Vatican City ( AsiaNews ) - The Church is "Catholic " because it is "the home where the faith in its entirety is announced " and the sacraments "are open windows through which we are given the light of God,"; it is Catholic because it is "all over" the world and is for all men and all women; it is Catholic because it is " the house of harmony" , in which " unity and diversity cleverly combine together to become a precious resource". Continuing to illustrate the part of the "Creed" which refers to the Church, Pope Francis focused today on the meaning of the word " Catholic ." 60 thousand people were present in St. Peter's Square , despite heavy rain. As is tradition the Pope toured among them for nearly half an hour , waving , kissing children , blessing . Referring to the bad weather at the beginning of the audience he congratulated the pilgrims for having the "courage" to withstand the rain, which forced the Pope to dry his face with a small towel at the end of his tour.
The weekly meeting with the faithful was also an opportunity for the Pope to recall again the "tragedy of Lampedusa ." Welcoming the bishops of the Alexandrian tradition of Ethiopia and Eritrea , present at the audience , he expressed " sorrow and prayer " for the death of " the many children of their land." In greeting the faithful of the Arabic language he renewed the invitation to pray "for peace in the Middle East, Syria, Lebanon , Iraq , Egypt and the Holy Land , so " the light of Christ reaches every heart and every place to ends of the earth . " Finally greeting bishops of the regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa , also present in the square , he encouraged them to" consolidate fraternal relations with our brothers of the Islamic religion . "
The Pope dedicated his audience to
" catholicity". In
Francis' words it first of all means, from the Greek , "according to the
whole" , totality. But
" in what sense do we say that the Church is Catholic ? I would say it has
three basic meanings ."
First of all, "the Church is Catholic because it is the space , the house in which the entire faith is announced, in which the salvation that Christ brought us is offered to all . The Church helps us encounter the mercy of God that transforms us because Jesus Christ is present in it , which gives it the true confession of faith , the fullness of the sacramental life , the authenticity of the ordained ministry. In the Church we can all find what we needy to believe , to live as Christians , to become saints, to walk in every place and in every age . " " To take an example, we can say it's like family life ; in the family we are each given what we need to grow , to mature, to live. You can not grow on your own, you can not walk alone , isolated , but walk and grow in a community, a family. and its the same with the Church. In the Church we can hear the Word of God, sure that it is the message that the Lord has given to us. In the Church we can meet the Lord in the Sacraments which are the open windows through which we are given the light of God, streams from which we draw the very life of God. In the Church we learn to live in communion , the love that comes from God. Each of us can ask ourselves : how do I live in the Church? When I go to church, is it as if I were at the stadium, at a football game ? As if I were at the movies? No. It' s something different! How do I go to church? How do I accept the gifts offered to me , to grow, to mature as a Christian? Do I participate in community life or go to church and lock myself up in my own problems , isolate myself from others? In this first sense, the Church is catholic because it is everyone's home : we are all children of the Church and we all belong in this house . "
Secondly, "the Church is catholic because it is universal , it is spread all over the world and proclaims the gospel to every man and every woman . The Church is not an elite group, not just a few. The Church has no closures, it is sent to all people, the entire human race. And the One Church is present even in the smallest parts of it . Everyone can say : my parish is the Catholic Church, it too is part of the Church universal, it also has the fullness of the gifts of Christ, faith , the sacraments , ministry; it is in communion with the bishop, with the pope and is open to all without distinction . The Church is not only the shadow of the bell tower , but embraces a vast array of peoples , peoples who profess the same faith, feed on the same Eucharist, are served by the same pastors. To feel in communion with all the churches , with all the Catholic communities large and small in the world! That is really nice! and then feel that we are all on a mission, big and small communities together, we all have to open our doors and go out for the Gospel. So let us ask ourselves : what do I do to communicate to others the joy of encountering the Lord, the joy of belonging to the Church ? Proclaiming and witnessing to the faith is not a matter of a few, it also concerns me, you, each one of us . "
The Church , then , is Catholic because it is the "House of Harmony" where " unity and diversity cleverly combine together to become a precious treasure. Think of the image of the symphony, which means agreement and harmony, different instruments play together, each maintains its unique sound and the individual characteristics agree on something in common . Then there are those who guide, the conductor, and in the symphony they all play together in ' harmony ' , but the mark of each instrument, their own merits is not erased, rather it is exploited to its fullest! This beautiful picture tells us that the Church is like a great orchestra in which there is variety: we are not all equal, and we should not all be equal . Everyone is different , different , each with their own qualities and that's the beauty of the Church: everyone brings his or her own, what God gave them, to enrich others . And there is this difference between the components , but it is a diversity that does not enter into conflict , it is not opposed , it is a variety allows us to melt in harmony by the Holy Spirit , He is the true "maestro" , and He Himself is the harmony . And here let us ask ourselves : in our communities do we live in harmony , or we fight between ourselves? In my parish community , in my movement , where I am in the Church? Do I gossip? And, if we gossip, there is no harmony : only conflict. And this is not the Church : the Church is the harmony of all. Never talk against each other , never argue. Accept each other , accept that there is a tremendous variety " and that we can think in different ways" . "But , in the same faith you can think so ! Or do we tend to standardize everything? But, uniformity kills life . The life of the Church is variety , and when we want to cover everything with this uniformity, we kill the gifts of the Holy Spirit! We pray that the Holy Spirit , the author of this unity in variety, this harmony, makes us ever more ' Catholic ' , that is, in this Church that is catholic and universal".