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L'Osservatore Romano

Pope’s Q-and-A at Villa Nazareth

Pope Francis visited the community of Villa Nazareth on Saturday, on the 70th anniversary of its foundation by Cardinal Domenico Tardini, Vatican Secretary of State between 1958 and 1961, to offer assistance and aid to poor children orphaned by the war. It was […]

Pope Francis visited the community of Villa Nazareth on Saturday, on the 70th anniversary of its foundation by Cardinal Domenico Tardini, Vatican Secretary of State between 1958 and 1961, to offer assistance and aid to poor children orphaned by the war. It was subsequently instituted as a College by the chirograph of St. John XXIII in 1963.

The College is managed by the Domenico Tardini Foundation, chaired by Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, and receives free of charge students of both sexes with a history of excellence in studies but are from families who, on account of their socio-economic or cultural situation, are unable to support them.

After an address, the Holy Father had a dialogue with some of the youth. Here is a ZENIT translation of his words:

 

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The courage of choice – Valentina Piras

Holy Father, rather than teachers, we young people are in need of credible witnesses. We are often aware of inhabiting a complex reality in which there are no constant points of reference and where experiences without substance are proposed. Sometimes we are youngsters and adults “parked” in life, prey of the illusion of success and of the cult of our ego, incapable of giving ourselves to others. Holy Father, we would like you to say a word to us that will help us to have light in the darkness that dominates our hearts. How can we reawaken the grandeur and courage of choices of wide breadth, of a leap of heart to address educational and affective challenges?

Pope Francis:

Thank you. A key word is: “We young people are in need of credible witnesses.” And this in fact is the logic of the Gospel: to give witness, with one’s life, one’s way of living, the choices made … But witness of what? Of several things — witness, we Christians, of Jesus Christ who is alive, who has accompanied us: He has accompanied us in sorrow; he died for us, but He is alive. Said this way, it seems too clerical. However, I understand the witness that young people seek: it’s the witness of a “humiliation.” A humiliation is a good daily witness! One that awakens you and says to you: “Look, don’t engage in illusions with ideas, with promises …” including illusions very close to us – the illusion of success: “”No, I’ll go on this path and I’ll be successful.” It is the cult of one’s ego. We all know that today the mirror is in fashion! To look at oneself, one’s ego, that narcissism that today’s culture offers us. And when we don’t have testimonies, perhaps our life is going well; we earn well, we have a profession, we have a good job, a family …, however, you said a very strong word: “We are men and women parked in life,” namely, that don’t walk, that don’t go, as conformists: all is habit, a habit that leaves us tranquil; we have what is necessary, nothing is lacking, thank God …”How can we reawaken the grandeur and the courage of wide choices, of leaps of the heart to address educational and affective challenges?” I’ve said the word so many times: risk! Risk. One who doesn’t risk doesn’t walk. “But if I’m mistaken?” Blessed be the Lord! You will be more mistaken if you stay still, still: that’s the mistake, the bad mistake <and> closure. Risk. Risk for noble ideals, risk by soiling your hands, risk as that Samaritan of the parable risked. When in life we are more or less tranquil, there is always the temptation of paralysis. Not to risk: to be tranquil, still … “How can we reawaken the grandeur and courage of wide choices,” you asked, “of leaps of the heart to address educational and affective challenges? Get close to problems; come out of yourself and risk, risk. Otherwise you life will slowly become a paralyzed life; happy, content, with the family, but parked there – to use your word. It’s very sad to see parked lives; it’s very sad to see persons that seem more like museum mummies than living beings. Risk! Risk. If a mistake is made, blessed be the Lord. Risk. <Go> forward! I don’t know, this is what comes to me to tell you.

The effort of faith in today’s world – Gabriele Giuliano

Dear Pope Francis, we often find in the newspapers dramatic news regarding the tragedy that is affecting the Christian communities scattered in the world: these events lead us to a profound reflection on how much our faith can be witnessed and lived, even to death. This courage of genuine faith really puts everything in question. How can we be credible witnesses of the Gospel; how can we proclaim the message of Christ to the world? Many of us, with all the lacks and limitations intrinsic to the human being, feel these, but they easily discourage us. Does this happen to you? Have you ever had a crisis of faith? Where and how did you find the way to take it up again, not to tire, and to continue in your mandate, first as layman, then as consecrated?

Pope Francis:

But you have asked too personal a question! And I must make the choice … Either I answer the truth, or I engage in a soap opera that is lovely and so on … The tragedy of Christian communities scattered in the world: this is true, but witness is the destiny of Christians — I take up again the word testimony even in difficult situations. I don’t like, and I want to say it clearly, I don’t like when there is talk of genocide of Christians, for instance in the Middle East: this is reductionism; it’s reductionism. The truth is a persecution that leads Christians to fidelity, to coherence in their faith. Let’s not engage in sociological reductionism of what <in fact>  is a mystery of the faith: martyrdom. Those 13 – I believe they were Egyptian Coptic Christian men, Saints today, canonized by the Coptic Church – decapitated on the beaches of Libya. They all died saying: “Jesus, help me!” Jesus. But I’m sure that the majority of them did not even know how to read. They weren’t Doctors in Theology. No, no. They were, as one says, ignorant, but they were Doctors of Christian coherence, that is, they were witnesses of faith. And faith makes us witness so many difficult things in life; we also witness the faith with our life. But let’s not deceive ourselves: a bloody martyrdom is not the only way to witness Jesus Christ. It’s the highest, let’s say, heroic. It’s also true that today there are more martyrs than in the first centuries of the Church; it’s true. However, there is the martyrdom of every day: the martyrdom of honesty, the martyrdom of patience in the education of children; the martyrdom of fidelity to love, when it’s easier to take another path, more hidden: the martyrdom of honesty, in this world that can also be called “the paradise of the <tangents>,” it’s so easy: You say this and you’ll have that,” when the courage is lacking to throw dirty money back, in a world where so many parents give their children to eat bread soiled by tangents, the bread they buy with the tangents they earn … Christian witness is there, martyrdom is there: “No, I don’t want this!” “if you don’t want it, you won’t have that job, you won’t be able to go higher.” <And> the martyrdom of silence in face of the temptation to gossip. Jesus says that one who says “stupid” to a brother must go to hell. You know that gossip is like the bomb of a terrorist, of a kamikaze – not of a kamikaze, of a terrorist, <because> at least the kamikaze does have the courage to die – no, gossip is when I throw the “bomb,” I destroy something, and I’m happy. But Christian witness is the martyrdom of every day, the silent martyrdom, and we must speak like this. “But we are martyred men and women; we should have a sad face, a long face.” No. There is the joy of Jesus’s word, like that on the beaches of Libya.

And courage is necessary, and courage is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Martyrdom, martyred Christian life, Christian witness cannot be lived without the courage of the Christian life. Saint Paul uses two words: courage and patience – two words. The courage to go forward and not be ashamed of being a Christian and make yourself seen as a Christian, and the patience to carry on your shoulders the burden of every day, also the sorrows, also one’s sins, one’s incoherence. “But can one be Christian with sins?” Yes. We are all sinners, all of us. A Christian is not a man or a woman that has the asepsis of laboratories, he is not like distilled water! A Christian is a man, a woman capable of betraying his/her ideal with sin. He/she is a weak man and woman. But we must be reconciled with our weakness. And thus the nose [aspect] becomes a bit more humble, more humble.

Truth is not in one’s appearance. “I’m not a sinner,” like that Pharisee who prayed before the Lord: “I thank you that I’m not like this one, or that one, like that other one”; he soiled everyone but he was clean. He strutted. Allow me, it’s a bit … it’s not very correct, no, in fact, what I will now say isn’t licit, but the image will help you. The Christian coherence with the truth is to feel ourselves sinners and in need of forgiveness. Instead, one who boasts of being a perfect Christian, is like a turkey: but how beautiful the turkey is!  — it’ seen, it’s a beautiful reality  … Excuse me, but <have it> turn around, that’s also the reality of the turkey! And Christ’s message to the world is like that: we are sinners, and Jesus has loved us, He has healed us, or we are always on the way to being healed. And He loves us, and the intrinsic imitations and also the extrinsic limitations we see, for instance, the hypocrisy in the Church. The hypocrisy of Christians  — these limitations discourage us, and so faith enters in crisis. And here the impudent question: “Have you ever had a crisis of faith?” This is a question you ask the Pope! You are courageous! “Where and how did you find the way to take it up again, not to get tired and to continue in your mandate, as layman first, as consecrated later?” I find myself in crisis with the faith so many times and sometimes I’ve had the impudence to reproach Jesus: “But why do you permit this?” and even doubt: “But is this the truth or a dream?” — and <I did> this as a boy, as a seminarian, as a priest, as a Religious, as a Bishop and as Pope. But howsoever in the world have you been like this, when You have given Your life?” A Christian who hasn’t felt this at some time, whose faith hasn’t entered in crisis, is lacking something: he is a Christian that is content with some worldliness and goes forward in life in this way. I was told — because I don’t know Chinese, I have so much difficulty with languages, look, I don’t know Chinese, but I was told that the word crisis is made up in Chinese with two ideograms: one is the ideogram risk and the other with the ideogram opportunity. It’s true. When one enters in crisis – as when Jesus said to Peter that the devil would have put him in crisis [“sifted”], as one does with wheat, and so many times the devil, life, one’s neighbor, so many persons make us “spring” like wheat, put us in crisis  — there is always a danger, a risk, a risk not in the good sense, and an opportunity. A Christian – I learnt this – must not be afraid to enter in crisis: it’s a sign that he is going forward, that he is not anchored to the bank of the river or the seashore, that he has taken off and goes forward. And there are problems there, crises, incoherence, and the crisis of one’s sin, which makes us so ashamed. And how can we not get tired? It’s a grace. Ask the Lord for it: “Lord, may I not tire. Give me the grace of patience, of going forward, of waiting for peace to come.” I don’t know. It seems to me I should answer this way.

The professional and affective vocation – Giacomo Guarini

Holy Father, today everything is directed to the affirmation of the individual and the person seems to get lost as a being capable of giving himself and of receiving love. Love is no longer understood as a movement towards the other’s good but as a means for individual gratification; in a particular way, we don’t hide the difficulties that concern us young graduates, often humiliated by the lack of concrete prospects for our future and unable to bring to fulfilment the professional and affective vocation that, thanks to Villa Nazareth, we discovered. Therefore, how to make of work a place of vocation, in a world governed by unbridled individualism? How should relations be lived as mirror of the love of God, also during the engagement, in a context in which every desire of gratuitousness seems to fail?

Pope Francis:

You said a word that I like very much: gratuitousness. We often forget the meaning of gratuitousness, and we forger that gratuitousness is the language of God. He created us gratuitously; He has recreated us gratuitously in Jesus; and Jesus himself admonishes us: “What you received freely, give freely.” Gratuitousness. In this civilization of the “do ut des,” I give you this and that, everything is negotiated; gratuitousness runs the danger of disappearing. And sometimes, or many times – I think it’s one of the most common habits –Christianity becomes Pelagian: everything is purchased. “I do this and I am holier,” “I do this and I’m more perfect,” “I do this and I’m more Christian,” “I don’t do this and my Christianity is not …” We also have this attitude of the “do ut des” with God. But in the Old Testament the Lord already said to us: “I have no need of your sacrifices. Look around you and help others. Be just in the stipend.” And what you call “the affirmation of the individual,” this individualism leads us to very grave injustices – human injustices. I won’t say “social” because someone might say: “But this priest is a Socialist.” No, no, human! It is to a degree individual gratification which has nothing to do with the gratuitousness that Jesus Christ proposes to us, that God teaches us, which is in fact the language of God: gratuitousness. We must put ourselves on this wavelength of gratuitousness. Individual gratifications, hedonism: this is also a culture of hedonism. Personal satisfaction is sought. And today we must work so hard to distinguish the saints from those who disguise themselves to appear like saints! <There are> so many disguised Christians who aren’t Christians, because they don’t know gratuitousness. They live otherwise.

‘How to make of work a place of vocation?” To respond to the first call, the call that every one of us receives and which is the same that humanity received in Adam: go, cultivate the earth, multiply, rule the earth, work … “How to make of work a place of vocation?” Perhaps the strongest word here is work. It is one thing to work and quite another is to do things for profit and also to profit from others. The culture of work … In many underdeveloped countries there is the culture of the subsidy: aid is given but one is not taught to work. It does me so much good to think of Don Bosco, at the end of the eight hundreds, in that Masonic, priest hating, poor Turin, where boys were on the street … What did he do? Did he go there with holy water? No. He did emergency education, he made them study to learn simple trades, and thus enter into the culture of work. He saw in that risk an opportunity, an opportunity in that religious crisis, and he opened a human and religious horizon to those individuals. Work, which is not the same thing as “doing things,” so that the family fails, the marriage fails. I get enthusiastic, for instance, with politics, and I go here and there and then I don’t take care of my wife or my husband or the children. I have a habit, in Confession, when a married man or woman tell me they have children and that perhaps they lose patience …, I ask a question: “But how many children do you have?” Often they are scared: but what will the next question be? And <my> second question is: “And tell me, do you play with them? Do you take time to play with your children, to listen to them, to have an area of communication with them?” – “But, Father – an answer – when I go out to work in the morning, the children are asleep, and when I return, they are sleeping.” This slaving work, which does not allow one to live the gratuitousness of the gift of love, of God’s gift, perhaps isn’t the fault of this man or this woman: it’s the fault of the situation, it’s the fault of injustice, of the moral injustice that we live in this society. But I say this: take care of the family, take care of your husband, take care of your wife, take care of the children. And I allow myself something I have very much at heart: take care of the grandparents! Take care of the grandparents. They are our memory! In this disposable culture, it’s so easy to discard the grandparents: either in their home, or in the rest home, and not go to see them. Now it has changed somewhat because, as there is not much work and they have their pension, now we go to the grandparents! Take care of the grandparents. That prophecy of the prophet Joel in chapter III touches my heart: “Grandparents will dream,” and it will be in fact the dream, the capacity to dream of great things, which will make youngsters, young people go forward.

I’ll stop here, otherwise I’ll never end.

The new poverties – Maria Elena Tagliaboschi

Holy Father, the economic crisis, the considerable migratory flows, demographic changes, the incompatibility of times of work with those of the care of children, are only some of the phenomenons that are strongly affecting the development of society in the industrialized countries. All this is fostering the birth of new poverties: elderly alone, the unemployed and precarious growing strongly who do not find the space due to them in the labor market; young couples suffocated by huge expenses in running a family. These changes make us feel lost and always poorer, before economically, in hope, in desires, in passions. With what spirit can we, young people and adults, address these situations which often involve us?

Pope Francis

Forgive me, I took too long. In regard to this question, I have answered so many things. But I shall go, perhaps, to the crux of the problem. What we must review is the style of today’s economy. Today – and I say this because I wrote about it in Evangelii Gaudium – there is an economy that kills. In the world, in the global economy, man, woman is not at the center: the god money is there, and this kills us: on a winter’s morning you can find a homeless individual frozen to death., in Risorgimento Square, or many children on the street who have nothing to eat, and also drug addicts… This doesn’t make news; it doesn’t make news. However, if the stock markets of Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, New York fall by two or three points there is a great international tragedy! We are slaves of this economic system that kills – slaves and victims. Today it’s common to work illegally, because if you don’t work illegally, you have no work. It’s common. Today it’s common to be given a work contract from September to June, and what happens with July and August? Eat some air! Then one is given another contract from September, without healthcare, without the possibility of a pension. This is called “slave labor,” and the majority of us live in this system of slave labor.

The migratory flows: they flee in part because of hunger, because their country has been exploited and they are hungry. And they flee in part from war, which is in fact the affair at this moment that renders more money; the arms traffickers. And the same one that sells, that traffics the arms to this country that is at war with that one, is the same one who sells to the one at war with it! It is also a difficulty to have humanitarian aid reach countries at war or with guerrillas: so many times the Red Cross has not succeeded. But arms always arrive; there is no customs that stop them! Why? Because it’s precisely the affair that renders more — the god money … we are slaves. A young girl told me last year that she had seen <an ad> in the newspaper <for a job> and she went there and there was a queue of people who were after the jobs. And the employer saw her Curriculum and said to her: “Yes, yes, this might do, yes, you can go. Your work will be 10-11 hours a day, more or less, not more than 11 <and> your stipend 650 euros a month.” And the girl said: “But this isn’t just!” “But, if you like it, take it; if you don’t like it, look at the queue behind you … Goodbye!” And this is our daily bread, and from these injustices come so many new poverties, so many new poverties. Once I went to a shantytown of Buenos Aires, and there were new people there. I went to visit them in teirt little hut of a bit of wood and a bit of tin that they had made, but the furniture was good. And I had the courage to ask: “But how is this possible, I don’t understand …” And <the man> said to me: “Father, up to last month we could pay the rent, now we can’t.” And so the shantytowns grow. It’s a great injustice. And we must speak clearly: this is a mortal sin. And it makes me indignant, it upsets me when, for instance, something that is current – <people> come to have a child baptized and they bring one [as godfather], and he is told: “But you haven’t married in church; you can’t be a godfather because marriage, to get married in church is important.” But then they bring another one who is a swindler, an exploiter of people, a trafficker of children, but he is a “good Catholic,” he gives alms to the Church … “Ah, yes, you can be a godfather.” But we have turned our values upside down! The economic world, as it is arranged in the world today is immoral. I’m speaking in general, but there are exceptions. There are good people, there are countries that are seeking to change this; there are institutions that work against this. But the global atmosphere is that man and woman have been removed from the center of the economy, and the god money is there. I believe that with this I’ve answered your question.

From the center to the peripheries – Tonino Casamassimi

Holy Father, the comparison with the fundamental values of this Community must lead to question ourselves continually on the seriousness of our commitment in the world and of our service to our neighbor. A reality such as Villa Nazareth is filled with meaning precisely in the measure in which it succeeds in having well-trafficked talents fructify outside its walls, not only physical. From whence the attempt to open ourselves ever more – in our littleness and among various difficulties – to commitment in civil and social life, to an active presence not confined to this physical place but extended to all the territories in which members of our Community live and operate, to a reflection and to a concrete project of welcome of the neighbor who comes from distant lands. In what ways and with what spirit can we reinforce our commitment in the world, to live seriously that encounter with the peripheries of existence to which you exhort, and which finds profound roots in the evangelical message?

Pope Francis

To make talents fructify – we will be judged on this: what did I do with my talents, with what I received, with what the Lord gave me gratuitously? It’s a question we must ask ourselves. Can a do more? Can I give more? Can I share more? Talents, not only money, talents! And what is one of the most important talents of Villa Nazareth since its foundation? You said the word: hospitality. We are living in a civilization of closed doors, of closed hearts. We defend ourselves, we defend ourselves from one another: “This is mine; this is mine,” — fear of receiving — fear of receiving. And I’m not only speaking of the reception of immigrants, which is a great problem; it is also a global political problem. But also daily hospitality, hospitality to one who seeks me to bore me with his complaints, with his problems, and seeks in me a word of comfort and also the possibility of opening wide a “small window” to go outside. It upsets me, it upsets me when I see churches with the doors closed; it upsets one. There might be justifiable motives, but a church of closed doors means that that Christian community has a closed heart, it’s enclosed in itself. And we must take up again the sense of hospitality, of receiving. And this is very simple, it’s what happens in Rome daily: I think it’s one of the works, or if you wish to call it in terms of the apostolate, one of the things of which we are in greatest need, is the apostolate of the ear. We don’t have time to listen. We have lost our ability, <to listen>: “Not I, I don’t have time to go to listen to their complaints; no, they upset me, it’s better if I do something else that is more useful, doesn’t waste time …” If we don’t do this, we are not receiving others. And if we don’t receive them we are not Christians, and we will not be welcomed in the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s mathematical. It’s so; it’s the logic of the Gospel. It’s so. And you who had the experience of hospitality here, in this House, have a great social and ecclesial responsibility: to teach, to have it understood that this is the door of the Christian way. When we were baptized we were received by the Christian community – a beautiful liturgical ceremony where the parish priest explained things well, everything … But am I capable of carrying this sacramental hospitality forward, with the sign of the Trinity? Am I capable of carrying it forward in my way of living the faith? Or do I prefer to look the other way? {It’s} better to say: “I haven’t understood,” “I haven’t heard,” “I didn’t know”… Instead, this [hospitality] gives fruit, it gives fruit. <It’s> hospitality that makes talents fructify. There is the great reception of those that come from distant lands.  And there is the little welcome, when you – father or mother – return from work and your adolescent son or daughter is there who is in difficulty and wants to say something to you or at least is in need of your listening to something …”I’m too busy, let’s do it tomorrow …” This is the moment of grace: to receive. “But, Father, this is a torture!” No, it’s mortification; it’s mortification. It’s the cross of every day. Jesus said to us: “He who would follow me must take up his cross,” He did not say ”take morphine to sleep well”; “take up his cross and follow me.” And hospitality is a cross, but a good cross, because it makes us remember the reception that the Good God had and has for us, every time we go to Him to be reconciled, to ask for advice, to ask for forgiveness … Reception.

The challenges of the family – Massimo Moretti with his wife Giorgia Lagattola

Holy Father, the family today is solicited by the culture of the provisional. The couple is undermined by the temptation to seek the greatest happiness possible in a dimension that, marriage notwithstanding, risks remaining individual. We know we can count on the indissoluble grace of the Sacrament, but we don’t always have the strength and constancy to draw from this treasure. How can we keep alive the flame of our love and what value does the promise of eternity that we exchanged with one another have for today’s world?

Pope Francis:

I have said some things about the family today, but I will take one or two of your words — that on the culture of the provisional: I repeat this always. Some people that marry don’t know what they are doing. They marry … “But do you know that this is a Sacrament?” – Yes, yes, and therefore I must first go to Confession. Yes, yes, I will do so, and I will go to Communion as well.” – And do you know that this is for life?” – “Yes, yes, I know it, I know it.” But they don’t know it, because this culture of the provisional penetrates so much in us, in our values, in our judgments, which then means – so to speak –, simply means: “Yes, yes, I will be married while love lasts, and when love doesn’t last, the marriage is over.” It’s not said, but the culture of the provisional leads one to this. And I believe the Church must work a lot on this point with the preparation for marriage. There is a chapter in Amoris Laetitia, dedicated to this. A lady – I said this at Saint John Lateran the other evening – a lady once said to me: “You priests are wily: to become priests you study for eight years, then things go well, but if things don’t go well, you don’t feel <right> anymore; you find a girl you like and, after a while, you engage in a procedure. You go to the Holy See and you are given a dispensation; you marry and form a family. And we, who receive a Sacrament that is indissoluble and for life, which is the mystery of Christ and of the Church and lasts our whole life, are prepared with three or four conferences?” It’s true: preparation for marriage. It’s better not to get married, not to receive the Sacrament if one is not sure of the fact that there is a sacramental mystery there, that in fact Christ’s embrace of the Church is there; if you are not well prepared .

Then there is the cultural and social dimension. It’s true, to marry is a social event, it has always been a social event, always, because, in all cultures, it’s good to marry: there are so many beautiful, beautiful rites in cultures. When a youth goes to get the girl and brings her … there are so many beautiful things, which indicate this beauty of marriage. However, in the consumerist culture, this social aspect, of worldliness, sometimes fosters the provisional and doesn’t help one to take [marriage] seriously. The other evening I recounted that I called a youth that I knew: I telephoned him because his mother had said he was getting married, and I met him when I went to say Mass here at Ciampino. I said to him: I was told you are getting married …” “Yes, yes” – In what church will you do so?” “But we truly don’t know, because it depends on my girl’s dress that it be in tune with the church because of the beauty …” “Ah, how lovely, how lovely … And when?” – “In a few weeks” – “Ah, all right, all right. Are you preparing yourselves well?” – “Yes, yes, now we are going, we are looking for a restaurant that’s not too far away, and also for the sweets, and this and that, and that …” <But>, what meaning doe this marriage have? It’s purely a social event, a social event. I wonder: are these good, engaged individuals free of the hedonist, consumerist, worldly culture, or does the social event make them fall into this lack of freedom? — because the Sacrament of Marriage can be received only with freedom. If you’re not free, don’t receive it.

And then, there is something we must take care of. I like to meet, be it at the Masses at Saint Martha’s or at the General Audiences, spouses observing their 50th and 60th <anniversary>, because I always speak with them, they tell me things … they are happy. Once I heard it said by one of these couples what they all wanted to say, but they succeeded in saying it [I asked them]: 60 years. Who had more patience?” “Ah, both!”  — they always say the same thing – And then: “Did you quarrel?” – “Almost every day, but there’s no problem.” – “Are you happy?” – and I am moved, because they look at one another in the eyes <and say>: “Father we are in love.” This is great! After 60 years, this is great. And this is one of the fruits of the Sacrament of Marriage: grace does this. If only everyone could understand this! And there is something else that I would like to say. We all know that there is quarrelling in marriage; sometimes plates fly, these are things of every day. But the advice I always give is this: never end the day without making peace, because I fear the “cold war” of the day after. Yes, it is most dangerous! When you get angry, and end up angry and don’t make peace that  <same> day, it becomes worse; it worsens, it worsens. “But how do I make peace, Father? Must I make a speech, kneel down?” – “No, do this [he does the gesture of a caress] and <that’s> enough.” It’s a gesture; it’s the language of gesture. And among the gestures – please – don’t forget to caress one another: a caress is one of the most sacred languages in marriage. Caresses: I love you so much … Caresses … Spouses that are able to caress one another, to love one another in this way, but also with the body, with everything, always … Caresses … I believe that with this the strength of the Sacrament can be maintained, because the Lord also caresses his Bride, the Church, with so much tenderness. Let’s go forward in this way.

A community and its mission – Luca Monteferrante

Holy Father, we are a community that wishes to remain faithful to the special charism received by the Founder and to the mission entrusted to it by the Church as Association of lay faithful called to protect, defend and make it fructify. We feel strongly the desire to ask your help in the discernment of the signs of the present time and on the possible ways to follow them together. They are signs of crisis that exhibit the efforts and wounds of our living but that, at the same time, disclose potentialities and seeds of novelty, spurring us to open new ways in the desert of our lives, as an exercise of creativity of thought and of life inspired by the Spirit. Therefore we ask you, on this special occasion, to help us to understand the meaning of Jesus’ invitation addressed to Nicodemus to be “born again from on high,” as a community that questions itself in face of the depreciation of culture as instrument of the promotion of man; the organization of work that puts in danger the areas of personal and family life: the world of professions that asks to give up quotas of personal freedom to access responsible roles; the crisis of the communal dimension and of the value of fraternity caused by rhythms of life incompatible  with participation in shared experiences.

Pope Francis:

But the answer comes to me from that word that Saint Paul said when he was in the midst of the storm, before arriving at Malta. “Either we are all saved or no one <is saved>.” This is the communal aspect, you are also this; your charism, your association “either the whole is saved, or it’s not saved – either all or none. You must not allow divisions among you. And if there are some divisions, encounter each other, quarrel, tell one another the truth, get angry, but from there a stronger unity will emerge. Always save your unity. Don’t be afraid to quarrel, to discuss …,  but save your unity – always within, always within. And this is an important instrument to save your unity: either we’re all saved or no one is saved — particularisms, here, are awful, awful.

[In the question] there is “discernment of the signs of the times,” “seeds of novelty,” such as “giving up quotas of freedom to access responsible roles” … Three things: the first I’ve said, either all or none. Second: form sons, form disciples with this “Mysticism” [interior attitude], and leave the torch to them, that they may carry it forward. There are no eternal directors: the only eternal one is the Eternal Father. We must all pass the torch to sons to carry it forward. To make disciples, to form disciples is a renunciation, but it’s a renunciation of wisdom. To take a step “aside” so that a son can take things forward. Help him, protect him, but don’t hyper-protect him: leave him free. And He who does all this work of maintaining unity, creativity, new challenges, new sons is the Holy Spirit. It’s prayer to the Holy Spirit. It’s necessary to ask Him because it is He who consoles us in difficulties; it is He who is joy: the Holy Spirit is the joy of the Church. It is He who helps us, who gives us joy. The Holy Spirit is harmony; it is He who from the diversities He himself creates, makes the harmony of the whole Church. The Holy Spirit is beauty. We recall that time when Paul went to a new Christian community and asked them: “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” – “But we did not even know that a Holy Spirit existed” (cf. Acts 19:2). And how many institutions end badly, or lose the charism of the origins, because they have forgotten the Holy Spirit, who is a consoler in difficulties, who is joy, who is harmony, who is beauty?

And so, I thank you for the patience you have had in listening to this “Lenten sermon,” which were seven: like the “sermons of the seven words,” which in Argentina lasted three hours! Thank you so much. Thank you for what you do; thank you for the witness. And, please, I ask you to pray for me, because this work isn’t easy. Pray for me. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

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