Words of Pope Francis at Prayer Vigil at Saint Peter

Words of Pope Francis at Prayer Vigil at Saint Peter March 27, 2020

A thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities.  We find ourselves afraid and lost.  Like the disciples on the Gospel we were caught off guard by a turbulent storm.  We have realized we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented.  But at the same time, important and needed.  All of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.  All of us are on this boat just like those disciples who spoke anxiously with one voice, “we are perishing.”  We too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

It is harder to understand Jesus’ attitude.  In spite of the tempest he sleeps on soundly trusting in the Father.  When he wakes up after calming the winds and the waters he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice, “have you no faith?”

In what does the lack of the disciple’s faith consist?  They think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them.  One of the things that hurts us and our families most, is when we hear it said, “do you not care about me?”  This would have shaken Jesus too.  Indeed, once they call on him, he saves his disciples from the storm.

A storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those faults and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our habits and priorities.  It shows us how we have allowed ourselves to become dull and feeble, the very things that nourish and sustain our lives and communities.  In the storm the façade of the stereotypes with which we camouflage our egos has fallen away.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you yet no faith?”

Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards all of us in this world that you love more than we do.  We have gone ahead in great speed feeling powerful and able to do anything, greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things and lured away by haste.  We have not stopped.  We were not shaken away by injustice across the world.  Nor did we listen to the cry of the poor of our gravely ailing planet.  We carried on regardless thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.  Now that we are in a stormy sea we implore you, wake up Lord.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you yet no faith?”

Lord, you are calling to us to faith, which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you this Lent your call reverberates urgently.  Return to me with all your hearts.  You are calling us to seize this time of trail as a time of choosing, a time of decision.  It is not a time of your judgement, but of our judgement.  A time to choose what matters and what passes away.  A time to separate what is necessary from what is not.  It is a time to get our lives back in track in regards to you Lord and others.

It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, who do not appear on the front pages of newspapers, or magazines.  But are in these very days writing the decisive of our times: doctors, nurses, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order personnel, volunteers, priests, religious men and women.  No one reaches salvation by themselves.

In the face of so much suffering, when the authentic development of our people is assessed, we remember the priestly prayer of Jesus that we may all be one.  So many are exercising patience, sharing responsibility.  How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all.

Faith begins when we realize that we are in need of salvation.  We are not self-sufficient.  By ourselves we flounder.  We need the Lord like ancient navigators needed the starts.  Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives.  Let us hand over our fears to him so He can conquer them.  Like the disciples we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck.  He brings serenity into our storms because with God life never dies.

The Lord asks us and in the midst of our tempest invites us to reawaken and to practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, hope and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering.  The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith.  We have an anchor, by his cross we have been saved.  By his cross we have been redeemed.  We have our hope.  By his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no-one can separate us from his redeeming love.

In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us, “He is risen and is living by our side.”  The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us.  Let us allow hope to be rekindled.

By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope.  And let is strengthen and sustain all measures and possible avenues to help us protect ourselves and others.  Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope.  This is the strength of hope which brings us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid? Have you yet no faith?”

Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock solid faith, I would like this evening to address all of you to the Lord with the intercession of Mary, Star of the stormy sea.  And may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace.

Lord, bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.  You ask us not to be afraid, yet our faith is weak Lord and we are fearful, but you Lord, do not leave us at the mercy of the storm.  Tell us again, do not be afraid.  And we together with Peter cast all our anxieties onto you because we know that you care for us.

[This is not a complete transcript, but what I was able to type as I listened to the Pope live]


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