An interfaith meeting with young people and a meeting with priests ended Francis' day in Skopje. “Think of Mother Teresa,” he said. “[W]hen she lived here, she could not have imagined where her life would have ended up. Yet she kept dreaming and tried to see the face of her great love, Jesus, and to discover it in all those people on the sides of the road.”
Skopje (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met young people from different religious backgrounds as well as Catholic men and women religious in his last two events in North Macedonia. In speaking to them, he said that they should not be afraid of dreaming big, whilst not underestimate the problems they face.
As he did at this morning’s events, the pontiff cited the example of Mother Teresa. He told young people not to stop dreaming. Likewise, he also priests concerned by their limited ranks and heavy workload, that history is written by those “unafraid to offer their lives for love”.
The meeting with the young was ecumenical and interreligious. Francis answered questions from a young Muslim woman, a young Greek Catholic woman and a mixed couple (Catholic husband and Orthodox wife), who spoke about fear and hope, concerned about dreams that might be too bold.
“Let me tell you that one can never dream too much. One of the big problems people have today, including so many young people, is that they have lost their ability to dream. They don’t dream, either much or little. When someone does not dream, when a young person does not dream, that empty space gets filled with complaints and a sense of hopelessness or sadness. “We can leave that to those who worship the ‘goddess of lament’… She is a false goddess: she makes you take the wrong road.”
“In this country, you have a fine tradition of stone carving, practised by artisans skilled at cutting stone and working it. We need to become like those craftsmen, to become expert carvers of our own dreams. We need to work at our dreams. A stone carver takes a stone in his hands and slowly begins to shape and transform it with concentration and effort, and especially with a great desire to see how that stone, which no one thought was worth anything, can become a work of art.
“Our best dreams are only attained through hope, patience and commitment, and not in haste, like these artisans. At the same time, we should not be hesitant, afraid to take chances or make mistakes. No, do not be afraid. Rather, we should fear experiencing the paralysis of the living dead, who have no life because they are afraid to take risks. And young people who do not take risks are dead. Some don’t want to take risks because they don’t want to persevere in their commitments or they fear making mistakes. Even if you make mistakes, you can always get up and start over, for no one has the right to rob you of hope” (cf. Christus Vivit, 142). Don’t allow yourselves to be robbed of hope. Dear young people, don’t be afraid to become artisans of dreams and of hope! Agreed?”
“Think of Mother Teresa: when she lived here, she could not have imagined where her life would have ended up. Yet she kept dreaming and tried to see the face of her great love, Jesus, and to discover it in all those people on the sides of the road. She dreamed in a big way, and this is why she also loved in a big way. She had her feet firmly planted here, in her native land, but she didn’t stand still. She wanted to be “a pencil in the hands of God”. This was the dream she crafted. She offered it to God, she believed in it, she suffered for it, and she never gave it up. And God began to write new and amazing pages of history with that pencil; a woman from your land, who dreamed, who wrote great things. It is God who wrote them but she dreamed and allowed herself to be guided by God.”
Finally, he advised listening to the elderly who are our "roots" and paying attention to the danger of "cultural colonization" engendered by today’s economy.
The pontiff also spoke about Mother Teresa when he met with priests accompanied by their families and men and women religious, in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“In more than a few situations,” he said, “we feel the need to ‘take stock’ and see where things stand. We can begin by looking at our numbers… we are few; the means at our disposal… and they are not many. Then we look at the number of houses and apostolates we have to support… they are too many. We could go on to list all those many situations in which we experience how precarious are the resources we have for carrying out the missionary mandate with which we have been entrusted. Whenever we do this, it can seem that our bottom line is ‘in the red’.
“True, the Lord told us: if you want to build a tower, calculate the costs,’ and take “stock’ of things is always necessary, when it can help us to understand and draw near to all those persons who daily struggle to make ends meet. Families that fail to grow, the elderly and abandoned, the sick and bedridden, young people frustrated and without a future, and the poor who remind us what we truly are: a Church of beggars in need of the Lord’s Mercy. It is legitimate to ‘take stock’ of things, only if it enables us once more to become fraternal and attentive to others, to show understanding and concern as we draw near to the frustrations and the uncertainties felt by so many of our brothers and sisters who yearn for an anointing that can lift them up and heal their hope.”
“I need only say that this land was able to give to the world and to the Church in Mother Teresa just that kind of concrete sign of how one small person, anointed by the Lord, could permeate everything, once the fragrance of the Beatitudes was spread over the weary feet of our humanity. How many people were put at ease by the tenderness of her glance, comforted by her caress, sustained by her hope and nourished by the courage of her faith, which could make even the most forgotten in our midst realize that they are not forgotten by God! History is written by people like this, people unafraid to offer their lives for love: whenever you did this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me (cf. Mt 25:40).”
After meeting priests and men and women religious, the Pope blessed the first stone of the Shrine of St Paul. He then travelled to Skopje airport for his departure from Northern Macedonia. He is scheduled to arrive in Rome 8.30pm (local time).