Vatican City, 6 October (VIS) – At midday Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with more than one hundred thousand faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and in the adjacent Via della Conciliazione.
The Pope began by giving thanks to God for his pastoral visit to Assisi on Friday, revealing that it was the first time he had visited the city, and remarking that “it was a great gift to be able to make this pilgrimage on the feast day of St. Francis”.
He went on to comment on the day's Gospel reading, in which the disciples ask Christ to make their faith grow in them. “It seems to me that we can all make this request our own. We too, like the Apostles, say to the Lord Jesus, 'Increase our faith! Yes, Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak and fragile, but we offer it to you just as it is, so that you will make it grow'”.
“And how does the Lord answer? He replies, 'If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree: 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. The mustard seed is very small, but Jesus says that it is enough to have a faith like this, small, but true and sincere, to do things that are humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but with incredibly strong faith, who truly move mountains! Think, for example, of certain mothers and fathers who face very difficult situations, or certain sick people, even those who are gravely ill, who convey serenity to those who visit them. ... How many people among us have this strong, humble faith and do so much good!”
Francis also spoke of the missions, to which the month of October is dedicated, and recalled the “many missionaries, men and women, who have overcome all sorts of obstacles to spread the Gospel. They have truly given their life”, but equally, “each one of us, in his or her everyday life, can bear witness to Christ, with the power of God, the power of faith, the small faith that we have, which is nonetheless strong”. We obtain this strength “from God in prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith: in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love, dialogue cannot be lacking, and prayer is a dialogue of the soul with God”.
October is also the month of the Rosary, and on this first Sunday it a tradition to recite the Supplication to Our Lady of Pompeii, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary. “Let us join spiritually in this act of confidence in our Mother”, he added, “and we receive from her hands the beads of the Rosary: the Rosary is a school of prayer; the Rosary is a school of faith!”
Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope referred to the beatification of Rolando Rivi yesterday in Modena. Rivi, killed in 1945 at the age of just fourteen for hatred of the faith at e was a seminarian of that region, Emilia, who was killed in 1945, when he was 14, “guilty only of wearing a cassock during that time of raging violence against the clergy, who spoke out to condemn in the name of God the postwar massacres. But faith in Jesus triumphs over the spirit of the world! Let us give thanks to God for this young martyr, heroic witness to the Gospel!”
He concluded, “I would like to remember with you all those who lost their lives in Lampedusa on Thursday. Let us all pray in silence for these brothers and sisters of ours: women, men, children… Let our hearts weep. Let us pray in silence”, a plea that was heeded by the one hundred thousand people in the square.