Tuesday 17 July 2018

Pope Francis’ Message to the International Meeting of the Teams of Our Lady

Núncio Rino Passigato, reading the Pope's message
This is my own translation of the Pope's message to the participants of the International Meeting of the Teams of Our Lady. The message was read out during the opening ceremony by Papal Núncio to Portugal, Rino Passigato. It was read out in Portuguese, and the text has not been made available, so this translation is based on the audio as read out by the Núncio and filmed by the organisation of the meeting. I appologise for any error that it might therefore contain.

Having received the request for a blessing for the participants of the 12th International Meeting of the Teams of Our Lady, which is taking place in Fátima, under the theme: “The Prodigal Child”, Pope Francis sends you brotherly greetings, reminding all of you that the Church condemns the sin, because it must speak the truth, but at the same time graces the sinner who recognizes himself as such, draws close to him and speaks to him of the infinite mercy of God.

What joy and hope we find in the parable of the Prodigal Child. It speaks not only of welcoming and forgiveness, but also of the celebration for the child who returns. The Holy Father invites all of us to see themselves in that lost child who returned and whom the father does not tire of embracing and returning to his position of son.

Moved by such goodness, let the heart speak: “It is true, Lord, I am a sinner. I feel myself as such, and am sure of it. I let myself be fooled in thousands of different ways, I ran from your love, but here I am again to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Rescue me again, Lord. Receive me once more into your redeeming arms”.

The open arms on the Cross prove that none are excluded from the love of the father and His mercy. He neither wants, nor resigns himself, to losing anybody. Husband, wife, parents and children, know well that in the eyes of Jesus there is no such thing as people who are definitely lost, only people who need to be found once more, and He encourages us to go in search of them. Because if we want to find the Lord we must search out not in the places where He is, but where He wishes to find us, and the shepherd can only be found by the lost sheep. By letting them know that He is going to search for the lost sheep, he provokes the other 99 into participating in the reunification of the flock and, if they do so, not only the sheep carried back, but the whole flock can follow the shepherd home to celebrate with friends and neighbors.

Hand in hand with the Virgin Mother, and under her watchful gaze, may we come to sing with joy the mercies of the Lord, and cry out: “My soul sings to you, Lord!” The mercy you have shown to all your saints and all your faithful people, you have also shown to me. Out of the pride of my heart, I went astray, following my own ambitions and interests, without gaining any crown of glory! My one hope of glory, Lord, is this: that your Mother will take me in her arms, shelter me beneath her mantle, and set me close to your heart."*

Thus consecrated to the merciful hearts of Jesus and Mary, you can count on His grace, that same grace which one hundred and one years ago, through the Virgin Mary, was reflected in the eyes of the three shepherd children and changed their lives, for the salvation of sinners.

In the hope that the passion with which they did so should fill all the couples, parents, children and members of the Teams of Our Lady spread out through the whole world, Pope Francis bestows on you his blessing.

*From the Pope's prayer in the chapel of the apparitions, in Fátima, during his pastoral visit, in 2017.

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