First of all thank you, Mons. Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, for your willingness to interview for the Light of Mary. I listened with enthusiastic participation to your catechesis and then homily during the Youth Festival 2019. And I tried to fix in my heart, even before my notebook, your precious teachings. Then, as you were about to depart from Medjugorje, I had the opportunity to meet and ask a few questions. A beautiful moment that I am pleased to share with you.
-Mons. Fisichella, I would ask how you accepted the invitation of Mgr. Hoser this 30th Youth Festival, and if it is the first time you have come to Medjugorje?
It is the first time, for obvious reasons, as head of the department of the New Evangelization. The Holy See follows with great concern and great interest the events of Medjugorje. And then, when Pope Francis, a few months ago, has granted regulatory approval to the official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, the invitation of the pontifical delegate has come to me with great pleasure.
As you know, the ministry of the new evangelization has the pastoral responsibility of the sanctuaries in the world. Although Medjugorje as a sanctuary is not yet recognized, however, it is a destination for millions of pilgrims every year. And we also have the responsibility of the pilgrimages, I very much appreciated the invitation to attend, because it allowed me to come here. But above all, it becomes a step further in assessing and considering the presence of millions of pilgrims, and especially in this circumstance, many young people.
-You were able to observe what is happening in Medjugorje, is there something that has affected you more than anything?
What strikes me as a pilgrim to Medjugorje for the first time, is the atmosphere of prayer that stands out from so many other places, where you expect the prayer that takes place in the apparitions places within the sanctuaries, in front of the icons the Virgin Mary or the Saints.
Here, however, the atmosphere of prayer extends even beyond. It is striking that the pilgrims walk anywhere with the Rosary in their hands and pray, along the way, going up on the Hill, everywhere. I think this is really a clue as very favorable, to consider the peculiarities of Medjugorje.
Also I was very impressed with the presence of so many young people. It 's true that this is the 30th anniversary of the Youth Festival, though it seemed to be like a smaller version of the World Youth Day. I think this is a very important factor that defines Medjugorje, and involves all not only in welcoming many young people but also in the formation that is given here. The atmosphere of prayer is enriched, through catechesis and dialogue with many young people from all over the world, of a formation that is extremely important today, especially for the new evangelization.
-Do you think that Medjugorje with its spiritual program which focuses on the Eucharist, the Rosary, the fasting, the Word, and the Confession is a successful example for the new evangelization to be proposed elsewhere?
The new evangelization is lived in the ordinary life of the Church, however, it is lived in an extraordinary way, because the times demand it. What is the life of all the days of the Church, it is a source, origin and purpose of evangelization. In this new phase of evangelization we are called to rediscover the meaning of our daily lives.
Certainly the first place is because of the prayers - the discovery of prayer - which becomes and finds its culmination in the Eucharistic prayer and then also in adoration. I must stress that it is really significant what happened on the last evening of the Festival! After two hours of a Eucharistic celebration so intense, we have witnessed the great silence that our young people and our priests, there were about 800 priests, they have maintained throughout the extended time of Eucharistic adoration.
Medjugorje: "The new evangelization is done in (on the knees) knee"
These elements are the foundation through which the new evangelization is realized. I like to bring to that effect expression of Pope Francis, pronounced at the very beginning of his pontificate: "The new evangelization is done in the knee" . And so adoring rediscover this dimension, this dimension of prayer is for us certainly an indelible point, but also a starting point and key arrival!
Then we must not forget that it explicitly Christian life, it is also visible at other times that are just as valid, and that come from a life of prayer. I think first and foremost the witness of charity. We can never forget that shrines are places of welcome, where they meet the different poverty in the world, there are not only the sociological poverty, what we usually identify.
There are also the existential poverty, to which the witness of charity is essential , because it characterizes the Christian lifestyle. As there is also a need to communicate the Faith, we have to share with others our experience of faith. I used to say that as we are able to perform gestures of welcome for those arriving in our sanctuaries, so we should be just as able to make gestures, and even a liturgy, which greet the pilgrims when they return home.
-During your catechesis at the Youth Festival, you spoke about the meaning of life and that is love. To those who want to experience the Love of God which do you recommend?
I think what I said in the catechesis, it depends on some special factors. The first is to understand that true love does not depend in the first instance from us. But true love depends on the experience of receiving love. No one really likes if you have first loved.
We unfortunately live in a cultural context in which we place ourselves, who we are, what we want. So many times we fail to perceive instead of the original experience and originator, ie the ability to perceive that they are loved. From this point of view I believe it is essential ask yourself before God with the desire not to hinder Him to love us.
I think most of the time our resistance, have all gone there. The desire to self-determine our lives from ourselves, what we think, what we plan. And in all that God plays a marginal role. That's why you do not deeply understand love. And that's why we go increasingly responding to failures of love.
True love, true, teaches us the Evangelist John in his First Letter, consists precisely in this: not that we loved God, but God has first loved us. So when we place ourselves in front of a text like this - I do not forget it is the Word of God is a revealed text - we truly discover the profound value it possesses.
In this is love, that God loved us first . So we are called to discover in our lives, this profound experience for which God has come to meet. God has carried us, he gave us life, God continues to accompany us. It does this through those expressions that always point to the desire of God, if I can use that term, to make us share in His divine life, which is love.
Do not forget that. God is love! His life is full of love, it is only and exclusively love. This love is a gift of Himself, everything ! God does not take anything for Himself, God gives everything, and in this gift everything tells us that He gave Himself for me, for everyone. That's why we say that love means to give everything ourselves. We could never pronounce an expression like this, if God had not lived and loved first.