Pope meeting Italian pilgrims from the  Diocese of Spoleto-Norcia in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican Pope meeting Italian pilgrims from the Diocese of Spoleto-Norcia in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Faith is not an artifact in a museum, it is a living witness to the world

Pope welcomes pilgrims from the Italian Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia and encourages them to rediscover and share the beauty of their faith with others avoiding ‘tired worldliness’.

By Lisa Zengarini

Christians cannot let themselves be “trapped in the bonds of tired worldliness”, but are called to “rediscover the beauty” of their faith they have received and “to intercede” with God so as to attract others to that beauty.

Pope Francis made this invitation as he welcomed in the Vatican on Saturday a group of pilgrims from the Diocese of Spoleto-Norcia, in the Central Italian region of Umbria, celebrating their Jubilee year for the 825th anniversary of the dedication of the city’s Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

Communicating faith is above all a question of beauty

Dwelling on the beauty of Spoleto’s Romanesque Cathedral, one of the ancient city’s main attraction, Pope Francis noted that “communicating faith is above all a question of beauty”, something that “cannot be explained”, but to which we must “bear witness” and which must be “brought to light”, like “a restorer does when he rediscovers the colours of an ancient fresco”.

This - the Pope said – applies to the Church, “where what doesn’t appear to the eye is more precious than what is seen: prayer, charity done in secret, the strength of forgiveness, do not make the front page, as don’t’ the self-sacrifice of the shepherds, the life of so many ‘saints of next door’, the testimony of parents, families, of the elderly…”

“I wish you to be discoverers of beauty, seekers of the treasures of faith; not to stop at the surface of things, but to see beyond, appreciating and embracing the patrimony of holiness and service which is the richness of the Church.”

A living faith is not an artifact in a museum

But the beauty of faith, not only needs to be “rediscovered”, it must be further enhanced, the Pope continued, because is not a thing of the past, like some kind of an artifact in a museum, “but always lives in the joy of the Gospel, in the community made up of people, in the assembly of those who experience mercy and recognize each other by grace as brothers and sisters loved by God”.

Coherence between faith and Christian witness

The Pope went on to note that seeking beauty is going “to the heart of things”. In the Church this translates into focusing less on “external aspects” and instead on its real  “real priorities”: prayer, charity and the proclamation of the Gospel.

For this proclamation to be effective the Church must not be afraid to update its methods of evangelization, catechesis, the ministry parish priests and the service of pastoral workers, in other words to “move from a pastoral care of conservation, where people are expected to come along, to a missionary pastoral care”, always keeping in mind that “the testimony of life communicates the beauty of faith”. This testimony, the Pope stressed, must always be coherent with our faith.

“If I call myself a Christian but then behave unchristianly or live in a worldly manner, it’s no good . There must always be coherence between what I believe and how I live what I believe”

A Church that intercedes for those who don’t know God's love

Another keyword mentioned by Pope Francis in his address was “intercession”,

bringing others before the Lord, fighting with Him through prayer, knowing how to insist, not only and not so much for our friends and loved ones, but above all for those who are far away, for those who don’t know God's love, like Mary did.

“A Church that intercedes, that brings the world to the Lord without becoming worldly, is a Church that is always alive, always lively, always beautiful.”

Again, Pope Francis insisted on an open and dynamic approach capable of embracing changes, against “tired” worldliness turned to the past.

“The Christian cannot let himself be trapped in the bonds of this tired and unnerving worldliness, but is called to rediscover the beauty he has received through grace and to intercede, that is, to attract beauty to others.”

Concluding his discourse, Pope Francis noted that this year’s Jubilee celebrations will help the faithful of the Dioces of Spoleto-Norcia strengthen their roots so they may “rejoice in the beauty of the love of God and of being Church, and feeling called to intercede”.

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20 May 2023, 12:36