ROME — In an age that often seems to be a “carnival of worldly curiosity,” Christians are called to lead people to the solid ground of the Gospel like St. Dominic did, Pope Francis said.
“We are moving in a so-called ‘liquid society,’ which is without fixed points, scattered, deprived of solid and stable reference points, a culture of the ephemeral, of the use-and-dispose,” the pope told members of the Dominican order.
At Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope celebrated Mass Jan. 21 with the Order of Preachers, founded 800 years ago, and with women religious and lay people who trace their spirituality to St. Dominic.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy and its description of proclaiming the Gospel at a time when people were “always seeking new teachers, myths, different doctrines and ideologies.”
The situation today is even more exaggerated, the pope said, because of “the seduction of subjective relativism.”
The response must be to attract people to the unchanging truth of faith in God and in the Gospel, he told the Dominicans.
When a Christian gives glory to God through his or her actions and words, Pope Francis said, people will notice and ask, “Why does that person act that way?”
The Gospel calls Christians to be salt of the earth and light for the world, he said. “Woe to a church that loses its flavor. Woe to a priest, a consecrated person, a congregation that loses its flavor.”
St. Dominic, he said, was “full of the light and salt of Christ” and preached the Gospel with “the word and his life,” helping many men and women “not become lost in the carnival of worldly curiosity,” but experience “the taste of healthy doctrine, the taste of the Gospel and become, in turn, light and salt, artisans of good works.”
Closing the celebrations of the Dominicans’ 800th anniversary, the Mass came at the end of a five-day Congress on Mission to examine the situations in which Dominicans are called to preach, to promote cooperation across the different Dominican branches and evaluate where the order’s missionary outreach needs strengthening.
Dominican Father Vivian Boland, vicar of the master of the order, told Catholic News Service Jan. 17 that in almost any situation of difficulty or challenge, “there are Dominicans somewhere in the world trying to respond to those questions.”
Pope Francis, he said, is an example for members of the order in helping others not just through their words, but also with concrete action.
“I think that’s something that we’ve learned again from him during the past year” after Pope Francis addressed the order’s general chapter, Boland said. “He talked about how we need to source our words in relation to the cry of the body of Christ, the needs of people. Not just our words, but acts of tenderness.”
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Junno Arocho Esteves also contributed.