Hamrun, 9 May 2001

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. In the joy of Easter I make my own the words of the Risen Lord: "Peace be with you! Il-paci maghkom! I thank you for your warm welcome. It shows that the hospitality which once embraced the Apostle Paul (cf. Acts Ac 28,2) is still to be found in Malta. I am grateful for the gracious words spoken on behalf of both branches of the Society by the Superior General, who expressed all your love for the Church and for the Successor of Peter.

2. The island of Malta is a rock rising from the sea, where the soil is often thin and the sun harsh. Even this place where we are meeting bears the name Blata l-Bajda, the "White Rock". Yet down the centuries Malta has been extraordinarily generous and fertile in the deeper ways of the Spirit. The unshakeable faith of the Maltese people has ensured that this rock has been the good soil of which the Gospel speaks. In this soil, Blessed Gorg Preca planted the Society of Christian Doctrine, where it has flourished in the century of its life. Unlike the fig-tree of the Gospel story which we have just heard (cf. Lk Lc 13,6-9), you have produced fruit in abundance, and for that we give glory to God and thank him here today.

Not only did Dun Gorg sow the seed; he tended the sapling and fed the young tree so that it would grow strong and fruitful, as it has. You have flourished because you have roots reaching deep into Christ, and because you have been well nurtured by Dun Gorg's life of holiness.

To understand your vocation more deeply, consider the fig-tree. Its new leaves are a sign that summer is at hand (cf. Lk Lc 21,29-31); in the hot season, its shade provides shelter from the sun; it gives abundant sweet fruit as food; and Scripture says that its fruit has healing power (cf. Is Is 38,21). This is an image of what you are called to be! As catechists, you are to provide sweet nourishment for all who hunger for God; you are to bring healing to those who are suffering for lack of light and love. If you do these things, you will truly be a sign of the springtime which the Holy Spirit is now preparing for the Church.

3. Wherever Dun Gorg went to preach he was followed by crowds of people. They were captivated by his words. Why? It was because they recognized in the preaching of Dun Gorg the voice of Jesus himself. It was the Lord to whom they were listening; they were drawn by the irresistible attractiveness of Christ who alone, they knew, could satisfy the deepest longing of their hearts. The beauty of holiness which is found supremely in Jesus and is reflected in today’s new Beatus will never fail to draw the human heart. It is certain that if we can show forth the face of the Risen Lord to the world then we shall touch and win souls in ways that will be surprising!

4. It is in the depths of contemplation that we discover "the glory of God which is in the face of Christ" (2Co 4,6). That is why your rule of life urges you to pray often and to meet regularly with your spiritual director, who serves as guide and companion on the path of your fidelity. To contemplate the face of Christ is to be filled with spiritual energy for the mission entrusted to you. Like Saint Paul, from contemplation you are called to go forth as missionaries: not just as teachers but as witnesses who can speak with power because you can say, like the first disciples: "We have seen the Lord!" (Jn 20,25). It was Pope Paul VI who wrote that "the people of our day are more impressed by witnesses than by teachers, and if they listen to these it is because they also bear witness" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, EN 41). This was true of Dun Gorg in a wonderful way, and it must also be true of you, his spiritual children.

In his Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul writes that God "was pleased to reveal his Son in me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles" (1:16). He does not speak of Christ revealed "to me" but of Christ revealed "in me". Once Jesus reveals himself to Saul on the road to Damascus, and once Paul opens his heart to receive the gift, the Apostle himself then becomes the revelation. He is filled with Christ, so that he can say in the same Letter: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (2:20). His whole life, all that he does, says and thinks, his body, mind, heart and soul, become the revelation of Jesus to the world. This is the mystery of the sublime vocation given not just to Saint Paul and Blessed Gorg Preca, but to each of you as well.

5. Your founder was especially devoted to the words: Verbum Dei caro factum est; based on the Prologue of Saint John’s Gospel: "The Word was made flesh" (1:14). Here in fact is the foundation of your vocation and apostolate. The Divine Word in a certain sense continually takes flesh in his Mystical Body, the Church. You are to help in this by doing for others what Dun Gorg has done for you. You are to plant the seed of God’s word in people’s hearts, so that Christ may live in them! You must teach everyone – children, young people, adults – to contemplate the face of Christ, to see the Lord (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, NM 16), so that the light of God’s glory which shines from the face of Jesus may shine forth from them as well. This is the "rooting of the Church in time and place [which] mirrors the movement of the Incarnation itself" (ibid. 3).

As you set forth and continue this sacred mission, let the words of your founder echo ceaselessly in your hearts: MUSEUMMagister, utinam sequatur Evangelium universus mundus! Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow the Gospel! Entrusting you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Paul and Blessed Gorg Preca, as well as Blessed Ignatius and Blessed Adeodata also beatified today, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to all the members of the Society of Christian Doctrine as a pledge of endless mercy in Jesus Christ, "the faithful witness and firstborn from the dead" (Ap 1,5). Il-paci maghkom!


Gudja International Airport, 9 May 2001

Mr President,
Mr Prime Minister,
Your Excellencies,
Beloved People of Malta,

1. As the Successor of Peter I must go back to Rome, the See of Peter, and to my duties as Pastor of the Universal Church.

But I shall not forget this visit to the Maltese Islands. Above all I shall not forget the Maltese people. Thank you for being a part of my Jubilee Pilgrimage in the footsteps of Saint Paul! In the"geography of salvation"!

At the end of my first visit, I told you that on my return to Rome I would tell the Apostle Paul that the Maltese were "a good Catholic people". Now, I shall tell your Patron that you are still doing what he wanted: "fighting the good fight of the faith; taking hold of the eternal life to which you were called" (1Tm 6,12), just as Blessed Dun Gorg, Blessed Ignatius and Blessed Adeodata did. I leave you their example to follow, and I commend you to their intercession.

2. Thank you, Mr President, for your personal kindness during my all too brief visit. My gratitude goes also to the Prime Minister and the Government, to the Armed Forces and the Police Force, and to all who have assisted this pilgrimage in any way. I know that you have done this with sacrifice and love. I thank you from my heart.

My visit has been a moment of intense communion with Archbishop Mercieca, Bishop Cauchi and Bishop Depasquale, and with the priests, religious and lay faithful. To the Churches in Malta and Gozo I say only this: be faithful to Saint Paul, your father in faith on these Islands, remain in steadfast union with Peter and with the Universal Church. In this way you will be ever faithful to Christ.

3. Malta is at the centre of the Mediterranean. You therefore have a unique vocation to be builders of bridges between the peoples of the Mediterranean basin, between Africa and Europe. The future of peace in the world depends on strengthening dialogue and understanding between cultures and religions. Continue in your traditions of hospitality, and continue in your national and international commitment on behalf of freedom, justice and peace.

4. As my Jubilee Pilgrimage comes to an end, I solemnly entrust to Almighty God’s loving protection the peoples of the places I have visited. In the places linked to the Two Thousandth Anniversary of the Saviour’s birth I have hoped and prayed for a great renewal of faith among Christians. I have wished to encourage believers and all people of good will to defend life, to promote respect for the dignity of every human being, to safeguard the family against so many present-day threats, to open their hearts to the world’s poor and exploited, and to work for an international order built on respect for the rule of law and on solidarity with the less fortunate.

This is also the task and the ideal I leave to you, beloved people of Malta.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Luke writes that the Maltese "honoured [Saint Paul and his companions] with many marks of respect, and when [they] sailed they put on board the provisions [they] needed" (Ac 28,10). Spiritually I have had this same experience, and I go away praising God in my heart for all of you.

Thank you, Malta.

Il-Bambin iberikkom ilkoll! May God bless you all!



Friday 11 May 2001

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
National Directors,
Collaborators of the Pontifical Mission Societies,

1. It is a great joy for me to meet with you, on the occasion of your annual assembly. First of all I greet Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, for a short time Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and I thank him for the words he addressed to me in your name. I greet Archbishop Charles Schleck, Adjunct Secretary of the same Congregation and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, together with the General Secretaries of the four Societies. I particulary greet you, National Directors, who in your respective countries dedicate yourselves generously to missionary education and cooperation. Through you, I would like to extend my grateful sentiments to all who, in discretion and silence, work hard so that the announcement of the Good News may spread to every corner of the earth.

2. Today's meeting is taking place while the echo of the Great Jubilee is still alive in the Church and in the world. It was not only "a remembrance of the past" but a "prophecy of the future". In the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte I wrote: "It is especially necessary for us to direct our thoughts to the future which lies before us" (n. 3). A fruit of the Jubilee is to look ahead with an attitude of faith and Christian hope, so that we can live the present intensely and open ourselves with trust to the future, in the certainty that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever!" (He 13,8). A new and fruitful season of evangelization awaits us.

The mission, the duty of all believers, must particularly occupy you. Dedicate yourselves without delay to missionary education, formation and cooperation; have the courage to dare and the wisdom to discern, plan and develop every initiative helpful for the service of Christ. Responding to the gifts of the Spirit, you will thus collaborate in the plan of universal salvation, the fundamental objective to which we must always tend with constant trust.

3. In the days preceding this annual meeting, with the contribution of scholars and experts, you have reflected on the figure of the Venerable Paul Manna, Founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union, a work defined by my predecessor Paul VI as the "soul of the Mission Societies". Fr Paul Manna remains a shining example of apostolic daring. Impelled by the fire of love for Christ, he founded a new Society, pointing to unheard of possibilities and new bold frontiers for the mission. He lived and communicated to his collaborators a constant tension towards God, who "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tm 2,4). His concern to involve everyone, especially priests and religious, showed itself to be providential for a broader sensitization of pastors and the faithful.

May this also be your constant longing, dear National Directors, so that with the help of divine grace missionary vocations "ad gentes" increase and be ever more generous and ready to take risks. I am thinking primarily of those who dedicate their entire lives to missionary work. In this regard, I feel the need to thank again all who, amid difficulties of every sort, with their gaze fixed on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith (cf. Heb He 12,2), persevere in the proclamation and witness, ignoring the risks, and being ready to sacrifice their lives. God will not fail to make them feel his presence and his consolation. How many times does the death of the witnesses of the faith open unhoped for possibilities for the Gospel of love and peace! The unconquerable passion for Christ is a singular and eloquent testimony for the men of our time.

4. We are at the dawn of a new millennium, a time of grace, an acceptable time (cf. 2Co 6,2). The Lord associates us with himself as he did the first disciples, and invites us to "put out into the deep" (Lc 5,4), while, as I wrote at the end of the Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, "a new missionary age" (n. 92) is dawning. All believers are called to "prepare the way of the Lord" (Mt 3,3), abandoning every fear and hesitation. All are invited to welcome, though aware of their own poverty, the invitation of Christ: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mc 16,15).

Jesus calls us and invites us as he did the Apostles. He does not choose us on account of our merits or our works; rather he sustains us and strengthens us with his "Spirit ... of power and love and self-control" (2Tm 1,7). Only "armed" with his grace can we bring the Good News to the ends of the earth. Difficulties and obstacles will not block our steps because the Heavenly Father's love for all humanity will continually sustain us.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters, I entrust you and all the members of your Communities to the merciful hands of Mary, Mother of the Church and Star of evangelization. Guided by Her, take everywhere the Gospel of her divine Son, our only Redeemer. As for me, I accompany you with my prayer and affection. I bless you and those who in many regions of the globe work for education, formation and missionary cooperation.


Saturday 12 May 2001

Dear Missionaries of the Holy Spirit,

1. May the peace of the Risen Lord and the presence of his Spirit be with you always! I warmly thank you for this visit as the General Council and I thank your Superior General for the kind words he addressed to me.

Our meeting is in continuity with the one held in 1913 between my Predecessor St Pius X and the Venerable Servant of God Ramón Ibara y González, Archbishop of Puebla, and Concepción Cabrera de Arminda, in which he asked them to begin the foundation. On that occasion you received the name, Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, a name which your Founder, the Ven. Servant of God Fr Félix de Jesús Rougier, said was "the whole program of your religious and priestly life".

Continue with renewed spirit the work that the Church has entrusted to you! I know, that as the General Council, you have a specific task, suggested by what the Holy Spirit mandated in your XIII General Chapter: "Enter into the third millennium aware that, consecrated by the mission, you rethink and direct your pastoral work with creative fidelity".

Dear Sons, carry forward the delicate mission which corresponds to your charism, and, guided by the Holy Spirit, help your brothers to give an eloquent witness of unity and pastoral charity in the Church.

2. On this occasion I invite you to fix your gaze on the Face of Christ. I have asked the whole Church to do so in my last Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte (cf. nn. 16-28). According to the charism you have received, contemplate Christ anointed by the Holy Spirit, to announce the Good News to the poor and to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord (cf. Lc 4,18-19); look at him while he dedicates his time and his efforts to follow carefully the spiritual journey of his disciples (cf. Mk Mc 6,7-13,30). Your model is Jesus the Priest, compassionate and merciful; Jesus, willing victim of a love which impels him to consecrate himself to our salvation at every moment even to handing over of his life, and taking it up again in glory.

From contemplation there arises the urgency for a profound and constant personal and community conversion that, as your Founder said, impels you to renew your loving attention to God, so that you can meet Him in daily prayer, in sacramental experience, and in attentive listening to the Word.

3. In the life of the Church and of every religious institute, contemplating the Risen Lord and listening attentively to the Word fosters unity. I wish to remind you that seeking and promoting communion and praying for it is the duty of all. This does not mean a uniformity that makes us lose our personal characteristics, but rather the effort to incarnate all together the richness of the communitarian body, moved by the same Spirit and committed to carrying out an identical mission. As the Lord says: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13,35).

The XIII General Chapter has clearly outlined, for your institute, points of renewal concerning the promotion of the holiness of the People of God. Together we must build a more just and human world in which all are brothers according to the plan of God. Therefore the chapter has asked you to make your service to the priesthood and to the Works of the Cross effective and dynamic. At the same time it has exhorted you to renew yourselves and dedicate yourselves to the ministerial service of spiritual direction.

4. Moved by the Spirit "Duc in altum" (Lc 5,4), put out into the deep, transforming your commitment into pastoral directives that correspond to the demands of your charism and the needs of the communities entrusted to you.

Direct your efforts to spreading an authentic pedagogy of holiness (cf. Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, n. 31), aware that "all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love" (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium LG 40).

Since your updated Constitutions single out priests from among those to whom your pastoral mission is directed (205), you must renew your awareness that the call to holiness "concerns primarily us Bishops and you, beloved priests. Before our "doing', it calls into question our "being'. "You shall be holy', says the Lord, "for I the Lord your God am holy' (Lv 19,2)" (Homily for the Chrism Mass 2001, n. 2).

In my Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis you will find useful indications and precise suggestions that will enlighten your way forward in this special ministry. Let yourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit so that He himself may give the impetus to your creative fidelity. The fraternal collaboration with bishops and with diocesan priests is a privileged way to build up the Church as communion according to your charism.

5. You must continue to work with all who share your spirituality in building an authentic ecclesial communion: "the new century will have to see us more than ever intent on valuing and developing the forums and structures which, in accordance with the Second Vatican Council's major directives, serve to ensure and safeguard communion". (Novo millennio ineunte NM 44, cf. nn. 43-45). I invite you to foster, in the heart of the Family of the Cross, a "spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education wherever individuals and Christians are formed, wherever ministers of the altar, consecrated persons, and pastoral workers are trained, wherever families and communities are being built up" (Novo millennio ineunte NM 43).

Moreover, as I wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, "It is necessary to rediscover the great tradition of personal spiritual guidance which has always brought great and precious fruits to the Church's life" (n. 40). Continue with joy and generosity your studies and preparation for what your Constitutions call "the most characteristic of your pastoral activities" (229).

6. Your General Chapter wanted to address the issue of vocations and the internationalization of the institute in the light of the mandate that the Church received from the Risen Lord: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28,19) and according to the personal example and aspirations of your Founder (cf. XIII General Chapter, Priority 3).

Living your consecration joyfully and generously, identifying more sharply your pastoral ministries and keeping alive fraternal love in your communities, these are the items that will become an invitation to all who seek the radical following of Jesus in a religious and priestly vocation. "Besides promoting prayer for vocations, it is essential to act, by means of explicit presentation and appriopriate catechesis, with a view to encouraging in those called to the consecrated life that free, willing and generous response which carries into effect the grace of vocation" (Vita consecrata VC 64).

Dear sons, returning to your respective countries, remember Jesus' words: "lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20). May the Holy Spirit always accompany you and give you the strength to continue the work entrusted to you by the Church.

I leave you in the maternal embrace of Mary, Mother of the Church, so that you may enter the new millennium full of joyful hope.





Saturday 12 May 2001

1. I am delighted to welcome all of you, who in these days are reflecting on the presence of the Church in the world of health, sickness and suffering. I first greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI), Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, and I thank them for their kind words. I greet the other Bishops present, especially Archbishop Alessandro Plotti of Pisa, Vice-President of the CEI, and Bishop Benito Cocchi of Modena, President of the Episcopal Commission of the CEI for the service of charity and pastoral care for health.

I further extend my greeting to all the sick and suffering, to their families and to all who care for them. Truly, as I wrote in the Message this year for the World Day of the Sick, I wish to visit in spirit every day all who suffer, to "pause beside the patients, their relatives and the health-care personnel" (n. 3).

This convention of yours, significant for many reasons, fits into the journey undertaken by the Italian Church for an ever more active promotion of health pastoral care. I encourage you to continue on this path, so that pastoral activity in the field of health care will be known for its powerful evangelical witness, in full fidelity to Christ's mandate: "Preach as you go saying "The kingdom of heaven is at hand'. Heal the sick" (cf. Lk Lc 5,1-2 Mt 10,7-9 Mc 3,13-19).

2. You have come together to study the purpose and the ways in which to carry out Christ's mandate today. From an attentive discernment of the current social and cultural reality, you will certainly find concrete indications about how the Church must be present in the field of health care, to better its quality and define new ways for apostolic participation.

In this regard it is useful to recall, as I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte that: "It is not a matter of inventing a new programme. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself" (n. 29).

In the Message for the Eighth World Day of the Sick during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 I observed: "Jesus did not only treat and heal the sick, but he was also a tireless promoter of health through his saving presence, teaching and action.... In him, the human condition showed its face redeemed and the deepest human aspirations found fulfilment. He wants to communicate this harmonious fullness of life to people today" (n. 10). Yes, Jesus came so that all "may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10). And what context, more than that of health and suffering, awaits the announcement, the testimony and the service of the Gospel of life?

Imitating Christ, who has taken upon himself the "sorrowful" face of man to make it "glorious", the Church is called to walk the way of man, especially if he is suffering (cf. Redemptor Hominis RH 7, 14, 21; Salvifici doloris, n. 3). Her action reaches out to the sick person to listen to him, take care of him, soothe his pain and open him to understanding the sense and salvific value of suffering.
We can never insist enough, and you have done so in this Convention, on the need to put the person at the centre, both the sick and the health-care worker.

3. The Church appreciates how hard others work in this field and offer their support to public structures to respond to the needs of an integral care of the person.

In this the Church is motivated and sustained by a vision of health that is not merely the absence of sickness, but tension towards full harmony and healthy balance at the psychological, spiritual and social level. She offers a model of health inspired by the "healthy salvation" offered by Christ: an offering of "global", "integral" health that heals the sick person in his totality. The human experience of illness is thus illumined by the light of the Easter Mystery. Jesus crucified, "abandoned" by the Father, cries to him his request for help but, in an act of love and filial trust, he abandons himself to the Father's hands. In the crucified Messiah on Golgotha, the Church contemplates humanity trustingly stretching out its suffering arms to God. To those who suffer, she draws near with compassion and solidarity, making her own the divine sentiments of mercy. This service to man tried by sickness requires close collaboration between health care and pastoral workers, spiritual assistants and health-care volunteers. How precious is the action of various ecclesial associations of health care workers, whether they are professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists or more markedly pastoral and spiritual!

4. The religious institutes which, faithful to their charism, continue to have an important role in this sector, deserve special mention. I thank these male and female institutes for their witness offered with generosity and skill in the midst of many difficulties. I also ask them to preserve their charisms, making them ever more recognizable in the present situation.

Theirs is a public service, which I hope never lacks proper recognition from the civil authorities. It is a service that requires a strong and convinced investment in the field of specific formation of health-care workers. These are "works of the Church", a patrimony and service of the Gospel of charity for all who are in need of care. These works must never lack the support of the entire ecclesial community.

Dear brothers and sisters! Here is a privileged area in which the Church is called to bear witness to the presence of the Risen Lord. To all who are involved I want to repeat what I wrote in Novo Millennio ineunte: "Let us go forward in hope! A new millennium is opening before the Church like a vast ocean upon which we shall venture, relying on the help of Christ" (n. 58). At the beginning of this century may those called, like the Good Samaritan, to bend down to care for man wounded and suffering, quicken their pace. May Mary, who watches maternally from Heaven over all who are tried by suffering, be the constant support of those who dedicate themselves to bringing relief.

With these sentiments, I gladly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.




To the International Union of Superiors General

1. I address you with great joy, dear Superiors who have come from every part of the world for the regular meeting of the International Union of Superiors General. You have gathered in order to reflect on the problems and the hopes of consecrated life at the beginning of the third millennium so that you can continue to be, in full fidelity to your charisms, a sign of Christ's love. Not being able to receive you in audience because of the pilgrimage in the footsteps of St Paul, which will take me to Athens, Damascus and Malta in the coming days, I gladly address this Message to you, thanks to which God has allowed me to be with you, at least in spirit.

You have gathered in Rome in order to reflect on a theme that marvellously unites not only the enriching diversity of your charisms in the Church, but also the pluralism of cultures that make your traditions meaningful. May the longing of the Apostle Paul make you of one heart: "Charitas Christi urget nos!" (the charity of Christ urges us) (II Cor 5,14). In this world, torn by many contradictions, you intend, with your "feminine" identity to "be a living presence of the tenderness and the mercy of God". Only in the strength of the charity of Christ can religious communities respond effectively to the challenges of the modern world and become a living message of communion for a new humanity that flows from the mercy and tenderness of God.

2. May communion with God-Love, to whom you wish to reserve the primacy in every choice, characterize your consecrated life. This God, to whom you have given yourselves as a free and conscious gift, is the God of Jesus Christ, the God of Love, of Relation (whose inner life consists of the relations between Father, Son and Spirit), God-Trinity. He involves our littleness in his own dynamic of love and unity. But how can we belong to a God of communion if we do not share this communion with those close to us, expressing it concretely in life? In the Post-Synodal Exhortation "Vita consecrata" I wished to emphasize that "more than an instrument for carrying out a specific mission, fraternal communion is a God-enlightened space in which to experience the hidden presence of the Risen Lord" (n. 42) and most recently, in the apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, I noted that the "spirituality of communion" means the "heart's contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us" (n. 43). The same call Jesus addressed to you, to which each of you has responded with the gift of her life, cannot be fulfilled without entering into communion with the whole world for love of God.

3. In order to recognize Christ and the Church, the world also needs your witness. So do not be discouraged if you meet with difficulties. At times it can seem as if love, justice and faithfulness are no longer present in today's world. Do not be afraid; the Lord is with you, he goes before you and accompanies you with his faithful love. Bear witness with your lives to what you believe!

There is a need for the strong and free witness of your vow of poverty, lived with love and joy, so that your sisters and brothers understand that the only "treasure" is God with his saving love. Poverty protects chastity and prevents you from becoming slaves of needs artificially created by the civilization of well-being. Freed from all that is superfluous, you will give your poverty the evangelical face of the freedom and trust of those who are certain that God provides for his children. You are not asked to be powerful, but to be holy!

There is need for your faithful and transparent chastity that "proclaims", in the silence of its daily gift, the mercy and tenderness of the Father, and cries to the world that there is a "greater love" that fills the heart and life, because it makes room for our brother, as the Apostle suggests: "Bear one another's burdens" (Ga 6,2). Do not be afraid of bearing witness to this great gift of God. Young people observe you. May they be able to learn from you that there is a love different from that which the world proclaims, a faithful, total love, capable of risk. Virginity, lived for love of Jesus, is more prophetic today than ever before!

There is need for your responsible obedience, full of availability for God, through the people that He puts on your path. You are called to show, with your life, that true freedom lies in entering decisively into the way marked and blessed by obedience, the way of death and resurrection that Jesus has shown to us by his example. Remember his cry, of solitude and abandonment to the Father: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Mt 26,39) (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 26). Live obedience in communion. Do not let individualism threaten your communities. May those who carry out the service of authority always work hard so that all the sisters witness to a profound communion with the Magisterium of the Church, especially when a secularized and hedonistic mentality attempts to dispute fundamental truths and moral norms. May your obedience consist in unlimited abandonment to the Fathers plans of the Father, as it did for Jesus.

4. Charity toward our neighbor draws its strength from abandonment to God's love. "Now is the time for a new "creativity' in charity" (Novo Millennio ineunte, NM 50), that develops in relief agencies although they are so necessary, but in "getting close' to those who suffer, so that the hand that helps is seen not as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters" (ibid.).