By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Pope Francis met with more than 70,000 altar servers participating in the 12th International Pilgrimage for Altar Boys and Girls. During the Extraordinary Audience in St Peter’s Square on Tuesday, 5 of the pilgrims posed questions to Pope Francis.
Peace and Mass go together
Pope Francis agreed with the altar server who brought up a question regarding the sign of peace during Mass. “Peace and Holy Mass go together”, Pope Francis said. We pray asking Jesus to give us His peace, and we are sent forth in peace at the end of Mass, he continued. Then Pope Francis proposed that the young people ask themselves in every situation: “What would Jesus do in my place?” By doing that “we will bring Christ’s peace to our everyday lives”, he said.
Contemplation and service
Another pilgrim asked the Pope to explain how they can live contemplatively while serving. To this question, the Pope suggested that “It would be wonderful if, alongside your service to the liturgy, you could become more involved in the life of your parish and also spend some time in silence in the Lord’s presence”. This practice, he said, would allow them to discover their own talents, understand how to develop them and what God’s plan for them is. “Remember,” he told them, “the more you give yourself to others, the more you will get back in personal fulfilment and true happiness!”
You can be apostles
“You can be apostles, capable of drawing others to Jesus”, Pope Francis responded to a question regarding the pilgrims’ peers who do not go to church. “This will happen if you are full of enthusiasm for him”, he explained. The Pope then encouraged the pilgrims to spend time knowing and loving Jesus through prayer, Mass, Gospel reading, and through the poor. “Try also to be friends, with no strings attached, to all those around you, so that a ray of Jesus’ light can shine on them through your own heart in love with him”, the Pope said.
Faith is like air
To a question on the need for faith, Pope Francis said that “faith is like the air we breathe” and that it “helps us to grasp the meaning of life”. This faith leads us to the conviction that we are God’s children, and belong to his family, the Church. There “the Lord nourishes his sons and daughters with his word and with his sacraments”, Pope Francis told them.
Jesus’ plan for becoming holy
The last question came from a pilgrim who wanted to know how to translate service into works of charity in order to become holy. Pope Francis responded saying that Jesus’ “simple plan for advancing in the way of holiness” is the commandment to love God and our neighbor. This commandment becomes even more concrete in the works of mercy, Pope Francis continued. The question to ask is “What can I do today to meet the needs of my neighbor?” who may be a friend or a stranger, he said. “Believe me, by doing this, you can become real saints, men and woman who transform the world by living the love of Christ”, Pope Francis concluded.