On Wednesday, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica for the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, during which he said prayer is the “way out” when we become closed in on ourselves.
Pope Francis centred his June 29 homily
on the day’s Gospel reading, and reflected on the themes of being opened and closed, as demonstrated by the lives of Saints Peter and Paul.
Drawing from examples from the life of Peter, such as when he was imprisoned, the Holy Father said “prayer appears as the main way out. It is a way out for the community, which risks closing in on itself out of persecution and fear.”
“Prayer, as humble entrustment to God and his holy will, is always the way out of our becoming ‘closed’, as individuals and as a community.”
Likewise, this theme of going out in service of the Gospel is seen in the writings of St Paul.
“Paul’s life was utterly projected forward, in bringing Christ to those who did not know him, and then in rushing, as it were, into Christ’s arms, to be “saved for his heavenly kingdom,” the Pope said.
Turning back to Peter, Pope Francis reflected on how he was set free by Christ’s “compassionate gaze” which “pierces the heart and brings tears of repentance.”
The Pope referenced the scene in the Gospels in which Peter encounters Jesus after having denied him three times.
“At that moment, Simon Peter was set free from the prison of his selfish pride and fear, and overcame the temptation of closing his heart to Jesus’s call to follow him along the way of the cross.”
Pope Francis also spoke of the “constant temptation for the Church” of “closing in on herself in the face of danger.”
“Prayer enable grace to open a way out from closure to openness, from fear to courage, from sadness to joy. And we can add: from division to unity.”
During the Mass, the Pope conferred the Pallium to twenty-five prelates from eleven countries who were named metropolitan archbishops over the past year. Included among them were US Archbishop Bernard Anthony Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, MN, Archbishop Adam Szal of Przemyśl, Poland, and Archbishop Basilio Athaei of Taunggyi, Myanmar.
The pallium is a woolen vestment conferred on a new archbishop by the Pope, traditionally on the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.