Pope to Teams of Our Lady: 'Be courageous witnesses to faith, hope, fraternity'
By Thaddeus Jones
Addressing young people, married couples and chaplains involved in the Teams of Our Lady movement gathered for an international meeting, Pope Francis offered words of encouragement, recalling that Jesus sees in every young person a source of hope, marked by friendship, journeying together and being missionaries in daily life.
During the audience in the Vatican on Saturday, the Pope praised the Teams of Our Lady as "an excellent initiative for couples and families," committed to living in accordance the principles of Catholic doctrine and growing in their relationship with Christ and the Virgin Mary.
The Teams of Our Lady is a movement of married couples' spirituality and a way of belonging to a team (équipe) within the "Christian community of couples."
The movement's origins go back to 1938 in Paris when four young couples, committed Christians, wished to deepen their faith, as they realized that marriage was the living image of the love that unites Christ to his Church. They received guidance from Fr. Henri Caffarel, who founded the movement.
Working as a team
Pope Francis praised how members of the movement live and share their faith experience and charism as a team, something not to be taken for granted.
"To be part of a community, a family of families, one that exudes a lived faith: this is a great gift!" the Pope stressed, as we are all in relationship and must work together.
And "God wanted to be a part of this network of relationships; He draws us to himself as a community and grants fulfilment to our lives through our sense of identity and of belonging."
While a worldly mindset may want us to think it's better to be on your own, the Pope emphasised instead that the love and companionship from being a community also offers the "priceless experience of dreaming together, taking risks together, suffering together and celebrating together."
The Pope also encouraged them to put aside any fears, to be courageous and take risks when it comes to defending others, especially when encountering cases of bullying, abuse, dishonesty and betrayal that can happen in life.
Together with our family and community, we receive the mutual support we need and recall how God, our Father and Friend never abandons us, he added, calling on everyone to continue going forward, build bridges, and work as a team.
Devotion to Our Lady
The Preamble of the Statues of the Teams of Our Lady movement underscores the "solid devotion to Our Lady" that distinguishes its members, the Pope pointed out. Our Lady points to Jesus and to our brothers and sisters, he added. To Mary, Mother of the Church, "we can entrust ourselves with the confidence of a small child, of those who are poor and humble, those who know that the Mother is close by, and full of tender, loving concern."
The Pope said that the desire to go forth and care for others are distinctive values of the young, as we read in the Gospel episode of Mary's visit and help to Saint Elizabeth, the basis for the theme of the next World Youth Day to be held in Lisbon next year in August, “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39).
The Pope also greeted all the portuguese youth in the audience wishing them well in the preparations of the WYD events.
Future belongs to the young
Young people marked the third theme the Pope focused his thoughts on, noting how the future belongs to them, but they must use their "wings" and "roots" to succeed.
"Wings to fly, to dream and to create; and roots to soak up from the elderly the wisdom that they can offer you."
The Pope suggested they examine their "wings," and make sure they are ready to lift up their gaze and look to the horizon, rather than be bogged down looking only at the difficulties ahead. He called on them to spread their wings with open hearts, "full of dreams, great plans and desires."
About roots, he advised them to remember that the world began before they arrived. They should know they are "part of a great river that has already flowed a great distance," before them. He recommended they cultivate their relationships with their grandparents and elders by listening to them and learning more about their lives and experiences.
Words of thanks
In conclusion, the Pope thanked the adults, married couples and chaplains, accompanying the young people here, recognizing their joy in accompanying them on their journey, and encouraging them to be "quiet and straightforward", witnesses of love for Christ and the Church through dialogue, service and prayer.