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Catholic News Service is a leading agency for religious news. It was founded by U.S. bishops in 1920, and is an office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
VATICAN CITY — Like keeping a bicycle upright when riding it, a balanced life of faith is possible only in motion, Pope Francis said.
“If you stop, it does not stay up,” he said Nov. 8 at his weekly general audience, explaining the importance of sharing the Gospel with all people by the example of one’s life and in words and acts of charity.
Since Jan. 11, Pope Francis has been using his general audiences to teach about “zeal” for evangelization, choosing a different person each week to hold up as an example.
For his talk on how the call to share the Gospel is a call to go out to the people who need to hear it, the pope pointed to Madeleine Delbrel, a sainthood candidate who lived from 1904-1964 and was a social worker, writer and mystic who spent more than 30 years living in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris.
Coming to faith only in her 20s, Delbrel then chose “a life entirely given to God, in the heart of the Church and in the heart of the world, simply sharing in fraternity the life of the people on the street,” the pope said.
She summarized her “spirituality of the bicycle” in a poetic prayer to Jesus: “You have chosen us to stay in a strange balance, a balance that can be achieved and maintained only in movement, only in
momentum. A bit like a bicycle, which does not stay upright unless its wheels turn. … We can stay upright only by going forward, moving, in a surge of charity.”
Pope Francis said Delbrel also teaches fellow Christians that they evangelize themselves as they seek to share the Gospel with others.
Her life is a reminder that “in every personal or social situation and circumstance of our lives, the Lord is present and calls us to inhabit our time, to share the lives of others, to mingle with the joys and sorrows of the world,” the pope said. “In particular, it teaches us that even secularized environments are helpful for conversion, because contact with non-believers provokes the believer to a continuous revision of his or her way of believing and to rediscover faith in its essentiality.”
The pope prayed that Delbrel would “teach us to live this faith ‘in motion,’ let us say, this fruitful faith that every act of faith makes an act of charity in the proclamation of the Gospel.”
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