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Ready to begin again? 6 Helpful quotes from Pope Francis in Slovakia

TIZIANA FABI | AFP

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 09/15/21

We need to roll up our sleeves and together work to build the future. 

Pope Francis is safely back at the Vatican after his trip to Budapest and Slovakia. Here are a few of the key messages he left with us during his trip.

~

Love is our greatest dream in life, but it does not come cheap. Like all great things in life, love is magnificent, but not easy. It is our greatest dream, but not easy to explain. … Dear friends, let us not trivialize love, because love is not simply an emotion or feeling, even though it may start that way. Love is not about having everything now; it is not part of today’s throwaway culture. Love is fidelity, gift and responsibility.

~ To young people

Pope Francis drives in an open vehicle on September 14, 2021 to greet young people at the Lokomotiva stadium in Kosice

We were not put here just to make do, but to make something of our lives. If you think about some of the great stories you read in novels, or see in unforgettable movies or hear in some moving tale, there are always two things that go together. One is love, and the other is adventure, heroism. They always go together. For our life to be great, we need love and heroism alike.  If we look to the crucified Jesus, we find both boundless love and the courage to give one’s life to the utmost, without half-measures. We also have before us Blessed Anna (Kolesárová), a heroine of love. She tells us to aim high. Please, don’t let your lives just pass by like so many episodes in a soap opera.

~ To young people

Bombarded by virtual messages, we risk losing our real roots. To grow disconnected from life, or to fantasize in a void, is not a good thing; it is a temptation from the evil one. God wants us to be firmly grounded, connected to life. Never closed, but always open to others! Grounded and open. Understood? Grounded and open.

~ To young people

Saints Cyril and Methodius also showed that preserving what is good does not mean repeating the past, but being open to newness without ever losing one’s roots. … [The pandemic] has taught us how easy it is, even when we are all in the same boat, to withdraw and think only of ourselves. Let us instead set out anew from the realization that all of us are frail and in need of others. None can stand apart, either as individuals or as a nation. … It is useless to hurl recriminations about events of the past; we need to roll up our sleeves and together work to build the future. 

~ To Slovakian political and civic leaders

Pope Francis speaks during a visit on September 14, 2021 at Lunik IX district in Kosice that houses the largest community of Romani people in Slovakia.

Freedom is not something achieved automatically, once and for all. No! It is always a process, at times wearying and ever in need of being renewed, something we need to strive for every day. It is not enough to be free outwardly, or in the structures of society, to be authentically free. Freedom demands personal responsibility for our choices, discernment and perseverance. This is indeed wearisome and even frightening. At times, it is easier not to be challenged by concrete situations, to continue doing what we did in the past, without getting too deeply involved, without taking the risk of making a decision. We would rather get along by doing what others – or public opinion or the media – decide for us.

This should not be the case. So often times nowadays we do what the media decide we should do. In this way, we lose our freedom. Let us reflect, though, on the history of the people of Israel: they suffered under the tyranny of the Pharaoh, they were slaves and then the Lord set them free. Yet to experience true freedom, not simply freedom from their enemies, they had to cross the desert, to undertake an exhausting journey. Then they began to think: “Weren’t we better off before? At least we had a few onions to eat…” This is the great temptation: better a few onions than the effort and the risk involved in freedom. This is one of our temptations.

Yesterday, speaking to ecumenical representatives, I mentioned Dostoyevsky and his “Grand Inquisitor.” Jesus secretly comes back to the earth and the inquisitor reproaches him for having given freedom to men and women. A bit of bread and little else is enough. This temptation is always present, the temptation of the leeks. Better a few leeks and a bit of bread than the effort and the risk involved in freedom. I leave it to you to think about these things.

~ Meeting with bishops, priests, consecrated persons, catechists, seminarians

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