Pope Francis Meets with the European Cursillo Movement

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1 Pope Francis Meets with the European Cursillo Movement A transcription of the Pope s speech to attendees of the III European Ultreya in Rome, April 30, Dear brothers and sisters, good evening! First of all I must ask you to forgive me, because this gathering was planned for tomorrow and I believe that you had to make many changes, some of you had a lot of difficulty with transportation, with various means of transportation... Please excuse me; truly, I'm sorry! There was some confusion. You know that the Pope is infallible when he makes dogmatic definitions, things that he rarely does... but even the Pope has his defects. And with these defects there is no question of infallibility! This Pope isn't too organized, even undisciplined. Because of all of this, there was some confusion. This is the reason why I have to ask you to excuse me. Thank you! I knew your questions, I wrote a speech to respond to them, but sometimes I focus on some questions because there are things that I want to highlight. As the president said, you have come to Rome for your Ultreya, a name that continues the ancient greeting used by pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela to encourage others to stick together and to keep going, more than ever. For you, this is truly a gathering among friends, a fraternal meeting of prayer, of celebration, of the sharing of your experiences of Christian life. I thank your representatives who provided me with an overview of your proposals, the difficulties and the perspectives of your Movement. On my part, I wish to offer a few suggestions which may be useful for your spiritual growth and your mission in the Church and in the world. You are called - you yourselves did not make a choice, no, you were called, and you were called - to bear the fruit of the charism that the Lord has confided to you and that is at the heart of the Cursillo Movement, among the founders of which stand Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló and the then Bishop of Mallorca, Juan Hervas y Benet - they were very courageous - they knew how to accompany the growth of the Movement with paternal concern. In the 1940s, together with other young lay people, they recognized the need to reach out to their peers who had a desire for truth and love to be present in their hearts.

2 These pioneers of your Movement truly were missionaries: they did not hesitate to take the initiative and they courageously drew close to people, sharing their struggle in a sympathetic way, and accompanying them on their journey of faith with respect and love. This is important: sympathy, togetherness... There is one thing I will say about your Movement: you are not proselytizers, and this is a virtue. The Church does not grow through proselytizing, but through witness as Pope Benedict said. It's true! You have never been proselytizers. This is a grace from God. Following the example of your founders, you too want to proclaim the Good News of God's love today, drawing close to friends, acquaintances, fellow students... and you want to work with them so that they too can have a personal experience of the infinite love of Christ that frees and transforms our lives. When it is necessary, you go out, toward others, never tiring, in order to meet even those who have been distanced! In order to help others to grow in faith, to follow a path that leads to the Lord, you must first be aware within yourselves of the goodness and the tenderness of God. This experience is the beginning of the journey that you are on. When you see... see within your own life that God has been so good, so tender, so merciful, this makes you go out, it makes you open yourself to others. The Lord wants to meet us, the Lord wants to live with us, to be our friend and our brother, our teacher who reveals the path we should follow in order to achieve happiness. He seeks nothing in return, he only wants to welcome us because God's love is free, a pure gift. This is important. In order to witness to this, we need to recognize that everything we have is pure gift, a present, it's free, a grace. It can't be bought; it can't be sold! It is a journey of gratitude, a path that we can't explain: Why me Lord? What should I do? Give it to others! To communicate what the Lord has done with me, with such tenderness, with such goodness, with such mercy. This is what it means to witness. The friendly testimony of dialogue between friends. The encounter with Christ and with the merciful Father that he gives us, is possible above all through the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. In the Mass, we celebrate the memorial of his sacrifice: even today He really gives his Body for us and pours out his Blood to redeem humanity. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus welcomes us with all our limits and sins, and gives us a new heart that is capable of loving like He loves, loving his own until the end (John 13:1). Every time we come back to him and ask for forgiveness, He forgives, because He knows that we are weak, that we are sinners! We have the joy of being sinners! All of us. He knows this. And He always receives us with love. Another way is to meditate on the Word of God, especially through Lectio Divina, reading the Word of God, reading the Bible. Many times I have recommended, and I do it even now: always carry in your pocket or in your purse a copy of the Gospels, a small one. In your travels, when you're waiting for the dentist, or to do something, read a passage from the Bible and then think calmly about it. This familiarity with the Word of God will keep us close to the Lord. In this way, we can listen to the Lord who points out the way that we should follow. He encourages us to face our uncertainties and the difficulties that life presents.

3 Finally, we encounter the love of Christ in the Church which bears witness through various activities to the charity of God and the love of Jesus in works of mercy. I want to ask you something: are all of you able to recite the seven works of corporal mercy and the seven works of spiritual mercy? You are good... Raise your hand if you can't do it! (many of them raise their hands). Look... work for your bishops! Work for you! It's important to read the works of corporal mercy. A few of them - to be sure - you can remember, but there are seven of them... and the Spiritual ones: there are seven of them too. Challenge yourself to do this at home: search for them, study the works of mercy. Why? To put them into practice. Everyone in the Church community should have as their aim to help others to discover and to touch the infinite mercy of God. Some may think: No, God is far away. I'm going to hell... I have done so many bad things. But if you've done so many things, so many bad things, He will be very happy to celebrate if you draw close to him and ask for forgiveness. This is the work of persuasion that you need to do with your friends, in your Cursillos, because it's true, God has a party! God throws a party. And someone may feel jealous of this: consider the elder son of the merciful father (Luke 15:11-32) who threw a party for the other son who had spent all his money, who had lived the good life, and returned with nothing... the father threw a party. This is a strange characteristic of our Father! He throws a party when a serious sinner approaches. This is very good. The Cursillos' approach to evangelization was born out of this ardent desire for friendship with God, which is the source of our friendship with our brothers and sisters. From the very beginning it was understood that only within an authentic relationship of friendship would it be possible to prepare and to accompany a person on his or her journey, a journey that begins with conversion, discovers the beauty of a life lived in the grace of God, and finally reaches the joy of becoming an apostle in daily life. Thus it is that since that time, thousands of people throughout the world have been able to grow in their faith. In the current context of anonymity and isolation that is typical in our cities, it is even more important than ever to promote a welcoming atmosphere, a sense of familiarity on a human scale, something that you offer in your group meetings. You make friends. There will be problems, here or there... There will always be problems, but we need to allow a sense of friendship to take root and grow: But Father, when friendships grow, there is also sometimes a sense of elitism that grows, or jealousy or envy... What did the Lord say? When the devil sows weeds, we should leave them alone and allow them to grow. You allow the good grain to grow, and the weeds will be burned at the time of the harvest while the grain will bear its fruit. I ask you to always maintain a climate of friendship and fraternity as you pray each week and share your experiences, your successes and your apostolic failures every week. I remember a woman, born in an atheist family; she too was an atheist; not an agnostic, an atheist. She was a wonderful woman, a professional, a woman who was doing her job, she was married, she had children but she had no religion. One of her children met Jesus Christ, or I should say that her child was found by Jesus Christ. That child converted and lived a Christian life, and the mother respected this decision: It's your choice, my child. Go ahead! I don't believe, but you go right ahead. Years went by,

4 her daughter was a committed Christian, convinced, we might even say a militant Christian - I don't like that particular word but I use it so that you can understand. The mother, when she was older, more than 80 years old, got sick, drew closer to death but was still lucid. The day before she died, while her daughter was close by, taking care of her, she asked her: Tell me - I have never asked this question, because I respected your decision - what do you feel when you pray? Her daughter, out of respect for her mother, said that she spoke to God, to the Lord... Thus began a conversation on the theme, slowly, calmly. Then another theme came along, and then they returned to the first subject... In the end, the mother said: You are happy with what you found in religion?... Yes, because mama, I believe in Jesus, I believe that Jesus loves us! How I would love to feel the same way! The daughter encouraged her saying: Tell me mama, do you really want this? Yes! But it's too late... Never mama. Do you want me to baptize you?... and the mother said: Yes! The daughter couldn't call a priest because her mother would have been scared. The daughter baptized her mother and two hours later, the mother fell into a coma and died, at midnight. These are God's miracles for closeness, for service. Not proselytism! This daughter had never been involved in proselytism. I knew her well enough, to the point that she came to me to tell me what she had done and that she was afraid that she might have done something wrong. No, you did well! You helped your mother to enter into Paradise! But this takes patience. It takes patience. Proselytism is not patient! Read this, do this, come here, come there; they push you out the door... No, no. Friendship. And then, sow in friendship. The process of sowing in friendship truly takes patience. In these meetings of small groups, it is important that you support moments that favor openness to a larger social and ecclesiastical dimension, including those who have come into contact with your charism but who do not regularly participate in a group. In fact, the Church is an open hearted mother who invites us at times to slow down, to turn aside from other urgent matters in order to accompany those who stand on the side of the road (Evangelii Gaudium, 46). Helping others is a beautiful thing, even those who work hard at living their faith; to help them to always remain in contact with our mother, the Church, always close to this great welcoming family that is the mother Church, our holy mother Church. In recent years in Argentina, there were a few problems with Cursillos; but external problems, because at one time, people would work up to a certain point, then there would be Saturday, Sunday, maybe even Monday... It was possible at times. Today, they work on Saturday, even on Sunday. No one finds time for the meetings that strengthen them, prayer meetings that last three days. They have lost wages, they have lost business, some of them are even at risk of losing their jobs. They have tried to update their charism in such situations. What can you do in such circumstances? What did Christians do, think about it, during the time of the Nazis, of communism: maybe they found ways to do catechism in another way, at another time, maybe they celebrated Mass in hidden places, underground... I don't know. Find ways to continue with your charism. This is very important! Don't let external conditions stop you. I encourage you to always go beyond, faithful to your charism!... to keep alive the zeal, the fire of the Spirit that always motivates Christ's disciples to reach beyond, without proselytizing, to go beyond our own comforts and to have the courage to reach all the peripheries that need the light of the Gospel. (Evangelii Gaudium, 20). What you have heard, I have told you on many other occasions, in large cities, Christian cities, even in Christian families, there are children who do not know how to make the sign of the cross. This paganization of society challenges us: do something to evangelize. The Spirit motivates us to go out of our own comfort zones. How beautiful it is to proclaim to everyone the love of God who saves us and makes sense of our lives!... and to help men and women of our time to discover the beauty of faith and of the life of grace that we can live in the Church, our mother!

5 There are some Christian and Catholic communities - there really are - where no one ever speaks of the life of grace, no one ever speaks of the beauty of having the Trinity within us, the presence of the Living God within us. Your challenge is to go forward and to take the good news with you: God lives in us, God is in us. This is the grace! To help men and women today to discover the beauty of faith and of a life of grace. If you do this, you will be docile with an attitude of humility and trust in the guidance of this holy mother, the Church, which always seeks the good in all her children; if you are in tune with your pastors and united with them in the mission of proclaiming to everyone the joy of the Gospel. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of divine grace help you on your journey and in your apostolate. Before I give you the blessing, I want to see the questions, in case there is something that I didn't say... << How do we trust in the Holy Spirit, to the point of daring to bring the proclamation of God's mercy, where he is not being sought? >> Well, if you can't confide yourself to the Holy Spirit, go home! Go in search of another, more agnostic religion, more ideological. Jesus told us: I will not leave you alone. I will send you the Spirit (John 14:26). And what does the Spirit do? Two things. The Spirit reminds us of what Jesus taught and teaches us what to do. Then, this trust of the Holy Spirit is amazing! Be aware of the moments when the Holy Spirit that motivates you. I like to think of Philip, when the Spirit said to him: Go to this street, the Gaza street (Acts 8:26-40). And he goes. At a certain point, he sees a chariot, a travelling carriage and sitting there is the Ethiopian minister of the economy, from the Candace region, reading the book of Isaiah... A dialogue begins: Explain this to me... And when they find some water, this minister of the economy asks for Baptism... May the Spirit guide you. Truly the Spirit! Entrust yourselves to the Spirit. Think of Philip, think of others, all those who entrust themselves to the Spirit. It is good to read the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: after Pentecost, the things that the Spirit did!... Great things! And entrust yourself to the Spirit. << In every movement there is a strong sense of double commitment: faithfulness to your original charism and the necessity for change and renewal in order to respond and to change the situation. And the question was: How can we keep these two tensions in harmony? How should we discern the novelty that the Holy Spirit is suggesting but ignore the charism? How can I tell whether a certain fidelity to original charism is more a rigidity that is not faithful to the Holy Spirit? >> This is important. Understand and know the spirits: Do not entrust yourself, beloved, to every spirit, says the Apostle (1 John 4:1). Know when an inspiration is in harmony with your original charism and when it is not. This makes you go further to find various situations, various cultures, and the original charism should be interpreted for this culture. Not betrayed! Translated. It should be the charism, but interpreted, applied! I don't want problems, I'll stick with the original charism... In this way, you will become a beautiful demonstration, a museum. You will make your movement a museum of things that are useless today. Every charism is called to grow! Why? Because it bears within it the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit brings growth! Every charism must come face to face with various cultures, with varying ways of thinking, with differing values. And what to do? Let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Here, I have to do this, here I have to do this... And how do I do this? Pray, ask! Prayer: without prayer no one can go on, no movement. None of them! Thank you again for this gathering. Thank you for everything that you do in the Church that is so beautiful: helping others to meet Jesus, helping them to understand that to live in the grace of God is a beautiful thing. It's beautiful! Thank you very much and I would like to ask you, please to pray for me. Pray for me because even the Pope should be faithful to the Holy Spirit.

6 Now, I will give you the blessing, but let us pray together to Our Lady, our Mother. Hail Mary full of grace... (Blessing) And don't forget to learn the seven works of corporal mercy and the seven works of spiritual mercy! Pope Francis April 30, 2015

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