July 28, 2013

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service

Summary

- CALLED TO PROMOTE THE CULTURE OF ENCOUNTER

- FRANCIS TO BRAZIL'S LEADERS: A COUNTRY GROWS WHEN ITS CULTURAL COMPONENTS ARE IN DIALOGUE

- FRANCIS: WE NEED A CHURCH CAPABLE OF WALKING WITH THE PEOPLE

- POPE FRANCIS: “BUILD UP A SWEAT” LIKE TRUE ATHLETES OF CHRIST

 

CALLED TO PROMOTE THE CULTURE OF ENCOUNTER

Vatican City, 28 July 2013 (VIS) – At 9.00 a.m. Yesterday the Cathedral of St Sebastian in Rio de Janeiro, whose stained glass windows, the work of Lorenz Hailmar, symbolise the four characteristics of the Church – One (green), Holy (red), Catholic (blue) and Apostolic (yellow) welcomed Pope Francis, who celebrated Mass with the bishops of World Youth Day, priests, religious and seminarians. The texts of the liturgy, inspired by the Year of Faith, were taken from the Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples. The Holy Father dedicated his homily to three aspects of the vocation: the call from God, the call to proclaim the Gospel, and the call to promote the culture of encounter.

With reference to the first, the call from God, the Pope said, “I believe it is important to revive in ourselves this fact that we so often take for granted amid the many tasks of our daily lives: 'You did not choose me but I chose you', says Jesus. We were called by God and we were called to be with Jesus. This living in Christ, in fact, marks all that we are and all that we do. This 'life in Christ' is precisely what ensures the effectiveness of our apostolate, that our service is fruitful. ... It is not creativity, pastoral though it may be, nor meetings and planning that ensure our fruitfulness, even if these are very helpful, but what ensures fruitfulness is our being faithful to Jesus. ... And we know well what that means: to contemplate Him, to worship Him, to embrace Him, especially through our faithfulness to a life of prayer, and in our daily encounter with Him, present in the Eucharist and in those most in need. “Being with” Christ does not mean isolating ourselves from others. Rather, it is a “being with” in order to go forth and encounter others. Here I would like to remind you of some words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: 'We must be very proud of our vocation because it gives us the opportunity to serve Christ in the poor. It is in the favelas, in the cantegriles, in the villas miseria, that one must go to seek and to serve Christ. We must go to them as the priest presents himself at the altar, with joy”.

To explain the second aspect, the call to proclaim the Gospel, the Pope commented that many of the bishops present in Rio had come to accompany young people to World Youth Day, and emphasised, “It is our responsibility as pastors to help kindle within their hearts the desire to be missionary disciples of Jesus. Certainly, this invitation could cause many to feel somewhat afraid, thinking that to be missionaries requires leaving their own homes and countries, family and friends. God asks us to be missionaries. Where? Where He Himself leads us, in our homeland or wherever He places us. Let us help the young. … They need to be listened to … I ask you this with all my heart! We must know how to spend time with them. Sowing the seeds takes effort, great effort! But reaping the harvest brings so much more satisfaction. … But Jesus asks us take seriously our work in sowing the seeds”.

“Let us spare no effort in the formation of our young people!” he added. “Help our young people to discover the courage and joy of faith ... Form them in mission, in going out and going forth. Jesus did this with His own disciples: he did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, so that they may enter, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Let us encourage the young to got out. Of course they will falter. Let us not be afraid! The Apostles faltered before us. Let us encourage them to go out. Let us look decisively to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church”.

The Holy Father concluded by referring to the third aspect, the call to promote the culture of encounter. “In many places, and in general in this economic humanism that has been imposed throughout the world, the culture of exclusion, a 'throwaway culture', is spreading”, he observed. “There is no place for the elderly or for the unwanted child; there is no time for that poor person in the street. At times, it seems that for some people, human relations are regulated by two modern 'dogmas': efficiency and pragmatism. … Have the courage to go against the tide, against this throwaway culture. Let us not reject this gift of God which is the one family of his children. Encountering and welcoming everyone, solidarity – a word which is hidden in our society, as if it were a bad word, solidarity, and fraternity: these are what make our society truly human. … Be servers of communion and of the culture of encounter! … And do so without being presumptuous, imposing 'our truths'. What must guide us is the humble yet joyful certainty of those who have been found, touched and transformed by the Truth who is Christ, ever to be proclaimed”.

Following Mass and after blessing those present, the Pope proceeded by Popemobile to the Municipal Theatre to meet with leading members of Brazilian society.

 

FRANCIS TO BRAZIL'S LEADERS: A COUNTRY GROWS WHEN ITS CULTURAL COMPONENTS ARE IN DIALOGUE

Vatican City, 28 July 2013 (VIS) - “In you I see both memory and hope: the memory of your country’s history and identity, and the hope of this country that, in constant openness to the light radiating from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it will continue to develop in full respect for the ethical principles grounded in the transcendent dignity of the person. Memory of the past and utopia for the future encounter each other in the present, which is not a conjuncture without past and without promise, but rather a moment in time, the challenge of accumulating wisdom and knowing how to project it”. With these words Pope Francis began his address to leading members of Brazilian society in the Municipal Theatre yesterday afternoon. The meeting was attended by politicians, diplomats, representatives of civil society, business and culture, and leaders of the country's main religious communities.

The Holy Father, who was welcomed upon arrival by the president of the Theatre and by the Secretary of State for Culture, quoted the Brazilian thinker Alceu Amoroso Lima who said that those in positions of responsibility are called to face the future 'with the calm gaze of one who knows how to see the truth', and added, “I would like to consider three aspects of this calm, serene and wise 'gaze': first, the distinctiveness of your cultural tradition; second, joint responsibility for building the future; and third, constructive dialogue in facing the present moment”.

“It is important, first”, he said, “to esteem the dynamic and distinctive character of Brazilian culture, with its extraordinary ability to integrate a variety of elements. The common 'feeling' of a people, the foundations of its thought and creativity, the basic principles of its life, the criteria with which it assesses priorities and ways of acting, all rest, unite and grow on the basis of an integral vision of the human person. This vision of man and of life so typical of the Brazilian people has been greatly nourished by the Gospel through the Catholic Church: above all, by faith in Jesus Christ, in the love of God and brotherhood with our neighbour. But the richness of this nourishment must be fully appreciated! It can render fruitful a cultural process that is true to Brazilian identity and capable of building a better future for all”.

“To promote an integral humanism and the culture of encounter and relationship: this is the Christian way of promoting the common good, the joy of living. Here, faith and reason unite, the religious dimension and the various aspects of human culture – art, science, labour, literature… Christianity combines transcendence and incarnation; it brings ever new vitality to thought and life, in contrast to the dissatisfaction and disillusionment which may creep into hearts and spread throughout the streets”.

The second element, social responsibility, “calls for a certain kind of cultural, and hence political, paradigm”, the Pope explained. “We are the ones responsible for training new generations, for helping them to be knowledgeable in economic and political affairs, and solidly grounded in ethical values. The future presents us today with the task of rehabilitating politics … which is one of the highest forms of charity. The future also demands of us a humanistic vision of the economy and a politics capable of ensuring greater and more effective participation on the part of all, eliminating forms of elitism and eradicating poverty. This is the road that we are called to travel: to see that basic needs are met and that human dignity, brotherhood and solidarity are guaranteed on every level. In the days of prophet Amos, God’s stern warning was already frequently heard: 'They sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals – they … trample down the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and push the afflicted out of the way'. The outcry, the call for justice, continues to be heard even today”.

He commented that “anyone exercising a role of leadership needs to have very practical goals and to seek specific means to attain them. At the same time, there is also always the risk of disappointment, resentment and indifference, if our plans and goals do not materialize. The dynamic virtue of hope inspires us to keep pressing on, to employ all our energies and abilities on behalf of those for whom we work, accepting results, making it possible to strike out on new paths, being generous even without apparent results, yet keeping hope alive, with that constancy and courage that arise from accepting the vocation of guide and leader”.

“Leadership also means making the most just decision after having considered all the options from the standpoint of personal responsibility and concern for the common good. This is the way to go to the heart of the evils of a society and to overcome them, also with the boldness of courageous and free actions. It is our responsibility, with all its limitations, it is important to embrace all of reality ... to make decisions in the present but with an eye to the future, reflecting on the consequences of our decisions. To act responsibly is to see one’s own actions in the light of other people’s rights and God’s judgement. To preserve this ethical sense appears today as an unprecedented historic challenge … We must seek it and integrate it in society. Beyond scientific and technical competence, the present situation also demands a sense of moral obligation expressed in a social and deeply fraternal exercise of responsibility”.

Finally, Francis spoke on the aspect he considers essential for facing the present moment: constructive dialogue. “Between selfish indifference and violent protest there is always another possible option: that of dialogue. Dialogue between generations, dialogue with the people, because we are all the people, the capacity to give and receive, while remaining open to the truth. A country grows when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components. … It is impossible to imagine a future for society without a significant contribution of moral energies within a democratic order which will always be tempted to remain caught up in the interplay of vested interests. I consider fundamental in this dialogue the contribution made by the great religious traditions, which play a fruitful role as a leaven of society and a life-giving force for democracy. Peaceful coexistence between different religions is favoured by the laicity of the state, which, without appropriating any one confessional stance, respects and esteems the presence of the religious dimension in society, while fostering its most concrete expressions”.

“When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. It is the only way for individuals, families and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return. … I would define this attitude of openness and willingness, without prejudice, as 'social humility', which promotes dialogue. Only in this way can understanding grow between cultures and religions, mutual esteem without needless preconceptions, in a climate of respect for the rights of all. Today, either we stand together in dialogue, we stand together with the culture of encounter, or we all fall”.

The Pope concluded by asking those present to “accept these words as an expression of my concern as Pastor of the Church and my respect and affection for the Brazilian people. Fraternal relations between people, and cooperation in building a more just society – these are not simply a fanciful dream, but the fruit of a concerted effort on the part of all, in service of the common good. I encourage you in your commitment to the common good, a commitment which demands of everyone wisdom, prudence and generosity”.

Following his address, the Pope greeted personally the twenty representatives of the categories present and then proceeded the archbishop's palace at St. Joachim, where he lunched with the Brazilian cardinals and archbishops.

 

FRANCIS: WE NEED A CHURCH CAPABLE OF WALKING WITH THE PEOPLE

Vatican City, 28 July 2013 (VIS) – At 1.00 p.m. yesterday, Saturday, the Pope met with the cardinals and bishops of Brazil and the presidency of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil at the Archbishop's residence. The meeting was preceded by lunch. The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) is the most numerous in the world, and encompasses 275 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, of which there are 44 metropolitan dioceses, 213 dioceses, 3 eparchies, 11 prelatures, one exarchate, an Ordinariate for Catholics of Oriental rite without their own ordinary, a military ordinariate and a personal apostolic administration. There are 459 bishops and nine cardinals, of whom five are electors. The president of the CNBB is Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida.

Given below are ample extracts from the Pope's address:

“1. Aparecida: a key for interpreting the Church’s mission

In Aparecida God gave Brazil His own Mother. But in Aparecida God also offered a lesson about Himself, about His way of being and acting. A lesson about the humility which is one of God’s essential features, which is a part of God’s DNA. Aparecida offers us a perennial teaching about God and about the Church; a teaching which neither the Church in Brazil nor the nation itself must forget. At the beginning of the Aparecida event, there were poor fishermen looking for food. So much hunger and so few resources. People always need bread. People always start with their needs, even today.

Then, when God wills it, He mysteriously enters the scene. The waters are deep and yet they always conceal the possibility of a revelation of God. He appeared out of the blue, perhaps when He was no longer expected. The patience of those who await Him is always tested. And God arrived in a novel fashion, since God is always a surprise: as a fragile clay statue, darkened by the waters of the river and aged by the passage of time. God always enters clothed in poverty, littleness. Then there is the statue itself of the Immaculate Conception. First, the body appeared, then the head, then the head was joined to the body: unity. What had been broken is restored and becomes one. Colonial Brazil had been divided by the shameful wall of slavery. Our Lady of Aparecida appears with a black face, first separated, and then united in the hands of the fishermen. … God’s message was one of restoring what was broken, reuniting what had been divided. Walls, chasms, differences which still exist today are destined to disappear. The Church cannot neglect this lesson: she is called to be a means of reconciliation.

The fishermen do not dismiss the mystery encountered in the river, even if it is a mystery which seems incomplete. They do not throw away the pieces of the mystery. They await its completion. And this does not take long to come. There is a wisdom here that we need to learn. There are pieces of the mystery, like the tesserae of a mosaic, which we encounter. We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The Church also has to learn how to wait. Then the fishermen bring the mystery home. Ordinary people always have room to take in the mystery. Perhaps we have reduced our way of speaking about mystery to rational explanations; but for ordinary people the mystery enters through the heart. In the homes of the poor, God always finds a place.

The fishermen … clothe the Virgin drawn from the waters as if she were cold and needed to be warmed. God asks for shelter in the warmest part of ourselves: our heart. God himself releases the heat we need, but first he enters like a shrewd beggar. The fishermen wrap the mystery of the Virgin with the lowly mantle of their faith. They call their neighbours to see its rediscovered beauty; they all gather around and relate their troubles in its presence and they entrust their causes to it. In this way they enable God’s plan to be accomplished: first comes one grace, then another; one grace leads to another; one grace prepares for another. God gradually unfolds the mysterious humility of his power.

There is much we can learn from the approach of the fishermen. About a Church which makes room for God’s mystery; a Church which harbours that mystery in such a way that it can entice people, attract them. Only the beauty of God can attract. God’s way is through attraction. God lets Himself be brought home. He awakens in us a desire to keep Him and his life in our homes, in our hearts. He reawakens in us a desire to call our neighbours in order to make known His beauty. Mission is born precisely from this divine allure, by this amazement born of encounter. We speak about mission, about a missionary Church. I think of those fishermen calling their neighbours to see the mystery of the Virgin. Without the simplicity of their approach, our mission is doomed to failure.

The Church needs constantly to relearn the lesson of Aparecida; she must not lose sight of it. The Church’s nets are weak, perhaps patched; the Church’s barque is not as powerful as the great transatlantic liners which cross the ocean. And yet God wants to be seen precisely through our resources, scanty resources, because he is always the one who acts. … The results of our pastoral work do not depend on a wealth of resources, but on the creativity of love. To be sure, perseverance, effort, hard work, planning and organization all have their place, but first and foremost we need to realize that the Church’s power does not reside in herself; it is hidden in the deep waters of God, into which she is called to cast her nets.

Another lesson which the Church must constantly recall is that she cannot leave simplicity behind; otherwise she forgets how to speak the language of Mystery. Not only does she herself remain outside the door of the mystery, but she proves incapable of approaching those who look to the Church for something which they themselves cannot provide, namely, God Himself. At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people. Without the grammar of simplicity, the Church loses the very conditions which make it possible 'to fish' for God in the deep waters of his Mystery. … Aparecida took place at a crossroads. The road which linked Rio, the capital, with Sao Paulo, the resourceful province then being born, and Minas Gerais, the mines coveted by the courts of Europe, was a major intersection in colonial Brazil. God appears at the crossroads. The Church in Brazil cannot forget this calling which was present from the moment of her birth: to be a beating heart, to gather and to spread.

2. Appreciation for the path taken by the Church in Brazil

The Bishops of Rome have always had a special place in their heart for Brazil and its Church. … Today I would like to acknowledge your unsparing work as pastors in your local Churches. I think of Bishops in the forests, travelling up and down rivers, in semiarid places, in the Pantanal, in the pampas, in the urban jungles of your sprawling cities. Always love your flock with complete devotion! I also think of all those names and faces which have indelibly marked the journey of the Church in Brazil, making palpable the Lord’s immense bounty towards this Church. … The Church in Brazil welcomed and creatively applied the Second Vatican Council, and the course it has taken, though needing to overcome some teething problems, has led to a Church gradually more mature, open, generous and missionary. Today, times have changed. As the Aparecida document nicely put it: ours is not an age of change, but a change of age. So today we urgently need to keep putting the question: what is it that God is asking of us? I would now like to sketch a few ideas by way of a response.

3. The icon of Emmaus as a key for interpreting the present and the future

Before all else, we must not yield to the fear once expressed by Blessed John Henry Newman: '… the Christian world is gradually becoming barren and effete, as land which has been worked out and is become sand'. We must not yield to disillusionment, discouragement and complaint. We have laboured greatly and, at times, we see what appear to be failures. We have the feeling we must tally up a losing season as we consider those who have left us or no longer consider us credible or relevant.

Let us read once again, in this light, the story of Emmaus. The two disciples have left Jerusalem. They are leaving behind the 'nakedness' of God. They are scandalized by the failure of the Messiah in whom they had hoped and who now appeared utterly vanquished, humiliated, even after the third day. Here we have to face the difficult mystery of those people who leave the Church, who, under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church – their Jerusalem – can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important. So they set off on the road alone, with their disappointment. Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with herself, perhaps a prisoner of her own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age. It is a fact that nowadays there are many people like the two disciples of Emmaus; not only those looking for answers in the new religious groups that are sprouting up, but also those who already seem godless, both in theory and in practice.

Faced with this situation, what are we to do? We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. … We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.

A relentless process of globalization, an often uncontrolled process of urbanization, have promised great things. Many people have been captivated by the potential of globalization, which of course does contain positive elements such as, for instance, the reduction of distances, the bringing together of people and cultures, the distribution of information and services. But, on the other side, many experience its negative effects without realising how much they prejudice their own vision of man and of the world, giving rise to greater disorientation and an emptiness they are unable to explain. Some of these effects are confusion about the meaning of life, personal disintegration, the loss of the experience of belonging to a 'nest', the lack of a sense of place and of profound links.

And since there is nobody to accompany them or to demonstrate by example the true path, many have sought short cuts, for the standards set by Mother Church seem to be too high. There are also those who recognise the ideal for man and for life proposed by the Church, but do not have the courage to embrace it. They think this ideal is too great for them, that it is beyond their reach. Nonetheless they cannot live without having at least something, even a poor imitation, of what seems too lofty and distant. With disappointed hearts, they then go off in search of something that will raise false hopes again, or they resign themselves to a partial solution that, in the end, will not bring fullness to their lives. The great sense of abandonment and solitude, of not even belonging to oneself, which often results from this situation, is too painful to hide. Some kind of release is necessary. There is always the option of complaining? But even complaint acts like a boomerang; it comes back and ends up increasing one’s unhappiness. Few people are still capable of hearing the voice of pain; the best we can do is to anaesthetize it.

Today, we need a Church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey; a Church able to make sense of the night contained in the flight of so many of our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem; a Church which realizes that the reasons why people leave also contain reasons why they can eventually return. But we need to know how to interpret, with courage, the larger picture.

I would like all of us to ask ourselves today: are we still a Church capable … of leading people back to Jerusalem? Of bringing them home? Jerusalem is where our roots are: Scripture, catechesis, sacraments, community, friendship with the Lord, Mary and the apostles… Are we still able to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty? Many people have left because they were promised something more lofty, more powerful, and faster. But what is more lofty than the love revealed in Jerusalem? Nothing is more lofty than the abasement of the Cross, since there we truly approach the height of love! Are we still capable of demonstrating this truth to those who think that the apex of life is to be found elsewhere? Do we know anything more powerful than the strength hidden within the weakness of love, goodness, truth and beauty?

People today are attracted by things that are faster and faster: rapid Internet connections, speedy cars and planes, instant relationships. But at the same time we see a desperate need for calmness, I would even say slowness. Is the Church still able to move slowly: to take the time to listen, to have the patience to mend and reassemble? Or is the Church herself caught up in the frantic pursuit of efficiency? Dear brothers, let us recover the calm to be able to walk at the same pace as our pilgrims, keeping alongside them, remaining close to them, enabling them to speak of the disappointments present in their hearts and to let us address them. … We need a Church capable of bringing warmth, of lighting up hearts, and that is capable of restoring citizenship to her many children who are journeying, as it were, in an exodus.

4. Challenges facing the Church in Brazil

Formation as a priority: bishops, priests, religious, laity. … It is important to devise and ensure a suitable formation, one which will provide persons able to step into the night without being overcome by the darkness and losing their bearings; able to listen to people’s dreams without being seduced and to share their disappointments without losing hope and becoming bitter; able to sympathize with the brokenness of others without losing their own strength and identity. What is needed is a solid human, cultural, effective, spiritual and doctrinal formation. Dear brother bishops, courage is needed to undertake a profound review of the structures in place for the formation and preparation of the clergy and the laity of the Church in Brazil. It is not enough that formation be considered a vague priority, either in documents or at meetings. ... You cannot delegate this task, but must embrace it as something fundamental for the journey of your Churches.

Collegiality and solidarity in the Episcopal Conference

It is important to remember Aparecida, the method of gathering diversity together. Not so much a diversity of ideas in order to produce a document, but a variety of experiences of God, in order to set a vital process in motion. ... Central bureaucracy is not sufficient; there is also a need for increased collegiality and solidarity. This will be a source of true enrichment for all.

Permanent state of mission and pastoral conversion

Concerning mission, we need to remember that its urgency derives from its inner motivation; in other words, it is about handing on a legacy. As for method, it is essential to realize that a legacy is about witness, it is like the baton in a relay race: you don’t throw it up in the air for whoever is able to catch it, so that anyone who doesn’t catch it has to manage without. In order to transmit a legacy, one needs to hand it over personally, to touch the one to whom one wants to give, to relay, this inheritance. Concerning pastoral conversion, I would like to recall that “pastoral care” is nothing other than the exercise of the Church’s motherhood. … So we need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of “wounded” persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love. In mission, also on a continental level, it is very important to reaffirm the family, which remains the essential cell of society and the Church; young people, who are the face of the Church’s future; women, who play a fundamental role in passing on the faith. Let us not reduce the involvement of women in the Church, but instead promote their active role in the ecclesial community. By losing women, the Church risks becoming sterile. Aparecida also underlines the vocation and mission of men in the family, the Church and in societies, as fathers, workers and citizens. Take this into consideration!

The task of the Church in society

In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide. In so doing, she defends treasures of which she is merely the custodian, and values which she does not create but rather receives, to which she must remain faithful. The Church claims the right to serve man in his wholeness, and to speak of what God has revealed about human beings and their fulfilment. The Church wants to make present that spiritual patrimony without which society falls apart. … The Church has the right and the duty to keep alive the flame of human freedom and unity. Education, health, social harmony are pressing concerns in Brazil. The Church has a word to say on these issues, because any adequate response to these challenges calls for more than merely technical solutions; there has to be an underlying view of man, his freedom, his value, his openness to the transcendent.

The Amazon Basin as a litmus test for Church and society in Brazil

… The Church’s presence in the Amazon Basin is not that of someone with bags packed and ready to leave after having exploited everything possible. The Church has been present in the Amazon Basin from the beginning, in her missionaries and religious congregations, and she is still present and critical to the area’s future. … I would like to invite everyone to reflect on what Aparecida said about the Amazon Basin, its forceful appeal for respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it be indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden.

Dear brother Bishops, I have attempted to offer you in a fraternal spirit some reflections and approaches for a Church like that of Brazil, which is a great mosaic made up of different tesserae, images, forms, problems and challenges, but which for this very reason is an enormous treasure. The Church is never uniformity, but diversities harmonized in unity, and this is true for every ecclesial reality”.

 

POPE FRANCIS: “BUILD UP A SWEAT” LIKE TRUE ATHLETES OF CHRIST

Vatican City, 28 July 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday evening the Pope celebrated a prayer vigil with almost two million young people at Copacabana. The Liturgy of the Word began with various testimonies and questions posed to the Holy Father.

At the end the Pope addressed the young, recalling how the Lord asked St. Francis of Assisi to do “his part for the life of the Church. … being at the service of the Church, loving her and working to make the countenance of Christ shine ever more brightly in her. Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his Church. Dear young people, the Lord needs this. Today too, he is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries”.

Due to bad weather, this vigil, which should have celebrated at the “Campus Fidei” in Guaratiba, was transferred to Copacabana. Francis encouraged the participants to consider this situation. “Perhaps the Lord wishes to tell us that the true field of faith, the true Campus Fidei, is not a geographical location, but rather, it is us?”, he said. The Holy Father introduced three images of the field, to “help us understand better what it means to be a disciple and a missionary”.

“First, a field is a place for sowing seeds”. Here the Pope mentioned the parable of the “sower who went out to sow seeds in the field; some seed fell on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and could not grow; other seed fell on good soil and brought forth much fruit. Jesus himself explains the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God sown in our hearts. Today, every day”, said the Pope, “but especially today, Jesus sows. When we welcome the Word of God, then we become the Campus Fidei, the field of faith. Please, let Christ and His Word enter into your life, let the seed of the Word of God be sown, let it germinate, let it grow. God will do everything but you must let Him in, you must let Him work and grow”.

“I think that we have to ask ourselves honestly: what kind of ground are we? Maybe sometimes we are like the path: we hear the Lord’s word but it changes nothing in our lives because we let ourselves be numbed by all the superficial voices competing for our attention; or we are like the rocky ground: we receive Jesus with enthusiasm, but we falter and, faced with difficulties, we don’t have the courage to swim against the tide; or we are like the thorny ground: negativity, negative feelings choke the Lord’s word in us. Do I have two attitudes in my heart: with one I am happy with God, and with the other I am happy with the devil? One which receives the seed of Jesus and at the same time waters the weeds? What is born in my heart?”

“But today I am sure that the seed is falling on good soil, that you want to be good soil, not part-time Christians, not “starchy” and superficial, but real. Seek out a patch of good land and let the seeds fall there; you will see that they will bear good fruit. I know that you want to become good ground, good Christians, not part-time Christians, those who seem to be Christians but in reality are not. Be authentic Christians. I am sure that you don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which will make your lives meaningful. In silence, we must welcome the seed of Jesus. Everyone knows the name of the seed that enters: let it grow, and God will take care of it”.

“Jesus asks us to follow him for life, he asks us to be his disciples, to 'play on his team'. I think that most of you love sports! … Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train, and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples. ... Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; He also offers us a future with Him, an endless future, eternal life. But He asks us to buy a ticket to this future, and the ticket is training, 'getting in shape', bearing witness to our faith. By talking with Him in prayer”.

Francis asked the young people various questions, to which he asked them to respond in silence, in their hearts. “Do I pray?”, he said. “Do I let the Holy Spirit speak to my heart? Do I ask Jesus what he wants me to do? This is training. Putting questions to Jesus, talking with Jesus. And if you make mistakes in life, if you do something wrong, do not be afraid. … Always talk to Jesus, in good times and bad. That is prayer. This is how we enter into dialogue with Jesus and as a missionary disciple. And by the sacraments, which make His life grow within us and conform us to Christ. By loving one another, learning to listen, to understand, to forgive, to be accepting and to help others, everybody, without exclusion or ostracism. This is the training we have to do to follow Jesus: prayer, sacraments and helping others, serving others”.

Finally, the Holy Father spoke about the field as a construction site. “When our heart is good soil which receives the word of God, when we 'build up a sweat' in trying to live as Christians, we experience something tremendous: we are never alone, we are part of a family of brothers and sisters, all journeying on the same path: we are part of the Church; indeed, we are building up the Church and we are making history. Please, don't become footnotes to history. Be agents of history, go out and build a better world”.

Pope Francis remarked that “in the Church of Jesus, we ourselves are the living stones. Jesus is asking us to build up His Church; each one of us is a living stone, a little building block. Each living stone contributes to the unity and the security of the Church. But he does not want us to build a little chapel which holds only a small group of persons. He asks us to make his living Church so large that it can hold all of humanity, that it can be a home for everyone”.

“Please”, he continued, “do not leave it to others to be the agents of change. You hold the future … continue to work against apathy and offer a Christian response to the social and political problems that arise all over the world. I ask you to be builders of the future, to set to work for a better world. Dear young people, please, do not live your lives as observers, watching the world go by. Go into the fray, as Jesus did – He did not sit back and watch. But where do we start? Once, Mother Teresa was asked what should be the first thing to change in the Church, and she replied: 'You and I'. Today I too repeat the words of Mother Teresa and I say to you: you and I must be the first to change.”

“Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith! You are Christ’s athletes! You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better world. Let us lift our gaze to Our Lady. Mary helps us to follow Jesus, she gives us the example by her own 'yes' to God: 'I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me as you say'. All together, let us join Mary in saying to God: let it be done to me as you say”.

Following Pope Francis' address, the deacons brought the Holy Sacrament in procession. After the Eucharistic adoration and prayers of the young people in several languages, the recitation of the “Salve Regina” concluded the celebration.

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!