Pope's Holy Mass in Vartanants Square in Gyumri. Armenia Day Two

Pope's Holy Mass in Vartanants Square in Gyumri. Armenia (CTV Screenshot)

Pope at Mass in Gyumri Suggests 3 Foundations to Build, or Rebuild, Our Lives

Warns Against ‘Locking Up Faith in Archives of History’ as If It Were ‘Beautiful Illuminated Book to Be Kept in a Museum’

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“What is the Lord asking us to build today in our lives, and even more importantly, upon what is he calling us to build our lives?”
Pope Francis asked this during this morning’s Holy Mass in Vartanants Square in Gyumri during the second day of his 14th international apostolic visit, which has brought him to Armenia. He recalled the Prophet Isaiah’s words in today’s reading: “They shall build up the ancient ruins… they shall repair the ruined cities” (Is 61:4).
Francis began his homily by recalling the “terrible devastation” that the immense 1988 earthquake caused, killing tens of thousands of people. He pointed out how faithful were gathered at today’s Mass “to give thanks to God for all that has been rebuilt.”
After asking the faithful on what they plan to build, or rebuild, their lives, the Holy Father suggested to those present “three stable foundations.”
The first foundation, he noted, is memory, which makes us recall all that God has done in and for us, without ever forgetting us.
“God has chosen us, loved us, called us and forgiven us,” he noted, saying, “Great things have happened in our personal love story with him, and these must be treasured in our minds and hearts.”
He also reminded them that another memory must be preserved, that of “a people.”
“Peoples, like individuals, have a memory. Your own people’s memory is ancient and precious. Your voices echo those of past sages and saints; your words evoke those who created your alphabet in order to proclaim God’s word; your songs blend the afflictions and the joys of your history. As you ponder these things, you can clearly recognize God’s presence. He has not abandoned you.”
The second foundation he mentioned was faith, which signifies hope for your future and a light for life’s journey.
“There is always a danger,” he warned, “that can dim the light of faith, and that is the temptation to reduce it to something from the past, something important but belonging to another age, as if the faith were a beautiful illuminated book to be kept in a museum. Once it is locked up in the archives of history, faith loses its power to transform, its living beauty, its positive openness to all.”
However, faith, he explained, is born and reborn from encountering Jesus, experiencing His mercy illuminating every situation in our lives.
“We would do well,” Francis encouraged, “to renew this living encounter with the Lord each day. We would do well to read the word of God and in silent prayer to open our hearts to his love. We would do well to let our encounter with the Lord’s tenderness enkindle joy in our hearts: a joy greater than sadness, a joy that even withstands pain and in turn becomes peace.”
All of this, Francis explained, renews our lives, makes us free and open to surprises.
“When he calls – and I say this especially to you young people – do not be afraid; tell him ‘Yes!’” Francis said. “He knows us, he really loves us, and he wants to free our hearts from the burden of fear and pride. By making room for him, we become capable of radiating his love. Thus you will be able to carry on your great history of evangelization. This is something the Church and the world need in these troubled times, which are also a time of mercy.”
Merciful Love
The third foundation of merciful love, Francis said, has been gifted to us by God, exemplified in Jesus, and we are to offer it to our neighbors. “In the exercise of charity, the Church’s face is rejuvenated and made beautiful.
“Concrete love is the Christian’s visiting card; any other way of presenting ourselves could be misleading and even unhelpful, for it is by our love for one another that everyone will know that we are his disciples.
May believers always set an example, cooperating with one another in mutual respect and a spirit of dialogue, knowing that “the only rivalry possible among the Lord’s disciples is to see who can offer the greater love!” (John Paul II, Homily, 27 September 2001: Insegnamenti XXIV/2 [2001], 478).
In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah reminds us that the Spirit of the Lord is always with those who carry glad tidings to the poor, who bind up the brokenhearted and console the afflicted (cf. 61:1-2).
“God dwells in the hearts of those who love him. God dwells wherever there is love, shown especially by courageous and compassionate care for the weak and the poor. How much we need this! We need Christians who do not allow themselves to be overcome by weariness or discouraged by adversity, but instead are available, open and ready to serve.”
What we need, the Pope highlighted, are men and women of good will, who help their brothers and sisters in need, “with actions and not merely words,” and societies of greater justice, “where each individual can lead a dignified life and, above all, be fairly remunerated for his or her work.”
How Can We Do This…
All the same, the Jesuit Pope acknowledged we might ask ourselves: how can we become merciful, with all the faults and failings that we see within ourselves and all about us?
“I would like to appeal to one concrete example, a great herald of divine mercy, one to whom I wished to draw greater attention by making him a Doctor of the Universal Church: Saint Gregory of Narek.” This 10th-century Armenian monk, Francis stressed, was “a master of life, who teaches us that the most important thing is to recognize that we are in need of mercy.”
Born in 950 A.D., St. Gregory of Narek is known for his poetic writings and commentaries and is revered as one of the great figures of Armenian religious thought. His book of prayers, also known as “Book of Lamentations,” is widely thought to be one of his great masterpieces and still considered as a definitive piece of Armenian literature.
Before concluding with a prayer for God’s mercy, Pope Francis stressed that we must overlook our own failings and the injuries done to us, so that we don’t become self-centered, but instead open our hearts to the Lord in sincerity and trust.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-holy-mass-in-vartanants-square-in-gyumri-armenia/

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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