These are the very powerful words that Pope Francis used in his message to the bishops of Quebec during their "ad limina apostolorum" visit in Rome. Here are some reactions.
This quinquennial visit that every bishop is obligated to make (and that is even enshrined in canon law) is aimed at forging the ties that bind bishops from the same country.
Upon their return, Most Reverend Christian Lépine, Archbishop of Montreal, and Bishop Alain Faubert, Auxiliary Bishop, had beautiful testimonials to share.
"What truly struck me the most, was this call: 'Church in Quebec, rise up! Go and listen! Never forget that the Risen Lord is always with us'," recalled Most Rev. Lépine. "If any part of this visit should be retained, it's this call. For me it meant, 'Rise up to bring the good news of Jesus Christ, the joy of the Gospel.' It gives encouragement and hope to go forward. Regardless of the obstacles that may lay ahead, we cannot just sit down and stop proclaiming Christ: 'Rise up and walk!'"
For Bishop Alain Faubert, this visit was a very powerful spiritual experience. "It was an experience of communion! Not only communion between the Church in Quebec and Rome, but of the entire Church."
"Also, in the presence of Pope Francis, we could truly sense the great importance he places on dialogue. His greatest wish is that we become a church that is closer to the people."
Which challenges will we be faced with? "Personally," Bishop Faubert continued, "I have returned from there even more firm in my faith, in my mission and, above all, in the conviction that we must be close to the people, and listen to what they have to say. If we truly wish to be bearers of the good news, we must first be concerned about what is happening in the hearts and lives of the people. We heard it from the Pope's mouth, but we especially saw it in his way of life, and in his nature."
And with your brother bishops? "Well, it would be impossible to spend two, three weeks together like this without strengthening bonds, or without having occasionally strong debates. We are searching together. We are discerning together to know what the Lord wants. The Pope gave us this message: 'Rise up!' A message from the Holy Spirit to Philip the Apostle... which means rise up, stay close, listen and spread the good news."
Finally, Most Rev. Lépine wished to highlight the importance of doing this together, in unity: "The Pope is very aware of the situations all over the world, of the different challenges to overcome, including those in Quebec. It is a challenge to serve God, but I would also say that it is a grace. We went on this visit together, all the bishops of Quebec, and it is together that we must proclaim Jesus Christ. We are called to strengthen this unity with every experience, I believe...."