Pope Francis says "Another testimony that Saint Thomas has left us was his deep relationship with God, which is manifested, for example, in the adoration of Jesus in his real presence in the Eucharist."
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE SANTO TOMÁS DE AQUINO FRATERNITY OF GROUPS
Friday, September 30, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters:
I want to express my congratulations and best wishes for the sixtieth anniversary of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Fraternity of Groups (FASTA). I thank Father César Garcés, president of FASTA, for his kind words. Given the recent death of Brother Aníbal Fosbery, who founded them in 1962 with a great desire to contribute to the application of the teachings that flowed from the Second Vatican Council, we can only thank God, with humility, for the good fruits that the Spirit has raised in his person and his ministry with this work of apostolate.
One of the novelties of the Council was to become aware of the rights and duties of the laity in relation to the evangelizing mission that they also have, for being sons and daughters of God thanks to baptism. The lay faithful bear the important responsibility of bringing the light of the Gospel to temporal realities, in communion with the pastors of the Church and moved by Christian charity (cf. Decr. Apostolicam Actuositatem 7).
It is always surprising to see how the Holy Spirit makes his way into every reality of the human being through the talents that he inspires in the disciples of Jesus. And today, we see how your Fraternity has accepted the conciliar message and has launched various projects for the evangelization of culture, youth and family, creating a wide variety of educational institutions, such as schools, universities, and university residences in different parts of the world. Likewise, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Fraternity for priests and the Saint Catherine of Siena Apostolic Fraternity for consecrated women is a valuable service to mature the teaching charisms in all the faithful, including those who have consecrated themselves to the Lord.
The historical context in which his patron saint, Thomas Aquinas, lived also had its challenges. At that time - the 13th century - the writings of the Greek philosopher Aristotle were being rediscovered in the West. Some were reluctant to study his works, fearing that his pagan thinking was in opposition to the Christian faith. However, Saint Thomas discovered that much of Aristotle's works were in accordance with Christian Revelation. That is, Saint Thomas was able to show that there is a natural harmony between faith and reason. By realizing this richness, which is essential to overcome fundamentalism, fanaticism and ideologies, a wide path is opened to bring the message of the Good News to the various cultures, always with proposals that are compatible with the intelligence of the human being and respectful of the identity of each people.
Another testimony that Saint Thomas has left us was his deep relationship with God, which is manifested, for example, in the adoration of Jesus in his real presence in the Eucharist. We know that he was the author of beautiful Eucharistic hymns used to this day in the Liturgy of the Church. His spirituality helped him discover the mystery of God, while his talents made it possible for him to put it into writing. This is important information: to unravel the presence of the Lord in the world, in events, it is necessary to pray, to have one's heart united to that of Jesus in the tabernacle. In this way our spirit is fed, strengthened, human powers, such as intelligence, are perfected, and we are able to see each situation in a transcendent way, even those that before human logic can only present a discouraging panorama. Precisely, faith and reason, when they walk hand in hand, are capable of enhancing the culture of the human being, imbuing the world with meaning, and building more humane, more fraternal societies, and consequently, more full of God.
In the Exhort. bet Evangelii Gaudium commented that there are new cultures in the world in which the Christian «is no longer usually a promoter or generator of meaning, but rather receives from them other languages, symbols, messages and paradigms that offer new life orientations, frequently in contrast to the Gospel of Jesus. An unprecedented culture beats and is elaborated in the city» (n. 73). The evangelizing challenge that they share as an association, especially in the sphere of plural, multicultural and multi-religious cities, implies great humility on their part to know how to approach everyone without excluding them, even those who do not share our faith or our values. And there, enter into dialogue with people, with their dreams, their stories, their wounds and their fatigue, because everything that is human is worthy of being embraced by the love and mercy of God.
In the experience of their charism, which they carry out concretely through education, it is important that they remember that teaching is precisely one of the spiritual works of mercy. Education offers meaning, a narrative to each element of human life. It does not exhaust itself in sharing knowledge or developing skills, but rather, as its etymology shows, it helps to bring out the best in each person, to polish the diamond that the Lord has placed in each one. Education contributes so that this diamond allows the Light, which is Christ, to pass through (cf. Jn 8:12), and thus shines in the midst of the world. But let us also remember the words that Jesus addresses to us in the Gospel of Matthew: “You are the light of the world […] a lamp is not lit to put it under a drawer, but it is placed on a lampstand so that it illuminates everyone those who are at home" (Mt 5:14-15). That is to say, the Lord makes us partakers of his light, of his very nature, and for this reason each one of his disciples illuminates the world, driving away darkness and transforming reality.
I would like to end my message by entrusting you to the protection of our Blessed Mother. Fray Aníbal chose a Marian feast to found the Fraternity. Always remember that your apostolic work also has a maternal dimension. And Mary teaches us to be evangelizers of culture, of young people and of families, carrying divine tenderness. May our Lord Jesus Christ, Light of the world, multiply the good fruits that this work accomplishes in society, for the good of the entire human family. God bless you. Thank you very much.