"The school, for Fr. Lorenzo, was not something different from his priestly mission, but the concrete way to do that mission, giving it a solid foundation and the capacity to rise up to heaven," Francis said.
You are witnesses to how a priest has lived out his mission, "with full fidelity to the Gospel and precisely for this, with full fidelity to each of you, whom the Lord had entrusted to him," the Pope said to former students of Fr. Milani's schools.
A teaching of Fr. Milani was, he said: "Give to the poor the word, because without the word there is no dignity and therefore no freedom and justice."
If we teach them the Word of God, this is what will open up the path to full citizenship in society, through work and through full membership in the Church, Francis explained.
This is still true, even in our time, he said. It is only the Word of God that can help us to discern between the many false and confusing messages that we are bombarded with by society. It is also only the Word that can help us to make sense of and express the deep feelings and desires of our hearts and of the lack of justice for many of our brothers and sisters.
"Of that full humanization that we claim for every person on this earth, besides bread, home, work, family, is also the possession of the word as an instrument of freedom and fraternity," he said.
Speaking to priests, Francis said that Fr. Milani was looking, as his mother said, for the "Absolute," which he found in "religion and the priestly vocation."
"Without this thirst for the Absolute you can be good officials of the sacred, but you cannot be priests, true priests, able to become servants of Christ in your brothers," the Pope said.
"Dear priests, with the grace of God, we seek to be men of faith, a sincere faith, not watered down; and men of charity, pastoral charity toward all those whom the Lord entrusts us as brothers and children."
"We love the Church, dear brothers, and let us love it, showing it as a caring mother of all, especially of the poorest and most fragile, both in social life and in personal and religious life."
This is the Church that Fr. Milani has shown the world, he said. A Church with a maternal and thoughtful face, extending to everyone the opportunity to meet God.
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This charity was not lacking in Servant of God Fr. Primo Mazzolari either. He himself was a priest who was poor, but not a "poor priest," the Pope said.
In his spiritual testament, the Pope recounted, Fr. Mazzolari wrote that he always had little money, which always had to go to pay for the necessary things. This was his one regret on this point, he wrote, that he did not have more to give to the poor and his parish works.
However, Fr. Primo lived out a "pastoral charity" in his priestly ministry, Francis said, opening up horizons in the many complex situations he had to face during that time: "wars, totalitarianism, fratricidal clashes, the fatigue of democracy in gestation, the misery of its people."
The Pope encouraged his fellow priests to follow Fr. Mazzolari's example by listening to the world and all those who live and work in it: "Take care of every question of feeling and hope, without fear of passing through deserts and shadow areas," he said.
Fr. Mazzolari had a great love of the poor, Francis continued, saying that charity was a matter of spirituality and of looking. In his book "The Crucified Way of the Poor," he wrote that "he who has little charity sees few poor; he who has much charity sees many poor; those who have no charity see no one."
The priest added, however, that "he who knows the poor knows his brother: whoever sees the brother sees Christ, who sees Christ sees life and his true poetry, for charity is the poetry of heaven carried on earth."