Pope Francis lifted a quote from a catechist who spoke before him in the Cathedral of the Immaculate in Maputo: “We are a Church that is part of a heroic people” that has experienced suffering yet keeps hope alive. With this holy pride that you take in your people, a pride that invites a renewal of faith and hope, all of us want to renew our “yes”. How happy is Holy Mother Church to hear you manifest your love for the Lord and for the mission that he has given you!
Those words were an apt introduction to the Holy Father’s address, which stressed humility, evangelization, faith, hard work – and a warning to avoid being dragged into worldliness.
The Pope’s address came on September 5, 2019, when he met with bishops, priests, men and women religious, consecrated person, seminarians, catechists, and animators who gave him a rousing, joyful welcome with music and dancing.
The Holy Father emphasized with the “weariness” that comes from serving the Church. However, he questioned the source of some of that fatigue.
“We should not be running for our own benefit; rather, our weariness should be related to our ability to show compassion; our hearts are to be ‘moved’ and fully engaged in carrying them out.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, whether we like it or not, we are called to face reality as it is.,” Pope Francis said. “Times change and we need to realize that often we do not know how to find our place in new scenarios: we keep dreaming about the “leeks of Egypt” (Num 11:5), forgetting that the promised land is before us, not behind us, and in our lament for times past, we are turning to stone. Instead of proclaiming Good News, we announce a dreary message that attracts no one and sets no one’s heart afire.”
Pope Francis warned those present not to forget why they choose a path of faith and evangelization. He admitted that the times are difficult and the Church faces many challenges.
“In a crisis of priestly identity, sometimes we need to step away from important and solemn places and return to the places from which we were called, where it was clear that the initiative and the power was from God,” Francis suggested. “At times, without wanting it, and with no moral fault, we get used to identifying our daily activity as priests with certain rituals, with meetings and conversations, where our presence in those meetings, at the table or in the hall is ‘hierarchical’.
“Yet, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the priest is very little indeed: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men. The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock. No one is more ‘little’ than a priest left to his own devices; and so our prayer of protection against every snare of the Evil One is the prayer of our Mother: I am a priest because the Lord has regarded my littleness (cf. Lk 1:48).”
As he so often does, the Holy Father pointed to Mary and her “yes” that reminds us of true faith and commitment. She trusted God completely:
“Just as Mary journeyed to the house of Elizabeth, we too, as a Church, have to find the road to take in the face of new problems, taking care not to remain paralyzed by the mindset of opposition, division, and condemnation. Set out on that path, and seek answers to these challenges by imploring the unfailing help of the Holy Spirit. For he is the Teacher who can show us new paths to follow.”
THE HOLY FATHER’S FULL ADDRESS