Pope Francis Celebrates Holy Mass in Sofia
104 POLITICS - POPE FRANCIS - HOLY MASS
Pope Francis Celebrates
Sofia, May 5 (BTA) - The last public event of the first day of Pope Francis in the Bulgarian capital was a Sunday evening Mass in the Prince Alexander I Square where thousands had gathered to see him and receive a blessing.
Once in the central square, the Pontiff got off the popemobile and shook hands with some of those gathered.
Hours before the Holy Mass, many people had gathered along the boulevard leading to the central square to greet the Pope. More than 7,600 people, including Bulgarians and believers from all over the world, representatives of the authorities, civil society, the diplomatic corps and various religious faiths attended Mass.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day's Gospel on the way Jesus reveals Himself again to His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias after His resurrection. Through the episode, the Pope explained how God calls, surprises us and loves us.
The Pope said: "The Lord knows what a strong temptation it is for us to return to the way things were before. (...) In the face of failure, hurt, or even the fact that at times things do not go the way we want, there always comes a subtle and dangerous temptation to become disheartened and to give up. This is the tomb psychology that tinges everything with dejection and leads us to indulge in a soothing sense of self-pity that, like a moth, eats away at all our hope. Then the worst thing that can happen to any community begins to appear - the grim pragmatism of a life in which everything appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small-mindedness."
Addressing those gathered, Pope Francis also said: "The Lord does not wait for perfect situations or frames of mind: he creates them. He does not expect to encounter people without problems, disappointments, sins or limitations. (...) Brothers and sisters, the Lord never tires of calling us. His is the power of a Love that overturns every expectation and is always ready to start anew."
The Pope concluded urging Bulgarians not to be afraid of becoming saints, saying, "it will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy".
During Mass, which lasted about an hour and a half, the Pope was wearing the omophorion - a gift he received earlier from Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
The Chairman of the Episcopal Conference of Bulgaria, Bishop Christo Proykov, gave the Pontiff a replica of an icon of Our Lady of Nessebar, explaining that Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, always carried that icon with him during his years as an apostolic legate in Bulgaria in 1925-1934. The Pope's gift to Mons. Proykov were chalices.
Bishop Proykov and the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sofia and Plovdiv, Monsignor Gheorghi Jovcev, participated in the Holy Mass.
On Monday, Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass and administer First Communion at the Church of the Sacred Heart in the south-central town of Rakovski, where he will also hold a meeting with the Catholic Community. At 6:15 pm local time in Sofia, the Pope will preside over a Prayer for Peace in the presence of the leaders of various religious denominations in Bulgaria.