Talking to God

Benedict XVI on prayer and the life and writings of St. Robert Bellarmine.

Pope Benedict XVI waves during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 23.
Pope Benedict XVI waves during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 23. (photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Prayer is not a reflection on one’s self, but a complete abandonment to the word and will of God, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Every person’s actions and life must be inspired by prayer and the Gospel, by living simply and helping others, not accumulating wealth, the Pope said Feb. 23 at his weekly general audience.

The Pope highlighted the life and writings of St. Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit theologian who lived from 1542-1621. The Pope’s catechesis was a continuation of a series of talks dedicated to the “doctors of the Church,” men and women who made important contributions to Catholic theological understanding.

St. Bellarmine offered an important model for prayer, which should be the inspiration for every action, the Pope told an estimated 7,500 people gathered for the audience in the Paul VI hall.

A person in prayer “listens to the word of God, is satisfied with contemplating grandeur, isn’t wrapped up in oneself, but is happy to abandon oneself to God,” he said.
The Pope said a unique feature of St. Bellarmine’s spirituality was his deeply felt perception of God’s immense goodness; he felt like a true child of God, whose love was a source of great joy.

The saint also taught that “who finds God finds everything; who loses God, loses everything,” the Pope said.

People must remember that the purpose of life on earth is God, who continually calls people to be in communion with him, he said.

“We recall the importance of confiding in the Lord, of spending our lives in fidelity to the Gospel, and of accepting and enlightening every circumstance and action in our lives with faith and prayer,” he said.

The saint reminded people to think often and seriously about how they are accountable to God in the way they live their lives, the Pope said. People should not be trying to acquire wealth, but should be living simply and with charity toward others, he added.

Clergy and the faithful need to engage in concrete, personal reform by letting their lives be guided by Scripture and the saints, he said.

“There can be no real reform of the Church if there isn’t our own personal reform and conversion of our hearts first,” he said.

Before the audience, the Pope blessed a statue of St. Maron, a fourth-century hermit who founded the Maronite Catholic Church.

The ceremony took place outdoors in front of the niche where the enormous marble statue was placed on the outer wall of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Among the many people attending ceremony were Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and the Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir.

Although Maronites live all over the world, the church is most closely identified with Lebanon, which is home to nearly 1 million of the world’s approximately 5 million Maronites.