09/25/2018, 19.35
VATICAN – ESTONIA
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Pope in the Baltic States: Estonians should discover the freedom that comes with being Christian

The pontiff celebrated Mass in Tallinn. The country is home to more than five thousand Catholics. "Jesus called the disciples, and today too he calls each of us, dear brothers and sisters, to continue sowing seeds of his Kingdom,” he said. “You did not gain your freedom in order to end up as slaves of consumerism, individualism or the thirst for power or domination.”

Tallinn (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis ended his apostolic visit (22-25 September) to the Baltic states with an evening Mass celebrated in Freedom Square in the Estonian capital of Tallinn before flying home to Rome.

In his address, the pontiff said that Estonians, who know about fighting for freedom, can identify with the Jews who came out of Egypt and can understand what God said to Moses so as "to discern what he is saying to us as a people.”

A few thousand people gathered in the square. Catholics in Estonia number just over 5,000. Among them some certainly came to see – and perhaps understand – the Catholic faith, so much so that a loudspeaker had to inform those present that only Catholics could take the communion. The celebration thus had a missionary aspect t, like helping those in need.

Before the Mass, Francis referred to this when he visited the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul to meet people helped by the Church's charitable works. About a hundred people were there, including some nuns.

“A faith,” he said, “that is missionary goes, like these sisters, through the streets of our cities, our neighbourhoods and our communities, telling people with very concrete actions: “You are part of our family, of God’s big family in which all of us have a place. Don’t stay outside.”

“So I would invite you to continue creating bonds. To continue going out into the neighbourhoods and saying to all sorts of people: ‘You, and you and you, are part of our family!’ Jesus called the disciples, and today too he calls each of us, dear brothers and sisters, to continue sowing seeds of his Kingdom, passing it on. He's counting on your histories, your lives and your hands, to go through the city and to share the same experience you have had.”

“Some people think they are free when they live without God or keep him at arm’s length. They do not realize that, in doing so, they pass through this life as orphans, without a home to return to. ‘They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 170).

“Like the people who came forth from Egypt, we have to listen and seek. These days, we may think that the strength of a people is measured by other means. Some people speak in a loud voice, full of self-assurance – with no doubts or hesitation. Others shout and hurl threats about using weapons, deploying troops and implementing strategies... That way they appear to be stronger. But this is not about ‘seeking’ the will of God, but about gaining power so as to prevail over others. Underlying this attitude is a rejection of ethics and, as such, a rejection of God. For ethics leads us to a God who calls for a free and committed response to others and to the world around us, a response outside the categories of the marketplace (cf. ibid., 57). You did not gain your freedom in order to end up as slaves of consumerism, individualism or the thirst for power or domination.”

“In the desert, the people of Israel were tempted to seek other gods, to worship the golden calf, to trust in their own strength. But God always called them back to him, and they remembered what they heard and saw on the mountain. Like that people, we know we are a chosen people, a priestly people, a holy people (cf. Ex 19:6; 1 Pet 2:9). It is the Spirit who reminds us of all these things (cf. Jn 14:26).”

“Being chosen does not mean being exclusive or sectarian. We are the small portion of yeast that must make the dough rise; we do not hide or withdraw, or consider ourselves better or purer.' God wants his people to “go forth”. [. . .] We have to leave our fears behind and go forth from our safe places, because today most Estonians do not identify themselves as believers.

“So go out as priests, for that is what we are by baptism. Go out to build relationships with God, to facilitate them, to encourage a loving encounter with the one who cries out: ‘Come to me!’ (Mt 11:28). We need to be seen as close to others, capable of contemplation, compassion and willingness to spend time with others, as often as necessary. This is the “art of accompaniment”. It is carried out with the healing rhythm of ‘closeness’, with a respectful and compassionate gaze capable of healing, liberating and encouraging growth in the Christian life (Evangelii Gaudium, 169).”

“Bear witness as a holy people. We may be tempted to think that holiness is only for a few. However, ‘we are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves’ (Gaudete et Exsultate, 14).”

“Today we choose to be saints by shoring up the outskirts and fringes of our society, wherever our brothers and sisters lie prostrate and experience rejection. We can’t think somebody else will be the one to stop and help, nor that these are problems to be resolved by institutions. It is up to us to fix our gaze on those brother and sister and to offer a helping hand, because they bear the image of God, they are our brothers and sisters, redeemed by Jesus Christ. This is what it is to be a Christian; this is holiness lived on a day-to-day basis (cf. ibid., 98).”

“In your history you have shown your pride in being Estonians. You sing it saying: “I am Estonian, I will always be Estonian, it is good to be Estonian, we are Estonians”. How good it is to feel part of a people; how good it is to be independent and free. May we go to the holy mountain, to the mountain of Moses, to the mountain of Jesus. May we ask him - as the motto of this Visit says - to awaken our hearts and to grant us the gift of the Spirit. In this way, at every moment of history, may we discern how to be free, how to embrace goodness and feel chosen, and how to let God increase, here in Estonia and in the whole world, his holy nation, his priestly people.”

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