Pope Francis leads a Mass with young people at Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok on Nov. 22. (Photo: AFP)
Pope Francis called on Thailand’s young Catholics to be deeply rooted in their faith as he celebrated Mass at Bangkok’s Assumption Cathedral.
In his final public engagement in Thailand on Nov. 22 before flying to Japan today, he read Mass prayers in English but preached in Spanish, with a Thai priest providing a translation.
For the Mass on the feast of St. Cecilia, a martyr, the pope and concelebrants wore bright red silk vestments sewn for the occasion by Thai Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and volunteer seamstresses.
In his homily, Pope Francis urged young Thais to keep their faith alive and strong, being on guard so that disappointments and suffering do not cause their faith to weaken or grow cold.
"You need to be deeply rooted in the faith of your ancestors — your parents, grandparents and teachers," he said.
"Without this firm sense of rootedness, we can be swayed by the 'voices' of this world that compete for our attention. Many are attractive and nicely packaged; at first they seem appealing and exciting, but in the long run they will leave you only empty, weary, alone and disenchanted and slowly extinguish that spark of life that the Lord once ignited in the heart of each of us."
“Dear young people, you are a new generation, with new hopes, dreams and questions, and surely some doubts as well, yet firmly rooted in Christ. I urge you to maintain your joy and to look to the future with confidence.
“Rooted in Christ, view all things with the joy and confidence born of knowing that the Lord has sought us out, found us and loved us infinitely. Friendship cultivated with Jesus is the oil needed to light up your path in life and the path of all those around you: your friends and neighbors, your companions at school and work, including those who think completely unlike yourselves.”
The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, saying it can happen to any Christian.
“Full of excitement and interest, we hear the Lord’s call to be a part of his kingdom and share his joy with others,” he explained.
But often, he said, in the face of problems and obstacles like the suffering of our loved ones, or our own helplessness before apparently hopeless situations, unbelief and bitterness can take over and silently seep into our dreams, making our hearts grow cold, causing us to lose our joy and to arrive late, like the five foolish virgins in the parable.
Amid life’s many trials and much suffering, the pope said, our elders discovered that the secret to a happy heart is the security we find when we are anchored, rooted in Jesus: in his life, in his words, in his death and resurrection.
After the Mass, he thanked all who made his visit to Thailand possible, particularly King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the government and religious authorities for their warm reception.
Pope Francis departed Thailand at 9.30am today on the papal plane to Japan for the second leg of his 32nd foreign apostolic journey.
He was in Thailand to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam in 1669.