‘May the Virgin of Guadalupe sustain your hope…’
Pope Francis stressed this when addressing the Pius Pontifical Latin American College of Rome today, Nov. 20, 2020. In his address, he called on the college community to open their hearts, and those of others, and to “pitch in” and call others to do so.
The Pontiff said we must open our hearts to the Lord, “who doesn’t cease to call at our door, to make His abode with us,” and similarly this must be transmitted in closeness to our neighbors.
“Never fail to manifest this availability, this openness,” he urged, stressing: “never close the door to one who in the depth of his heart longs to be able to enter and feel welcome. Think that the Lord calls you under the guise of that poor one, to sit all together at His banquet.”
Acknowledging that God has called them to their priestly vocation and has sent them to this city of Rome to complete your formation, “because He has a plan of love and service for each one of you: to be Pastors according to His Heart, who dedicate themselves to the care of the sheep, who graze them, guide them, cure them and always seek their wellbeing.”
Francis said he does not doubt that they are working on numerous initiatives that will produce much good, but added that “our mission wouldn’t be perfect if we stayed there.”
“Our effort,” he said, “must also be a claim, it must call the flock, make it feel a people, called also to set out and make an effort to advance the Kingdom, already here on this earth.”
This implies your feeling useful, responsible, and necessary, that there is a space where they too can pitch in.
“Fight against the throwaway culture, social segregation, mistrust and prejudice because of race, culture or faith, so that the sentiment of fraternity prevails over all differences,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the Lord bless you and the Virgin take care of you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me.”
Here is a ZENIT-provided translation of the Pope’s address to those present.
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The Holy Father’s Address
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests:
My greeting goes to all the community of the Pius Pontifical Latin American College, and I thank the Reverend Father Gilberto Freire, S.J., for the kind words he addressed to me in the name of those present. In them, he presented to me the challenges that this time has imposed on your educational community and the need to remain faithful to its mission, to form and be formed as priests at the service of the holy People of God that pilgrimages in Latin America.
No matter how history has separated our peoples, it hasn’t destroyed in them the root that unites them in that great work that was the evangelization of America. On this basis, the Pius Latin American College was born as a commitment that would unite all our particular Churches and, at the same time, open them to the universal Church in this city of Rome. This experience of communion and openness is a great challenge, as the example of the miscegenation that has made America great, which is experienced in the plural community that you make up, can help to heal the world. The Gospel and its message arrived in our land by human means, not exempt of sin, but grace overcame our weakness and His Word spread to all corners of the Continent. The peoples and cultures received it in a rich diversity of ways, which we can contemplate today. This miracle happened because both those to whom it reached as well as those that received it were able to open their heart and did not close themselves to what the other could bring to them, be it in the human, in the cultural or in the religious <dimension>. This mestizo root is born of a heart that is able to love the other with a fecund love, that is, willing to create something new that surpasses and transcends it. This implies rejecting one’s self-reference to be able to spread the gift received. This seed of the Kingdom will undoubtedly grow and yield one hundred per cent, not of grains that are all the same but of an unexpected variety and richness.
At present, there are Latin Americans scattered around the world, and many Christian communities have benefitted from this reality. Churches of North and Central Europe, including of the East, have found in them a new vitality and a renewed impetus. Many cities, from Madrid to Kobe, celebrate with fervour the Christ of the Miracles and the same can be said of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The rich cultural miscegenation, which made evangelization possible, is being reproduced again today. Latin peoples meet among themselves and with other peoples, thanks to social mobility and communication facilities and, from this encounter, they also come out enriched. You are called to sow the Word generously in that field, without prejudices, as God sows, who doesn’t look at the hardness of the earth, or the presence of stones and thistle, who doesn’t pull out the tares, so as not take with them the seed of the Kingdom. That should influence your formation and ministry, to open the door of your heart and of the hearts of those that listen to you, to pitch in and convoke others to do so with you for the good of all, to heal this world of the great evil that afflicts it, and which the pandemic has made evident. As you see, they are three concrete points of action that have two instances: personal and communitarian, which, undoubtedly, complement each other.
To open the door of one’s heart and of hearts. Certainly to open one’s heart to the Lord, who doesn’t cease to call at our door, to make His abode with us. However, to open it also to one’s brother, as don’t forget, our relationship with God can be easily tested by the way we project ourselves on our neighbour. When you open your heart to all without distinction out of love of God, you create a space where God and your neighbour can meet. Never fail to manifest this availability, this openness: never close the door to one who in the depth of his heart longs to be able to enter and feel welcome. Think that the Lord calls you under the guise of that poor one, to sit all together at His banquet.
To pitch in and call others to do so. God has called you to the priestly vocation. He has sent you to this city of Rome to complete your formation, because He has a plan of love and service for each one of you: to be Pastors according to His Heart, who dedicate themselves to the care of the sheep, who graze them, guide them, cure them and always seek their wellbeing. No doubt, in your heads there are infinite initiatives and I don’t doubt that, working with courage, you will do much good and will help many people; however, our mission wouldn’t be perfect if we stayed there. Our effort must also be a claim, it must call the flock, make it feel a people, called also to set out and make an effort to advance the Kingdom, already here on this earth. This implies your feeling useful, responsible, and necessary, that there is a space where they too can pitch in. Fight against the throwaway culture, social segregation, mistrust and prejudice because of race, culture or faith, so that the sentiment of fraternity prevails over all differences.
Heal the world of the great evil that afflicts it. The pandemic has put us before the great evil that afflicts our society. Globalization has surmounted borders, but not minds and hearts. The virus spreads without a brake, but we are not capable of giving a joint answer. The world continues to close doors, rejecting dialogue and collaboration. It refuses to open itself sincerely to the common commitment for a good that reaches all without distinction. The cure of that evil must come from below, from the hearts and souls that one day will be entrusted to you, with concrete proposals in the realm of education, catechesis, the social commitment, capable of changing mentalities and of opening spaces to heal the evil and give a united people to God.
Dear Superiors, college students and alumni of this beloved Pius Latin American College: May the Virgin Mother of Guadalupe, Patroness of Latin America, sustain your hope in this course that opens now in the midst of human uncertainties, so that you can second God’s call where He sends you and be witnesses of the human fraternity that is born of being children of God. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin take care of you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me.[Original text: Spanish] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]