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Pope gives step-by-step primer on contemplative prayer with Gospel

Pope Francis

Pope Francis: Contemplation is a necessary part of Christian life and that was possible “only with the Gospel in hand”.
Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

TURN off the television, tune out the neighbours, and spend 10 or 15 minutes reading a Gospel passage and speaking to Jesus, Pope Francis told people at his early-morning Mass.

“Today find 10 minutes – 15 at the most – and read the Gospel, imagine the scene and say something to Jesus. Nothing more. Your knowledge of Jesus will increase and your hope will grow,” the Pope said yesterday (February 3) at the Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives.

Pope Francis took the day’s Gospel story, Mark 5:21-43, and showed the small congregation how to read it in a contemplative way:

“I see Jesus was in the midst of the crowd; there was a big crowd around him,” the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio. “Didn’t Jesus ever rest? I can think: ‘Always with a crowd.’ Most of Jesus’ life was spent on the road, with the crowd. Was there no rest? Yes, once, the Gospel says he slept in the boat, but a storm came and the disciples woke him up. Jesus was always with the people. And looking at Jesus that way, contemplating Jesus there, I imagine him. And I tell Jesus whatever comes into my mind to tell him.”

In the day’s Gospel story, he said, Jesus did not only see the crowd, “he feels the heart beat of each person, of each one of us. He takes care of everyone always.”

“What I just did with this Gospel is the prayer of contemplation,” he said, which involved “taking the Gospel, reading it, imagining myself in the scene, imagining what happens and talking to Jesus about whatever is in my heart.”

The key to hope, the Pope said, was to keep “one’s gaze fixed on Jesus”.

It was possible “to have optimism, to be positive” without listening to the Lord, he said, but hope was something that only “is learned by watching Jesus”.

Reciting the Rosary every day was a great practice, he said, as was calling on Mary or the saints when facing a difficulty. But contemplation was a necessary part of Christian life and that was possible “only with the Gospel in hand”.

“In your house, for 15 minutes, take the Gospel, read a little passage, imagine what happened and talk to Jesus about it. In that way, your gaze will be fixed on Jesus and not on a television soap opera, for example. And your listening will be focused on the words of Jesus and not so much on the gossip of your neighbours.”

CNS

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