Pope: The Church is a home you can always return to

Pope Francis at the general audience May 2 2018 Credit Daniel Ibanez CNA Pope Francis at the general audience May 2, 2018. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Pope Francis said Saturday he wants people to recognize the Church as their home and a place where they are always welcome.

"How I wish," he said June 8, that people would recognize the Church "for this more than mercy, for this more than humanity and tenderness, of which there is so much need!"

That "you would feel at home, the 'maternal home' where you are always welcome and where you can always come back," he said.

"You would always feel welcomed, listened to, interpreted well, helped to take a step forward in the direction of the kingdom of God... As a mother knows how to do, even with her now-grown children."

Pope Francis preached on the motherhood of the Church during an evening Mass for the Vigil of Pentecost for Catholics of the Diocese of Rome.

"What are we celebrating today, all together, in our city of Rome?" he asked. "We celebrate the primacy of the Spirit, which makes us dumb before the unpredictability of God's plan, and then startled with joy: 'Then this was what God had for us!'"

Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to take the gifts of the Holy Spirit with them, bringing them in the midst of their brothers and sisters, especially those living in the city of Rome.

"Hear their need for salvation, the cry that comes to Him and that we usually do not hear," he said. "It is about opening eyes and ears, but above all the heart, listening with the heart."

"Then we will really get going," he continued. "Then we will feel within us the fire of Pentecost, which drives us to cry out to the men and women of this city that their slavery is over and that it is Christ the way that leads to the city of Heaven."

The vigil Mass will conclude with Rome Catholics carrying an icon of Our Lady of Divine Love in procession from St. Peter's Square to Porta Capena square, which is near Circus Maximus.

The diocese also invited people to join afterward in a traditional night-time pilgrimage ending at Rome's Shrine of Divine Love, which is located in the far southern outskirts of the city and is the home of the icon of Our Lady of Divine Love.

In his homily, Pope Francis recalled the image and Pope Pius XII's "special act of thanks and supplication to the Virgin, for the protection of the city of Rome" 75 years ago, on June 11, 1944.

"Divine Love is the Holy Spirit, which springs from the Heart of Christ. It is the 'spiritual rock' that accompanies the people of God in the desert, so that drawing from the living water, they can quench their thirst along the way," he said.

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