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Pope Francis to Confraternities: "renewal and rediscovery "...
(Vatican Radio ) It poured with rain on Sunday morning in a packed Saint Peter’s Square as Pope Francis presided over a colourful celebration in the context of the ‘Year of Faith’: Holy Mass with Confraternities.
And the Confraternities came in thousands spilling over beyond the Square, donning their traditional robes and bearing their great crucifixes which they lined up against the walls of the colonnades. Mostly from European countries: Italy, Spain, Malta, Portugal and Ireland, some from even further afar.
And when the Pope greeted them he thanked them for their courage in braving the rain. In this Square he insisted, "I see a great variety, first of umbrellas, and then of colours and signs"…
“Popular piety”, he told them, “is a journey which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors. A breath of fresh air”. . .
It was an encounter with what he described as : “ a traditional reality in the Church which in recent times has experienced renewal and rediscovery”. And in his homily on this occasion he focused on three points : “evangelical , ecclesial and missionary spirit. Three words not to be forgotten, he prompted …
While explaining their significance Pope Francis pointed to Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus, who launched the Year of Faith remarking how he had used the expression 'evangelical spirit'. And adding his own personal touch the Pope noted how popular piety is to be treasured, as defined by the Bishops of Latin America: “ a spirituality, a form of mysticism, which is a place of encounter with Jesus Christ”.
Pope Francis then invited those present to be determined, rise above mediocrity and allow their affiliation to serve as stimulus to an even greater love of Christ. Down the centuries he insisted confraternities have been crucibles of holiness for countless people who have lived in utter simplicity an intense relationship with the Lord.
The second element of the Pope's homily focused on ecclesial spirit. Once again he quoted Benedict XVI and once again mentioned the Latin American Bishops who in the ‘Aparecida’ document defined popular piety as: “a legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling that we are part of the Church”. And then lifting his gaze towards the congregation he added: “And this is beautiful, eh?. Love the Church! Let yourselves be guided by her! In your parishes, in your dioceses, be a true lung of faith and Christian life”.
In the third part of his homily Pope Francis added how he would like the missionary spirit to be a hallmark of the faith of confraternities, inviting them to keep alive the relationship between faith and their cultures.
Then quoting once again from the ‘Aparecida’ document he invited those present to continue their journey together towards shrines, participate in other demonstrations of popular piety and bring along their children” ..
Let us ask the Lord, Pope Francis said finally, always to direct our minds and hearts to Him, as living stones of the Church, so that all that we do, our whole Christian life, may be a luminous witness to His mercy and love. …
I’m Veronica Scarisbrick