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Holy See

Pope Francis’ Visit to the Earthquake Areas of Archdiocese of Camerino-San Severino Marche

Pope Francis on June 16, 2019, visited the areas of the Archdiocese of Camerino-San-Severino Marche struck by earthquakes three years ago.

Here is a translation of the Homily the Pope gave in the course of the Holy Mass in Piazza Cavour, the greeting to the residents of the emergency housing facilities and his dialogue with the First Communion children.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Homily

 “What is man that Thou art mindful of him?”, we prayed in the Psalm (8-4). These words came to my mind thinking of you. In the face of what you saw and suffered, in the face of collapsed houses and buildings reduced to rubble, this question comes: “What is man? What is he, if what he raises can collapse in a moment? What is he, if his hope can end in dust?  What is man? The answer seems to come from the continuation of the phrase: What is man that Thou art mindful of him? Of us, just as we are, with our fragilities, God remembers <us>. In the uncertainty that we perceive outside and inside, the Lord gives us a certainty: He remembers us. He ri-corda, namely, turns with His heart to us, because He cares about us. And while down here too many things are forgotten in haste, God doesn’t leave us in oblivion. No one is contemptible in His eyes; each one has an infinite value for Him: we are small under the sky and impotent when the earthquakes, but for God, we are more precious than anything.

Memory is a key-word for life. Let us ask for the grace to remember every day that we are not forgotten by God, that we are His beloved children, unique and irreplaceable: to remember it gives us the strength not to give up in face of life’s adversities. We remember how valuable we are, in face of the temptation to be saddened and of continuing to dig up that worse thing, which seems to have no end. Bad memories come, even when we don’t think about them; however, they pay badly: they leave only melancholy and nostalgia. But, how difficult it is to free oneself from bad memories! That saying is true, according to which it was easier for God to have Israel come out of Egypt than Egypt to come out out the heart of Israel.

To free the heart from the past that returns, from negative memories that keep us prisoners from regrets that paralyze us, it’s useful if someone helps us to bear the weight we have inside. In fact, Jesus says to us today that we “are not capable of bearing the weight” of so many things (Cf. John 16:12). And what does He do in the face of our weakness? He doesn’t take the weight away, as we would like, who are always in search of speedy and superficial solutions; no, the Lord gives us the Holy Spirit.  We have need of Him because He is the Consoler, namely, He who doesn’t leave us alone under the weights of life. He it is who transforms our slavish memory into a free memory, the wounds of the past into memories of salvation.  He does in us what He did for Jesus: His sores, those awful wounds, hollowed out by evil, by the power of the Holy Spirit became channels of mercy, luminous wounds in which the love of God shines, a love that raises, that makes one get up again. The Holy Spirit does this when we invite Him in our wounds. He anoints the awful memories with the balm of hope because the Holy Spirit is the rebuilder of hope.

Hope. What kind of hope is it? It’s not a passing hope. Earthly hopes are fleeting; they always have the expiry date; they are made of earthly ingredients, which sooner or later go bad.  That of the Spirit is a hope of long life; it doesn’t expire, because it’s based on God’s faithfulness. The hope of the Spirit is not even optimism. It’s born more in profundity; it rekindles in the depth of the heart the certainty of being precious because we are loved. It infuses the trust of not being alone. It’s a hope that leaves peace and joy inside, regardless of what happens outside. It’s a hope that has strong roots, which no storm in life can uproot It’s a hope, says Saint Paul today, that “doesn’t disappoint” (Romans 5:5) — hope doesn’t disappoint! –, which gives the strength to overcome every tribulation (Cf. vv. 2-3).  When we are troubled or wounded —  and you know well what it is to be troubled, wounded –, we are led to “make a nest” around our sadness and our fears. Instead, the Spirit frees us from our nests; He makes us take flight, He reveals the wonderful destiny for which we are born. The Spirit nourishes us with living hope. Let us invite him. Let us ask Him to come into us and He will make Himself close. Come, Consoler Spirit! Come and give us some light, gives us the meaning of this tragedy, give us the hope that doesn’t disappoint. Come, Holy Spirit!

Closeness is the third and last word that I would like to share with you. Today we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity. The Trinity isn’t a theological puzzle, but the splendid mystery of God’s closeness. The Trinity tells us that we don’t have a solitary God up there in Heaven — distant and indifferent, no. He is a Father who has given us His Son, who made Himself man like us, and to make Himself even closer, to helps us bear the weights of life, sends us His own Spirit. He, who is Spirit, comes to our spirit and thus consoles us from inside; He brings us deep down the tenderness of God.  With God, the weights of life don’t stay on our shoulders: the Spirit, whom we name every time we make the sign of the cross precisely when we touch the shoulders, He comes to give us strength, to encourage us, to support the weights. In fact, He is a specialist in resurrecting, in uplifting, in reconstructing. More strength is needed to repair than to construct, to begin again than to initiate, to be reconciled than to be in agreement. This is the strength that God gives us. Therefore, one who draws close to God doesn’t fall, goes forward: begins again, tries again, reconstructs. He suffers but is able to begin again, to try again, to rebuild.

Dear brothers and sisters, I came today simply to be close to you; I’m here to pray with you to God who remembers us so that no one forgets one who is in difficulty. I pray to the God of hope so that what is unstable on earth will not make one vacillate about the certainty we have within.  I pray to “the Close God, to arouse concrete gestures of proximity.  Almost three years have passed and the risk is that, after the first emotive and media involvement, attention drops and the promises end in oblivion., increasing the frustration of one who sees the territory increasingly depopulated. Instead, the Lord drives us to remember, to repair, to rebuild and to do so together, without ever forgetting those that suffer.

What is man that Thou art mindful of him? God who remembers us; God who heals our wounded memories anointing them with hope; God who is close to us to uplift us from within, may this God help us to be builders of goodness, consolers of hearts. Each one can do some good, without waiting for others to begin. “I begin, I begin, I begin”: each one should say this. Each one can console someone, without expecting his problems to be solved.  Also carrying my cross, I try to get close to console others. What is man? He is your great dream, Lord, whom you always remember. Man is your great dream, Lord, whom you always remember. It’s not easy to understand it in these circumstances, Lord. Men forget us; they don’t remember this tragedy. But you, Lord, don’t forget. Man is your great dream, Lord, whom you always remember. Lord, make us also remember that we are in the world to give hope and closeness because we are your children, “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians

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

The Holy Father’s Greeting to the Residents of the Emergency Housing Facilities

Good morning!

Good morning to you all. I would have liked to visit all the houses, every house . . . but it’s not possible; therefore, I greet you from here and give the Blessing to you all. I am close to each one of you. I am close. And I pray for you so that this situation is resolved as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and for your courage. You, pray for me. Now I’ll go down to greet you.

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

The Holy Father’s Dialogue with the First Communion Children

A boy:

Holy Father, I address you with emotion because I know you are able to listen. My name is Giovanni, I’m 10 and this year I will make my First Communion. I came back to live in Camerino after having spent a whole year at San Benedetto del Tronto, because on the evening of October 26, 2016, there was an earthquake that, in addition to many damages, caused the collapse of the bell tower of the church of Santa Maria in Via, where I and my sister Giulia were baptized. Since that day, our city is no longer the same: the houses are still ruined and one can only enter with a protective helmet and with the assistance of firemen.

Our habits have changed, the citizens’ faces are sad and many people find themselves in other Municipalities. Sometimes, even a small sudden movement makes us very scared again, however, we also pick up much courage. Over the centuries our city has had several earthquakes, some devastating, so much so that the coat of arms of Camerino depicts three houses, the only ones that remained standing.

On May 18, our Bishop Francesco Massara explained to us that San Venanzio is even called “the Saint of the falls,” of which he was always saved and, on that occasion, it was announced that the Basilica of San Venanzio will be restructured in December and returned to the faithful. It’s an important sign of recovery. It pleases me to think that, with the help of your prayers, Camerino will always rise again from every fall and that our Patron will have it under control, protecting all its inhabitants.

Pope Francis:

Good evening!

A question: are you tired?

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

 Do you feel hot

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

 You are tired . . .

[They answer]

 Yes . . . No . . .

Pope Francis:

 I thank you so much for having waited for me. Thank you! Thank you.

Have you eaten?

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

 Yes? Good. It’s important to eat, to grow . . .

There is something that s the earthquake, something that Giovanni said, that makes one think: when things fall, should we let them stay that way? Fallen?

[They answer]

 No . . .

Pope Francis:

 Louder!

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

 We must raise them up again. And when a person falls, because he makes mistakes in life, must we leave him fallen for life?

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

 We must help him get up again. And when we — this is a difficult question, let’s see if one of you is able to answer –, when in life we make an awful mistake, a sin, and we fall, what must we do?

[They answer]

 Go to Confession.

Pope Francis:

 Get up again! But isn’t it better to stay on the ground?

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

 Isn’t it more comfortable?

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

 Always get up again?

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

 Always?

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

And if you fall a second time?

[They answer]

 You get up again!

Pope Francis:

 And if you fall a third <time>?

[They answer]

 You get up again!

Pope Francis:

 And if you fall a tenth <time>?

[They answer]

 You get up again!

Pope Francis:

 And if you fall a fiftieth <time>?

[They answer]

 You get up again!

Pope Francis:

 Always! However, I think: a person that falls, falls, falls . . . Perhaps Jesus gets annoyed with the person? . . . Does Jesus get annoyed with us?

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

No, but if one falls so many times, does Jesus get annoyed?

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

 No. What does Jesus do when we fall?

[They answer]

 He helps us to get up again.

Pope Francis:

 How does Jesus help us? He gives you His hand to get up again. He pulls you up. He pulls you up: Jesus pulls you up. Always [have] this memory in life. He will always help you. When I am down, I have fallen so many times. I don’t know, think that Jesus always stretches out His hand. Why? To help . . . ? To raise us up again. Jesus raises us up, understood?

[They answer, softly]

 Yes . . .

Pope Francis:

 Ah . . . It seems you’re not convinced. Does Jesus raise us up again?

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

 Always?

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

And does Jesus get angry with us?

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

 He is good . . . He always waits for us! Jesus is merciful. This is a difficult word, no?  What is mercy? It’s this love that Jesus has for us. Have you understood?

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

 Then, all are standing!

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

 Now I would like to give you the blessing, but if you’re tired, I’ll go . . .

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

 I give you the blessing, now. But let us all pray to Our Lady because Our Lady is the Mother of Jesus and also our Mother and She also helps us to get up again.

Hail Mary . . .

[Blessing]

Pope Francis:

 And . . . how was the thing? When one falls, must he stay fallen? . . .

[They answer]

 No!

Pope Francis:

Are you sure?

[They answer]

 Yes!

Pope Francis:

And who will help us to get up again?

[They answer]

 Jesus!

Pope Francis:

 See, always courage! Look at Jesus and He will always help us. Courage. Pray for me and continue to play. Goodbye!

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

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