A downpour of rain on Sunday morning didn’t stop thousands of pilgrims from gathering in St. Peter’s Square for the Day of Confraternities Mass. The Year of Faith celebration was presided by Pope Francis, who greeted pilgrims while circling the square in his Popemobile.
The Holy Father expressed his admiration to the faithful present, citing their bravery in attending despite the weather.
During his homily, Pope Francis greeted the confraternities, saying that they are “a traditional reality in the Church” that has “experienced a renewal and rediscovery” in recent times. “I greet all of you with affection, particularly the confraternities which have come here from all over the world! Thank you for your presence and your witness!” the Pope said.
Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel, the Holy Father referred to Jesus’ last thoughts in the Last Supper as “a spiritual testament.”
“Today’s text makes it clear that Christian faith is completely centred on the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said. “Whoever loves the Lord Jesus welcomes him and his Father interiorly, and thanks to the Holy Spirit receives the Gospel in his or her heart and life. Here we are shown the center from which everything must go forth and to which everything must lead: loving God and being Christ’s disciples by living the Gospel.”
The Holy Father reminded Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s words to the confraternities when opening the Year of Faith, stating that their popular piety is a “treasure possessed by the Church.” Pope Francis encouraged the confraternities present to continue to draw from the “inexhaustible wellspring” that is Christ.
“Down the centuries confraternities have been crucibles of holiness for countless people who have lived, in utter simplicity, an intense relationship with the Lord,” the Pope said. “Advance with determination along the path of holiness; do not rest content with a mediocre Christian life, but let your affiliation serve as a stimulus, above all for you yourselves, to an ever greater love of Jesus Christ.”
Drawing from the disciples in the second reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which spoke of the early Church resolved difficulties “not from without but from within the Church”, the Holy Father said that this example is the “ecclesial spirit” that should guide the confraternities in their popular piety.
“Popular piety is a road which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors,” the Pope said. “Be an active presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones.”
A third element that the Holy Father emphasized should be distinguished in the confraternities was to have a missionary spirit. Pope Francis conveyed the importance of their mission to keep alive the relationship between faith and the cultures in which they live in.
“When, for example, you carry the crucifix in procession with such great veneration and love for the Lord, you are not performing a simple outward act; you are pointing to the centrality of the Lord’s paschal mystery, his passion, death and resurrection which have redeemed us, and you are reminding yourselves first, as well as the community, that we have to follow Christ along the concrete path of our daily lives so that he can transform us,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis also cited that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is to point towards “the highest realization of the Christian life.”
Concluding his homily, the Holy Father called on the members of the confraternities present to always be witnesses to the mercy and love of Christ.
“ In this way we will make our way towards the goal of our earthly pilgrimage, towards that extremely beautiful shrine, the heavenly Jerusalem. There, there is no longer any temple: God himself and the lamb are its temple; and the light of the sun and the moon give way to the glory of the Most High,” the Pope said.
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For the full text of the Holy Father’s homily, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-homily-at-sunday-mass-for-day-of-confraternities