01/26/2019, 18.08
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In Panama, Pope tells priests to recover their strength to continue the mission

Francis met priests, consecrated persons and members of lay movements. He also dedicated an altar in the Cathedral. "A wearied hope will be healed and will enjoy that ‘particular tiredness of heart’ when it is unafraid to return to the place of its first love and to find, in the peripheries and challenges before us today, the same song, the same gaze that inspired the song and the gaze of those who have gone before us.”

Panama City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis dedicated this morning to priests, consecrated people and lay movements; he also consecrated an altar in the newly-restored Cathedral of Santa Maria La Antigua in Panama City.

The pontiff arrived at 9.15 am (2.15 pm GMT). Near the altar two nuns brought him a silver rose which Francis placed at the foot of the statue of the Virgin.

His homily was inspired by the Gospel story of the Samaritan woman (Jn 4: 6-7) to whom Jesus, tired of walking, asked a drink.

Priests and men and women religious must have the courage to overcome the weariness caused by all the “situations that assail the lives of the consecrated," Francis said. They must also give new life to the hope born when Jesus invited them to follow him and see what in their past can serve the cause of today’s Church.

“At midday, when the sun makes all its strength and power felt, we encounter him beside the well. He needed to relieve and quench his thirst, to refresh his steps, to recover his strength in order to continue his mission.”

“It is relatively easy for us, compulsively busy as we are, to imagine and enter into communion with the Lord’s activity. Yet we do not always know how to contemplate and accompany his ‘weariness’; it seems this is not something proper to God. The Lord knew what it was to be tired, and in his weariness so many struggles of our nations and peoples, our communities and all who are weary and heavily burdened (cf. Mt 11:28) can find a place.”

“There are many reasons for weariness on our journey as priests, consecrated men and women, and members of lay movements: from long hours of work, which leave little time to eat, rest and be with family, to ‘toxic’ working conditions and relationships that lead to exhaustion and disappointment. From simple daily commitments to the burdensome routine of those who do not find the relaxation, appreciation or support needed to move from one day to the next. From the usual and predictable little problems to lengthy and stressful periods of pressure. A whole array of burdens to bear.”

“For some time now, a subtle weariness seems to have found a place in our communities, a weariness that has nothing to do with the Lord’s weariness. It is a temptation that we might call the weariness of hope. This weariness is felt when – as in the Gospel – the sun beats down mercilessly and with such intensity that it becomes impossible to keep walking or even to look ahead. Everything becomes confused.”

“It is a weariness that paralyzes. It comes from looking ahead and not knowing how to react to the intense and confusing changes that we as a society are experiencing.” Some changes seem to “call into doubt the very viability of religious life in today’s world.”

“The weariness of hope comes from seeing a Church wounded by sin, which so often failed to hear all those cries that echoed the cry of the Master: ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mt 27:46).

“We can get used to living with a weariness of hope before an uncertain and unknown future, and this can pave the way for a grey pragmatism to lodge in the heart of our communities. Everything apparently goes on as usual, but in reality, faith is crumbling and failing.”

“Weariness from the journey can happen; it can make itself felt. Like it or not, we do well to have the same courage as the Master, and to say, ‘Give me a drink’. [. . .] The Lord says, ‘Give me a drink’, he asks us to say those same words. To say them, let us open the door and let our wearied hope return without fear to the deep well of our first love, when Jesus passed our way, gazed at us with mercy and asked us to follow him. To say those words, let us revive the memory of that moment when his eyes met ours, the moment when he made us realize that he loved us, not only personally but also as a community”.

“’Give me a drink’ means finding the courage to be purified and to recapture the most authentic part of our founding charisms – which are not only for religious life but for the life of Church as a whole – and to see how they can find expression today. This means not only looking back on the past with gratitude, but seeking the roots of their inspiration and letting them resound forcefully once again in our midst (cf. Pope Francis-Fernando Prado, The Strength of a Vocation, 42).”

"A wearied hope will be healed and will enjoy that ‘particular tiredness of heart’ when it is unafraid to return to the place of its first love and to find, in the peripheries and challenges before us today, the same song, the same gaze that inspired the song and the gaze of those who have gone before us. In this way, we will avoid the danger of starting with ourselves; we will abandon a wearisome self-pity in order to meet Christ’s gaze as he continues today to seek us, to call us and to invite us to the mission.”

At the end the celebration, Francis went to the San José Major Seminary in Panama City, where he had lunch with the Archbishop of Panamá, Mgr José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, and ten young people of different nationalities.

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