The feast day of St Francis of Assisi is 4th October. It’s the day Pope Francis has chosen to visit his namesake’s hometown to pay homage to him. St Francis was famous for giving up his riches and dedicating himself to the poor.
Pope Francis met with the poor assisted by Caritas on the morning of his visit and then ate with them in the Caritas soup kitchen of Assisi in the afternoon.
In his speech to those helped by Caritas, the Pope referred several times of the need to “strip ourselves” of our worldliness, as did St Francis, and have an encounter with the poor.
Here are some of the things he said:
1. “We’re all called to be poor, to lay ourselves bare. For this reason we must learn how to be with the poor, to share with those who don’t have basic necessities, to touch the flesh of Christ!”
2. “This is a good opportunity to ask the Church to lay itself bare. But the Church is all of us! From when we’re baptised we’re all the Church and we must follow the path of Christ.”
3. “When the media talks about the Church, they believe that the Church is priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals and the Pope. But the Church is all of us, as I said. All of us must divest ourselves from this worldliness: the spirit contrary to the spirit of the beatitudes, the spirit contrary to the spirit of Jesus.”
4. “Many of you have been stripped by this world, which doesn’t help people, which doesn’t care if there are children who die of hunger, which doesn’t care if many families don’t have enough to eat, or if people have to flee from slavery and hunger, flee in search of freedom.
5. “Spiritual worldliness kills! It kills the soul! It kills the Church!”
6. “Let the Lord give all of us the courage to divest ourselves of worldliness, which is the leprosy and the cancer of society. It is the cancer of the revelation of Christ. Worldliness is the enemy of Jesus!”
7. “For everyone, for our society which gives signs of growing tired, if we want to save ourselves from the shipwreck, we need to follow the path of poverty and sharing and being in solidarity with the most needy.”
8. “I want to pray that every Christian, the Church, every man and woman of good will, learn to strip themselves of all that isn’t essential so they can have an encounter with the poor and ask to be loved.”