By Deborah Castellano Lubov

On his name day, Pope Francis has reminded that Jesus prays for each one of us.

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed today, April 23, St. George’s Day, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta.

Reminding how Jesus intercedes for us, and how we ought to thank Him for all He does for us, Francis further appeals: “We must have more trust, more than in our prayers, in Jesus’ prayer.”

At the start of the Mass, while remembering all victims of Coronavirus, Francis prayed for families in crisis and for those who are exploiting others during this difficult time.

“In many places, one of the effects of this pandemic is that many families find themselves in need, and they are hungry,” he said, noting “many families who are not working and do not have food to put on the table for their children, are prey to usurers who end up taking the little that they have.”

“This,” he decried, “is another pandemic, another virus: It’s a social pandemic.”

Pope Francis then invited: “Let us pray for these families, for their dignity, and let us pray also for the usurers: that the Lord might touch their hearts and convert them.”

In his homily, the Holy Father commented on today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:27-33) in which Peter, faced with the reproaches and threats of the high priest who wants to forbid him to teach the people, replies that we must obey God rather than to men.

Peter then openly announces before all the Resurrection of Jesus.

The Holy Father reflected on how Peter was able to go from “coward” to “courageous,” with the gift of the Holy Spirit, thanks to Jesus’ prayer.

The Pope invited those following his Mass “to think about this a bit.”

“Let us turn to Jesus,” the Pope exhorted, and “thank Him who prays for us.”

“Jesus prays for each one of us,” he went on to say, noting He is intercessor. “Jesus who bears in Himself the wounds to have the Father see them. It’s the price of our salvation. We must have more trust, more than in our prayers, in Jesus’ prayer.”

“Lord, pray for me” — “But I am God, I can give you . . . “ – “Yes, but pray for me, because you are the intercessor.” And this is Peter’s secret: “Peter, I will pray for you, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32).

Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the Lord teach us to ask for the grace to pray for each one of us.”

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.

The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation. The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican were also done without the presence of faithful, but were able to be watched via streaming.

Likewise, the Pope had a private Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday, with very limited participation by others, at the Roman Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. One could watch via streaming.

It was announced at the start of the lockdowns in Italy that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time, along with his weekly Angelus and General Audiences.

In Italy where nearly 25,000 people have died from coronavirus, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been nine cases of coronavirus in the Vatican.

The Vatican Museums are now closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.

For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily is available below:

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FULL HOMILY [translated by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]

The First Reading continues the story that began with the healing of the cripple at the Temple’s Beautiful Gate. The Apostles were taken before the Sanhedrin, then they were sent to prison, then an Angel freed them. And this morning, in fact that morning, they were supposed to come out of the prison to be judged, but they had been freed by the Angel and were preaching in the Temple (Cf. Acts 5:17-25). ” In those days [the captain and the officers] brought the Apostles and set them before the council” (v. 27); they went to get them in the Temple and brought them before the Sanhedrin. And the high priest rebuked them there: ”We strictly charged you not to preach in this name” (v. 28) –, that is, in Jesus’ name and “yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us” (v. 28), because the Apostles, Peter especially, was rebuking them; Peter and John were rebuking the leaders, the priests, for having killed Jesus.

And then Peter, together with the Apostles, answered with that story: “We must obey God, we are obedient to God and you are guilty of this” (Cf. Acts 5:29-31). And he accuses, but with courage; with a boldness that one wonders: “But is this the Peter who denied Jesus? That Peter who was so afraid, that Peter who was also a coward? How ever did he get here?” And he ends also saying: “And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Cf. 32). What was Peter’s way to get to this point, to this courage, to this boldness, to expose himself? Because he could have come to compromises and say to the priests: “But stay calm, we’ll go, we’ll speak in a somewhat lower tone, we won’t ever accuse you in public, but you leave us in peace . . . “and arrive at compromises.

The Church has had to do this many times in history to save the People of God. And, many times, she did it to save herself — but not the Holy Church — but the leaders. Compromises can be good or evil. However, could they extricate themselves from the compromise? No, Peter said: “No compromise; you are guilty” (Cf. v. 30), and he said it with such courage.

And how did Peter get to this point? Because he was an enthusiastic man, who loved strongly, also a timorous man, a man who was open to God to the point that God reveals to him that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, but shortly after — immediately — he lets himself fall into the temptation to say to Jesus: “No, Lord, not on this way, let’s go on the other”: redemption without the Cross. And Jesus says to him: “Satan” (Cf. Mark 8:31-33). A Peter that passed from temptation to grace; a Peter that is capable of kneeling before Jesus and say: ”Depart from me, for I am a sinful man” (Cf. Luke 5:8), and then a Peter who tries to pass by, without being seen and denies Jesus so as not to end up in prison (Cf. Luke 22:54-62). He is an unstable Peter, because he was very generous but also very weak. What is the secret, what is the strength Peter had to arrive here? There is a verse that will help us to understand this. Before the Passion, Jesus says to the Apostles: “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.” And to Peter, He says: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (v. 32). This is Peter’s secret: Jesus’ prayer. Jesus prays for Peter, so that his faith may not fail and be able — says Jesus — to confirm his brothers in the faith. Jesus prays for Peter.

And what Jesus has done with Peter, He has done with all of us. Jesus prays for us; He prays before the Father. We are used to praying to Jesus to give us this grace or that other one; that He help us, but we are not used to contemplating Jesus who makes the Father see the wounds, Jesus, the intercessor, Jesus who prays for us. And Peter was able to go all this way, from coward to courageous, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, thanks to Jesus’ prayer.

Let’s think about this a bit. Let us turn to Jesus, thanking Him who prays for us. Jesus prays for each one of us. Jesus is intercessor. Jesus who bears in Himself the wounds to have the Father see them. It’s the price of our salvation. We must have more trust, more than in our prayers, in Jesus’ prayer. “Lord, pray for me” — “But I am God, I can give you . . . “ – “Yes, but pray for me, because you are the intercessor.” And this is Peter’s secret: “Peter, I will pray for you, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32).

May the Lord teach us to ask for the grace to pray for each one of us.

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting to make a Spiritual Communion.

Here Is the Prayer Recited by the Pope:

I prostrate myself at your feet, O my Jesus, and I offer You the repentance of my contrite heart, which abases itself in its nothingness and in your holy Presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of your Love, (the Eucharist). I desire to receive you in the poor abode my heart offers You; while waiting for the happiness of Sacramental Communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, O Jesus, that I may come to You. May your love be able to inflame my whole being in life and in death. I believe in You; I hope in You I love You.

Before leaving the Chapel, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon “Regina Caeli” was intoned, sung in Eastertide:

Regina caeli laetare, alleluia.

Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

(Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia.

Christ, whom you bore in your womb, alleluia,

Is Risen, as He promised, alleluia.

Pray for us to the Lord, alleluia).

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