Pope Francis: 'Prayer is breath of faith in war-torn world'

By Francesca Merlo

In the preface of a book published on Tuesday, 23 January, Pope Francis emphasises the importance of praying insistently as wars are fought around the world.

The Pope’s preface introduces Cardinal Angelo Comastri’s “Praying Today. A Challenge to Be Overcome“, which was published by the Vatican Publishing House (LEV) in connection with the Year of Prayer.

“Prayer is the breath of faith; it is its most proper expression,” writes Pope Francis.

It is not easy to find words to express the mystery of prayer, continues the Pope, adding that despite the many definitions from saints and masters of spirituality, “it can only ever be described in the simplicity of those who live it.”

Texts as we head into the Jubilee

Cardinal Comastri’s book is the first in a series of brief texts set to be published throughout the Year of Prayer, which was launched on Sunday by Pope Francis ahead of the Jubilee of 2025.

Pope Francis explains that this series seeks “to promote this Year of Prayer” and to help Christians “to enter into the various dimensions of prayer.”

He thanks the various authors of the series for their contributions, adding, “I gladly place these ‘Notes’ in your hands, so that each one may rediscover the beauty of entrusting oneself to the Lord with humility and joy.”

In fact, “the Ordinary Jubilee of 2025 is just around the corner,” continues the Pope in his preface, wondering: “How can we prepare for this event, so important for the life of the Church, if not through prayer?”

Scenario we live in calls for prayers

Pope Francis describes the modern-day need for “a true spirituality, capable of responding to the great questions that arise every day in our lives, provoked also by a world scenario that is certainly not serene.

He then highlights this world scenario by shining light on “the ecological-economic-social crisis aggravated by the recent pandemic; the wars, especially the one in Ukraine, which sow death, destruction, and poverty;” and “the throwaway culture of indifference.”

“These phenomena contribute to generating a heavy climate, which prevents so many people from living with joy and serenity,” says the Pope. “We need, therefore, our prayer to rise with greater insistence to the Father, so that He may hear the voice of those who turn to Him in the confidence of being answered.”

Various pastoral initiatives

Pope Francis says the Year of Prayer should not undermine pastoral initiatives carried out in particular Churches.

Rather, he adds, the Year seeks to “recall the foundation on which the various pastoral plans should develop and find consistency. It is a time in which, both personally and as a community, one can rediscover the joy of praying in a variety of forms and expressions.”

The Holy Father invites everyone to embrace humility so as to make room “for the prayer that flows from the Holy Spirit,” as “it is He who knows how to put the right words in our hearts and on our lips to be heard by the Father.”

Contributions of consecrated men and women

Pope Francis also prays for bishops, priests, deacons, and catechists, assuring them of his certainty that they will “find in this year the most suitable ways to place prayer at the basis of the proclamation of hope that the Jubilee 2025 intends to make resound in this troubled time.”

The Holy Father highlights the contribution of consecrated persons, especially communities of contemplative life, as being “very valuable.”

He expresses his hope that “in all the shrines of the world, privileged places for prayer, initiatives will increase so that each pilgrim may find an oasis of serenity and depart with a heart full of consolation.”

Finally, Pope Francis extends his invitation to all, praying that “personal and community prayer become unceasing, without interruption, according to the will of the Lord Jesus, so that the Kingdom of God may spread and the Gospel reach every person who asks for love and forgiveness.”