In his homily on Sept. 15, Francis urged Slovakians to follow the example of Mary when she visited her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, living their faith as a mission to be carried out.
“For you, the Slovakian people, the Blessed Virgin is a model of faith: a faith that involves journeying, a faith inspired by simple and sincere devotion, a constant pilgrimage to seek the Lord,” he said.
“In making this journey, you overcome the temptation to a passive faith, content with this or that ritual or ancient tradition,” the pope continued. “Instead, you leave yourselves behind and set out, carrying in your backpacks the joys and sorrows of this life, and thus make your life a pilgrimage of love towards God and your brothers and sisters.”
“Thank you for this witness. And please, persevere on this journey. Do not stop,” he said, to an outbreak of applause.
Pope Francis also said that the “faith cannot be reduced to a sweetener to make life more palatable,” urging Slovakian Catholics to not remain lukewarm about Jesus and to be “signs of contradiction” within the world.
Slovakia needs “Christians who can demonstrate the beauty of the Gospel by the way they live,” he said. “Christians who are weavers of dialogue where hostility is growing; models of fraternal life where society is experiencing tension and hostility; bringers of the sweet fragrance of hospitality and solidarity where personal and collective selfishness too often prevails, protectors and guardians of life where the culture of death reigns.”
“In contemplating the Sorrowful Virgin Mary, may we too open our hearts to a faith that becomes compassion, a faith that identifies with those who are hurting, suffering, and forced to bear heavy crosses,” he said.
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“A faith that does not remain abstract, but becomes incarnate in fellowship with those in need,” he concluded. “A faith that imitates God’s way of doing things, quietly relieves the suffering of our world and waters the soil of history with salvation.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord always preserve in you wonderment and gratitude for the great gift of faith. And may Mary Most Holy obtain for you the grace of a faith that ever sets out anew, is deeply prophetic and abounds in compassion.”
Before Mass, Pope Francis prayed with Slovakia’s bishops inside the basilica, reciting a prayer of entrustment to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.