Pope Francis Tells Seminarians "Whoever gives his life for the Gospel thinks like this, embraces God's response to the evil of the world..."


 ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE COMMUNITY OF THE PIOUS ROMANIAN PONTIFICAL COLLEGE
Hall of the Consistory
Thursday, May 19, 2022.
Dear brothers and sisters!
I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the Pio Romeno College. I greet all of you, Superiors of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, priests, students and employees of the College, and I thank the Rector, Fr. Gabriel, for the words he addressed to me in your name.
Two years ago, during the Divine Liturgy that I presided at Blaj, at the Field of Freedom, I encouraged to resist the new ideologies that try to impose themselves and uproot peoples, sometimes in a subtle way, from their religious and cultural traditions. During that celebration I proclaimed seven martyr bishops blessed, pointing to them as examples to all the Romanian people. Here in Rome, in the city that holds the testimony of Peter, Paul and many other martyrs, you can fully rediscover your roots, through study and meditation. It is a precious opportunity to be able to reflect on how the roots were formed. During the Second World War, when the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church no longer had active Bishops, as they had been killed or imprisoned, Bishop Ioan Ploscaru of Lugoj, a prisoner for fifteen years, wrote in his diary: "The priests and bishops of Greek-Catholic Church have considered this period as the most precious of their existence. It is a grace to be able to offer one's sufferings and the witness of one's faith to God, even at the cost of one's life ” he gives himself up, imitates the meek and gratuitous love of the Lord Jesus, who offers himself for near and far. This is the source that allowed the roots to graft onto the earth, to grow robust and to bear fruit. And you are that fruit.
Dear friends, without nourishing the roots every religious tradition loses fruitfulness. In fact, a dangerous process occurs: with the passage of time one focuses more and more on oneself, on one's belonging, losing the dynamism of the origins. Then we focus on institutional, external aspects, on the defense of our group, of our history and of our privileges, losing, perhaps without realizing it, the flavor of the gift. Remaining in the metaphor, it is like pausing to look at the trunk, the branches and the leaves, forgetting that everything is supported by the roots. But only if the roots are well watered can the tree continue to grow luxuriantly; otherwise it folds in on itself and dies. This happens when one settles down and is affected by the virus of spiritual worldliness, which is the worst evil that can happen in the Church: spiritual worldliness. Then he withers into a mediocre, self-referential life, made up of careerism, climbing, the search for personal satisfaction and easy pleasures. The attitude that tries to climb, to have power, to have money, to have fame, to be comfortable, to make a career. This is wanting to grow without the roots. It is true that there are others who go to the roots to hide there, because they are afraid of growth. It's true. You go to the roots to get strength, get juice and keep growing. You cannot live in the roots and you cannot live in the tree without the roots. Tradition is a bit of the message we receive from the roots: it is what gives you the strength to go forward today, without repeating the things of yesterday, but with the same strength as the first inspiration.
Here in Rome, in addition to deepening the roots, you have the opportunity to think about how to update them, so that your ministry is not a sterile repetition of the past or a maintenance of the present, but is fruitful, looking ahead. And this is the secret of fruitfulness is the same as that of those Bishops and priests: that is, the gift of life, the Gospel to be put into practice with the heart of shepherds. I am thinking of Cardinal Mure┼čan, who will turn 91 in a few days: years of service in the priesthood, which began almost sixty years ago in a humble basement, after the release of the surviving Bishops from prison. Pastors poor in things, but rich in the Gospel. Be thus, joyful apostles of the faith you have inherited, willing to keep nothing for yourselves and ready to be reconciled with everyone, to forgive and weave unity, overcoming all anger and victimhood. Then your seed will also be evangelical and bear fruit. Without forgetting the past but living in the present, with fruitfulness.
After the roots, I would also like to tell you something about the soil. As you study, do not forget the good ground of faith. It is the one worked by your grandparents, by your parents, that of the holy faithful People of God. As you prepare to transmit the faith, think of them and remember that the Gospel is not proclaimed in complicated words, but in the language of the people, as we Jesus taught, the incarnate Wisdom: it is transmitted "in dialect", in the dialect of the people of God, what the people understand, with simplicity. Please, be careful not to become "clerics of state", be shepherds of the people: closeness to the people from whom you come. Paul said to Timothy: "Remember your mother and your grandmother". Your roots, the people you belong to. And the prophet Samuel said to King David: “Remember that you have been chosen from the very flock: do not forget the flock from which you have been chosen”, it is your first belonging. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews recommends us: "Remember your ancestors, those who announced the Word of God to you". Please don't forget the people you come from. Don't be priests of the theological laboratory, no. Priests from the people, with the smell of the people, with the smell of the flock. I said that the Gospel is not announced with complicated words but "in dialect". Good soil is also that which makes you touch the flesh of Christ, present in the poor, the sick, the suffering, the little and the simple, in those who suffer and in which Jesus is, in the rejected, in this culture of waste. in which we have to live. I am thinking in particular of the many refugees from neighboring Ukraine that Romania is also welcoming and assisting.
I would like to say a word to you too, dear students of the Arabic language belonging to the former Collegio Sant’Efrem. For about ten years, you have all formed a single community. Your sharing of life should not be felt as a diminution of your respective distinctive traits, but as a fruitful promise of the future. The national colleges, Eastern and Latin, must not be "enclaves" within which to return after the day of study to live as if one were at home, but must be laboratories of fraternal communion, where one can experience authentic catholicity, the universality of the Church. This universality is the good air to breathe in order not to be sucked into the particularities that hinder evangelization.
The roots, the soil, the good air. I wish you to cultivate your vocation in this way in the Roman years. And I ask you to please pray for me. Now I cordially bless you and your loved ones. Thanks!
Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot

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