Pope Francis welcomes young people participating in the International Meeting of “Teams of Our Lady,” and encourages them to persevere in their witness to faith through community life, helping young people and married couples, and entrusting themselves daily to the Virgin Mary.
By Thaddeus Jones
Addressing young people, married couples and chaplains involved in the Teams of Our Lady movement gathered for an international meeting, Pope Francis offered words of encouragement, recalling that Jesus sees in every young person a source of hope, marked by friendship, journeying together and being missionaries in daily life.
During the audience in the Vatican on Saturday, the Pope praised the Teams of Our Lady as “an excellent initiative for couples and families,” committed to living in accordance with the principles of Catholic doctrine and growing in relationship with Christ and the Virgin Mary.
The Teams of Our Lady is a movement of married couples spirituality and a way of belonging to a team within the “Christian community of couples.”
The movement’s origins go back to 1938 in Paris when four young couples, committed Christians wanted to live their love in the light of their faith, as they realized that marriage was the living image of the love that united Christ to his Church. They received guidance from Fr. Henri Caffarel, who founded the movement.
Working as a team
Pope Francis praised how members of the movement live and share their faith experience and charism as a team, something not to be taken for granted.
“To be part of a community, a family of families, one that exudes a lived faith: this is a great gift!” the Pope stressed, as we are all in relationship and must work together.
And “God wanted to be a part of this network of relationships; He draws us to himself as a community and grants fulfillment to our lives through our sense of identity and of belonging.”
While a worldly mindset may think it’s better to be on your own, on the contrary, the Pope emphasized that the love and companionship from being a community also offers the “priceless experience of dreaming together, taking risks together, suffering together and celebrating together. “
The Pope also encouraged them to put aside any fears, to be courageous and take risks when it comes to defending others, especially when encountering cases of bullying, abuse, dishonesty and betrayal that can happen in life.
Together with our family and community, we receive the mutual support we need and recall how God, our Father and Friend never abandons us, he added, calling on them to continue going forward, building bridges, and working as a team.
Devotion to Our Lady
The Preamble of the Statues of the Teams of Our Lady movement underscore the “solid devotion to Our Lady” that distinguishes them, and Pope Francis pointed out that “whenever we accept Mary, our Mother, into our lives, the centre, which is the Lord, is never lost.”
Our Lady points to Jesus and to our brothers and sisters, he added, and to Mary, Mother of the Church, “we can entrust ourselves with the confidence of a small child, of those who are poor and humble, those who know that the Mother is close by, and full of tender, loving concern.”
Recalling the Gospel episode of Mary’s visit and help to Saint Elizabeth as the theme for the next World Youth Day to be held in Lisbon next year in August, “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39), he added the wish to go forth and care for others are distinctive values of the young.
The Pope also greeted all the Portuguese youth in the audience wishing them well in the preparations for the events.
Future belongs to the young
Young people marked the third theme the Pope focused his thoughts on, noting how the future belongs to them, but they must use their “wings” and “roots” to succeed.
“Wings to fly, to dream and to create; and roots to soak up from the elderly the wisdom that they can offer you.”
The Pope suggested they examine their “wings,” and make sure they are ready to lift up their gaze and look to the horizon, rather than be bogged down looking only at the difficulties ahead. He called on them to spread their wings with open hearts, “full of dreams, great plans and desires.”
About roots, he advised them to remember that the world began before them and to feel “part of a great river that has already flowed a great distance,” before them, to cultivate their relationships with their grandparents and elders by listening and learning from them and their life experiences.
Words of thanks
In conclusion, the Pope thanked the adults, married couples and chaplains, accompanying the young people here, recognizing their joy in accompanying them on their journey, and encouraging them to be “quiet and straightforward”, witnesses of love for Christ and the Church through dialogue, service and prayer.