At 5:30 pm today, March 25, 2017, Pope Francis met with recently confirmed young people in the Meazza-San Siro Stadium of Milan. Roberto Ruozzi, President of the Stadium, received the Pope at the entrance of the establishment.
In the course of the meeting, the Pontiff answered some questions posed by a recently confirmed young man, a married couple and a catechist.
This was the last event on the Pope’s itinerary during his pastoral visit to the northern Italian city before returning to Rome.
Here is a working Zenit translation of the questions posed to the Holy Father and his prepared responses. However, the Holy Father spoke off-the-cuff. Therefore, Zenit will bring our readers his improvised responses to the questions posed once the text has been released and has been translated:
The Holy Father’s answers to some questions asked by a boy
When you were our age, what helped you to have your friendship with Jesus grow?
3: The Parish
Question of a Married Couple
How can we transmit the beauty of the faith to our children? Sometimes it seems truly difficult to be able to talk about this subject without being boring or banal in sharing the faith with them.
- I think this is one of the key questions that touches our life as parents, as Pastors, as educators. And I would like to address it to you. I invite you to recall who were the persons that left an imprint on your faith and which of them remained most imprinted. I invite you parents to become children again for a minute and to recall the persons that helped you to believe. Father, mother, grandparents, a catechist, an aunt, the parish priest, a neighbor, perhaps . . . We all have in our memory, but especially in our heart, someone who helped us to believe.
You will ask me for the reason for this little exercise. Our children look at us constantly, even if we don’t realize it, they observe us all the time and meanwhile they learn. “Children look at us,” I believe is the title of a film. They know our joys, our sadness and worries. They understand everything and, given that they are very intuitive, they draw their conclusions and their teachings. They know when we set traps for them and when we don’t. Therefore, one of the first things I’ll say to you is: take care of them, take care of their heart, of their joy and of their hope. Your children’s “little eyes” memorize and read gradually with the heart how the faith is one of the best legacies that you have received from your parents, from your ancestors.
Show them how the faith helps you to go on, to face the many dramas we have, not with a pessimistic but a confident attitude, this is the best witness we can give them. There is a saying: “The wind took the words,” but what is sown in the memory, in the heart, stays for ever.
- In different parts, many families have a very beautiful tradition, and it is to go to Mass together and afterwards they go to a park, <and> take their children to play together. So that faith becomes a exigency of the family with other families. This is good and it helps to live the Commandment to sanctify the feasts. Now that the good days are beginning, for instance, on Sunday after having gone to Mass as a family, it is a good thing if you can go to a park or square to play, to be together recovering a beautiful tradition that in Buenos Aires we call “dominguear,” namely, “enjoying Sunday,” — the best day to visit the family, to be more relaxed. I believe there is something good to rediscover in this and to appreciate. Faith is lived in a family environment that promotes gratuitousness, spending time together. This doesn’t require money; on the contrary, it is an invitation to bless out being together, which is something good. We can be lacking so many things, but we are united and this is a very good teaching we can give.
- The family’s education in solidarity. I like to put the accent on celebration, on gratuitousness, on seeking other families and living the faith as an area of family enjoyment. I believe it is also necessary to add another element. There is no celebration without solidarity – as there is no solidarity without celebration. I remember once, a mother at lunchtime heard someone knocking at the door: it was a child asking for something to eat. That day they were having “cutlets alla Milanese.” She had all her children eat and there was enough for that child. We must not give what is superfluous to us, but have others share in what we have. Children learn this at home. Faith grows with charity and charity increases with faith. One does not exist without the other and they are complementary. And this helps us to see that life with faith is good, with its difficulties, certainly, with its problems, but good.
A Catechist’s Question
Our Archbishop has been encouraging us for some time to build “educating communities,” where fraternal sharing between catechists, coaches, parents and teachers supports the common educational task. What advice can you give us to open ourselves to listening and to dialogue with all the educators who have something to do with our youngsters?
- Education based on thinking-doing-feeling (head-hands-heart) — knowledge is multi-form, it is never uniform. Many times professors — and it’s OK – believe that their subject is the most important of all. We are somewhat jealous of our things, and we don’t realize that we all “sharply draw” the same child or youngster. Therefore, it is essential to come to an agreement to show that all disciplines are important and that the more they are developed, the richer the education is.
- With reference to the previous point, I remember that once in a school there was a pupil who was a phenomenon in playing soccer and a disaster in his conduct in class. A rule that was given to him was that if he didn’t behave well he would have to leave soccer. Given that he continued to behave badly he stayed two months without playing, and this made things worse. One day the coach spoke with the Directress and he asked her if the boy could play again. He made him captain of the team. Then <the boy> felt considered, he felt he could give his best and he began not only to behave better but to improve in everything. This seems very important to me in education. Among our students there are some who come for sport and not so much for the sciences and others for philosophy more than for sport. A good teacher, educator or coach knows how to stimulate the good qualities of his pupils and not neglect the others, always seeking complementarity. No one can be good in everything, and we must say this to our pupils: we are complementary – we cannot forget this principle.
- Another aspect that I think is important is education for projects. To be able to teach to work in a polyhedral and not linear way – that they can study the same phenomenon from different perspectives and make proposals. Yes, make proposals for improvement, so that they feel participants of their education.
- Sometimes I see educational programs that want to make supermen and superwomen of the students. From childhood they subject them to very intense agendas and pressures. It’s good to stimulate them but, be careful: children also need to play, to amuse themselves, to sleep. This is part of their growth. There are children’s agendas that seem more like those of a businessman. Pauses, rest, play and even frustration are an important part of growth.
- Recover wonder to balance determinism. Technology offers us many things and enables our youngsters to know a lot instantly. They have access to information that we would never have imagined. Often when speaking to some of them I am astounded by the things they know, or they look for it afterwards and with no problem, say to you: “I’ll look it up now . . .” This offers them many instruments and possibilities. However, there is something that technology can’t give: compassion. This is learnt only between humans, with others.
At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father went to the Milan-Linate airport from where, at 6:30 pm he took leave of the personalities that received him in the morning, to return to Rome. He is due to land in the Rome-Fiumicino airport at 7:30 pm. Then the Pope will return to the Vatican.