VISIT OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCESCO A LORETO
[MARCH 25, 2019]
MEETING WITH THE FAITHFUL
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
Churchyard of the Sanctuary of Loreto
Monday, March 25, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
And thank you for your warm welcome! Thank you.
The words of the angel Gabriel to Mary: "Rejoice, full of grace" (Lk 1:28), resound in a singular way in this Shrine, a privileged place to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, here they are guarded the walls that, according to tradition, come from Nazareth, where the Holy Virgin pronounced her "yes", becoming the mother of Jesus. Since what is called the "house of Mary" has become a venerated and loved presence on this colle, the Mother of God does not cease to obtain spiritual benefits in those who, with faith and devotion, come here to pause in prayer. Among these, today I also put myself, and I thank God who granted it to me precisely on the feast of the Annunciation.
I greet the Authorities, with gratitude for the welcome and collaboration. I greet Archbishop Fabio Dal Cin, who expressed the feelings of all of you. With him I greet the other prelates, priests, consecrated persons, with a special thought for the Capuchin Fathers, who are entrusted with the custody of this distinguished shrine so dear to the Italian people. These Capuchins are good! Always in the confessional, always, to the point that you enter the sanctuary and there is always at least one there, or two or three or four, but always, both during the day and at the end of the day, and this is a difficult job. They are good and I thank them especially for this precious ministry of the confessional, which continued throughout the day. Thank you! And to all of you, citizens of Loreto and pilgrims gathered here, I extend my cordial greeting.
In this oasis of silence and pity, there are many, from Italy and from all over the world, to draw strength and hope. I am thinking in particular of young people, families and the sick.
The Holy House is the home of the young, because here the Virgin Mary, the young woman full of grace, continues to speak to the new generations, accompanying each one in the search for his own vocation. This is why I wanted to sign here the Apostolic Exhortation, fruit of the Synod dedicated to young people. It is titled "Christus vivit - Christ lives". In the event of the Annunciation the dynamic of the vocation appears, expressed in the three moments that marked the Synod: 1) listening to God's Word-project; 2) discernment; 3) decision.
The first moment, that of listening, is manifested by those words of the angel: "Do not fear Mary, [...] you will conceive a child, you will give birth to him and you will call him Jesus" (vv. 30-31). It is always God who takes the initiative to call to follow him. It is God who takes the initiative, He always precedes us, He precedes, He leads the way in our life. The call to faith and to a coherent path of Christian life or special consecration is a discreet but strong break in of God in the life of a young person, to offer him his love as a gift. It is necessary to be ready and willing to listen and accept the voice of God, who does not recognize himself in the noise and agitation. His design on our personal and social life is not perceived remaining on the surface, but descending to a deeper level, where moral and spiritual forces act. It is there that Mary invites the young to come down and be in tune with the action of God.
The second moment of every vocation is discernment, expressed in the words of Mary: "How will this be?" (V. 34). Maria does not doubt; her question is not a lack of faith; indeed, she expresses her desire to discover God's "surprises". In her, there is the attention to grasping all the needs of God's plan for her life, to know him in the its facets, to make its collaboration more complete and more responsible. It is the attitude proper to the disciple: every human collaboration with God's gratuitous initiative must be inspired by a deepening of his own abilities and attitudes, conjugated with the awareness that it is always God who gives, to act; so too the poverty and the smallness of those whom the Lord calls to follow him on the way of the Gospel is transformed into the richness of the manifestation of the Lord and into the power of the Almighty.
The decision is the third passage that characterizes every Christian vocation, and is made explicit by Mary's response to the angel: "Let it be for me according to your word" (v. 38). His "yes" to God's plan of salvation, implemented through the Incarnation, is the delivery to him of his whole life. It is the "yes" of full trust and total availability to the will of God. Mary is the model of every vocation and the inspirer of every vocation ministry: young people who are in search or wonder about their future, can find in Mary She who helps them to discern God's plan for themselves and the strength to adhere to it.
I think of Loreto as a privileged place where young people can come in search of their vocation, at Maria's school! A spiritual center at the service of vocation ministry. I therefore hope that the "John Paul II" Center will be relaunched at the service of the Church in Italy and internationally, in continuity with the indications emerging from the Synod. A place where young people and their educators can feel welcomed, accompanied and helped to discern. For this reason I also warmly ask the Capuchins an additional service: the service of extending the opening hours of the Basilica and of the Holy House during the late evening and also the beginning of the night when there are groups of young people who come to pray and to discern their vocation. The Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto, also because of its geographical location at the center of the Peninsula, lends itself to become, for the Church in Italy, a place of proposal for a continuation of the global meetings of young people and the family. It is necessary, in fact, that the enthusiasm of the preparation and celebration of these events correspond then to the pastoral actualization, which gives substance to the richness of the contents, through proposals for deepening, prayer and sharing.
The House of Mary is also the home of the family. In the delicate situation of today's world, the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman assumes an essential importance and mission. It is necessary to rediscover the plan drawn by God for the family, to reaffirm its greatness and irreplaceability in the service of life and society. In the house of Nazareth, Maria lived the multiplicity of family relationships as a daughter, girlfriend, bride and mother. For this reason, every family, in its different components, finds a welcome here, an inspiration to live its own identity. The Holy Virgin's domestic experience indicates that family and young people cannot be two parallel sectors of the pastoral care of our communities, but they must walk closely together, because very often young people are what a family has given them in the growing season. This perspective recomposes a vocation ministry that is attentive to expressing the face of Jesus in its many aspects, as a priest, as a groom, as a pastor.
The House of Mary is the home of the sick. Here they find welcome those who suffer in body and spirit, and the Mother brings to all the mercy of the Lord from generation to generation. The disease hurts the family and the sick must be welcomed into the family. Please do not fall into the culture of waste that is proposed by the multiple ideological colonizations that attack us today. The home and family are the first care of the sick in loving him, supporting him, encouraging him and caring for him. This is why the sanctuary of the Holy House is the symbol of every welcoming home and sanctuary of the sick. From here I send to them, all, anywhere in the world, an affectionate thought and I tell them: you are at the center of Christ's work, because you share and carry the cross of every day more concretely behind Him. Your suffering can become a decisive collaboration for the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Dear brothers and sisters! To you and to those who are linked to this Shrine, God, through Mary, entrusts a mission in our time: to bring the Gospel of peace and life to our often distracted contemporaries, taken by earthly interests or immersed in a climate of aridity spiritual. There is a need for simple and wise people, humble and courageous, poor and generous. In short, people who, at Mary's school, welcome the Gospel without reserve in their lives. Thus, through the sanctity of the people of God, testimonies of holiness in every state of life will continue to spread in Italy, in Europe and in the world, to renew the Church and animate society with the leaven of the Kingdom of God.
May the Blessed Virgin help everyone, especially the young, to walk the path of peace and fraternity founded on acceptance and forgiveness, on respect for others and on love which is a gift of self. Our Mother, bright star of joy and serenity, gifts to families, sanctuaries of love, blessing and the joy of life. Mary, source of all consolation, bring help and comfort to those in the trial.
With these intentions, we now join together in the prayer of the Angelus.
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican va - Unofficial Translation