Pope to religious in North Macedonia: Do not lose tenderness. Offer holy water, not vinegar
The pope's last meeting in North Macedonia was with the country's priests and religious members. He met with them in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. First Pope Francis heard the testimony of one of them.
They explained to the pope that they are few in number and have a lot to do in the country. Pope Francis asked them not to be intimidated by the numbers. On the contrary, he told them that being few can serve as a stimulus.
“However, “taking stock” of things can lead us into the temptation of putting too much trust in ourselves, falling back on our own abilities and our shortcomings.” “It is legitimate to “take stock” of things, only if it enables us once more to become fraternal and attentive to others, to show understanding and concern as we draw near to the frustrations and the uncertainties felt by so many of our brothers and sisters who yearn for an anointing that can lift them up and heal their hope.”
The pope proposed Mother Teresa of Calcutta as an example of a humble person who could do great things. He recalled that history is written by Christians like her, who are not afraid to spend their lives for love. For this reason, he invited these religious not to seek a comfortable life that distances themselves from their essential mission. He asked them remember always the important moment in their life.
“Never lose the memory of your first call.” “Let us leave behind all the burdens that keep us from the mission and prevent the fragrance of mercy from being breathed in by our brothers and sisters.”
He also spoke about the family. This is because he heard the testimony of a priest from the Byzantine rite who was accompanied by his family. He recalled that it is in the family that one learns tenderness. He invited these religious not to forget to apply it.
“Please, tenderness, don't shout. Holy water, not vinegar. The tenderness of the Gospel that knows how to caress souls.”
The meeting concluded with them all praying together the “Our Father.” The pope then blessed this first stone for a future St. Paul shrine. He then greeted and even got some selfies with several priests.