Pope Francis Address to Seminarians and Novices (Part 2)

Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to the participants of the meeting on Saturday with seminarians, novices and young people on their vocation path who took part in the Year of Faith pilgrimage entitled “I Trust in You”.

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Part 3 will be published tomorrow, July 11th.

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However, I don’t want to embarrass this holy nun [he turns to an elderly nun in the front row] who was behind the barrier, poor thing, she was in fact suffocated, but she had a happy face. It did me good to look at your face, Sister! Perhaps you have many years of consecrated life, but you have beautiful eyes, you smiled, you didn’t complain about the pressure. When you find examples such as this, many, so many nuns, so many priests who are joyful, it’s because they are fruitful, they give life, life, life. They give this life because they find it in Jesus! In the joy of Jesus! Joy, not sadness, pastoral fruitfulness.

To be joyful witnesses of the Gospel we must be genuine, coherent. And this is another word I wish to say to you: authenticity. Jesus so castigated hypocrites: hypocrites, those who think low;

Those who have – to say it clearly, a double face. It doesn’t cost to speak to young people of authenticity, because young people – all of them – have the desire to be authentic, to be coherent. And it makes all of you ill, when you see in us priests who aren’t authentic and nuns who aren’t authentic!

This is, first of all, a responsibility of adults, of formators. It is up to you, formators here present to give an example of coherence to the younger ones. Do we want coherent young people? Let’s us be coherent! Otherwise, the Lord will say to us what he said of the Pharisees to the people of God: “Do what they say, but not what they do!” Coherence and authenticity!

However, you also, in turn, must seek to follow this way. I always say what Saint Francis of Assisi affirmed: Christ has invited us to proclaim the Gospel also with the word. The phrase goes like this: “Proclaim the Gospel always, and, if necessary, with words.” What does this mean? It means to proclaim the Gospel with the authenticity of life, with the coherence of life. However, in this world in which riches do so much evil, it’s necessary that we priests, that we nuns, that all of us be coherent with our poverty! However, when you find that the first concern of an educational , or parochial or anyinstitution is money, this doesn’t do good. It doesn’t do good! It’s  incoherent! We must be coherent, authentic. On this path, we do what Saint Francis said: we preach the Gospel with our example, then with words! But first of all is our life in which others must be able to read the Gospel! Here, too, without fear, with our defects which we try to correct, with our limitations which the Lord knows, but also with our generosity in allowing Him to act in us. With our defects, our limitations and – I add something more – with our sins  … I would like to know something: is there someone here in this Room who isn’t a sinner, who has no sins? Let him raise his hand! Let him raise his hand! Nobody. Nobody. From here right down to the end … all! But how do I carry my sin, my sins? I want give you this counsel: be transparent with your confessor, always. Tell him everything; don’t be afraid. “Father, I have sinned!” Think of the Samaritan woman, who to prove, to tell her fellow citizens that she had found the Messiah, said: “He told me everything I’ve done,” and everyone knew this woman’s life. Always tell the truth to your confessor. This transparency will do you good, because it makes one humble, all of us. “But Father, I have continued in this, I’ve done this, I’ve hated” —  no matter what it is. Tell the truth, without concealing, without half words, because you are talking to Jesus in the person of the confessor. And Jesus knows the truth. He alone always forgives you! However, the Lord only wants you to tell him what He already knows. Transparency! It’s sad when one finds a seminarian, a nun who today confesses with this priest to clean the stain; tomorrow goes to another, to  another, to another: a pilgrimage to confessors to conceal her truth. Transparency! It’s Jesus who is listening to you. Always have this transparency before Jesus in the confessor! However, this is a grace. Father, I have sinned, I’ve done this, this, this … with all the words. And the Lord embraces you, kisses you! Go, and sin no more! And if you fall once again? I say this from experience. I have found so many consecrated persons who fall into this hypocritical trap of lack of transparency. “I’ve done this,” humbly, as that publican who was at the back of the Temple: “I’ve done this, I’ve done this…” And the Lord covers your mouth: He it is who covers it.” But don’t you do so! Have you understood? From sin itself grace abounds! Open the door to grace, with this transparency!

The saints and the masters of the spiritual life tell us that the daily practice of the examination of conscience is very useful, even indispensable, to help us grow in authenticity in our life. What is happening in my soul? Thus, we must be open with the Lord and then with our confessor, with our spiritual Father. This is so important!

Until what time, Archbishop Fisichella, have we time?

[Archbishop Fisichella: If you speak like this, we will be here until tomorrow, absolutely].

You say until tomorrow. Let’s bring a sandwich and a Coca Cola for each one if it’s until tomorrow, at least ….

For our witness to be credible, coherence is essential. But it’s not enough. We also need cultural preparation, I stress cultural preparation, to give the  reason for our faith and our hope. The context in which we live calls constantly for this “giving reason,” and it’s something good, because it helps us to take nothing for granted. Today we can take nothing for granted! This civilization, this culture  … we can’t. However, it’s also certainly timely; it requires good, balanced  formation that unites all the dimensions of life, the human, the spiritual, the intellectual dimension with the pastoral. There are four fundamental pillars in your formation: spiritual formation, that is, the spiritual life; the intellectual life, studying to “give reason”; the apostolic life, to begin to go out to proclaim the Gospel; and fourth, community life. Four. And for the latter it’s necessary that the formation be in community in the novitiate, in the priory, in the seminaries … I always think this: the worst seminary is better than no seminary! Why? Because community life is necessary. Remember the four pillars: spiritual life, intellectual life, apostolic life, and communal life. These four, you should build your vocation on these four.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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