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Pope says patience and love are essential for Christians

24 May, 2013 - Pope Francis on Friday marked the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians with a Mass in the Vatican, pointing out that bearing suffering with patience and overcoming oppression with love are graces proper to a Christian. In his homily at Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence, the Pope acknowledged it is not easy bearing up external difficulties or internal problems of the heart and the soul. It is not easy, because discouragement comes, and one tends to give up and say, ‘Well, come on, we’ll do what we can but no more.’ In this regard the Pope urged Christians to ask for two graces. The first is the grace of being able to take up difficulties of life with strength so as not to be dragged down by them. This he said is Christian virtue, as St. Paul advises us not to let ourselves be overcome by difficulties. It is a grace to suffer, he said. The other grace, Pope Francis said is to be able to overcome oppressors with love, which he admitted is also not easy especially with those who cause us much suffering. There is the desire to take revenge, to turn another against them, he said. To pray for enemies, for those who make us suffer, the Pope said, “is not easy.” But we are “defeated Christians” if we do not forgive enemies, and if we do not pray for them. And he said, we find so many sad, discouraged Christians, because “they did not have this grace of enduring with patience and overcoming with love.”
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI had established May 24, the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians as a Day of Prayer for China, whose national Marian Shrine in Sheshan honours the Madonna with this title. The Mass was attended by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and a group of priests, religious, seminarians and lay people from China. Present also were employees of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications led by their president, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli. At the end of the prayers of the faithful, the Pope prayed: “For the noble Chinese people: May the Lord bless them and Our Lady keep them.” The Mass concluded with a hymn to the Virgin Mary in Chinese. The Pope also tweeted on this occasion with: On the feast of Mary Help of Christians I join the Catholics in China who trust in the protection of Our Lady of Sheshan and I pray for them.