Pope Francis met on Saturday in the Paul VI Audience Hall with 6000 seminarians, novices and people on a vocational path from some 66 countries to mark the Year of Faith. In an enthusiastic atmosphere interrupted by frequent applause, the Holy Father spoke on various topics, including several thorny issues.
A provisional culture
“Archbishop FIsichella told me, I’m not sure if its true, that you have the desire to consecrate your lives forever to Christ” the Pope said which provoked thunderous applause. “You applaud because its the wedding time, but when the honeymoon is over, what happens then?” He recalled one seminarian who said “I want to serve Christ for ten years” and then start another life.
“We also are under the pressure of a provisional culture”, he said, I will marry while love lasts, I am a nun or a religious but I don’t know what will happen. “This does not fly with Jesus,” he reiterated. “A definite election today is more difficult than in my time! Because we are victims of a provisional culture” he said while inviting them to reflect on how to “not accept this culture.”
Regarding this theme, the Pope remembered a spanish poem: “This evening My Lady, the promise is sincere, but because of my doubts do not forget the keys outside.” He warned that “if one always leaves the keys outside it won’t work, we have to learn to lock the door from the inside.” He recommended that if one is not sure to take some time and to talk with Jesus “when I am sure, to close the door.”
Commenting on the palpable joy in the hall, he asked: “Does the joy of a seminarian come from going out to dance on the weekend with friends? Or does it center in owning, or for example, obtaining the latest smartphone model or the fastest motorbike. An attention-grabbing automobile, “I tell you sincerely, it pains me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest automobile. This cannot be! A car is necessary, but a more humble one “and if you like a nice car, think only of how many children die of hunger in the world.”
True joy does not come from owning something, it comes from the encounter in relations with other, in feeling loved and understood. Because joy comes from the gratefulness of an encounter. The joy of “the encounter with Jesus” and in “feeling loved by God.”
“When one meets with a seminarian or a novice that is very sad, one thinks that something isn’t right, because the joy of the Lord is lacking, who carries out the service, the encounter with Jesus that brings you to meet with other,” the Pops continued. The Holy Father mentioned the saying of Saint Therese “A saint with a sad face is a sad saint” while inviting them as well to not be sad faced (con cara de pepinos en vinagre).
Pastoral Fruitfulness and Celibacy
“A priest or nun without joy is said, the Pope said, adding that it indicates a problem of insatisfaction. The Holy Father entered in depth on the theme, saying that it is a problem of celibacy, those in religious life must be both chaste and fertile, because they must be fathers or mothers of the community.
Consistency and Authenticity
The Holy Father underlined as well the importance of consistency and authenticity, recalling how Jesus berated hypocrites and those who are two-faced. “If we want consistent youth, we in turn must be consistent,” he said. Be like St. Francis, the Holy Father continued, because his invites all to preach the Gospel not only in word, but in the authenticity of one’s life.
“In this world where riches do so much evil it is necessary that we be consistent with our poverty.” When an institution or parish is seen placing importance on money, it is not doing good, it is inconsistent. Because “it is through our life that others need to read the Gospel from.”
Transparency with the Confessor
The Pope then asked: Is there someone here in this hall that has not sinned? He went on to invited to be transparent with their confessors and “to not be afraid to say, ‘Father, I have sinned.” Because “Jesus knows the truth and he always forgives you but He wants you to tell Him what He already knows.” It is sad, he asserted, “when a priest or nun ‘go in circles’ in the confessional to hide their truth.”
Preparation for the different dimensions of life
The Supreme Pontiff invited those gathered to culturally prepare themselves to “give reason over to faith and hope.” The context in which we live in “asks us to give reasons, not taking anything for granted,” he said.
The Holy Father emphasized the need for a preparation that unites the various dimensions of life, in particular the “spiritual life, intellect, apostleship and community life.” “It is better to have the worst seminary than no seminary, because community life is necessary.”
Do Not speak ill of others
Recalling as well the fraternal and friendly relationships that exist, the Pope also warned on the damage inflicted by “gossip” within a community. “And this, in our clerical and religious world is common. I also fell in that, many times and I am ashamed of that, it is not good; the “have you u heard about this or that? That is a hell in a community. If I have a problem with someone, I tell them directly and not behind their backs.”
“One time a nun told me that she made a promise to the Lord to never speak ill of others. And if I must speak, I would tell a superior and never to someone who cannot help. Fraternity.”
The Pope warned as well on the dangers of going to the opposite extreme: “be it either isolation or dissipation” and that true friendship must avoid that.
Two dimensions: Transcendence and the neighbor
“Go out to preach the Gospel and meet with Jesus,” he said. One exit is transcendence and the other leads to the others to announce Jesus [Christ]. One path isn’t enough.
He recalled Mother Teresa of Calcutta who “feared nothing because that nun would kneel two hours before the Lord.”
A more missionary Church
The Pope expressed his desire for a Church that is more missionary and less relaxed. He also recalled his emotion upon greeting those religious in areas of evangelization. “They give a contribution to a Church that is faithful to the way of Jesus. They do not learn from us, that sport that us old people practice many times, that of complaint, the worship of the god of lamentation.”
Pope Francis concluded with some final words of advice: “Be capable of encountering those who are disadvantaged; do not be afraid to go against the current; pray the rosary, have the Virgin [Mary] with you in your house like the apostle St. John and pray also for me, for I am a poor sinner but we go forward,” he said. Concluding his address, the Pope invited them to not be “bachelors or bachelorettes”, but to have apostolic fertility.[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]