With music and songs, lay people involved in the diocese and priests at Assisi welcomed Pope Francis to the Basilica of St. Ruffian, as he continued his visit to the hometown of the Italian saint. The Basilica is the place where St. Francis of Assisi was baptized.
"Which of you knows the date of your Baptism? Very few. Now you have some homework.”
At the start of a lively speech to them, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism, because it signaled the birth of each person into the Mother Church.
He then highlighted the three main aspects in the lives of religious: to listen to the Word of God, walk together as one, and to take the faith to the outskirts.
"It's not enough to read the Holy Scriptures. We need to listen to the Jesus, it's He who speaks in the Scriptures. We need to be antennas that receive and tune the Word of God, to be the antennas that convey it.”
The second point, Pope Francis said, was especially important for religious. They are part of a community, within a larger community that is the Church. And in order to move forward, all members must walk united, with Christ at their side.
Lastly, the Pope reminded all religious of their missionary duty. And to follow the example of St. Francis: to go out to the outskirts, beyond one's comfort zone, to preach the Word of God.
"Don't let prejudice, habits, or rigid mentalities stop you. Or pastorally, saying 'we've always done it this way. 'But you can only go to the outskirts if you carry the Word of God in your hearts and you walk with the Church, like St. Francis.”
At times, the Pope left behind his prepared speech to interact with the crowd. He spoke about his longing for the days when priests would know the names of their entire congregation.
When speaking about the need to forgive and ask for forgiveness to stay united, the Pope expressed his dismay at married couples who fight and then split up after many years together. He shared some advice for newlyweds.
"Argue as much as you want, if the plates start flying, so be it. But never let the day end without making peace. Never!”
Near the end of the meeting, the people inside the Basilica sang for the Pope, to wish him a happy feast day for St. Francis, his namesake.