Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis today received a delegation from the National Council of the Italian Union of Blind and Sight-impaired Persons in the Clementine Hall. In his address, he urged them to have the courage "to face the trials of life," a sense of community to "greet each other with our limits", and the strength to give oneself against "individualistic" perspective of rights, three "human" values that Saint Lucy teaches to the world, especially to the visually impaired.
The pontiff noted that the association is "non-denominational, and yet you proposed that our meeting happen today," feast day of the patron saint of the blind.
The first "human value" by which the saint lived was the courage "that comes from the risen Christ," which enabled her to deal with "torture and a violent death". Indeed, "Everyone needs courage to face the trials of life," the pope said.
"In particular, blind and partially sighted people need it to avoid turning inward or taking on an attitude of victimisation; instead, they should open up to reality, others, society in order to learn about and appreciate the capabilities the Lord has placed in each one of us, really in everyone, without exception."
Another value is "belonging to a community." Saint Lucy "was not alone," she "was a member of a body of which Christ is the Head, and "Today, there is much need to live with joy and commitment to togetherness, because at this point in history it is not as highly valued or felt as before." Conversely, "group building, solidarity, meeting others, sharing experiences, pooling resources . . . all this is part of a people's civic heritage."
"People living with disadvantages or disabilities can often tell others, given their experience, that we are not 'monads', that we are not made to be isolated, but rather to be in relationships, complementing, helping, joining, and supporting one another."
"Finally," the pope said, "Lucy tells us that life is meant to be given. She lived this through an extreme form of martyrdom, but the value of giving oneself is universal: it is the secret of true happiness. Man is not fully realised in possessing or even in doing things. He is realised in loving, that is, in giving himself. This can also be understood as the secret of Lucy's name: a person who is "luminous" to the extent that he or she is a gift to others."
"Today's societies, which focus on 'individualistic' rights, risk forgetting the communal aspect, that of giving oneself freely to others," the pontiff said in concluding. "For this reason, it is still necessary to continue the struggle, following the example and intercession of Saint Lucy! I wish you to do so with courage, and with the joy of doing it together. Merry Christmas to you and all your members."