Pope: encounter and prayer can change the world
By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis on Friday met with members of the Francophone Catholic Communities in the World, who are gathered in Rome for an experience of pastoral formation where they are reflecting on the ongoing synodal process. The group consists of French speakers living in foreign countries who “seek to share fraternity in order to live the joy of the Gospel.”
These pastoral days, the Pope said, “are a sign of communion" with the communities in which they live, with the Church in France, and with the Pope and the universal Church.
Called to encounter and unity
In his remarks to the group, Pope Francis reflected on a passage from the Acts of the Apostles, which tells how Christ’s disciples gathered in the Upper Room after Jesus’ Ascension. “We too are called to meet and remain united,” the Pope said, emphasizing the importance of encountering others and being challenged by them.
Encountering others and truly engaging with them, he said, “transforms us and always opens up new paths that we had not imagined,” – a lesson that those who live abroad learn very early on.
Coming together to pray
The Holy Father then noted that the disciples had come together to “pray assiduously.” He insisted on the necessity of prayer, especially in the synodal process, in order to discern “what the Spirit wants to say.”
Synodality, he continued, involves learning to listen, or the means by which “God shows us the path to follow, taking us out of our habits, calling us to take new paths like Abraham.”
Bringing the Gospel to all
The action of the Spirit, Pope Francis said, allows us to overcome fear and human resistance, and “expands and opens” the hearts of His disciples.
The Holy Father added, “We Christians cannot be content with being enlightened and inflamed by the Spirit, enriched with his gifts, without feeling called to communicate this fire, to bear witness to the ‘wonders of God’ in our lives, with the quality of our encounters, our listening, and our fraternal love.”
Pope Francis concluded his address with the invitation “to continue to walk together every day, all united, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be the Church outgoing.” In particular, he invited his audience to take advantage of living abroad in order to encounter other cultures and other brothers and sisters throughout the world, telling them that their experiences and encounters “will enrich the synodal movement of the whole Church.