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Pope Francis’ Address to the “Seguimi” Lay Association

“Preserve and develop this fraternal communion and the exchange of gifts, geared to the human and Christian growth of all, together with creativity, optimism, joy and the courage to go when it is right against the current.”

Here is the translation of Pope Francis address to the Seguimi (Follow Me) lay association on Saturday.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome you on the occasion of the 50thanniversary of the founding of your Community, the Seguimi lay association. I greet you affectionately and thank Cardinal Vallini, who made himself interpreter of your sentiments.

As was recalled, this association was born during Vatican Council II, and from conciliar teaching it has tried to live the inspiration “the Gospel without reduction,” as the title of one of your publications affirms. The symbolic and intensely spiritual gesture of the first members, beginning from the Catacombs of Saint Callistus, witnesses to this will, which you expressed in the statuary formula  of your program of life: “Jesus Christ Alive Is at the Center of ‘Seguimi.’’ This is very beautiful. I encourage you to live this program every day, namely, to be persons de-centered from yourselves and to put your vital center in the living Person of Jesus. So often in the Church also, we think we are good Christians because we engage in well-organized social and charitable works. All right, they are good things. However, we must not forget that the lymph that bears life and transforms hearts is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Let Him, the Lord, occupy the center of your heart and your work. It is, in fact, remaining firmly united to Him, as shoots to the vine (Cf. John 15:1-9), that you can go to the fringes of the world.

Your Founders traced for the first companions the foundational lines of “Seguimi.,” undertaking a new way configured beyond the classical forms of consecrated life, and approved by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The commitment to the evangelical counsels in a general context of secularism is absorbed in the one fundamental obligation of fidelity to the love of the Father, of Christ and of the Gospel, fidelity to the action of the Holy Spirit who is love and freedom, fidelity to the vocational pact between the members of the Group, in which you are obliged not to fail. In “Follow Me,” fidelity is regarded as the highest natural moral value, to which you are bound in conscience to respond to God’s call, without other juridical bonds of positive origin, convinced that if fidelity is truly lived, other bonds are not necessary. Therefore, yours is a form of evangelical life to practice in a context of secularism and freedom — a program of Christian life for the laity, with clear and demanding objectives, an original way of incarnating the Gospel, an effective way to walk in the world. The different forms of membership represent as many ways of commitment and participation in the ideals of the unique community. Celibates and spouses, each one in his own state of life, meet and share an enriching experience of complementarity.

Preserve and develop this fraternal communion and the exchange of gifts, geared to the human and Christian growth of all, together with creativity, optimism, joy and the courage to go – when it is right – against the current. Be vigilant on your spiritual journey and help one another to always practice mutual charity, which means to defend oneself from individualist egoism to be true witnesses of the Gospel.

As laity, you are persons immersed in the world and you are committed within the earthly realities to serve the good of man. You are called to permeate with Christian values the environments in which you work with witness and the word, meeting people in their concrete situations, so that they have full dignity and are reached by the salvation of Christ. He is fullness for every human life; in fact, revealing the mystery of the Father and of his love, also unveils fully man to man and makes him note his very lofty vocation (Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 22).

I encourage you to be front line laity, to feel yourselves an active part of the mission of the Church, to live your lay state dedicating yourselves to the realities proper of the earthly city: the family, the professions, social life in its different expressions. Thus you can contribute, by way of ferment, to insert the spirit of the Gospel in the course of history with the testimony of faith, of hope and of charity.

Dear friends, may Seguimi be increasingly a form of Christian life and of apostolic commitment, which promotes and elevates its members, rendering them protagonists together with others of a better world.

I bless you from my heart and, please, don’t forget to pray for me.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

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