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Our Holy Father Pope Francis is a great example to all of us in so many ways – and perhaps even more so because he himself does whatever he asks us to do. He does not ask us to be charitable without himself being charitable first. He does not ask us to be humble without first showing us how to do it. And he does not ask us to be models of forgiveness and reconciliation without first leading by example.

I believe he is also a deeply holy man, a man of profound prayer. And for a Priest, this is perhaps the foundation upon which everything else must then be built. And not just for a Priest, but for every single one of us.

All of us without exception are called to be people of prayer, to maintain and to deepen that intimate relationship with the Father, through the Son and aided by the Holy Spirit, which only prayer can achieve. Prayer is the ‘connection’ to the divine, the bridge that allows us to approach God, and by which we ask Him to approach us – although in reality, our move toward Him is always a repsonse to His initial move toward us.

The Holy Father recognises this and has constantly asked us to be or to become people of prayer. He has spoken previously about “the saints next door”, initially in his beautiful Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete Et Exsultate’ (On The Call To Holiness In Today’s World), and then again at intervals since then. He spoke about it again earlier today, when he wrote –

“Men and women of #Prayer bear the reflection of light on their faces. Even on the darkest days the sun does not cease to illuminate them.”

Listening to the voice of our Shepherd, then, let us hasten to do as he asks us – to become people of deep and profound prayer, lights in the darkness of the world, that we might slowly become those “saints next door”.

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