Pope Francis welcomes 1,500 faithful from the Italian dioceses of Alessandria and Spoleto-Norcia and speaks to them about the importance of the Eucharist in Christian life: a pastoral and missionary conversion is necessary, which cannot leave things as they are. He recalls the ongoing synodal journey, the need to grow in fraternal communion, and the call to be witnesses of Jesus in daily life.
By Adriana Masotti
Pope Francis met with groups from two Italian dioceses at midday on Saturday in the Paul VI Hall, faithful from the Diocese of Alessandria and confirmandi – young people who are preparing for confirmation or who have recently been confirmed – from the Diocese of Spoleto-Norcia. The Pope first spoke to the group from Alessandria, while mentioning the many young people from Spoleto-Norcia who are “like so many flowers that are blooming” and with them one experiences “a sense of having the whole family” together.
St. Pius V, Church reformer
The occasion of the visit of pilgrims from Alessandria was the 450th anniversary of the death of Saint Pius V, who was born in Bosco Marengo, found in the Piedmont diocese. “He was a reformer of the Church, who made courageous choices,” said the Pope. Since then, the style of Church governance has changed, he observed, and “the backbone of his life was faith,” affirming how his teachings are important also for today’s world.
First, they invite us to be “seekers of truth,” and Jesus is Truth in a way that is not only universal but also communal and personal, he added, saying the challenge is to experience that search for truth today in the daily life of the Church and of Christian communities. And this search can only take place through personal and communal discernment starting from the Word of God.
Hearing the Word helps a community grow in the knowledge of Jesus, the Pope continued, and in the community life that must be woven from bonds of love and sharing. The Word “comes alive particularly in the celebration of the Eucharist.”
Prayer helping Church’s mission
The Liturgy changes us, the Pope explained, bringing us into the life of Christ and then calling us to act concretely for others. He then recalled St. Pius V’s efforts to promote prayer, especially that of the Rosary, and stressed how the Acts of the Apostles give us back “the image of a Church on a journey, an energetic Church, that finds in prayer gatherings the basis and the impetus for missionary action.” Regarding the first Christians, we read how they were persevering in the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, breaking of bread and in prayer, he observed. And to the faithful of the Diocese of Alessandria, engaged in a journey of synodal journey of pastoral renewal, the Pope quoted from Evangelii gaudium:
Pope Francis’ called for this synodal journey to instill a “growth in fraternal communion” among the Bishop, priests, and laity of the diocese, invoking the Lord’s blessing for every success.
Baptism and Confirmation
Addressing the young pilgrims from the Diocese of Spoleto-Norcia, the Pope explained how the Sacrament of Confirmation is also a journey, “because it re-relives the experience of Jesus’ first disciples.” To their names, he said, “you can add” your own, those received on the day of your Baptism. The Pope then asked the young people if they remembered the date of their baptism,
Pope Francis recalled how the young people come from earthquake-damaged territories, so they understand the importance of what it means to have a solid house, one that does not collapse. He also responded to their request to bless a stone brought to him from the ancient Abbey of St. Eutizio, so that it may become “a symbol of its reconstruction.”
The Pope concluded, saying “I bless each one of you so that you may become a living stone to build up the Christian community: a living stone in the family, a living stone in the parish, a living stone in the company of friends, a living stone in sports…and so forth. To be living stones: this is possible with the power of the Holy Spirit, who in Confirmation confirms you as baptized, children of God and members of the Church.”