Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) – At 4 p.m. today the Holy Father visited the Roman parish of St. Michael Archangel in the Pietralata quarter, in the north of the city. Upon arrival, he made an impromptu change to the itinerary, paying a surprise visit to a settlement near the parish church, known as the “Rainbow Camp”, the home of many displaced persons from Africa, Latin America, Ukraine and Russia. At the end of his visit, the inhabitants recited the Lord's Prayer with him in Spanish. He then met with members of the parish community: the sick, families with children baptised during the past year, young catechumens, scouts and a number of homeless people cared for by the Sant'Egidio Community.
To the families with recently baptised children, Francis confessed that he liked to hear the cry of newborns as “they are a promise of life”, and that they should not be expected to leave the church when they cry. He also encouraged parents to teach their children the sign of the Cross. He comforted the sick by reminding them that the Lord is always close to them, as “a father never leaves his children alone”, and therefore “we must be trustful, and courageous in our trust … some days everything is bleak … but never lose your trust”. He thanked the homeless for not having given up hope, and for their witness in bearing their cross of solitude. “Beneath so many ashes of suffering, of solitude, know that there is the fire of the Holy Spirit; below, there is the embrace of God's love. And why does the Lord allow there to be this cross? He permitted it first for His Son. And so Jesus understands you well”. He spoke with the young catechumens about war and peace, and encouraged them to pray every day, especially to the Virgin, “Our Mother who will lead us by the hand to find Jesus, to find peace and not to descend into war”. Finally, he answered a question on how he knew whether or not his decision to become a priest was the right one. He compared his inner certainty with what a man and woman might feel when they decide to marry, and explained that in spite of the sacrifices that have to be made and the problems that may appear, love is always stronger. “This certainty comes from Jesus”, he emphasised.
Pope Francis went on to confess some of the faithful, and then proceeded to the church to celebrate Mass. In his homily, the Pope urged those present to listen to Jesus and to let Him preach to them. Jesus “speaks to us in the Gospel”, he said, “and this is a habit we no longer have: to go and seek out the word of Jesus in the Gospel. Always carry a small copy of the Gospel with you, and keep it within reach. Read it whenever you have five or ten minutes to spare: Jesus speaks to us there. Maintain daily contact with the Gospel”. He continued by encouraging those present to allow the Lord to heal their wounds: “open your heart, to let Him enter and heal you”.