THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON POPE FRANCIS
THEMES OF THE SPIRIT
We are on the right track -- evangelical spirit, ecclesial
spirit, missionary spirit. That God had pointed out the right
way to us in CFC-FFL, now affirmed by Pope Francis, makes
our responsibility to respond even greater. On this Year of
Faith, let us return to fidelity to our call. And let us live
out our call even more intensely.
Pope Francis' Homily at Sunday Mass for Day
CITY, May 05, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Here is the translation of
the homily given by Pope Francis as part of the Year of Faith
Mass for the Day of Confraternities celebrated at St. Peter's
Brothers and Sisters,
is brave of you to come here in this rain … May the
Lord bless you abundantly!
part of the journey of the Year of Faith, I am happy
to celebrate this Eucharist dedicated in a special way to
confraternities: a traditional reality in the Church, which
in recent times has experienced renewal and rediscovery. I
greet all of you with affection, particularly the confraternities
which have come here from all over the world! Thank you for
your presence and your witness!
the Gospel we heard a passage from the farewell discourses
of Jesus, as related by the evangelist John in the context
of the Last Supper. Jesus entrusts his last thoughts, as a
spiritual testament, to the apostles before he leaves them.
Today’s text makes it clear that Christian faith is
completely centered on the relationship between the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whoever loves the Lord Jesus
welcomes him and his Father interiorly, and thanks to the
Holy Spirit receives the Gospel in his or her heart and life.
Here we are shown the centre
from which everything must go forth and to which everything
must lead: loving God and being Christ’s disciples by
living the Gospel. When Benedict XVI spoke
to you, he used this expression: evangelical
spirit. Dear confraternities, the popular
piety of which you are an important sign is a treasure possessed
by the Church, which the bishops of Latin America defined,
significantly, as a spirituality, a form of mysticism, which
is "a place of encounter with Jesus Christ". Draw
always from Christ, the inexhaustible wellspring;
strengthen your faith by attending to your spiritual
formation, to personal and communitarian prayer, and to the
liturgy. Down the centuries confraternities
have been crucibles of holiness
for countless people who have lived in utter simplicity an
intense relationship with the
Lord. Advance with determination along the
path of holiness; do not rest content with
a mediocre Christian life, but let
your affiliation serve as a stimulus, above
all for you yourselves, to an ever greater love of Jesus Christ.
passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we heard also speaks
to us about what is essential. In the early Church there was
immediately a need to discern what was essential about being
a Christian, about following Christ, and what was not. The
apostles and the other elders held an important meeting in
Jerusalem, a first "council", on this theme, to
discuss the problems which arose after the Gospel had been
preached to the pagans, to non-Jews. It was a providential
opportunity for better understanding what is essential, namely,
belief in Jesus Christ who died and rose for our sins, and
loving him as he loved us. But note how the difficulties were
overcome: not from without, but from within the Church. And
this brings up a second element which I want to remind you
of, as Benedict XVI did, namely: ecclesial
spirit. Popular piety is a road which leads
to what is essential, if it is lived
in the Church in profound communion with your pastors.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Church loves you! Be an active
presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones.
The Latin American Bishops wrote that the popular piety which
you reflect is "a legitimate way of living the faith,
a way of feeling that we are part of the Church" (Aparecida
Document, 264). This is wonderful! A legitimate way of
living the faith, a way of feeling that we
are part of the Church. Love the Church! Let yourselves be
guided by her! In your parishes, in your dioceses,
be a true "lung" of faith and Christian life, a
breath of fresh air! In this Square I see a great variety:
earlier on it was a variety of umbrellas, and now of colours
and signs. This is also the case with the Church: a great
wealth and variety of expressions in which everything leads
back to unity; the variety leads back to unity, and unity
is the encounter with Christ.
would like to add a third expression which must distinguish
you: missionary spirit.
You have a specific and important mission, that of keeping
alive the relationship between the faith and the cultures
of the peoples to whom you belong. You do this through popular
piety. When, for example, you carry the crucifix in procession
with such great veneration and love for the Lord, you are
not performing a simple outward act; you are pointing to the
centrality of the Lord’s paschal mystery, his passion,
death and resurrection which have redeemed us, and you are
reminding yourselves first, as well as the community, that
we have to follow Christ along the concrete path of our daily
lives so that he can transform us. Likewise, when you express
profound devotion for the Virgin
Mary, you are pointing to the highest realization
of the Christian life, the one who by her faith and obedience
to God’s will, and by her meditation on the words and
deeds of Jesus, is the Lord’s perfect disciple (cf.
Lumen Gentium, 53). You express this faith, born of hearing
the word of God, in ways that engage the senses, the emotions
and the symbols of the different cultures … In doing
so you help to transmit it to others, and especially the simple
persons whom, in the Gospels, Jesus calls "the little
ones". In effect, "journeying together towards shrines,
and participating in other demonstrations of popular piety,
bringing along your children
and engaging other people, is itself a work of evangelization"
(Aparecida Document, 264). When you visit shrines,
when you bring your family, your children, you are engaged
in a real work of evangelization. This needs to continue.
May you also be true evangelizers!
May your initiatives be "bridges", means of
bringing others to Christ, so as to journey
together with him. And in this spirit may you always be attentive
to charity. Each individual
Christian and every community is missionary to the extent
that they bring to others and live the Gospel, and testify
to God’s love for all, especially those
experiencing difficulties. Be missionaries of God’s
love and tenderness! Be missionaries of God’s mercy,
which always forgives us, always awaits us and loves us dearly.
spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Three themes!
Do not forget them!
Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Let
us ask the Lord always to direct our minds and hearts to him,
as living stones of the Church, so that all that we do, our
whole Christian life, may be a luminous witness to his mercy
and love. In this way we will make our way towards the goal
of our earthly pilgrimage, towards that extremely beautiful
shrine, the heavenly Jerusalem. There, there is no longer
any temple: God himself and the lamb are its temple; and the
light of the sun and the moon give way to the glory of the
Most High. Amen.
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