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Yearning is a grace that propels growth in faith, pope says

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Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 30. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 30. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Content and comfortable Christians tend to be joyless Christians because they stop remembering the goodness of God and yearning to be closer to him, Pope Francis said.

“I ask myself, and it would be good for all of us to ask ourselves: ‘Am I tranquil, content? Do I need nothing spiritually speaking? Is my yearning extinguished?'” he said, celebrating an early morning Mass Oct. 1, the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux — one of his favorite saints.

The day’s first reading, from the Book of Nehemiah, recounts how the people of Israel gathered together to listen to the reading of “the book of the law of God” after returning from exile in Babylon. The people were weeping, but they also celebrated “with great joy.”

“The people not only found their city, the city where they were born, the city of God,” the pope said. “This people heard the law, found their identity and for this reason they were joyful and wept.”

Often, the pope said, people lose a sense of their true identity on the journey that is their life. “It is lost in our many deportations or self-deportations, when we build a nest here or a nest there, but not in the house of the Lord.”

Nostalgia and yearning are not simply signs of wishful thinking, he said. They can be the prompts that lead people back to their true identity as children of God and spur them forward to grow in faith and fidelity.

“If, for example, we have our fill of food, we are not hungry. If we are comfortable, tranquil where we are, we don’t need to go anywhere else,” he said. Yearning moves the spirit and the heart “and this whole journey that began years ago ends in celebration.”

Pope Francis asked those at the morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, “How is our yearning for God? Are we content? Are we happy with how things are? Or do we want to move forward each day? May the Lord give us the grace of never ever having the yearning in our hearts for God be extinguished.”

Posted October 1, 2015

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