Pope Francis met with priests, consecrated men and women, and laity involved in the Church in both Cesena and Bologna Sunday.
To priests he stressed the importance of meeting daily with Christ and of having joy in their ministry. “So many times people find sad priests,” he said. Sometimes I want to ask priests what they had for breakfast, he joked: a cup of coffee or vinegar?
“Do not lose joy. The joy of being priests, of being called upon by the Lord to follow him to bring his word, his forgiveness, his love, his grace.”
Youth and Families
The family, Francis said, is facing a difficult time, both as an institution – the most basic building-block of society – and within particular families.
Because of this, we are called in a particular way at this moment to teach the world to love, he said. And among those who most need to experience the love of Jesus are young people.
“Thanks to God, young people are a living part of the Church – the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops involves them directly – and they can communicate to their peers their testimony,” he said.
He pointed out that the Church has a lot of young people, a valuable source of gifts for the Church for “their attitude towards the good, towards the beautiful, towards authentic freedom, and towards justice.”
They need to be helped to discover the gifts God has given them though, he said, and “encouraged not to fear the great challenges of the present moment.”
Meet with them, listen to them, encourage them, the Pope urged. Help them to meet Christ and his love.
Students and academics
Later in the day, Pope Francis met with students and academics from the University of Bologna, telling them that the key to success in studies is “the search for good.”
“Love is the ingredient that gives flavor to the treasures of knowledge and, in particular, to the rights of man and people,” he said, listing three rights he considers relevant to the student today: the right to culture, the right to hope, and the right to peace.
“In front of so much lament and clamor that surrounds us, today we do not need someone who is screaming, but who promotes good culture,” he stressed. “We need words that reach minds and put hearts in order, not scream straight to the stomach.”
We should not be content, he continued, to follow “the theatricals of indignation” which are often hiding large egos and self-centeredness, but should devote ourselves to “with passion to education, that is, to ‘draw out’ the best of each person for the good of all.”
In the midst of a culture that “reduces man to waste, research to interest and science to technique,” we should assert a “culture of humanity,” he said, and a research “that recognizes merits and rewards sacrifices.”
About university classrooms, the Pope said it would be nice if they could be havens of hope, places where people work for a better future and learn to be responsible for themselves and for the world.
“Sometimes fear prevails. But today we are experiencing a crisis which is also a great opportunity, a challenge to the intelligence and freedom of each, a challenge to be embraced, to be artisans of hope,” he said.
The right to peace, Francis explained is also “a right and a duty, inscribed on the heart of humanity. Because ‘unity prevails over conflict’ (Evangelii gaudium, 226).”
“Do not believe who tells you that fighting for this is useless and that nothing will change! Do not settle for small dreams, but dream big,” he urged.