VATICAN CITY — If a person's prayer life is boring, that generally means that he or she is focused too much on the self and not enough on Jesus and the needs of others, Pope Francis said during a morning Mass homily.
"True prayer leads us out of ourselves toward the Father in the name of Jesus; it's an exodus out of ourselves," the pope said May 11 during Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
During the Mass, attended by members of the Vatican police force and by Argentine journalists working in Rome, Pope Francis said prayer typically involves two forms of exodus: one "toward the wounds of Jesus, and the other toward the wounds of our brothers and sisters. This is the path Jesus wants our prayer to take."
Ascending to heaven after his death and resurrection, Jesus "went to the Father, leaving the door open," not because "he forgot to close it," but because "he himself is the door," the pope said, according to a report in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
Jesus is the eternal high priest, the pope said, and the wounds of his crucifixion witness forever to his sacrifice. "In his resurrection, he has a beautiful body: the cuts of the scourging and the (crown of) thorns are gone, all of them. His bruises from the beatings have disappeared," but the crucifixion wounds in his hands, feet and side remain and become "his prayer of intercession with the Father."
When Jesus tells people they will receive what they ask the Father in his name, Jesus is asking them "to have trust in his passion, trust in his victory over death, trust in his wounds," the pope said.
Ascending to the Father, Jesus "gives us the freedom to enter that sanctuary where he is the priest and intercedes for us so that whatever we ask in his name, he will give. But he also gives us the courage to go into that other 'sanctuary' of the wounds of our needy brothers and sisters, those who suffer, who carry the cross and still have not been victorious like Jesus was."
When prayer "bores us," the pope said, it is because "we are inside ourselves" and not looking toward Jesus and the suffering.
After the Mass and his morning meetings, Pope Francis went to the Pius XI clinic in Rome to visit 80-year-old Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, retired head of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The cardinal was in the clinic recovering from intestinal surgery. According to Vatican Radio, the pope spent about 15 minutes alone with the cardinal, spoke to the cardinal's doctors and greeted staff members and family members of other patients.