POPE’S MESSAGE | Behind hatred, violence is an unloved heart

Max Rossi | Reuters

VATICAN CITY — Violence and hatred often are signs that a person is unhappy and feels unloved and unwanted, Pope Francis said.

In world today, people — especially children and youths — often feel that unless "we are strong, attractive and beautiful, no one will care about us," the pope said June 14 at his weekly general audience.

"When an adolescent is not or does not feel loved, violence can arise. Behind so many forms of social hate and hooliganism, there is often a heart that has not been recognized," he said.

Despite a heat wave that brought temperatures close to 90 degrees, an estimated 12,000 pilgrims donning colorful hats and umbrellas cheered and waved as the pope entered St. Peter's Square.

Pope Francis took a moment to greet the sick who were watching the audience from indoors because of the hot Roman weather.

"They are in the Paul VI hall and we are here," the pope told the crowd in the square. "But we are all together; we are connected by the Holy Spirit who always unites us."

In the talk, the pope focused on the certainty of hope that comes from feeling loved as children of God.

When men and women do not feel loved, he said, they run the risk of succumbing to the "awful slavery" of believing that love is based solely on one's appearance or merits.

"Imagine a world where everyone begs for reasons to attract the attention of others and no one is willing to love another person freely," he said. "It seems like a human world but, in reality, it is a hell."

Feelings of loneliness, he added, often lead to "man's many narcissisms" and can be conquered only by an "experience of love that has been given and received."

God, who never needs a reason to love His children, has that kind of unconditional love for each person, the pope said. "God does not even bind His benevolence to our conversion; if anything that is a consequence of God's love."

Recalling his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the pope said he saw God's unconditional love reflected on the faces of mothers who went to the local prison to visit their children.

"I remember so many mothers in my diocese who would get in line to enter the prison. So many mothers who were not ashamed. Their child was in prison, but it was their child and they suffered so many humiliations," the pope recalled.

"Only this love of a mother and father can help us understand God's love," he said, adding that "no sin, no wrong choice can ever erase it."

Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis asked the crowd, "What is the medicine that can change an unhappy person?"

"Love!" the crowd exclaimed.

"Very good, very good," the pope said. Christian hope comes from knowing "God the father who loves us as we are. He always loves us, everyone, good and bad. 

Pope: Prayer, patience are powerful weapons in dark times

VATICAN CITY — In good times and in bad, prayer and patience can keep hope alive, Pope Francis said.

God is close to those who suffer with patient hope and helps Christians see truly "beautiful moments" in times of darkness, the pope said June 9 in his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Pope Francis said he was speaking about "authentically beautiful moments, not those moments with cosmetic beauty, which is all artificial; it is like fireworks, but it is not the beauty of the soul."

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the Book of Tobit, comparing the struggles faced by Tobit, who suffered due to blindness, and Sarah, Tobit's future daughter-in-law who lost seven husbands.

Even though they were known for their piety, both passed through "dark moments" that tested their patience and their faith in God, he said.

Both reached the point where they actually thought it might be better to be dead, the pope said.

But "Sarah thought, 'If I hang myself, will I make my parents suffer?' and she stops and prays," the pope said. "Tobit said, 'This is my life, let's keep going,' and he prays and prays. This is the behavior that saves us from bad moments: prayer."

Pope Francis called on Christians to reflect on what happens in their souls during dark times and whether they can accept trials as a "necessary" cross to bear rather than fall prey to the "vanity" of artificially beautiful moments in life.

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service 

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