit in living well” and in doing “the will of God.” He encouraged the crowds to pray over the coming week: “Father, give me the Holy Spirit.”
For her part, Mary proves with her very existence that “everything is enlivened by the Holy Spirit,” Francis said. She helps us “pray to the Father, united to Jesus, to live not in a worldly way, but according to the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit.”