Allocution Sunday, April 25, Fourth Sunday of Easter

By: Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García

We greatly value the efforts of those who make this radio broadcast possible, today Sunday, April 25, Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Sunday of the Good Shepherd and Sunday of prayer for priestly and religious vocations.

We hear in all the Catholic churches of the world the gospel according to St. John, chapter 10, verses 11 to 18.

(EVANGELIO)

They understand this gospel passage very well, the cowboys who have cattle. They talk to their cows, caress them, know the maximum amount of milk they have produced and if they get sick, they cure them. The same goes for the owners of rams, pigs, chickens. Their animals know their owners by hissing, by walking, by smell. Those who have pets carry them, play with them and when they leave the house, when they return, from several blocks, they already know that their master is coming. Thus were the good shepherds of Christ’s time.

An example of greater love is that of our mother, who from the mother’s womb to today, all the beats of her heart, all her thoughts, all her actions, all her words, are for our happiness, although when they scold us for our good we do not understand it.

All these loves that we see and experience, multiplied to infinity, is the love of God the Creator Father, of God the Shepherd Son, of God the sanctifying Holy Spirit. God the Father thought of us from eternity so that we could be happy, receiving and sharing love.

He sends us messengers of love: our parents, grandparents, family members, doctors, nurses, teachers, friends, priests, nuns and countless people who positively mark our lives.

God, like the Good Shepherd, knows us, because He created us. He goes before us so that we may walk his way, through which no one has ever been lost. He goes next to us, teaching us to be happy. He goes after us protecting us from the dangers of sin, from selfishness. He sends us his Holy Ghost so that when we reach the crossroads and do not know which path to take, we may discern and choose the best.

He feeds us with his Word and with the Body and Blood of Christ, so that despite tiredness and failure, we may continue to do good.

Let us hear His his whistlings, his voice, let us let ourselves be charged by Him when we are on the ground; Let us let ourselves be healed by Him when the wounds of sin harm us and sicken us, let us look at His cross, a sign of his great love. No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for friends and we live with the certainty that our Pastor God will never leave us abandoned and awaits us in the house of heaven where we will enjoy multiplied happiness lived on this earth by the love received and shared.

(CANTO)

Let us pray on this Sunday for the messengers of peace and joy that The Good Shepherd sends us.

Christ, Lord of the God and of the Church, thank you for the priests you gave us. They baptized us and gave us communion.

So many times in confession they forgive us in your name and continually feed us with your Word and with the Sacraments.

But if we’re grateful for all this, we’re worried too.

Well, there are so many people who don’t have priests yet.

Neighborhoods of cities, new towns, chapels, do not know the presence of priests.

Who will bring the gospel to these people?

Will they be abandoned without the presence of the Church, the richness of the Word, and the grace of the Sacraments?

Lord, also to them send them priests, religious, and missionaries as you sent them to us.

Call new apostles as you called Peter and James, John and Andrew and all the others. Call them from our village. Call them from our community. Call them from our family. Come to us, sir. Knock on our door. Call one of our family, some son to be a priest, a religious, a missionary, a daughter to be a nun, a religious, a missionary, a catechist, a servant. Call them, sir.

We’ll support them. We’ll help you. Give us Lord, that grace and that joy. amen.

(CANTO)

The Pope tells us that vocal prayer is dialogue. Father’s conversation with his Son, the Shepherd’s with his sheep.

“Prayer is dialogue with God; and every creature, in a sense, ‘dialogues’ with God. In the human being, prayer becomes word, invocation, singing, poetry… The divine Word has become flesh, and in the flesh of every man the word returns to God in prayer.

“Words are our creatures, but they are also our mothers, and somehow they model us. The words of a prayer make us safely cross a dark valley, lead us into green meadows rich in waters, making us feast under the eyes of an enemy, as it teaches us to recite the psalm (cf. Psalm 23). Words hide feelings, but there is also the reverse path: the one in which words shape feelings. The Bible educates man so that everything may come out in the light of the word, that nothing human is excluded, censored. Above all, pain is dangerous if it stays covered, closed inside us… A closed pain within us, which cannot be expressed or vented, can poison the soul; it’s deadly.

“For this reason Sacred Scripture teaches us to pray also with sometimes bold words. Sacred writers do not want to deceive us about man: they know that in their hearts they also harbor unedified feelings, including hatred. None of us are born holy, and when these evil feelings knock on the door of our hearts it is necessary to be able to deactivate them with prayer and with the words of God. In the psalms we also find very harsh expressions against enemies—expressions that spiritual teachers teach us to refer to the devil and our sins; and they are also words that belong to human reality and that have ended in the channel of the Holy Scriptures. They are there to testify to us that, if words did not exist in the after-violence, to make bad feelings harmless, to channel them into harm, the world would be completely sunk.

“The first human prayer is always a vocal recitation. First of all, the lips always move. Although as we all know how to pray it does not mean repeating words, however, vocal prayer is the safest and it is always possible to exercise it. Feelings, however, even if they are noble, are always uncertain: they come and go, abandon us and return. Not only that, the graces of prayer are also unpredictable: at some point consolations abound, but on darker days they seem to evaporate at all. The prayer of the heart is mysterious and at certain times it is absent. The prayer of the lips, which is whispered or recited in chorus, however, is always available, and is necessary as manual work. The Catechism states: ‘Vocal prayer is an indispensable element of Christian life. To the disciples, attracted by the silent prayer of their Master, he teaches them a vocal prayer: the Our Father’ (n. 2701). ‘Teach us to pray,’ the disciples ask Jesus, and Jesus teaches a vocal prayer: the Our Father. And in that prayer is everything.”

(CANTO)

“We should all have the humility of certain elders who, in the church, perhaps because their ear is no longer well, recite in half a voice the prayers they learned as children, filling the corridor with whispers. This prayer does not disturb silence, but bears witness to fidelity to the duty of prayer, practiced throughout life, without ever failing. These prayers of humble prayer are often the great intercessors of parishes: they are the oaks that extend their branches every year, to shade the greatest number of people. Only God knows how much and when his heart is bound to these recited prayers: surely these people have also had to face nights and moments of emptiness. But to vocal prayer you can always remain faithful. It’s like an anchor: hold on to the rope to stay there, faithful, whatever happens.

“We must all learn from the constancy of this Russian pilgrim, from whom he speaks a famous work of spirituality, which he learned the art of prayer by repeateding the same invocation infinitely: ‘Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Lord, have mercy on us sinners!’ I kept repeating only this. If thank you come in your life, if prayer becomes a hot enough day to perceive the presence of the Kingdom here in our midst, if your gaze is transformed into like that of a child, it is because you have insisted on the recitation of a simple Christian jaculatoria. In the end, this becomes part of your breathing. The story of the Russian pilgrim is beautiful: it’s a book for everyone. I advise you to read it: it will help you understand what vocal prayer is.

“Therefore, we must not despise vocal prayer. Someone says, ‘It’s a child’s thing, for ignorant people; I am seeking mental prayer, meditation, the inner emptiness for God to come.’ Please do not need to fall into the pride of despising vocal prayer. It is the prayer of the simple, which Jesus has taught us: our Father, who is in heaven. The words we utter take us by the hand; at times they return the flavor, awaken even the most numb heart; they awaken feelings of those of us who had lost our memory, and take us by the hand to God’s experience. And above all they are the only ones, safely, who direct to God the questions He wants to hear. Jesus has not left us in the fog. He said, ‘You, when you pray, say so!’ And he has taught the prayer of the Our Father.

(CANTO)

Tonight, everyone in the house, gathered around a religious image with a candle or oil lamp, let us pray the best prayer, which Christ taught us, all with our hands up.

In these 50 days of Easter, joy is felt in our hearts by the presence of the Risen Christ. Already in the Old Testament the Word of God invites us to joy.

Do not be saddened, for the joy of God is your strength. Jeremiah 8-10.

The hearts of those who seek God rejoice. First book of Chronicles, chapter 16, verse 10.

Give me back the joy of your salvation. Psalm 50.

The righteous run in joy. Proverbs 29.

Joyful those who walk in the law of the Lord. Psalm 118.

This is the day the Lord acted, be it our joy and our joy. Psalm 117.

What a joy when I was told, we go to the house of the Lord. Psalm 112.

And it shall be Jerusalem my joy and my people my joy, and from now on there shall be no more weeping in it. Isaiah 65.

Serve God with joy, come joyfully in his presence. Psalm 99.

Make me feel the joy and joy. Psalm 50.

I will change your duel in rejoicing and comfort you and rejoice in your sadness. Jeremiah 31.

Look to the East, Jerusalem, and see the joy that comes from God. Baruc 4.

All the good you can do, do it with joy. Ecclesiastical 9.

I’ll cheer you up in my house of prayer. Isaiah 56.

The Lord’s commands are righteous and brighten the heart. Psalm 18.

(CANTO)

And the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit descend upon our families, upon our sick, upon the people we love and reign for sowing. amen.

(CANTO)

Below we offer in full the allocution of the Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García.

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