Vatican City, 3 May 2014 (VIS) – “New people in Christ Jesus, sharing responsibility for the joy of living” is the theme chosen for the national assembly of Italian Catholic Action, whose members were received in audience by Pope Francis this morning. He emphasised to them that this joy is that of the disciples who encounter the risen Christ and that it is necessary for it to be interiorised as part of an evangelical style able to influence life.
“In the current social and ecclesial context, the lay members of Catholic Action are required to renew your missionary choice, open to the horizons that the Spirit indicates to the Church and the expression of a new youth of the lay apostolate. First and foremost, the parishes, especially those that are weary and closed, need your apostolic enthusiasm, your full willingness and your creative service. This means taking on the missionary dynamism to reach out to everyone, especially those who feel they are distant, and the weakest, most forgotten parts of the population. It means opening the doors and letting Jesus out to them”.
Staying, going and rejoicing were the three key words that the Pope indicated to Catholic Action as beacons for their path.
“As proclaimers and witnesses of Christ, it is necessary, first of all, to stay near to Him”, he began. “It is from the encounter with Him, He Who is our life and our joy, that our witness gains new meaning and new strength every day”.
He then spoke of the need to “go and proclaim that God is the Father and that Jesus Christ has let you know Him, and therefore your life has changed: it is possible to live as brothers, carrying within a hope that does not disappoint. … [Go] where humankind suffers and hopes, loves and believes; where there are our deepest dreams, our truest questions, the desires of the heart. There, Jesus awaits you”.
To rejoice, finally, means “being people who sing life, who sing faith; people able to recognise their own talents and their own limits, who are able to see in all their days, even the darkest, the signs of the Lord's presence. Rejoice because the Lord has called you to share in the responsibility of the mission of His Church”.
“With these three attitudes, staying in Jesus, going out to the boundaries and living the joy of Christian belonging, you can carry forward your vocation and avoid the temptation of 'quiescence', which has nothing to do with staying with Jesus; the temptation of closure and 'intimism'; and the temptation of formal seriousness. Avoid living a life that bears more resemblance to that of a statue in a museum rather than those of people called upon by Christ to live and spread the joy of the Gospel”.