On his visit to Rome’s Primavalle suburb, the Pope encouraged Christians not to turn into complainers like one nun he used to know and urged priests not to ask crying children to leave the church
Pope Francis spoke like a parish priest would to his community of faithful on his visit to the Roman parish of San Giuseppe all’Aurelio in Rome’s Primavalle suburb. Here, he met with 40 members of the local Roma community who last week faced xenophobic protests in front of schools in Torrevecchia and Primavalle attended by children from the “nomad camps”. “Living Christmas in a spirit of consumerist angst is not Christian.” “There are many people who do not know how to thank God: they always find something to complain about,” Pope Francis said in the homily he pronounced during the mass he celebrated at the Roman parish of San Giuseppe all’Aurelio. “I knew a nun once; this nun was good, she worked, but she would always complain about so many things, to the point that people started calling her “Sister Grouch”. “A Christian cannot live like this,” the Pope went on to say. “Always finding things to complain about. ‘But I don’t have this and I don’t have that’; this is not Christian.”
Francis’ visit to the church of San Giuseppe all’Aurelio on Via Boccea, is the Pope’s sixth visit to a parish in the diocese of Rome. It is his fifth visit to a city parish, bearing in mind that last spring one of his visits was to the municipality of Gudonia Montecelio outside the municipality Rome. Francis also went on three private visits to parishes in addition to his six pastoral visits: one to Prima Porta to see the living Nativity scene, another to San Gregorio VII to meet mafia victims and a third to the Basilica of St. Mary beyond the Tiber to meet the Community of Sant’Egidio.
“Prayer, giving thanks and helping others are how we get to Christmas “anointed with grace”. May the Virgin Mary accompany us on the path to Christmas and joy. And don’t forget about joy.” “It is painful to see Christians looking sad, with that anxious look of sadness on their faces, which shows you they are not at peace,” Francis said. “You will never see a saint with a long face, never: saints always have a look of joy on their face, or at least a look of peace where there is suffering.” “At the moment of greatest suffering, Jesus’ martyrdom, he had a look of peace on his face and was concerned about others, about his mother, about John, about others. “Children cry, they are noisy, they don’t stop moving. But it really irritates me when I see a child crying in church and someone says they must go out. God’s voice is in a child’s tears: they must never be kicked out of church,” Francis said meeting the families of children who have been baptised over the past year. “Their tears are the best sermon,” the Pope added.
“‘Oh father, we are having a nice big lunch’: but this is not the true joy we speak of today,” Francis said. Joy “makes us want to throw a party of course, but joy itself is another thing entirely. And this is why the Church wants to show what Christian joy is all about.” St. Paul the Apostle says to the Thessalonians: “Now brothers and sisters, rejoice always”. And how can we rejoice? He says we should pray without ceasing and give thanks at every opportunity. We find Christian joy in prayer and in giving thanks to the Lord and for so many beautiful things.” In order to feel this Christian joy, “first pray and then give thanks”. “And how do I give thanks? Think of your life and think of all the good things life has given you.” “’But father, it is true, but I have also been given a lot of bad things’. Ok, but think about the good things: ‘I have been given a Christian family, Christian parents, thanks to God I work, my family does not go hungry, we are all healthy.’. We have so many things to be grateful for and this gets us used to feeling joy.” Another way to help us feel joy is to “bring the message of joy to others”.
We are Christians and this comes from Christ and Christ means being anointed: we are anointed, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has consecrated and anointed me.” Being Christian means being anointed because “it leads us to bring the message of joy to those living in misery, to heal wounds, to free slaves, to carry out the Lord’s act of grace.” This is “the Christian vocation: going to others, to those who need help, be this material or spiritual help, to the many people who are anxious due to family problems.” “Bringing peace, bringing the oil of Jesus which does so much good and comforts the soul.”
Today Francis met 40 members of the Roma community that lives in the “nomad camp” at Tenuta Piccirillo in the old Green River campsite in the Prima Porta suburb of Rome. “The Church is with you, it welcomes you always, especially this parish. Always be close to the Church. Don’t lose hope.” These families – one of which has 18 members – have been “adopted” by the parish of San Giuseppe all’Aurelio. In the off-the-cuff speech he gave offering encouragement and hope to the Roma community, Francis urged them to “seek work and integration, without despairing”. “Never lose hope in the future. Thank you for welcoming me,” the Pope said. After this, he greeted (and often hugged) each of the Roma people present, along with the volunteers from the Community of Sant’Egidio who are helping them.