Pope Francis Address to Seminarians and Novices (Part 3)

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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And here I would like to stress the importance, in community life, of the relations of friendship and fraternity that are an integral part of this formation. Here we arrive at another problem. Why do I talk about relations of friendship and fraternity? So many times I’ve found communities, seminarians, Religious or diocesan communities where the most common short prayer is gossip! It’s terrible! They “skin” one another … And this is our clerical, religious world …Excuse me, but it’s common: jealousy, envy, to speak badly of another. Not just speaking badly of superiors, this is classic! But I tell you that this is so common, so common. I have also fallen into this. I’ve done it so many times, so many times! And I’m ashamed! I’m ashamed of this! It’s not right to do so: to go and gossip. “Have you heard … Have you heard …” But such a community is a hell! This does no good. And because of this, the relation of friendship and of fraternity is important. Friends are few. The Bible says this: friends, one, two … But fraternity among all. If I have something against a sister or a brother, I say it to her/his face, or I say it to her or him who can help, but I don’t say it to others to “soil” him/her. And gossip is terrible! Behind gossip, under gossip, there are envies, jealousies, ambitions. Think of this. Once after spiritual exercises I heard a person – a consecrated person, a nun … This is good! This nun had promised the Lord that she would never speak badly again of another. This is a beautiful, a beautiful path to holiness! Not to speak badly of others. “But, Father, there are problems …”: tell them to the superior, to the bishop, who can remedy it. But do not tell it to him who can’t help.  Fraternity: this is important! But tell me, would you speak badly of your mother, of your father, of your siblings? Never. And why do you do so in consecrated life, in the seminary, in the presbyterial life? This alone: think of it, think of it … Fraternity! This fraternal love.

However, there are two extremes in this aspect of friendship and fraternity, two extremes: both isolation as well as dissipation. A friendship and a fraternity that will help me not to fall into isolation or dissipation. Cultivate friendships, they are a precious good: however, they must educate you not to shut yourselves in but to go out of yourselves. A priest, a man religious, a woman religious can never be an island, but must always be a person ready for encounter.  Friendships the are also enriched  by the different charisms of your Religious Families. It’s a great richness. We think of the beautiful friendships of so many Saints.

I think I must make some cuts, because your patience is great!

[Seminarians: “Noooo!”]

I would like to say to you: go out of yourselves to proclaim the Gospel, but to do this you must go out of yourselves to encounter Jesus. There are two ways out:  one towards the encounter with Jesus, towards transcendence; the other towards others to proclaim Jesus. These two go together. If you just do one, it’s no good. I think of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This nun was good … She wasn’t afraid of anything, she went out on the streets … But this woman was also not afraid to kneel down, for two hours, before the Lord. Don’t be afraid to go out of yourselves in prayer and in pastoral action. Be courageous in praying and in going to proclaim the Gospel.

I would like a more missionary Church, one that is not so tranquil. A beautiful Church that goes forward. Over these days so many men and women missionaries have come to the morning Mass, here at Saint Martha’s, and when they greeted me, they’ve said: “But I’m an elderly nun, I’ve been in the Ciad for forty years, I’ve been here and there …” How beautiful! But have you understood that this nun passed these years like this, because she never ceased to encounter Jesus in prayer. It is necessary to go out of oneself, towards transcendence to Jesus in prayer, towards the transcendence of others in the apostolate, in work. Make your contribution to a Church such as this: faithful to the way that Jesus desires. Don’t learn from us, from us who are no longer very young; don’t learn from us that sport that we, the elderly, often engage in: the sport of lament! Don’t learn from us the cult of the complaining goddess.” She is a goddess that is always lamenting. But be positive, cultivate the spiritual life and at the same time, go out, be able to meet people, especially those most scorned and disadvantaged. Don’t be afraid to go against the current. Be contemplatives and missionaries. Have Our Lady always with you, pray the Rosary, please … Don’t abandon it! Always have Our Lady with you in your home, as the Apostle John had her. May she always accompany you and protect you. And pray also for me, because I am also in need of prayer, because I’m a poor sinner, but we go forward.

Thank you so much and we will see one another tomorrow. And go forward with joy, with coherence, always with the courage to tell the truth, the courage to go out of oneself to meet Jesus in prayer and to go out of oneself to meet others and give them the Gospel, with pastoral fruitfulness! Please don’t be “spinsters” and “bachelors.” Go forward!

Now Archbishop Fisichella said that yesterday you recited the Creed, each one in his/her own language. However, we are all brothers, we have the same Father. Now, each one in his/her language, recite the Our Father. Let us recite the Our Father.

[Recitation of the Our Father]

And we also have a Mother. In our own language we say the Hail Mary.

[Recitation of the Hail Mary]
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