Celebrating Mass on the island, Francis calls for a missionary spirit that bears witness to Christian joy. "When we hear the forecasts of gloom "there are so few of us left", we should first of all be concerned not with the reduction of this or that form of consecration in the Church, but rather with the lack of men and women who want to live happiness by making paths to holiness."
Port Louis (AsiaNews) - Witness the Christian joy to push young people above all to "want to climb the Mount of Beatitudes": This is the missionary mandate that Pope Francis addressed to the Christians of Mauritius, the Indian Ocean island where he arrived this morning, from nearby Madagascar.
On the island, a world renowned tourist destination, today is the feast of Blessed Jacques-Désiré Laval and it is the day on which the faithful of Mauritius walk in procession to the sanctuary dedicated to the French missionary who in the first half of the nineteenth century dedicated his life to evangelize the communities of the island who had just been freed from slavery. The memory of the Blessed, venerated also by the Hindu majority, is one of the most important moments in the life of the Christians of Mauritius.
Arriving at the international airport of Port Louis, at 10.40 am local time (6.40 am GMT) Francis was welcomed by the Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, and by Card. Maurice Piat. Two children in traditional dress offered him flowers. After the welcome ceremony, the Pope moved to the Monument of Mary, Queen of Peace, to celebrate mass. Here he was greeted by waving palm branches carried by many of the nearly 80 thousand people present (on the island Christians are about a third of the nearly 1.3 million inhabitants, mostly Hindus).
"Here - said the Pope - in front of this altar dedicated to Mary, Queen of Peace, on this mountain from which we see the city and beyond the sea, we find ourselves part of that multitude of faces that have come from Mauritius and other islands of this region of the Indian Ocean to hear Jesus announcing the Beatitudes. The same Word of Life that, like two thousand years ago, has the same strength, the same fire that makes even the coldest hearts burn”.
"The Beatitudes" are a Christian’s ID. So, if any of us asks the question: 'How do you go about being a good Christian?', The answer is simple: it is necessary to do, each in his own way, what Jesus says in the discourse on the Mount, the Beatitudes "," as did the so-called 'apostle of the Mauritian unity', Blessed Jacques-Désiré Laval, so venerated in these lands ", who" learned the language of the newly freed slaves and simply announced the Good News to them".
"And this missionary impulse must be preserved, because it may be that, as the Church of Christ, we fall into the temptation to lose our evangelizing enthusiasm by taking refuge in worldly securities that, little by little, not only condition the mission but make it burdensome and unable to attract people (see Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 26). The missionary impulse has a young face and is capable of rejuvenating. It is precisely the young people who, with their vitality and dedication, can bring to it the beauty and freshness typical of youth, when they provoke the Christian community to renew itself and invite us to set out for new horizons (see Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit, 37). But this is not always easy, because it requires us to recognize and provide them with a place within our community and our society".
A society in which, despite the economic growth of the last decades, "young people suffer the most, they are the ones who suffer most from unemployment which not only causes an uncertain future, but also deprives them of the possibility of feeling they are the protagonists of their shared history ". Instead “they, our young people, are our first mission! We must invite them to find their happiness in Jesus, not aseptically or remotely, but learning to give them a place, knowing their language, listening to their stories, living by their side, making them feel that they are blessed by God. Let us allow ourselves to be captured by the young face of the Church and of society! We must not allow the merchants of death to steal the first fruits of this earth! ".
And "even when what surrounds us may seem to be without solution, hope in Jesus asks us to recover the certainty of God's triumph". "To live the Gospel, we cannot wait for everything around us to be favorable, because often the ambitions of power and worldly interests play against us."
"When we hear gloomy forecasts " there are so few of us left", we should first of all be concerned not with the decrease of this or that form of consecration in the Church, but more just a shortage of men and women who want to experience happiness by making paths of holiness, men and women who make their hearts burn with the most beautiful and liberating announcement. "If something must humbly worry us and worry our conscience is that so many of our brothers and sisters live without the strength, the light and the consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith that welcomes them, without a horizon of meaning and life »(Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 49).
When a young person sees a project of Christian life joyfully lived, this excites and encourages him and he in turns feels a desire that he expresses thus: 'I want to go up that mountain of the Beatitudes, I want to meet the gaze of Christ so He may tell me what my path to happiness' is ".
"Let us pray, dear brothers and sisters, for our communities, so that by bearing witness to the joy of Christian life, they may see the vocation to holiness flourish in the different forms of life that the Spirit proposes to us".
At the end of the celebration, Card. Piat announced that the bishops have asked for 100 thousand trees to be planted to commemorate the visit. Francis then dined in the episcopate of Port Louis with the 5 Bishops of the CEDOI (Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean) which brings together the bishops of the diocese of Port Saint-Louis and the apostolic vicariate of Rodrigues (Mauritius), of the Diocese of Saint-Denis -de-La Réunion, of the diocese of Port-Victoria (Seychelles Islands) and of the apostolic vicariate of the Comoros Islands.