2013-05-06 16:29:28

Pope celebrates day with confraternities, urges protection of children

Vatican May 06, 2013 - "Be missionaries of God's love and tenderness ", especially to those who "in the Gospel Jesus calls 'the little ones'", was the task that Pope Francis entrusted to the Catholic confraternities who are engaged in special works of Christian charity or piety. The Pope entrusted the mission during a Mass he celebrated on Sunday in Rome’s St. Peter's Square for some 100 thousand confraternity members from around the world. The encounter was one of the events to celebrate the Year of Faith. In his homily, Pope Francis urged them to grow in their faith, help unite the Church and evangelize through their public acts of devotion. “Three words, don’t forget them: Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit,” the Pope said, urging them to ask the Lord always to direct their minds and hearts to him, as living stones of the Church, so that all they do, their whole Christian life, may be a luminous witness to His mercy and love. Throughout his homily on the day’s readings, Pope Francis drew on Pope Benedict XVI’s pervious message to confraternities, but also added insights from the Latin American bishops’ remarks on the groups.
His first exhortation to the crowd was to nurture their devotions as a “treasure possessed by the Church, which the bishops of Latin America defined, significantly, as a spirituality, a form of mysticism, which is a place of encounter with Jesus Christ. “Draw always from Christ, the inexhaustible wellspring; strengthen your faith by attending to your spiritual formation, to personal and communitarian prayer, and to the liturgy,” he urged. Pope Francis then recalled how the first Christians solved their problems within the Church, not from without. Hence ecclesial spirit. “Popular piety is a road which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors,” he said. Noting a great variety of colours and signs of the members the Pope said it was a reminder of the Church’s great wealth and variety of expressions in which everything leads back to unity and encounter with Christ. Speaking about the “missionary spirit”, the Holy Father reminded the confraternities of their duty to keep alive the relationship between the faith and the cultures of the peoples to whom they belong. He encouraged them to be true evangelizers, saying, “Each individual Christian and every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others and live the Gospel, and testify to God's love for all, especially those experiencing difficulties,” he said adding, “Be missionaries of God's love and tenderness!".
Almost at the end of the Mass, before praying the midday ‘Regina Caeli’, the Pope recalled that devotion to Our Lady was one of the characteristics of popular piety. He invited the faithful to read the section on Mary in “Lumen Gentium”, the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis also made it an occasion to greeted the faithful of the world’s Eastern Churches who on Sunday marked their Easter according to the Julian calendar. "I wish - he said - to send a special greeting to these brothers and sisters, uniting myself with all my heart to them in proclaiming the good news: Christ is risen! Gathered in prayer around Mary, we ask God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete so He may console and comfort all Christians, especially those who celebrate Easter amid trials and sufferings, and guide them on the path of reconciliation and peace. "
After reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer the Pope greeted members of Italy’s Meter Association, that observed the 18th Child Victims’ Day on Sunday. “It allows me the opportunity to turn my thoughts to the many who have suffered and continue to suffer because of abuse,” the Pope told the association dedicated to preventing the abuse of children. “I wish to assure them that they are present in my prayers, and I would also like to say that each of us must do all we can and commit ourselves with clarity and courage so that every human person, especially children, who are in the category of the most vulnerable, are always defended and protected.” "Whoever loves the Lord Jesus,” the Pope continued, “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 centre from which everything must go forth and to which everything must lead: loving God and being Christ's disciples by living the Gospel.

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