Pope Francis Sends Blessing to Meeting for Friendship Between Peoples in Rimini - FULL TEXT

[RIMINI, 18-23 AUGUST 2020]

From the Vatican, 5 August 2020
To His Excellency Most Reverend
Mons. Francesco LAMBIASI
Bishop of Rimini

Most Reverend Excellency,
the Holy Father wishes to convey through you his wishes for the success of the XLI edition of the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples , which will take place mainly in digital mode. Pope Francis assures the organizers and those who will participate in his closeness and his prayers.
Who has not found himself united with others by the dramatic experience of the pandemic? “We realized we were in the same boat, all frail and disoriented. The storm unmasks our vulnerability and leaves uncovered those false and superfluous certainties with which we have built our agendas, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have left asleep and abandoned what nourishes, sustains and gives strength to our life "(Francis, Extraordinary moment of prayer , Churchyard of St. Peter's Basilica, 27 March 2020).
This year's title: "Without wonder we remain deaf to the sublime" (AJ Heschel, God in search of man , Turin 1969, 274), offers a precious and original contribution in a dizzying moment in history. In the search for goods rather than good, many had focused exclusively on their own strength, on the ability to produce and earn, giving up that attitude which in the child constitutes the fabric of the gaze on reality: amazement . In this regard, GK Chesterton wrote: «The most hermetic schools and sages have never had the gravity that resides in the eyes of a three month old baby. His is the gravity of the astonishment in front of the universe, and this astonishment is not mysticism, but transcendent common sense "( The accused, Turin 2011, 113).
Jesus' invitation to become like children comes to mind (cf. Mt 18 : 3), but also the wonder at being, which constituted the principle of philosophy in ancient Greece. It is this amazement that sets life back in motion, allowing it to restart in any circumstance: "It is the attitude to have, because life is a gift that gives us the possibility of always starting over", said Pope Francis, then insisting on the need to regain amazement in order to live: «life, without astonishment, becomes gray, habitual; so does faith. And the Church too needs to renew the amazement of being the abode of the living God, the Lord's Spouse, the Mother who begets children "( Homily , January 1, 2019 ).
In recent months we have experienced that dimension of amazement that takes the form of compassion in the presence of suffering, fragility, the precariousness of existence. This noble human sentiment has prompted doctors and nurses to face the serious challenge of the Coronavirus with strenuous dedication and admirable commitment. The same feeling full of affection for their students has allowed many teachers to accept the fatigue of distance teaching, ensuring the end of the school year. It has also allowed many to find in the faces and in the presence of family members the strength to face hardships and hardships.
In this sense, the theme of the next Meeting constitutes a powerful call to descend into the depths of the human heart through the rope of amazement. How not to experience an original feeling of wonder in front of the spectacle of a mountain landscape, or listening to music that makes the soul vibrate, or simply in front of the existence of those who love us and the gift of creation? Amazement is truly the way to grasp the signs of the sublime, that is, of that Mystery which constitutes the root and foundation of all things. Indeed, “not only the heart of man is presented as a sign, but also the whole of reality. To question oneself in the face of signs requires an extremely human capacity, the first we have as men and women: amazement, the ability to be amazed, as Giussani calls it. Only amazement knows ”(JM Bergoglio, in A. Savorana, Life of Fr Giussani , Milan 2014, 1034). Therefore JL Borges was able to say: "All emotions pass, only amazement remains" ( The desert and the labyrinth ).
If such a gaze is not cultivated, one becomes blind to existence: closed in on oneself, one remains attracted to the ephemeral and stops questioning reality. Even in the desert of the pandemic, often dormant questions have re-emerged: what is the meaning of life, pain, death? «Man cannot be satisfied with reduced or partial answers, forcing himself to censor or forget some aspect of reality. Within himself he possesses a longing for the infinite, an infinite sadness, a nostalgia that is satisfied only with an equally infinite response. Life would be an absurd desire if this answer did not exist ”(JM Bergoglio, in Vita di Fr Giussani , cit., 1034).
Several people have gone in search of answers or even just questions about the meaning of life, to which everyone aspires, even without being aware of it. Thus something apparently paradoxical happened: instead of quenching their deepest thirst, confinement has awakened in some the capacity to marvel in front of people and facts previously taken for granted. Such a dramatic circumstance has returned, at least for a while, a more genuine way of appreciating existence, without that complex of distractions and preconceptions that pollute the gaze, blur things, empty the amazement and distract us from asking who we are.
In the midst of the health emergency, the Pope received a letter signed by several artists, who thanked him for having prayed for them during a Mass in Santa Marta. On that occasion he said: "Artists make us understand what beauty is , and without beauty the Gospel cannot be understood" ( Morning Meditation , 7 May 2020). The theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, among others, has shown how decisive the experience of beauty is to reach truth: "In a world without beauty, even good has lost its force of attraction, the evidence of its duty be fulfilled; and man is perplexed in front of it and wonders why he shouldn't rather prefer evil. This too constitutes a possibility, even a much more exciting one. In a world that no longer believes itself capable of affirming beauty, the arguments in favor of truth have exhausted their force of logical conclusion: the process that leads to the conclusion is a mechanism that no longer nails anyone, and the conclusion itself does not conclude. more "( Gloria I , Milan 2005, 11).
For this reason, the theme that characterizes the Meeting launches a decisive challenge to Christians, called to bear witness to the profound attraction that faith exercises by virtue of its beauty: "the attraction of Jesus", according to an expression dear to the Servant of God Luigi Giussani. Speaking of education to the faith, the Holy Father wrote about it in what is usually considered the programmatic document of his pontificate: "All expressions of authentic beauty can be recognized as a path that helps one to encounter the Lord Jesus If, as Saint Augustine affirms, we love only what is beautiful, the Son made man, revelation of infinite beauty, is supremely lovable, and attracts us to himself with bonds of love. Therefore it becomes necessary that the formation in the via pulchritudinisbe inserted in the transmission of the faith "(Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium , 167 ).
The Pope therefore invites you to continue to collaborate with him in bearing witness to the experience of the beauty of God, who became flesh so that our eyes are amazed to see his face and our gazes find in him the wonder of living. This is what Saint John Paul II said one day, whose centenary of his birth we recently recalled: "It is worthwhile to be a man, because You, Jesus, were a man" ( Homily , April 15, 1984). Isn't this amazing discovery the greatest contribution that Christians can make to sustain the hope of men? It is a task that we cannot escape from, especially in this narrow bend in history. It is the call to be transparencies of the beauty that has changed our lives, concrete witnesses of the love that saves, especially towards those who now suffer most.
With these sentiments, the Holy Father heartily sends his Apostolic Blessing to your Excellency and to the entire community of the Meeting , asking them to continue to remember him in prayer. I join my cordial greeting, as I confirm, with a sense of distinguished respect,
of your most
devoted Excellency

Pietro Card. Parolin
Secretary of State
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va -