VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, during a daily morning Mass this week, said lamenting suffering is a form of prayer and is not a sin.
“A priest I know once said to a woman who lamented to God about her misfortune, ‘But, madam, that is a form of prayer; go ahead with it,’” Pope Francis said in his June 5 homily.
“To lament before God is not a sin,” he added.
Pope Francis based his reflections on a reading from the third chapter of Tobit, which was read at Mass.
It tells the story of Tobit, who was blinded despite a life of good works, and Sarah, who married seven men who all died before their wedding night. They both pray to God to let them die.
“They are people in extreme situations, and they seek a way out,” Pope Francis said. “They complain, but they do not blaspheme.”
He also mentioned malnourished children, refugees and the terminally ill as examples of those suffering.
Pope Francis went on to speak of the day’s Gospel from Mark 12 in which the Sadducees ask Jesus: If a woman is widowed and marries seven times, which man will be her husband in heaven?
He noted the Sadducees were talking about this woman “as if she were a laboratory, all aseptic,” and that “hers was an abstract, moral problem.”
“When we think of the people who suffer so much, do we think of them as though they were an abstract moral conundrum?” asked Pope Francis. “Or do we think about them with our hearts, with our flesh, too?”
“I do not like it when people speak about tough situations in an academic and not a human manner, sometimes with statistics and that’s it,” he remarked. “In the Church, there are many people in this situation.”
The Pope advised people to pray for those who suffer, noting, “Here is the mystery of the communion of saints.”
“They must come into my heart; they must be a cause of restlessness for me. My brother is suffering, and my sister suffers,” he stated.
“Pray to the Lord, ‘But, Lord, look at that person: He cries; he is suffering,’” the Pope said.
Pope Francis explained that, because of their prayers, God did not let Tobit and Sarah die, but, rather, healed Tobit and gave a husband to Sarah.
“Prayer always reaches God, as long as it is prayer from the heart,” he said.
“When it is an abstract exercise, such as that the Sadducees were discussing, it never reaches him because it never goes out of ourselves,” he remarked.
In those cases, the Holy Father asserted, it “is an intellectual game,” and “we do not care.”
He then asked people to pray for those who live in dramatic situations and suffer as much as Jesus on the cross.
The Mass was attended by members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as well as some personnel from the Vatican Apostolic Library.
The prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, secretary of the same congregation, and Mgsr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the library, also participated.