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Monday, December 19, 2016

Catholic Action Italy visits the Shepherd

At 12:55pm today, in the Consistory Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience a group of young people from Catholic Action Italy (ACR) who had come to present Christmas greetings.


Address of His Holiness, Pope Francis
to youth of Catholic Action Italy

Dear young people, good morning!

Christmas draws near and I am glad to meet with you for this joyous moment, in which we exchange greetings.  I thank you for your visit and I greet you with affection.  You come from various Italian dioceses, and you represent Catholic Action Youth; though you, I want to send my greetings and my Christmas wishes to the entire family of Catholic Action Italy.

At Christmas, the proclamation that the angel spoke to the shepherds rings out: Fear not: behold, I proclaim great joy, for all people: today, in the city of David, a Saviour is born for you, who is Christ the Lord (Lk 2:10-11).  The birth of Jesus is proclaimed as great joy - and you (speaking to one of the young people), will you remember this, a great joy? - It begins with the discovery that God loves us and, through the birth of Jesus, he made himself close to us in order to save us.  We are loved by God.  What a wonderful thing!  When we are a little sad, when it seems that everything is going wrong, when a friend deceives us - or worse, when we deceive ourselves! - let us think: God loves me; God will never abandon me.  Yes, young people, our Father is always faithful and will never stop loving us, he will never stop following us and even chasing us when we grow distanced from him.  This is why there is always joy in the heart of a Christian.  Always!

And this joy is multiplied, the more we share it!  Joy that is welcomed as a gift seeks to be witnessed in all our relationships: in families, at school, in our parishes, everywhere.  In this regard, you young people of Catholic Action are helped along your journey of formation, which this year has as its theme: CIRCOndati di GIOIA (Surround yourself with Joy).  This is a good theme, this metaphor of a circus; it is an experience of fraternity, of joy and of nomadic life.  The image of the circus can help us to be aware of the Christian community and the group that surrounds you in your missionary realities, as you move around from place to place, from street to street Surrounding yourself with the joy that you encounter every day.  Proclaiming to others the love and the tenderness of Jesus, you become apostles of gospel joy.  And joy is contagious!  Is it true that joy is contagious?  Do you agree? (they respond: Yes!).  Contagious joy!

I want to give you a task.  Share this contagious joy with everyone, but in a special way - and this is the challenge - with grandparents.  Think about it: this joy should be shared with everyone but especially with grandparents.  You often speak with your grandparents; and they too have this contagious joy.  You ask them for so many things, listen to them, they have the memory of history, the experience of life, and for you this will be a great gift that will help you on your journey.  They too need to hear from you, grandparents too need you, they need to hear from you, to understand your aspirations, your hopes.  This is the challenge: speak with your grandparents, listen to them.  The elderly possess the wisdom of life.  To help you not to forget, I ask you to repeat the challenge: speak with your grandparents, listen to your grandparents.  Boys and girls, all of you (they repeat together: speak with your grandparents, listen to your grandparents).  You're so weak!  Once more, louder! (they repeat: speak with your grandparents, listen to your grandparents).  Next year I'll ask you about this, how it all went ...

Your commitment to peace is also contagious.  Once again this year, you wanted to tie the word peace with the word solidarity, through an initiative of your peers in a disadvantaged area of Naples.  This is a good gesture, that indicates the style in which you want to proclaim the face of God which is love.  May the Lord bless your plans to do good!

I see that your teachers are with you, your assistants and the national coordinators of Catholic Action Italy.  I greet them cordially and thank them for their commitment and dedication to your Christian education.  With all my heart I wish you all a happy and holy Christmas.  To all of you.  I extend this greeting also to your families and to all the Associations spread throughout the dioceses of Italy.  May the Lord bless you and may Our Lady protect you.  And please, don't forget to pray for me.

The challenge was to speak with your grandparents and to listen to them.  Right?  But I wouldn't want to finish this meeting without remembering one grandfather in particular, who has died, who the Lord has called: Father Mansueto (His Excellency, Mansueto Bianchi, Catholic Action Italy's Deputy Ecclesiastical Assistant), who I loved very much.  May he, from heaven, teach us to speak with our grandparents and to listen to them.  He had a beautiful name: Mansueto, he was meek, a good man, a good man ... May he continue to teach us!  And I invite you to pray a Hail Mary for him.

Hail Mary ...

Blessing

What was the challenge?  (they respond: To speak to our grandparents and to listen to them).

Next year, we'll see ...
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