Last Sunday in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis commemorated the five-hundredth anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippines and of the celebration of the first Holy Mass, which took place on Easter Sunday, 31 March 1561.
Just a week on from that commemoration, the Pope on Monday met with priests, religious, and laity from the Pontifical Filipino College in Rome, to mark the 60th anniversary of the College’s foundation.
Addressing those gathered in the Vatican, he shared with them some thoughts about time, remarking that time itself is a gift from God “to be used responsibly to express our gratitude to him, to do good works and to look to the future with hope.”
Looking back to history
Beginning with the past, Pope Francis underlined that it was an opportunity “to flick through our ‘family album’, to remember where we come from and the experiences of faith and the testimonies to the Gospel that have made us who we are today.”
For priests, he added, “we think especially of the time we discovered our vocation, the moment when we said our first convinced 'yes' to God’s call, and the day of our ordination.”
“Whenever you feel weary and disheartened,” advised the Pope, “look back on your history, not to find refuge in an idealized past, but to regain the momentum and passion of your ‘first love’."
A prophetic gaze
“If the past can help us be more aware of the firmness of our faith and vocation,” he noted, “the future broadens our horizons and teaches us hope.”
However, the Pope cautioned that “looking to the future should avoid the temptation to take refuge in the future and not serenely confront the present.”
“Do not be eternal procrastinators," he stressed. “Do not live in constant ‘apnea’, simply tolerating the present and waiting for it to pass.”
Pope Francis went on to say that looking to the future in a positive sense means having a “prophetic gaze.” It also means “seeing possibilities and working in accordance with his own vocation to make them happen, acting as a docile instrument in God’s hands.”
A decisive present
Returning to the present moment in time, the Pope emphasized that “Now is the time to be decisive” and take advantage of pastoral experiences.
In conclusion, Pope Francis reiterated that it was important to “know the past, prepare for the future and fully experience the present as an opportunity for formation and growth in holiness.”