Here is a ZENIT translation of the video message Pope Francis sent to participants in the Macerata-Loreto pilgrimage on foot. It was the 37th pilgrimage and the theme was “Caressed by Mercy.”
The pilgrims heard the message on the evening of Saturday, June 6, in the Helvetia Recina Stadium of Macerata, where they gathered for the opening Eucharistic celebration, which was presided over by Cardinal George Pell.
This year the Holy Father’s message was recorded earlier and sent to the Bishop of Macerata, since the was Pope was engaged in his Apostolic Journey to Sarajevo.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good evening!
It is a pleasure for me to address you in this 37th Macerata-Loreto pilgrimage on foot. I did so in the past two years and I was happy because of your strength, your faith, and your love of Jesus Christ. In the General Audience the other day, I blessed the torch; there were some of you that brought it.
I wish to tell you that I am close to you, that I am close to this pilgrimage!
A pilgrimage is a symbol of life; it makes us think that life is to walk, it is a path. If a person does not walk and stays still, it’s no good, he does nothing. Think of water, when water is not in the river, it doesn’t go forward but stops and is corrupted. A soul that does not walk in life doing good, doing the many things that must be done for society, to help others and who also does not walk through life seeking God moved by the Holy Spirit from within, is a soul that ends in mediocrity and spiritual misery. Please: do not stop in life!
It can happen: we have all had falls in life, mistakes; however, if you have made a mistake rise immediately and continue to walk. “Sing and walk,” said Saint Augustine to his faithful. Walk with joy and walk also when the heart is sad, but always walk. And if you need to stop, may it be to rest a while and get some breath to go forward afterwards. Sing and walk! Always sing and walk! There is also the danger of mistaking the road. One who walks can err on the road. This can happen to any one of us, and how many times we have done this. If you err on the road, return. Return, because there is Jesus’ mercy.
You are doing this pilgrimage ”Caressed by Mercy.” Jesus’ mercy forgives everything; he always awaits you, he always loves you so much. Each one of you knows his own history. We all know our own. “O Father, I have fallen so often.” There comes to mind that beautiful song of mountain climbers: the art of climbing isn’t not to fall, but not to remain fallen. Sing and walk and if you fall, rise: there is the caress of Jesus’ mercy that forgives everything and there is joy there, the joy of that encounter with Jesus.
In this long nocturnal evening, in this night of walking, think of your life. What must I do with my life? What does Jesus say I must do with my life? What does the Lord think for me? Is there is joy in my heart to sing while I walk? If there is no joy, look for it! The Lord will give it to you, he will give it to you with his mercy.
Dear brothers and sisters, undertake this path; I am thinking of you. This evening I will pray for you, I will accompany you spiritually from Sarajevo to Rome, because I will return to Rome this evening. I will be with you and you, please, pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you. And may each one’s Guardian Angel say in your ear: “Sing and walk!”
We’ll talk again![Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]