Pope Francis says "We must read the Gospel every day. I advise you...carry it in your pocket..." and Suggests 3 Ways to Walk with Jesus - FULL TEXT

Hall of the Consistory
Monday, January 16, 2023
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
Glad to meet you. I thank the President, Doctor Rino Bisignano, and H.E. Mons. Michele Pennisi, National Ecclesiastical Assistant, as well as the members of the Board of Directors of the Confederation of the Confraternities of the Dioceses of Italy, to the Coordinators and Regional Assistants present here.
Founded in 2000, in the context of the great Jubilee, your Confederation has been working for more than twenty years to welcome, support and coordinate the very rich and varied presence of the Confraternities in the Dioceses of Italy. Now you are preparing to celebrate, in two years, your 25th anniversary in the context of another Jubilee, that of 2025, which has as its motto "Pilgrims of hope". We are preparing for this important moment in the life of the Church, and you are a very significant reality for this preparation and then for the celebration.
You are first of all for the capillary presence you have on the national territory and for the quantity of people you involve, with about three thousand two hundred registered Brotherhoods - and as many existing but not registered - and two million members; and to these is added the extended community of family and friends who join your activities through them. It is an impressive picture, which brings to mind what the Second Vatican Council says about the nature and mission of the laity in the Church, namely that they "are called by God to contribute, almost from within as a leaven, to the sanctification of the world" (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 31).
Your "ferment", your leaven is well present in the Italian ecclesial and social fabric, and must be kept alive, so that it can ferment all the dough. Saint John Paul II recommended this in his homily in 1984 when he said: «Today the urgency of evangelization demands that even the Confraternities participate more intensely and more directly in the work that the Church does to bring light, redemption, grace of Christ to the men of our time" (Jubilee of the Confraternities, 1 April 1984). In the context of the new evangelization, popular piety constitutes in fact a powerful force of proclamation, which has much to give to the men and women of our time (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 126). Here I am referring to Evangeligaudium 126. But on popular piety, the one that continues to be the strongest text, which helps a lot, is that of Saint Paul VI, in Evangelii nuntiandi. It is good to always return to that text, which clarified well the place of popular piety in the life of the Church. Evangelii nuntiandi is still relevant today: that is a prophetic Apostolic Exhortation, which helps, which keeps us going!
For this reason, I encourage you to cultivate your associative life and your charitable presence with creative and dynamic commitment, which are based on the gift of Baptism and which involve a journey of growth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let yourselves be inspired by the Spirit and walk: as you do in processions, so do it in all your community life. May the richness and memory of your history never become a reason for you to withdraw into yourselves, for a nostalgic celebration of the past, for closure towards the present or for pessimism for the future; rather, may they be a strong incentive today to reinvest your spiritual, human, economic, artistic, historical and even folk heritage, open to the signs of the times and to God's surprises. It is with this faith and with this openness that those who preceded you gave birth a time to your fraternities. Without this faith and this openness, we would not find ourselves here today, in such numbers, to give thanks to the Lord for so much good received and accomplished! With so many Brotherhoods!
I would then like to invite you to organize your journey along three fundamental lines: evangelicalism, ecclesiality and missionary spirit. I would summarize this as follows:
- walk in the footsteps of Christ;
- walking together;
- walk announcing the Gospel.
First of all, walk in the footsteps of Christ. I urge you to cultivate the centrality of Christ in your life, in daily listening to the Word of God. This is very important: closeness to the Gospel. We must read the Gospel every day. I advise you: take a pocket book of the Gospel, carry it in your pocket or purse, and then when you have some time, read something during the day. A small piece every day. It makes the Gospel grow, it makes the heart grow. Physical contact with the Gospel and then spiritual contact. I therefore exhort you to cultivate the centrality of Christ, organizing and participating regularly in formative moments, in assiduous attendance at the sacraments, in an intense life of personal and liturgical prayer. May your ancient liturgical and devotional traditions be animated by an intense spiritual life, with fervor, and by the concrete commitment of charity. And don't be afraid to update them in communion with the Church's journey, so that they can be an accessible and understandable gift for everyone, in the contexts in which you live and work, and an incentive to approach the faith even for those who are far away.
Second: walk together. The history of the Confraternities offers the Church a centuries-old experience of synodality, which is expressed through community tools of formation, discernment and deliberation, and through a living contact with the local Church, with the Bishops and with the Dioceses. Your councils and your assemblies – as the beloved Pope Benedict XVI asked you – never be reduced to purely administrative or particularistic meetings [1]; may always and above all be places for listening to God and the Church, for fraternal dialogue, characterized by an atmosphere of prayer and sincere charity. Only in this way will they be able to help you to be lively realities and to find new ways of service and evangelization.
And this brings us to the third dimension of your journey: walking announcing the Gospel, bearing witness to your faith and taking care of your brothers and sisters, especially the new poverties of our time, as many of you have shown in this time of pandemic. Study well what the new poverties are. Perhaps we do not know, but there are many new poverties. In this sense, the history of the Confraternities has a great charismatic heritage. Don't let this legacy fall! Keep alive the charism of service and mission, responding with creativity and courage to the needs of our time.
Evangelicity, ecclesiality and mission: these, dear brothers and sisters, are the three words that I entrust to you today. And I would like to conclude by renewing my invitation to be "missionaries of God's love and tenderness [...] missionaries of God's mercy, who always forgives us, always awaits us, and loves us so much!" (Homily on the Day of Confraternities and Popular Piety, 5 May 2013).
May Our Lady, who with so many titles you venerate as your Mother, always guard and guide you. I cordially bless you, all the brothers and sisters and your families. And I recommend you: do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.
[1] See Speech to the Confederation of Confraternities of the Dioceses of Italy, 10 November 2007.
Source: Vatican.va