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Pope Francis: "restlessness of love" brings pastoral fruitfulness



August 29, 2013: The restless heart of Augustine has something to teach us, the Pope said at the Eucharist Wednesday evening, inviting us to reflect on “the restlessness of the spiritual quest, the restlessness of the encounter with God, the restlessness of love.” Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Roman Basilica of Saint Augustine, where he met with members of the Augustinian order who are having their general chapter. The celebration was attended by Augustinians from 5 continents, religious women and men who follow the rule of the bishop of Hippo, along with a number of lay people. Before entering the Basilica, the Holy Father stopped to greet the people who were waiting to see him along the street.

In his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis spoke about the “restlessness” that Saint Augustine lived. “What fundamental restlessness did Augustine live in his life? Or perhaps I should say, what kind of restlessness does this great man, this saint, invite us to arouse in us and keep alive in our lives?” he asked.

The Pope said, “I would say to those who feel indifferent to God, towards the faith, to those who are far from God, or feel abandoned, and even to us, with our ‘distances’ and our ‘abandonment’ towards God, little, perhaps, but there are so many in daily life: look into the depths of your heart, look deep within yourself, and ask yourself: Do you have a heart that desires something great, or a heart that is put to sleep by material things?”

The restlessness of Augustine led him to an encounter with Christ, the Pope continued, but it did not induce him to turn in on himself. “even in the discovery of God and in the encounter with Him, Augustine doesn’t stop, doesn’t rest, doesn’t become closed in on himself like those who have already reached, but continues along the way. The restlessness of the quest for the truth, of the quest for God, becomes the restlessness of always coming to know Him better, and of going out of oneself in order to make Him known to others. And this is the restlessness of love.”

And, the Holy Father insisted, this restlessness becomes pastoral: “Augustine is left with the restlessness from God, he never tires of announcing it, of evangelising with courage, without fear, seeking to be the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep (cf. Jn 10,14), indeed, as I love to repeat, who 'smells like His flock', and goes out to seek those who are lost. Augustine lives what Saint Paul tells Timothy, and each one of us: announce the word, be urgent in season and out of season, announce the Gospel with the magnanimous, large heart (cf. 2 Tim 4,2) of a Pastor that is restless for his flock. The treasure of Augustine is precisely this attitude: Always go out towards God, go out towards the flock . . . He is a man in tension between these two ‘goings’; not to ‘privatize’ love . . . always on the journey! You should always be on the journey, says the Father. Always restless! And this is the peace of restlessness.”

But restlessness, he concludes, is also love, “always seeking . . . the good of others, of loved ones, with that intensity that also leads to tears.” The restlessness of love, he said, “always encourages us to reach out to the other”, without waiting for the other to express his needs”.




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