In a meeting with priests and religious during his visit to Assisi, Pope Francis urged the professed to listen and be receptive to the Lord, as well as be missionaries who accompany their people.
“It's not enough to read the scriptures, we must hear Jesus speaking in them, we have to be antennas that receive, tuned to the word of God, to be transmitting antennas!”
The Holy Father directed his Oct. 4 comments to the priests and religious during his visit to the town of Assisi in honor of the feast day of his patron, St. Francis of Assisi.
In his address, Pope Francis affirmed those present in many aspects of their vocations, giving special emphasis to “the most important ones.”
Urging them to listen and to pay attention to the word of God, he noted that the Church is “the community that listens with faith and with love to the Lord who speaks.”
“I think we can all improve a bit on this aspect: all become more listeners the word of God, to be less rich in our words and more rich in the word,” said the Pope, citing both priests and parents as examples of listening in order to teach.
“How can he preach until he has heard, in silence, with the heart,” he asked in reference to the priest, and of parents he reflected: “how can they educate if their conscience is not enlightened by the word of God, if their way of thinking and acting is not guided by the word, as an example they can give to their children?”
“The Spirit of God that makes the scriptures come alive, makes us understand in depth, in their true and full meaning,” he said urging those present to ask themselves “what place does the word of God have in my life, the life of every day? Are they tuned to God, or to the popular ways of speech or myself?”
Pope Francis also noted the special importance of “journeying,” which he revealed is one of his “favorite words when I think of the Christian and the Church.”
“This is really the most beautiful experience that we live: to be part of a people in their journey through history, together with their Lord, who walks among us!”
The Pope said that we are not alone in our journey, but rather walk as part of the “flock of Christ,” emphasizing that there is nothing more beautiful than supporting and encouraging one another in community.
“How important is this! Walk together, without leaping forward, without nostalgia for the past. And during this walk, talking, getting to know one another, recounting to each other, we grow in being family.”
Along with the elements of listening and journeying, the Pope also stressed the importance of being a missionary who announces the Gospel “up to the peripheries.”
“What are your peripheries? Let's try to think about it. Let us ask ourselves what are the peripheries in this diocese.”
They are, he said, the areas of the diocese which “risk being on the margins,” but they are also “people, human realities who are marginalized, despised. They are people who maybe are physically located near the ‘center,’ but spiritually are far away.”
“Do not be afraid to go out and meet these people, to these situations,” said the Pope, “Do not let yourselves be blocked by prejudices, by habits, by a mental or pastoral rigidity,” or by the common excuse that “it has always been this way.”
“You can go to the peripheries only if you bring the word of God in your heart and you walk with the Church, like St. Francis.”
Later on, the Holy Father also met with a group of cloistered sisters without prepared remarks, stressing the importance of remaining close to Jesus in contemplative prayer, and maintaining a joyful life in community.
“When a sister in the cloister consecrates her whole life to the Lord,” he said, “a transformation happens" which is not easily understood.
The Pope emphasized to them that in the cloister, the sister has God “at the center of our life.”
“I am sad when I find sisters who are not joyful,” who maybe smile, but with “a smile sustained by the will” rather than a heart full of happiness at serving God, he told them – saying that “this is our reality, the reality of Jesus Christ,” which is “not an abstract idea.”
He stressed to them that many come to the convent seeking prayers and advice, and that a sister may not “say something extraordinary,” but because she speaks “from the heart of contemplation of Jesus Christ" she becomes "an expert in humanity. Pope Francis ended his visit to the sisters with his frequent request: “please, don’t forget to pray for me.”