Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has invited "all Catholics in the world" to join Chinese believers in prayer on May 24, to Our Lady of Sheshan, "I urge all Catholics around the world to join in prayer with our brothers and sisters who are in China, to implore from God the grace to proclaim with humility and joy Christ, who died and rose again; to be faithful to His Church and the Successor of Peter and to live everyday life in service to their country and their fellow citizens in a way that is consistent with the faith they profess. Making our own a few words of prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan, together with you I would like to invoke Mary : " Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. Mary, Virgin most faithful, support Chinese Catholics, render their commitments, which are not easy, more and more precious in the eyes of the Lord, and nurture the affection and the participation of the Church in China in the journey of the Universal Church".
The invitation to join in the prayer of Chinese Catholics to Our Lady of Sheshan arrived today at the conclusion of a general audience, during which the Pope focused on the duty of every Christian to proclaim the Good News. "Each one of us should evangelize through our life," we must "courageously, loudly, proclaim" the Good News, because "evangelization is the mission of the whole Church, not just a few, but my, your, our mission." And "to evangelize we must follow the Spirit, without fearing what he may ask of us or where he may lead us". Pope Francis, continuing to illustrate the Creed to 70 thousand people present today in St. Peter's Square for the general audience, this morning reflected on the phrase "I believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ", highlighting the link with the previous one on the Holy Spirit. "There is a deep connection between these two realities of faith - he said - the Holy Spirit gives life to the Church, guides Her steps. Without the presence and the incessant action of the Holy Spirit, the Church could not live and could not accomplish the task that the Risen Jesus has entrusted her; to go and make disciples of all nations".
Pentecost, Francis said, "the Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles, compels
them to leave the room in which they had locked themselves in fear, makes them
come out of themselves, and turns them into heralds and witnesses of the
"mighty works of God" (v. 11). And this transformation wrought by the
Holy Spirit is reflected in the crowd that rushed to the scene and which came
"from every nation under heaven" (v. 5), so that everyone hears the
words of the Apostles as if they were spoken in their own language".
This is the first important effect of the Holy Spirit: unity, communion. The overcoming of the division that had begun with the construction of the Tower of Babel, where man "wanted to build with his own strength, without God."
"The language of the Spirit, the language of the Gospel is the language of communion, which invites us to overcome closure and indifference, division and conflict. We should all ask ourselves: how do I let myself be guided by the Holy Spirit so that my witness of faith is one of unity and communion? Do I bring the message of reconciliation and love that is the Gospel to the places where I live? Sometimes it seems that what happened at Babel is repeated today; divisions, the inability to understand each other, rivalry, envy, selfishness. What do I do with my life? Do I bring unity? Or do I divide with gossip and envy? Let us ask ourselves this. Bringing the Gospel means we in the first place must live reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, unity, love that the Holy Spirit gives us. Let us remember the words of Jesus: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (Jn 13: 0.34 to 35). "
There is also a second element " on the day of Pentecost, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stands up "with the eleven" and "raided his voice" (Acts 2:14); "proclaimed" (v. 29) the good news of Jesus, who gave His life for our salvation and who God raised from the dead. Here is another effect of the Holy Spirit: Courage! the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel of Jesus to all, with self-confidence (parrhesia), in a loud voice, in every time and in every place. And this happens even today for the Church and for each of us: from the fire of Pentecost, from the action of the Holy Spirit, ever new missionary energies are released, new ways in which to proclaim the message of salvation, new courage to evangelize. Never be closed to this action! May we live the Gospel with humility and courage! May we witness the novelty, the hope, the joy that the Lord brings to life. Let us feel within us "the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing" (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation. Ap. Evangelii nuntiandi, 80) Because evangelizing, announcing Jesus, evangelizing brings us joy! It energizes us. Being closed up within ourselves brings bitterness. Proclaiming the joy and hope that the Lord brings to world lifts us up!".
The Pope then mentioned a third element " but it is particularly important: a new evangelization, a Church that evangelizes must always start from prayer, from asking, like the Apostles in the Upper Room, for the fire of the Holy Spirit. Only a faithful and intense relationship with God allows us to leave our enclosures and announce the Gospel with parrhesia. Without prayer our actions become empty and our proclamation soulless, it is not animated by the Spirit".
"In the words of Benedict XVI, the Church today " especially feels the wind of the Holy Spirit that helps us, shows us the right path, and so, with new enthusiasm, we are on our journey and we thank the Lord" (Address to Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 27, 2012). Let us renew our trust in the Holy Spirit every day. The trust that He enacts in us, He is in us, He gives us courage, confidence and peace! Let us be guided by Him, men and women of prayer, witnessing the Gospel with courage, becoming instruments in our world of God's unity and communion".
Pope Francis finally invited the faithful to "pray with me for the victims, especially the children, of the disaster in Oklahoma. May the Lord himself console everyone, in particular parents who have lost a child in such a tragic way".