“To suffer with patience and to overcome external and internal oppression with love.” That was the prayer of Pope Francis today at the Domus Sanctae Martae during Mass on the feast of Mary Help of Christians.
In his homily, Pope Francis requested two graces: “To endure with patience and to overcome with love.” These are “graces proper to a Christian.” “To suffer with patience,” he notes, “is not easy.” “It is not easy, whether the difficulties come from without, or are problems within the heart, the soul, internal problems.” But to suffer, he explained, is not simply to “bear with a difficulty.”:
“To suffer is to take the difficulty and to carry it with strength, so that the difficulty does not drag us down. To carry it with strength: this is a Christian virtue. Saint Paul says several times: Suffer [endure]. This means do not let ourselves be overcome by difficulties. This means that the Christian has the strength not to give up, to carry difficulties with strength. Carry them, but carry them with strength. It is not easy, because discouragement comes, and one has the urge to give up and say, ‘Well, come on, we'll do what we can but no more.' But no, it is a grace to suffer. In difficulties, we must ask for [this grace], in difficulty.”
The other grace the Pope asks for is “to overcome with love”:
“There are many ways to win, but the grace that we request today is the grace of victory with love, through love. And this is not easy. When we have external enemies that make us suffer so much: it is not easy, to win with love. There is the desire to take revenge, to turn another against him ... Love: the meekness that Jesus taught us. And that is the victory! The Apostle John tells us in the first Reading: ‘This is our victory, our faith.' Our faith is precisely this: believing in Jesus who taught us love and taught us to love everyone. And the proof that we are in love is when we pray for our enemies.”
To pray for enemies, for those who make us suffer, the Pope continued, “is not easy.” But we are “defeated Christians” if we do not forgive enemies, and if we do not pray for them. And “we find so many sad, discouraged Christians,” he exclaimed, because “they did not have this grace of enduring with patience and overcoming with love”:
“Therefore, we ask Our Lady to give us the grace to endure with patience and overcome with love. How many people – so many old men and women - have taken this path! And it is beautiful to see them: they have that beautiful countenance, that serene happiness. They do not say much, but have a patient heart, a heart filled with love. They know what forgiveness of enemies is, they know what it is to pray for enemies. So many Christians are like that!”
On the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and a group of priests, religious, seminarians and lay people from China also attended the ceremony. At the end of the prayers of the faithful, the Pope prayed: “For the noble Chinese people: May the Lord bless them and Our Lady keep them.” The Mass concluded with a hymn to the Virgin Mary in Chinese.