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Example – not words – transmits faith to youth, Pope Francis says

Addressing the children who filled the chapel at the Santa Marta residence on Nov. 14, Pope Francis said that – in an age dominated by images and cellphones – the faithful must rely on example, rather than words, to transmit the faith to young ones.

As he looked out onto the young congregation comprised predominantly of children from a Roman parish, Pope said it was as though he was looking at “a promise,” and at “the world that will be.” With this in mind, he asked: “what do we leave” these children, who are our future?

He then asked if children are taught “to walk in love and in truth,” or if we merely “teach them with words,” while “our lives take another direction?”

“It is our responsibility to look out for children!” the Pope said, stressing that these “little plants” cannot be ignored.

Pope Francis challenged the faithful as to their attitude toward children. He asked if it is like that of a sibling or parent, which helps them grow, or if it is “detached”: “They grow, I have my own life.”

“We all have a responsibility to give the best that we have” to children, “and the best that we have is the faith,” the Pope said. However, this transmission of the faith must be accompanied by example. “In this world of images” and cell phones, he said, words are not enough. Rather: “Example! Example! What do I give them?”

Pope Francis then engaged the young people in the congregation in a question and answer session, in which he asked them about the Sacraments they had received.

“In these Sacraments – I ask you – is prayer a Sacrament?” After receiving an enthusiastic “no!” the Pope said “That is correct, no! Prayer is not a Sacrament, but we must pray... pray to the Lord, pray to Jesus, Pray to Our Lady, because they help us in this journey of truth and love.”

Reminding the children as to why they came to Mass, he said: “You have come to see me... It is true. But also to see Jesus. Right? Or do we leave Jesus out?”

“Now, Jesus comes upon the Altar, and we will all see Him! It is Jesus!” He reminded the children – and invited them to repeat the prayer – to ask Jesus to teach them “to walk in truth and love.”

 

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