• General Audience

Pope Francis makes visit to suburban parish

2014-03-16 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began a visit to a provincial parish dedicated to Our Lady of Oration on Sunday, at 4PM Rome Time. Santa Maria dell’Orazione is in the Setteville neighbourhood east of Rome, outside the city and about a third of the way to Tivoli. Founded juridically in 1989, the parish church was dedicated and inaugurated in 2002.

The schedule of the visit included: greetings with the faithful gathered in the square before the church; a visit with the sick and disabled persons of the parish; a meeting with children making their first communion and young people making their confirmation; an encounter with the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way that are present in the parish; another with families that have baptized children in the past year; confessions, Mass and a brief exchange with the family members of the priests serving the parish. Listen:

The pastor at Santa Maria dell’Orazione, don Francesco Bagalà, told Vatican Radio more about the territory and the people of his parish. “This is a parish in the outskirts of Rome and also of Guidonia. Here, there is lack of social services and also of schools, services, squares ... The population is young: the typical day of someone who has moved here from Rome in the suburbs begins at about six to go to work and ends at eight in the evening.”

Don Bagalà also spoke of his – and his parishoners’ – excitement at the visit. “[We expect] the joy of hearing the kerygma: the proclamation that Jesus Christ gave his life for us, that He has forgiven our sins,” he said. “God is mercy, God is love,” explained don Bagalà. “[M]an today needs to return to God with confidence,” he explained, adding, “[people need] to rediscover their Baptism, the call to be holy, without blemish.”

At noon on Sunday, a few hours before beginning his visit to the parish of Santa Maria dell’Orazione, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square. Speaking ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father focused on the Gospel reading of the day, which tells the story of the Transfiguration.

Three were the principal elements that Pope Francis identified in his reflection: the importance of listening, of being attuned and attentive to the Word of God; and the twofold movement of ascent and descent that characterizes the Gospel episode (Mt. 17:1-9), in which the Lord takes Peter, James and John to the top of Mt Tabor, reveals Himself in His glorified form, and returns down the mountain with them, with grave warnings to the disciples who accompanied Him not to speak of what they had seen.

“The mountain is the site of the encounter intimate closeness with God and with Him - the place of prayer, in which to stand in the presence of the Lord,” said Pope Francis. “We, the disciples of Jesus,” he continued, “are called to be people who listen to His voice and take seriously his words.” He added, “To listen to Jesus , we must follow Him.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “We need to go to [a place of] remove, to climb the mountain [and go to] a place of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the voice of the Lord.” We cannot stay there, however. “The encounter with God in prayer again pushes us to ‘come down from the mountain’ and back down into the plain,” he said, “where we meet many brothers and sisters weighed down by fatigue, injustice, and both material and spiritual poverty.” Pope Francis said that we are called to carry the fruits of the experience we have with God to our troubled brothers and sisters, sharing with them the treasures of grace received.