By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With his visit to World Youth Day only a few days away, Pope Francis asked young pilgrims to accompany his visit to Krakow, Poland, with prayers.

Leaving for Poland July 27 “to meet up with these young men and women and celebrate with them and for them the Jubilee of Mercy, with the intercession of St. John Paul II, I ask you to accompany me with prayer,” the pope said July 24 during his Angelus address.

The pope thanked the volunteers, bishops, priests and men and women religious “who are working to welcome these young pilgrims.”

In a message for youths unable to make it to the event, he said, “A special word to the many youth of their same age who, unable to be present personally, will follow the event through the media: We are all united in prayer!”

Prayer was the main theme of the pope’s reflection prior to reciting the Angelus with thousands of visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

Recalling the day’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord’s prayer, the pope said the word ‘father’ is the secret to Jesus’ prayer.

That word, the pope said, “is the key that he himself gives us so that we can also enter into this relationship of trusting dialogue with the father who has accompanied and sustained his life.”

Pope Francis explained that prayer is the primary “work tool in our hands” and that to insist on something with God is not meant to “convince him, but rather to strengthen our faith and our patience, that is, our capacity to fight beside God for the things that are truly important and necessary.”

“In prayer we are a pair: God and me, fighting together for what is important. Among these, there is one, the great important thing, which Jesus tells us today in the Gospel, but which we hardly ever consider, and it is the Holy Spirit: ‘Grant to me the Holy Spirit!'” he said.

In asking for the Holy Spirit, he concluded, Christians can live their lives with “wisdom, with love, doing the will of God,” like Mary.

“The Virgin Mary shows us this with her existence, wholly animated by the Spirit of God. She helps us to pray to the father united to Jesus, so as to live not in a worldly way, but in accordance with the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit,” the pope said.

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