The Holy Father received in audience on Saturday 6 August young people, married couples and priests from the Equipes Notre-Dame (END) movement, an association of believers founded in France in 1939.
Claire Riobé – Vatican City
“You would hear from the Pope’s own mouth that Holy Mother Church loves you and is counting on you. It is true ! The Church loves what Jesus loves.» Faced with the young pilgrims who came to meet him on the morning of Saturday, August 6, François meditated on three words that underpin the identity of their movement: team, Notre-Dame and young people.
Faced with the temptation of isolation, the choice of a team life
The experience of Our Lady’s Team is to live in a group, the Holy Father shows. Not without its challenges, this life is also a tremendous gift: “No one can say: ‘I am saved alone, alone. We are all in contact, to learn to work together, as a team. God (…) draws us to himself as a community and gives meaning to our lives through a sense of identity and belonging”. Francis invites young Christians to cherish this gift of community and to fight the loneliness and isolation caused especially today by the era of virtual reality. “Keep moving forward, build bridges and work as a team!” the sovereign pontiff encourages them.
Pope Francis also warns against the modern temptation to believe that a life alone is preferable to a life in a group. “Alone, you might achieve some success. But you will miss out on love, camaraderie, belonging to a people and the priceless experience of dreaming together, taking risks together, suffering together and celebrating together.” warns Francis
Leave yourself to the intercession of the Virgin Mary
François then settled on the identity of the movement based on a devotion to “Notre-Dame” and the desire to place himself under its protection. “When we welcome Mary into our lives, the center, which is the Lord, is never lost”, reminiscent of the Holy Father. “Truly, Jesus gave us his mother, to be the mother of every disciple (…). It is to her that we can entrust ourselves with the trust of a small child, of those who are poor and humble, of those who know that the Mother is close, full of care and love. Francois continues.
He encourages all young people to entrust themselves daily to the Virgin Mary, to allow them to grow as a team and share the gifts each has received in a spirit of dialogue and mutual acceptance. “Our Lady will help you to have a generous heart, to discover the joy of serving others freely, as she herself did when she visited Saint Elizabeth”says François, inviting them to prepare for the World Youth Days planned for Lisbon, Portugal, in 2023.
Finally, François meditated on the participants’ engagement with the world as “youthChristians. “The future belongs to young people who have two qualities: wings and roots”, consider Peter’s successor. “Wings to fly, to dream and to create, and roots to soak up the wisdom the ancients can offer you.” So invite François, “Ask yourself: what wings do I have? Am I looking down? Am I withdrawn into myself? Or am I ready to lift my gaze and stare at the horizon? Is my heart full of dreams, big plans and desires? Or is it weighed down by complaints, negative thoughts, judgments and prejudices?
The Holy Father concluded by speaking to married couples and priests from the accompanying Our Lady Teams. He thanked them for their commitment to young people and invited them to remain discreet and honest witnesses of the love of Christ and the Church, “ready to listen and to dialogue, witness to a generous and free service, witness to prayer”.