APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
(MAY 31 - JUNE 2, 2019)
MARIAN MEETING WITH YOUTH AND FAMILIES
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
Square in front of the Palace of Culture (Iasi)
Saturday, 1 June 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, bună seara!
Here with you you can feel the warmth of being with your family, surrounded by children and adults. It is easy, seeing and feeling, to feel at home. The Pope among you feels at home. Thank you for your warm welcome and for the testimonies you have given us. Mons. Petru, as a good and proud family man, embraced you all with his words by introducing you, and you confirmed it, Eduard, when you told us that this meeting does not want to be only for young people, nor for adults, nor for others , but you wanted "that our parents and grandparents were there tonight".
Today in these lands is the day of the child. A round of applause for children! I would like the first thing we do is pray for them: let us ask the Virgin to protect them with her mantle. Jesus placed them among his apostles; we also want to put them in the middle and reaffirm our commitment to want to love them with the same love with which the Lord loves them, committing ourselves to give them the right to the future. This is a beautiful legacy: giving children the right to the future.
I am pleased to know that in this square there is the face of the family of God which embraces children, young people, spouses, consecrated persons, Romanian elders of different regions and traditions, as well as Moldova, and also those who have come from the other side of the river Prut, the csango-speaking faithful, Polish and Russian. The Holy Spirit calls us all and helps us to discover the beauty of being together, of being able to meet to walk together. Everyone with their own language and tradition, but happy to meet between brothers. With that joy that Elizabeth and Ioan shared - these two are good! -, with their eleven children, all different, coming from different places, but "today they are all gathered, just as some time ago every Sunday morning they all took the road to the church together". The happiness of parents to see their children assembled. Certainly today in the sky there is celebration seeing so many children who have decided to stay together.
It is the experience of a new Pentecost, as we have heard in the Reading. Where the Spirit embraces our differences and gives us the strength to open paths of hope by bringing out the best in each one; the same path that the Apostles began two thousand years ago and in which today it is our turn to take the baton and decide to sow. We can't wait for others to do it, it's up to us. We are responsible! It's our turn!
It's hard to walk together, isn't it? It is a gift we have to ask for, a craftsmanship that we are called to build and a beautiful gift to pass on. But where do we start to walk together?
I would like to "steal" the words again from these grandparents Elisabetta and Ioan. It is beautiful to see when love takes root with dedication and commitment, with work and prayer. Love has taken root in you and has borne much fruit. As Joel says, when young and old meet, grandparents are not afraid of dreaming (see Jn 3,1). And this was your dream: "We dream that they can build a future without forgetting where they started. We dream that all our people will not forget its roots ». You look to the future and open tomorrow for your children, for your grandchildren, for your people by offering the best you have learned during your journey: that they do not forget where they started from. Wherever they go, whatever they do, don't forget the roots. It is the same dream, the same recommendation that St. Paul made to Timothy: keeping the faith of his mother and his grandmother alive (see 2 Tim 10: 5-7). To the extent that you grow - in every sense: strong, great and even making a name for yourself - don't forget how much more beautiful and precious you have learned in the family. It is the wisdom that is received with the years: when you grow up, do not forget about your mother and your grandmother and of that simple but robust faith that characterized them and that gave them strength and perseverance to go on and not let their arms fall. It is an invitation to thank and rehabilitate generosity, courage, the indifference of a "home-made" faith, which goes unnoticed but gradually builds the Kingdom of God.
Of course, the faith that "is not listed on the stock exchange" does not sell and, as Eduard reminded us, it may seem that "it serves no purpose". But faith is a gift that keeps a profound and beautiful certainty alive: our belonging as children, and children loved by God. God loves with the love of a Father: every life, each of us belongs to him. It is a belonging to children, but also to grandchildren, spouses, grandparents, friends, neighbors; a belonging of brothers. The evil one divides, disperses, separates and creates discord, sows distrust. He wants us to live "detached" from others and from ourselves. The Spirit, on the contrary, reminds us that we are not anonymous beings, abstract, faceless beings, without history, without identity. We are not empty or superficial beings. There is a very strong spiritual network that unites us, connects us and supports us and is stronger than any other type of connection. And this network is the roots: knowing that we belong to each other, that everyone's life is anchored in the lives of others. "Young people bloom when they are truly loved," said Eduard. We all flourish when we feel loved. Because love takes root and invites us to put them in the lives of others. Like those beautiful words of your national poet who wished his sweet Romania: "your children live solely in fraternity, like the stars of the night" (M. Eminescu, "What I wish you, sweet Romania"). Eminescu was a great man, he had grown up, he felt mature, but not only: he felt fraternal, and for this he wants Romania, that all Romanians, be fraternal "like the stars of the night". We belong to each other and personal happiness comes from making others happy. All the rest are fairy tales.
To walk together where you are, don't forget how much you learned in the family. Don't forget your roots.
This reminded me of the prophecy of a holy hermit from these lands. One day the monk Galaction Ilie of Sihăstria Monastery, walking with sheep on the mountain, met a holy hermit he knew and asked: "Tell me, father, when will the end of the world be?" And the venerable hermit, sighing from his heart, said: "Father Galaction, do you know when the end of the world will be? When there will be no paths from near to neighbor! That is, when there will be no more Christian love and understanding between brothers, relatives, Christians and peoples! When people no longer love, it will really be the end of the world. Because without love and without God no man can live on earth! ".
Life begins to fade and rot, our hearts stop beating and wither, the elderly will not dream and the young will not prophesy when there will be no paths from near to near ... Because without love and without God no man can live on earth.
Eduard told us that he, like so many others in his country, tries to live faith in the midst of numerous provocations. There are so many provocations that can discourage us and make us shut up in ourselves. We cannot deny it, we cannot do as if nothing had happened. Difficulties exist and are obvious. But this cannot make us lose sight of the fact that faith gives us the greatest provocation: the one that, far from locking you up or isolating you, makes the best of each germinate. The Lord is the first to provoke us and to tell us that the worst comes when "there will be no paths from near to neighbor", when we see more trenches than roads. The Lord is the One who gives us a stronger song than all the sirens who want to paralyze our journey. And he does it in the same way: intoning a more beautiful and more attractive song.
The Lord gives us all a vocation that is a provocation to help us discover the talents and abilities we possess and why we put them at the service of others. He asks us to use our freedom as freedom of choice, to say "yes" to a project of love, to a face, to a look. This is a much greater freedom than being able to consume and buy things. A vocation that puts us in motion, makes us break down trenches, open roads that remind us of that belonging of children and brothers.
In this historical and cultural capital of the country we started together - in the Middle Ages - as pilgrims for the Via Transilvana, towards Santiago de Compostela. Today many students from various parts of the world live here. I remember a virtual meeting we had in March, with Scholas Occurrentes, in which they also told me that this city, this year, is the national capital of youth. It's true? Is it true that this city is the national youth capital this year? [The young people answer: "Yes!"]. Long live the young! Two very good elements: a city that historically knows how to open and initiate processes - such as the way of Santiago -; a city that knows how to host young people from various parts of the world as it currently is. Two characteristics that recall the potential and the great mission that you can develop: opening roads to walk together and carry on that grandparent's dream which is prophecy: without love and without God no man can live on earth. From here, new paths to the future can continue to Europe and to many other places in the world. Young people, you are pilgrims of the 21st century, capable of a new imagination of the bonds that unite us.
But it is not a question of creating great programs or projects, but of letting faith grow, of letting the roots bring us the sap. As I told you at the beginning: faith is not transmitted only with words, but with gestures, looks, caresses like those of our mothers, of our grandmothers; with the taste of the things we learned at home, in a simple and genuine way. There where there is a lot of noise, which we know how to listen to; where there is confusion, which we inspire harmony; where everything is clothed with ambiguity, that we can bring clarity; where there is exclusion, which we share; in the midst of sensationalism, rapid messages and news, which we care about the integrity of others; in the midst of aggression, let us give precedence to peace; in the midst of falsehood, we carry the truth; that in everything, in everything we privilege the opening of roads to feel this belonging of children and brothers (cf. Message for World Communications Day 2018). These last words that I said have the "music" of Francis of Assisi. Do you know what St. Francis of Assisi advised his friars to convey the faith? He said this: "Go, preach the Gospel and, if necessary, even with words." [Applause] This applause is for St. Francis of Assisi!
I'm finishing, I miss a paragraph, but I don't want to forget to say an experience I had while entering the square. There was an old woman, quite old, grandmother. His nephew had more or less two months in his arms, no more. When I went by he showed it to me. He smiled, and smiled with a smile of complicity, as if telling me: "Look, now I can dream!" At the time I got excited and didn't have the courage to go and bring it here in front. For this I tell it. Grandparents dream when grandchildren go on, and grandchildren have courage when they take root from their grandparents.
Romania is the "garden of the Mother of God", and in this meeting I was able to realize it, because she is a Mother who cultivates the dreams of her children, who holds her hopes, who brings joy to her home. She is a tender and concrete Mother who takes care of us. You are the living and thriving community full of hope that we can give to the Mother. To her, to the Mother, we consecrate the future of young people, the future of families and of the Church. Mulţumesc! [Thank you!].