Pope Francis Quotes St. Mother Teresa “What is the best welcome? The smile" with Poor in Assisi - FULL TEXT + Video
MEETING OF PRAYERS AND TESTIMONIALS ON THE OCCASION OF THE
WORLD DAY OF THE POOR IN ASSISI
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Basilica of Santa Maria degi Angeli (Assisi)
Friday, 12 November 2021
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Thank you for accepting my invitation - I was the guest! - to celebrate here in Assisi, the city of San Francesco, the fifth World Day of the Poor, which occurs the day after tomorrow. It is an idea that was born from you, it has grown and we have already reached the fifth. Assisi is not a city like any other: Assisi bears the face of St. Francis. To think that he lived his restless youth among these streets, he received the call to live the Gospel to the letter, is a fundamental lesson for us.
Of course, in some ways his holiness makes us shiver, because it seems impossible to be able to imitate him. But then, when we remember some moments of his life, those "little flowers" that were collected to show the beauty of his vocation, we feel attracted by this simplicity of heart and simplicity of life: it is the very attraction of Christ, of the Gospel. They are facts of life that are worth more than sermons.
I like to mention one, which expresses the Poverello's personality well (cf. Fioretti , chap. 13: Fonti Francescane , 1841-1842). He and Fra Masseo had set off to reach France, but they hadn't brought any provisions with them. At some point they had to start asking for charity. Francesco went on one side and Fra Masseo on the other. But, as the Fioretti recount, Francesco was small in stature and those who did not know him considered him a "bum"; instead fra Masseo "was a great and beautiful man". Thus it was that St. Francis was barely able to collect a few pieces of stale and hard bread, while Fra Masseo collected some nice pieces of good bread.
When the two found each other they sat on the ground and on a poor stone they collected what they had collected. Seeing the pieces of bread collected by the friar, Francis said: "Fra Masseo, we are not worthy of this great treasure". The friar, astonished, replied: "Father Francis, how can we speak of a treasure where there is so much poverty and the necessary things are also lacking?". Francis replied: “This is precisely what I consider a great treasure, because there is nothing, but what we have is given by Providence who gave us this bread”. Here is the teaching that St. Francis gives us: knowing how to be satisfied with what little we have and share it with others.
We are here at the Porziuncola, one of the churches that St. Francis thought of restoring, after Jesus asked him to "repair his house". Then he would never have thought that the Lord would ask him to give his life to renew not the church made of stones, but that of people, of men and women who are the living stones of the Church. And if we are here today it is precisely to learn from what St. Francis did. He liked to stay in this little church for a long time to pray. He gathered here in silence and listened to the Lord, to what God wanted from him. We too have come here for this: we want to ask the Lord to listen to our cry, to hear our cry !, and to come to our aid. Let us not forget that the first marginalization that the poor suffer from is the spiritual one. For example, many people and many young people find some time to help the poor and bring them hot food and drink. This is very good and I thank God for their generosity. But above all I am happy when I hear that these volunteers stop for a while to talk to people, and sometimes pray together with them ... Here, even our meeting here, at the Porziuncola, reminds us of the company of the Lord, that He does not leave us. never alone, it always accompanies us in every moment of our life. The Lord is with us today. He accompanies us, in listening, in prayer and in the testimonies given: it is He, with us.
There is another important fact: here at the Porziuncola Saint Fancis welcomed Saint Clare, the first friars, and many poor people who came to him. With simplicity he received them as brothers and sisters, sharing everything with them. This is the most evangelical expression that we are called to make our own: welcome. Welcoming means opening the door, the door of the house and the door of the heart, and allowing the knocker to enter. And that he can feel at ease, not in awe, no, at ease, free. Where there is a true sense of fraternity, there is also lived the sincere experience of welcome. Where, on the other hand, there is fear of the other, contempt for his life, then refusal or, worse, indifference is born: that looking the other way. The welcome generates a sense of community; on the contrary, refusal closes in one's own selfishness. Mother Teresa, who had made her life a service to welcome, loved to say: “What is the best welcome? The smile". The smile. Sharing a smile with those in need is good for both of us, for me and for the other. The smile as an expression of sympathy, of tenderness. And then the smile involves you,
I thank you, because you have come here from so many different countries to live this experience of encounter and faith. I would like to thank God who gave this idea of the Day of the Poor. An idea born in a somewhat strange way, in a sacristy. I was about to celebrate Mass and one of you - his name is Étienne - do you know him? He is an enfant terrible- Étienne gave me the suggestion: “Let's make the Day of the poor”. I went out and felt that the Holy Spirit, inside, was telling me to do it. Thus it began: from the courage of one of you who has the courage to carry things forward. I thank him for his work over the years and the work of many who accompany him. And I would like to thank, excuse me, Eminence, Cardinal [Barbarin] for his presence: he is among the poor, he too has undergone the experience of poverty, abandonment, distrust with dignity. And he defended himself with silence and prayer. Thank you, Cardinal Barbarin, for your witness that builds the Church. I said we came to meet: this is the first thing, that is to go towards one another with an open heart and an outstretched hand. We know that each of us needs the other, and that even weakness, if lived together, can become a strength that improves the world. Often the presence of the poor is viewed with annoyance and endured; at times we hear that the poor are responsible for poverty: one more insult! In order not to carry out a serious examination of conscience on one's own acts, on the injustice of some laws and economic measures, an examination of conscience on the hypocrisy of those who want to get too rich, throw the blame on the shoulders of the weakest.
Instead, it is time for the poor to be given back their word , because their requests have gone unheeded for too long. It is time for the eyes to be opened to see the state of inequality in which so many families live. It is time to roll up our sleeves to restore dignity by creating jobs . It is time to go back to being scandalized by the reality of starving children , enslaved, tossed about by the waters in the throes of shipwreck, innocent victims of all sorts of violence. It is time for violence against women to cease and to be respected and not treated as a bargaining chip. It is time for the circle of indifference to be brokento return to discover the beauty of encounter and dialogue. It is time to meet. It is the moment of the meeting. If humanity, if we men and women do not learn to meet, we are heading towards a very sad end.
I have listened attentively to your testimonies, and I say thank you for all that you have shown with courage and sincerity . Courage, because you wanted to share them with all of us, even though they are part of your personal life; sincerity, because you show yourself as you are and open your heart with the desire to be understood. There are some things that I particularly liked and that I would like to take back in some way, to make them even more mine and let them deposit in my heart. First of all, I grasped a great sense of hope. Life has not always been indulgent with you, on the contrary, it has often shown you a cruel face. Marginalization, the suffering of illness and loneliness, the lack of many necessary means did not prevent you from looking with eyes full of gratitude for the little things that have allowed you to resist.
Resist. This is the second impression I received and it comes from hope. What does it mean to resist? Having the strength to go on despite everything, to go against the tide. Resisting is not a passive action, on the contrary, it requires the courage to embark on a new path knowing that it will bear fruit. Resisting means finding reasons not to give up in the face of difficulties, knowing that we do not live them alone but together, and that only together we can overcome them. Resist any temptation to let go and fall into loneliness and sadness. Resist, holding on to the little or little wealth we may have. I think of the girl from Afghanistan, with her lapidary sentence: my body is here, my soul is there. Resist with the memory today. I think of the Romanian mother who spoke at the end: pains,
We ask the Lord to always help us to find serenity and joy. Here at the Porziuncola, St. Francis teaches us the joy that comes from looking at those around us as a travel companion who understands and supports us, just as we are for him or her. May this meeting open the hearts of all of us to make ourselves available to each other; to open our hearts to make our weakness a strength that helps to continue the journey of life, to transform our poverty into a wealth to be shared, and thus improve the world.
The Day of the Poor. Thanks to the poor who open their hearts to give us their wealth and heal our wounded heart. Thanks for this courage. Thank you, Étienne, for being docile to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Thanks for these years of work; and also for the "stubbornness" of bringing the Pope to Assisi! Thanks! Thank you, Eminence, for your support, for your help in this movement of the Church - we say “movement” because they move - and for your testimony. And thanks everyone. I carry you in my heart. And, please, don't forget to pray for me, because I have my poverties, and many! Thanks.
Vatican News Excerpt:
Pope Francis blessed the people saying: “God our Father, your Mercy is without limits;
watch over these your children so that, guided by your Word,
they may never lose sight of the path of love which passes
through the hearts of our brothers and sisters affected by need and suffering.
May your Spirit give them strength, courage, and tenacity to extend their hands
towards those who are in need.”
At the end of the prayer service, Pope Francis donated each of the 500 poor people a backpack filled with clothes, shoes, jackets, and facemasks.
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot - Unofficial Translation from Italian