VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II last weekend resumed his encounters with parish communities of his diocese, which he now carries out in the Vatican.
On Saturday in Paul VI Hall the Pope presided at a Mass for the faithful of four parishes of the south of Rome: St. Anselm, St. Charles Borromeo, St. John Baptist de La Salle and St. Mary Star of Evangelization.
The Holy Father has now met 307 of the 336 parish communities of the Rome Diocese.
“These meetings allow me to manifest the affection that unites me more intensely to you, dear faithful of the Diocese of Rome,” the Pope said in his homily. “Don’t ever forget it: I carry you in my heart. You are the portion of the Christian people entrusted, in a special way, to my pastoral care.”
These four parishes do not yet have a building in which to worship. They carry out their liturgical life and pastoral service in provisional prefabricated premises and even in garages.
While they await permanent premises, the Holy Father urged the faithful to “make your parishes genuine spiritual buildings, which rest on the cornerstone that is Christ.”
He also invited the communities to become increasingly “families of families, … capable of sharing together joys and difficulties.”
In these areas of Rome, which are in constant expansion, the residents in the main are young families. The Pope requested that they be given an “open and cordial welcome.”
“Involve the parents in the preparation of children and young people in the sacraments and Christian life,” he urged. “Propose meetings of spirituality and formation,” and help families to be “the first place of the Christian education of the children.”
“Support with diligence families in difficulties or precarious conditions, helping them to understand and realize the real plan of God on marriage and the family,” the Holy Father added.
“While we undertake the Lenten journey, we contemplate Christ who fasts and struggles against the devil,” he said. “We too in the preparation for Easter, are led by the Spirit into the desert of prayer and penance to be intensely nourished by the Word of God.”
Moreover, like Christ, “we are called to a strong and determined struggle against the devil,” the Pope continued. “Only in this way, with a renewed adherence to the will of God, can we remain faithful to our Christian vocation: that of being heralds and witnesses of the Gospel.”
Finally, the Holy Father reminded the parishioners: “The nucleus of the faith you are called to proclaim with your life is Jesus dead and resurrected for us!”
He added: “Make reference to this fundamental truth for your spiritual growth, which must be constant, and for your apostolic mission.”