By ZENIT Staff

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Beginning a new series of catecheses on the Commandments, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the desire of a full life (Biblical passage from the Gospel according to Mark 10:17-21).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present. Then he made an appeal for the World Soccer Championships, which open tomorrow in Russia.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today is the feast of Saint Anthony of Padua. Who among you is called Anthony? — an applause for all the “Anthonys.” We begin today a new itinerary of catecheses on the subject of the Commandments, the Commandments of God’s law. To introduce it, we take inspiration from the passage we just heard: the meeting between Jesus and a man — he is a youth — who, kneeling, asks Him how he can inherit eternal life (Cf. Mark 10:17-21). And in that question is the challenge of every existence, ours also: the desire for a full, infinite life. However, what should one do to attain it? What path should one follow? To live truly, to live a noble existence . . . How many young people seek to “live” and destroy themselves by going after ephemeral things.

Some think that it’s better to extinguish this impulse — the impulse to live — because it’s dangerous. I would like to say, especially to young people: our worst enemy is not concrete problems, no matter how serious and dramatic they are. The greatest danger of life is an evil spirit of adaptation, which isn’t meekness or humility, but mediocrity, pusillanimity. [1] Is a mediocre youth a youth with a future or not? No! He remains there, doesn’t grow, won’t have success — mediocrity or pusillanimity. Those young people that are afraid of everything: “No, I’m like this . . .” These young people won’t go forward. Meekness and strength are needed and no pusillanimity, no mediocrity. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati — who was a youth — said that one must live, not just bumbling along.[2] The mediocre just bumble along. One must live with the force of life. It is necessary to ask the heavenly Father the gift of healthy anxiety for young people. However, at home, in your homes, in every family, when a youth is seen who sits the whole day, sometimes the mother and father think: “but he must be sick, have something,” and they take him to the doctor. The life of a youth is to go forward, to be restless, healthy anxiety, the capacity not to be content with a life without beauty, without color. If young people aren’t hungry for an authentic life, I wonder, where will humanity end? Where will humanity end with quiet, not restless, young people?

The question of that man of the Gospel that we heard, is inside each one of us: how is life found, life in abundance, happiness? Jesus answers: “You know the Commandments” (v. 19), and He quotes part of the Decalogue. It’s a pedagogical process, with which Jesus wants to guide to a specific place; in fact it’s already clear, by his question, that that man doesn’t have the full life; he is seeking more and is restless. So, what must he understand? He says: “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth” (v. 20).

How does one pass from youth to maturity? When one begins to accepts one’s limitations. One becomes adult when one realizes and becomes aware of “what is lacking” (Cf. v. 21). This man is constrained to recognize that all that he can “do” doesn’t exceed a “roof,” doesn’t go beyond a margin.

How good it is to be men and women! How precious is our existence! And yet there is a truth that in this history of the last centuries man has often rejected, with tragic consequences: the truth of his limitations.

In the Gospel, Jesus says something that can help us: “Think not that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Matthew 5:17). The Lord Jesus gives the fulfilment; He came for this. That man should reach the threshold in one leap, where the possibility opens to stop living for himself, for his works, for his goods and — precisely because he lacks the full life — leave everything to follow the Lord.[3] In hindsight, in Jesus’ final invitation — immense, wonderful — there isn’t the proposal of poverty, but of richness, the true one: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow me.” (v. 21).

Who, being able to choose between an original and a copy, would choose the copy? Here is the challenge: to find the original of life, not the copy. Jesus doesn’t offer surrogates, but true life, true love, true richness! How will young people be able to follow us in the faith if they don’t see us choose the original, if they see us accustomed to half measures? It’s awful to find Christians of half measure, Christian — I permit myself the word – “dwarfs”; they grow up to a certain stature and then ; Christians with the heart shrunken, closed. It’s awful to find this. What is needed is the example of someone that invites me to a “beyond,” to a “more,” to grow a bit. Saint Ignatius called it the “more,” “the fire, the fervor of the action, which shakes the sleepy.”[4]

The way for one who is lacking passes through the one that is. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to bring them to fulfillment. We must begin from the reality to make the leap into “that which is lacking.” We must scrutinize the ordinary to open ourselves to the extraordinary.

In these catecheses we will take the two tablets of Moses as Christians, holding Jesus by the hand, to pass from the illusions of youth to the treasure that is in Heaven, walking behind Him. We will discover, in every one of those laws, ancient and wise, the open door of the Father, who is in Heaven, so that the Lord Jesus, who has crossed it, may lead us to the true life, His life, the life of the children of God.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

In Italian

A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I’m happy to receive the new Priests of the Diocese of Brescia; the Missionaries of Charity; the Consolata Missionary Sisters and the Sisters Servants of Mary, Ministers of the Sick.

I greet the faithful of the parish of Saint Peter in Abbadia di Montepulciano, accompanied by the Bishop, Monsignor Stefano Manetti, and those of the Sacred Heart of Marigliano and of Grottammare; the Participants in the Congress organized by the Italian Society of Pediatrics and the Citta di Volterra Flag Twirlers.

A special thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. Observed today is the Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church and Patron of the poor. May he teach you the beauty of sincere and free love; only by loving as He loved, will no one around you feel marginalized and, at the same time, you yourselves will be increasingly strong in the trials of life.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

The Holy Father’s Appeal

The Soccer World Championships will open tomorrow in Russia. I wish to send my cordial greeting to the players and the organizers, as well as to all those that will follow this event that surpasses all borders, through the means of social communication.

May this important sports manifestation become an occasion of encounter, of dialogue and of fraternity between different cultures and religions, fostering solidarity and peace among nations.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

[1] The Fathers speak of pusillanimity (oligopsychia). St. John Damascene defines it as “fear to carry out an action” (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, II, 15) and St. John Climacus adds that “pusillanimity is a childish disposition, in a soul that is no longer young” (The Stairs, XX, 1, 2).

[2] Cf. Letter to Isidoro Bonini, February 27, 1925.

[3] “The eye was created for light, the ear for sounds, everything for its end, and the desire of the soul to hurl itself to Christ” (Nicholas Cabasilas, Life in Christ, II, 90).

[4] Address to the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, October 24, 2016: “It’s about the more, of that plus that leads Ignatius to initiate processes, to accompany them and to assess their real incidence in the life of persons, in the matter of faith, of justice, or of mercy and charity.”

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