June 27, 2018
  • gen-aud

A highlight of the program each summer is attending the General Audience with the Holy Father. Joining thousands of other pilgrims and visitors from around the world, this year our seminarians attended on Wednesday, June 20th. In his message, continuing a series of catechesis on the Commandments, Pope Francis explained:

In the Bible the Commandments do not exist for themselves, but are part of a rapport, a relationship. The Lord Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. And there is that relationship, the Covenant[1] between God and his People. At the beginning of chapter 20 of the Book of Exodus we read — and this is important—: “God spoke all these words” (v. 1).

It seems to be an introduction like any other, but nothing in the Bible is banal. The text does not say: ‘God spoke these commandments’, but “these words”. Jewish tradition will always call the Decalogue ‘the Ten Words’. And this is exactly what the term ‘decalogue’ means.[2] Yet they have the form of laws; they are objectively commandments. Why, then, does the sacred Author use, precisely here, the term ‘ten words’? Why? Why does he not say ‘ten commandments’?

Is there a difference between a command and a word? A command is a communication that does not require dialogue. A word, instead, is the essential medium of relationship as a dialogue. God the Father creates by means of his Word, and his Son is the Word made flesh. Love is nourished by words, and likewise education or cooperation. Two people who do not love each other are unable to communicate. When someone speaks to our heart, our loneliness is over. It receives a word; there is communication, and the commandments are God’s words: God communicates through these ten Words, and he awaits our response.

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General (or Papal) Audiences are held on Wednesdays if the Pope is in Rome, giving pilgrims and visitors the chance to “see the Pope” and receive the Papal Blessing or Apostolic Blessing from the Successor of the Apostle Peter during their visit.

The General Audience consists of a brief reading, teaching (or catechesis), and a greeting in the languages of the visiting pilgrimage groups, choirs, students, etc. To conclude, the Pope prays with the crowd and then imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon them and any loved ones that are sick and suffering (near or far away). His blessing also extends upon any religious articles, such as rosaries, that people have brought with them for the purpose of the blessing.

The Papal Audience is usually scheduled to start at 10:00 am. You will find, however, that most people will arrive early (up to 3 hours before) to get a good seat. Security opens generally at 8:00 am. In summer the audience is usually held in St. Peter’s Square to accommodate the large crowds– there is an open seating area near the front for those with tickets. (Adapted from

Traveling from the USA to Rome and interested in attending a General Audience?
Please visit the Visitors Office of the Pontifical North American College to request tickets and information: