Pope Francis slipped out of the Vatican yesterday to spend the day with members of an Italian lay community, the young people in recovery they assist and tenor Andrea Bocelli. Source: Crux.
After listening to three young people’s stories of addiction, finding the New Horizons Community and entering recovery, Francis praised them as living witnesses of how God looks with love upon everyone he created.
“I know that gaze, too,” he told the community in Frosinone, about 70 kilometres south of Rome. God “made you feel that he loved you, and he took you by the hand from hell – yes, Jesus descended into hell – he took you by the hand” and said to each one, “Come with me.”
The freedom God gives each person means there may be success and failure and starting all over again, the Pope said. “But he is patient. He has a patient gaze.”
New Horizons Community, a 25-year-old lay movement, focuses on evangelisation and concrete assistance to the disadvantaged. The movement’s headquarters is known as the Cittadella Cielo (Heaven’s Citadel).
Chiara Amirante, founder of the community, told Vatican News that the Pope’s visit was “an unexpected gift from heaven, and we welcomed him with hearts overflowing with joy.”
She also said the Pope had sent over food and staples the day before “because he knows that every day there are 120 mouths to feed.”
Bocelli, a longtime supporter of the community, sang during the Pope’s meeting with community members and again at the midday Mass Francis celebrated there.
In his Mass homily, Francis said he had read the day’s readings before setting off and knew the reading from Ezra about rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem was perfect for the occasion.
“The reconstruction of a life is a grace,” he said. “It’s not earned, it’s all grace. But you must defend it with work and with struggle so that the merchants of destruction do not return and make this life a pile of stones.”