2014-03-17 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made a visit on Sunday afternoon to a provincial parish dedicated to Our Lady of Oration. 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. Listen:
Pope Francis celebrated the Sunday afternoon liturgy, and delivered the homily. The Holy Father focused on the importance of listening, of being attuned and attentive to the Word of God. “What are the duties of a Christian?” he asked. “Perhaps,” he added, “you will tell me: to go to Mass on Sundays; to fast and abstain during Holy Week – do these things,” said Pope Francis, “but the first duty of a Christian is to listen to the Word of God, to listen to Jesus, because He speaks to us and He saves us with His Word – and with His word, He also makes our faith stronger, more robust: Listen to Jesus!” he said.
The schedule of the visit also 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 ahead of Mass, and a brief exchange with the family members of the priests serving the parish afterward.
The theme of attunement and attentiveness was one the Holy Father had also addressed earlier in the day, at the Sunday 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 being attentive to and focused on God’s Word; 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.
He concluded with an invitation: returning to the theme of attunement and attentiveness to God’s word, the Holy Father asked all the faithful to begin keeping a little book of the gospels with them and to read short passages from it throughout the day. “Don’t forget,” he said, “this week, listen to Jesus – and then, next week, you’ll tell me whether you’ve kept that little edition of the Gospels with you, in your pocket or your bag, in order to read a little bit every day.”