I hope you have been following the news of World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. It’s good for us to see the Universal Church so that we remember what we do in our parish participates in the action of the Church around the world. “This is the way we do it here” should always yield to “what the Church asks of us.” The Holy Spirit guides the Church–not us!
Yesterday, the Holy Father met with about 35,000 Argentinian pilgrims. The meeting was not originally planned and only announced on Tuesday. I’m not sure if the Holy Father’s remarks were prepared or off the cuff–either way they sound great to me!
Allow me to extract some “soundbites” from his remarks and add a comment or two of my own.
“What do I hope for from World Youth Day? I hope for a mess, such a mess: that the Church takes to the streets. That we defend ourselves from comfort…”
We have to live our faith in public. Religion holds a rightful place in the center of the public square. But, we give it up every time we remain silent when we should speak up for the truth, especially when it regards moral living. The Church’s guidance on moral living isn’t only a standard for those who profess the faith–moral living is for everybody! But, to teach this to people we have to leave our comforts and tell the truths (in love) which need to heard. The Bible does not say that the prophets lived lives of luxurious comfort. The prophets often had to suffer for Word they proclaimed. Likewise, we shouldn’t fear losing the comfort of public esteem for taking the faith to the streets.
“You must not let yourselves be marginalized. Faith in Christ is not a joke. The only sure way, is the way of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus.”
Any person who has an unsettled conscience has two ways of dealing with the pain that results. The first (and the only real solution) is to repent and convert. The second (and this is really a lie) is to remove anything that reminds them of the deficiencies in their own living. Usually this means people who are holy (prophets), the Church, Scripture, or sacred objects. Prophets need to be front and center. Prophets who allow themselves to be pushed to the side have little hope of calling others to the truth. Faith is serious stuff. Fulfilling our religious duties is not something to be taken lightly. This includes evangelization because apart from Christ, and His Bride the Church, we know of no way by which sinners can be saved.
“This is your protocol for action: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25,” he advised the youth.
Put another way, the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. The Beatitudes do not reflect worldly wisdom, they only make sense once a person lives the New Life of Grace. Sometimes I like to propose an alternative (but valid) reading of the Beatitudes: instead of “blessed” put “happy.” Happiness come from living in accord with one’s nature. That is, living how one is meant to live. This even more true for those who share the Divine Friendship.
“Please, do not water down the faith”
Incomplete Christianity is never the answer. We need (and want) the whole Church with all her teachings and all her beauty.
“Don’t forget to make a mess, to disturb complacency. Don’t forget the youth and the aged.”
It’s easy to get “stuck in rut.” So we should not let ourselves or others settle for anything less than Our Lord’s Kingdom. No one is too old or too young to not live as Christ’s friend.
“The Lord left his mother among us to accompany us. She cares for all of us, protects us on our way, in our heart, in our faith. May we be disciples, just as she was, and missionaries, also like her.”
Like Pope Francis, we need to carry Our Blessed Mother close to our hearts. Our love for the Mother of God should make us cling to her even more. We need lifelong and fervent devotion to Our Lady.
“Pray for me. Do not forget to pray for me.”
And me, too!