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Jubilee Audience: On Piety

‘How often do we see people attached to cats ands dogs, who then leave their neighbor without helping him, the woman neighbor who is in need … This is not right.’

Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address during Saturday’s Jubilee Audience:

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THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! The day doesn’t seem to be very good [it was raining], but you are courageous and you came with the rain. Thank you! This audience is being held in two places: the sick are in Paul VI Hall, because of the rain. They are more comfortable there and they are following us on a giant screen. And we are here. We are united with them, and I suggest that you greet them with an applause. It’s not easy to applaud with an umbrella in hand!

Among the many aspects of mercy, there is one that consists in feeling compassion or being moved in face of those who are in need of love. Pietas – piety – is a concept that was present in the Greco-Roman world, where, however, it indicated an act of submission to superiors: first of all the devotion owed to the gods, then the respect of children for their parents, especially the elderly. Today, instead, we must be careful not to identify piety with that rather defused pietism, which is only a superficial emotion and offends the other’s dignity. In the same way, this piety is not to be confused either with the compassion we feel for the animals that live with us, and remaining indifferent in face of the sufferings of brothers. How often do we see people attached to cats ands dogs, who then leave their neighbor without helping him, the woman neighbor who is in need … This is not right.

The piety we wish to talk about is a manifestation of God’s mercy. It is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that the Lord offers to His disciples to make them “docile in obeying divine inspirations” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1830). Reported in the Gospels so many times is the spontaneous cry that sick, possessed, poor and afflicted persons addressed to Jesus: “Have mercy” (cf. Mark 10:47-48); Matthew 15:22; 17:15). Jesus responded to all of them with a look of mercy and the comfort of His presence. In these invocations of help or requests for mercy, each one expressed also his/her faith in Jesus, calling Him “Teacher,” Son of David” and “Lord.” They intuited that there was something extraordinary in Him, which could help them to come out of the sad conditions in which they found themselves. They perceived in Him the very love of God. And even if the crowd thronged about Him, Jesus was aware of those invocations of mercy and He was moved, especially when He saw persons suffering and wounded in their dignity, as in the case of the woman with the hemorrhage. He called them to have faith in Him and in His Word (cf. John 6:48-55). For Jesus to feel mercy was equivalent to sharing in the sadness of the one He met but at the same time working personally to transform it into joy.

We are also called to cultivate in ourselves an attitude of mercy in face of so many situations of life, shaking off the indifference that impedes our recognizing the needs of brothers around us and freeing ourselves from the slavery of material well-being (cf. 1 Timothy 6:3-8).

Let us look at the example of the Virgin Mary, who looks after each one of her children and is, for us believers, the icon of mercy. Dante Alighieri expressed it in the prayer to Our Lady placed at the climax of the Paradiso: “”In thee is tenderness, in thee is pity, in the munificence, in thee united whatever in created being is of excellence” (XXX, 19-21). Thank you

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

Greeting in Italian

I express a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I am happy to greet the Sons of the Immaculate Conception on the occasion of their General Chapter; the Community of the Ukrainian Pontifical College of Saint Josaphat and the participants in the course of formation of the Salesian University. I greet the Chianti League with the Bishop, Monsignor Giovannetti; the Italian Federation of Popular Traditions; the members of the Jubilee of businessmen and business- women; the Catholic Forum for long-distance adoptions, and the members of UNITALSI. I hope that, with the crossing of the Holy Door, the Jubilee of Mercy is an occasion to manifest to brothers the very mercy of God the Father, who always consoles us in difficulties.

I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Today is the feast of Saint Matthias, the Apostle who was the last to enter the Twelve. May his spiritual vigor stimulate you, dear young people, especially the students of the Sacred Heart and Paul VI of Rome, to be coherent with your faith; may his abandoning of self, to the Risen Christ, sustain you; Dear sick, in the moments of greatest difficulty; and may his missionary dedication remind you, dear newlyweds, that love is the irreplaceable foundation of the family.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

 

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