Visit to the Roman parish of Santa Maria Regina Pacis
Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis visited another parish in his diocese – Santa Maria Regina Pacis at the Ostia Lido. Before celebrating Mass, the bishop of Rome visited the community of the Little Sisters of Jesus, of Charles de Foucauld, also known as the “Luna Park Fraternity” since they live in caravans, and met with the elderly, the sick, and young scouts from the parish, as well as parents who have baptised their children this year.
The Pope greeted the elderly, emphasising that they possess the wisdom of life, experience, pain and patience, as well as the memory of the people and the family. He remarked that the sick “resemble Jesus: they suffer like Jesus and bear the cross like Jesus”, and praised the parish community for lovingly caring for the sick and the elderly, since “when they are not cared for by the community, that community does not function; it lacks something”.
To the scouts, he commented that “in the art of climbing, the important thing is not that you do not fall, but rather that you do not stay on the ground”. He continued, “We all fall, we all make mistakes, even sins, all of us. But what is witness? It is getting up again with God’s grace. … This is what the world needs from you, the witness of going ever onwards; although weak, we must go ahead”. He also encouraged the young to transmit their faith with joy and, in difficult moments when joy is obscured, to “overcome those moments with dignity, in the hope that the Holy Spirit gives us strength … and consolation … until our joy returns”.
Finally, he reminded the parents of recently baptised children that baptism is not an isolated event, and invited them to walk with their children along the new path of faith, staying close to the parish community.
In the Pope’s homily, in which he commented on the Gospel reading of the vine and the branches, he insisted on the importance of remaining united with Christ, which also means “wanting to be forgiven by Him, but also to be ‘pruned’, so as to bear more fruit”. He added, “abiding with Jesus means doing the same as He did: doing good, helping others, praying to the Father, healing the sick, helping the poor, having the joy of the Holy Spirit”.
“There are also other branches, to which Jesus does not refer here, but He does so elsewhere; those that present themselves as Jesus’ disciples, but do the opposite of what a disciple does, and these branches are hypocrites. Perhaps they go to Mass every Sunday, perhaps they show themselves to be saintly and pious, but then they live as if they were pagans. And Jesus, in the Gospel, calls them hypocrites. Jesus is good, he invites us to abide in Him. He gives us strength, and so if we slide into sinfulness – and we are all sinners – He forgives us, because He is merciful. But He wants two things – that we abide in Him and that we are not hypocrites. And this is how Christian lives go onwards”.