Speeches 1979 - Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul, Philadelphia
Wednesday, 3 October 1979
Beloved brothers and sons in Christ,
One of the things I wanted most to do during my visit to the United States has now arrived. I wanted to visit a seminary and meet the seminarians; and through you I would like to communicate to all seminarians how much you mean to me, and how much you mean for the future of the Church—for the future of the mission given to us by Christ.
You hold a special place in my thoughts and prayers. In your lives there is great promise for the future of evangelization. And you give us hope that the authentic renewal of the Church which was begun by the Second Vatican Council will be brought to fruition. But in order for this to happen, you must receive a solid and well-rounded preparation in the seminary. This personal conviction about the importance of seminaries prompted me to write these words in my Holy Thursday Letter to the Bishops of the Church: "The full reconstitution of the life of the seminaries throughout the Church will be the best proof of the achievement of the renewal to which the Council directed the Church".
1. If seminaries are to fulfill their mission in the Church two activities in the overall program of the seminary are crucially important: the teaching of God's word, and discipline.
The intellectual formation of the priest, which is so vital for the times in which we live, embraces a number of the human sciences as well as the various sacred sciences. These all have an important place in your preparation for the priesthood. But the first priority for seminaries today is the teaching of God's word in all its purity and integrity, with all its demands and in all its power. This was clearly affirmed by my beloved predecessor Paul VI, when he stated that sacred scripture is "a perpetual source of spiritual life, the chief instrument for handing down Christian doctrine, and the center of all theological study" (Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, April 3, 1969). Therefore if you, the seminarians of this generation, are to be adequately prepared to take on the heritage and challenge of the Second Vatican Council, you will need to be well trained in the word of God.
Secondly, the seminary must provide a sound discipline to prepare for a life of consecrated service in the image of Christ. Its purpose was well defined by the Second Vatican Council: "The discipline required by seminary life should not be regarded merely as a strong support of community life and of charity. For it is a necessary part of the whole training program designed to provide self-mastery, to foster solid maturity of personality, and to develop other traits of character which are extremely serviceable for the ordered and productive activity of the Church" (Optatam Totius OT 11).
When discipline is properly exercised, it can create an atmosphere of recollection which enables the seminarian to develop interiorly those attitudes which are so desirable in a priest, such as joyful obedience, generosity and self-sacrifice. In the different forms of community life that are appropriate for the seminary, you will learn the art of dialogue: the capacity to listen to others and to discover the richness of their personality, and the ability to give of yourself. Seminary discipline will reinforce, rather than diminish your freedom, for it will help develop in you those traits and attitudes of mind and heart which God has given you, and which enrich your humanity and help you to serve more effectively his people. Discipline will also assist you in ratifying day after day in your hearts the obedience you owe to Christ and his Church.
2. I want to remind you of the importance of fidelity. Before you can be ordained, you are called by Christ to make a free and irrevocable commitment to be faithful to him and to his Church. Human dignity requires that you maintain this commitment, that you keep your promise to Christ no matter what difficulties you may encounter, and no matter what temptations you may be exposed to. The seriousness of this irrevocable commitment places a special obligation upon the rector and faculty of the seminary—and in a particular way on the spiritual director—to help you to evaluate your own suitability for Ordination. It is then the responsibility of the Bishop to judge whether you should be called to the priesthood.
It is important that one's commitment be made with full awareness and personal freedom. And so during these years in the seminary, take time to reflect on the serious obligations and the difficulties which are part of the priest's life. Consider whether Christ is calling you to the celibate life. You can make a responsible decision for celibacy only after you have reached the firm conviction that Christ is indeed offering you this gift, which is intended for the good of the Church and for the service of others (cf. Letter to Priests, 9).
To understand what it means to be faithful we must look to Christ, the "faithful witness" (Ap 1,5), the Son who "learned to obey through what he suffered" (He 5,8); to Jesus who said: "My aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me" (Jn 5,30). We look to Jesus, not only to see and contemplate his fidelity to the Father despite all opposition (cf. Heb He 23,3), but also to learn from him the means he employed in order to be faithful : especially prayer and abandonment to God's will (cf. Lk Lc 22,39 ff).
Remember that in the final analysis perseverance in fidelity is a proof, not of human strength and courage, but of the efficacy of Christ's grace. And so if we are going to persevere we shall have to be men of prayer who, through the Eucharist, the liturgy of the hours and our personal encounters with Christ, find the courage and grace to be faithful. Let us be confident then, remembering the words of Saint Paul: "There is nothing that I cannot master with the help of the one who gives me strength" (Ph 4,13).
3. My brothers and sons in Christ, keep in mind the priorities of the priesthood to which you aspire: namely prayer and the ministry of the word (Ac 6,4) : "It is prayer that shows the essential style of the priest; without prayer this style becomes deformed. Prayer helps us always to find the light that has led us since the beginning of our priestly vocation, and which never ceases to lead us ... Prayer enables us to be converted continually, to remain in a state of continuous reaching out to God, which is essential if we wish to lead others to him. Prayer helps us to believe, to hope and to love ..." (Letter to Priests, 10).
It is my hope that during your years in the seminary you will develop an ever greater hunger for the word of God (cf. Amos Am 8,11). Meditate on this word daily and study it continually, so that your whole life may become a proclamation of Christ, the Word made flesh (cf. Jn Jn 1,14). In this word of God are the beginning and end of all ministry, the purpose of all pastoral activity, the rejuvenating source for faithful perseverance and the one thing which can give meaning and unity to the varied activities of a priest.
4. "Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you" (Col 3,16). In the knowledge of Christ you have the key to the Gospel. In the knowledge of Christ you have an understanding of the needs of the world. Since he became one with us in all things but sin, your union with Jesus of Nazareth could never, and will never be an obstacle to understanding and responding to the needs of the world. And finally, in the knowledge of Christ, you will not only discover and come to understand the limitations of human wisdom and of human solutions to the needs of humanity, but you will also experience the power of Jesus, and the value of human reason and human endeavor when they are taken up in the strength of Jesus, when they are redeemed in Christ.
May our Blessed Mother Mary protect you today and always.
5. May I also take this opportunity to greet the laypeople who are present today at Saint Charles Seminary. Your presence here is a sign of your esteem for the ministerial priesthood, as well as being a reminder of that close cooperation between laity and priests which is needed if the mission of Christ is to be fulfilled in our time. I am happy that you are present and I am grateful for all that you do for the Church in Philadelphia. In particular I ask you to pray for these young men, and for all seminarians, that they may persevere in their calling. Please pray for all priests and for the success of their ministry among God's people. And please pray the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers into his vineyard, the Church.
Thursday, 4 October 1979
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I have come to Saint Peter's Church to pray at the tomb of Saint John Neumann, a zealous missionary, a dedicated pastor, a faithful son of Saint Alphonsus in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia.
As I stand in this Church, I am reminded of the one thing which motivated Saint John Neumann throughout his life: his love for Christ. His own prayers show us this love; for from the time he was a child he used to say: "Jesus, for you I want to live; for you I want to die; I want to be all yours in life; I want to be all yours in death" (Nicola Ferrante, S. Giovanni Neumann, CSSR, Pioniere del Vangelo, p. 25). And at the First Mass he celebrated as a priest, he prayed in these words: "Lord, give me holiness".
My brothers and sisters in Christ: this is the lesson we learn from the life of Saint John Neumann, and the message which I leave with you today: what really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ, and that we love him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And without the love of Jesus, everything else is useless.
May Mary, our Mother of Perpetual Help intercede for us ; may Saint John Neumann pray for us; and with the help of their prayers may we persevere in faith, be joyful in hope and be strengthened in our love for Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and our Lord.
Thursday, 4 October 1979
Slawa Isusu Chrystu!
Z tym chrystyjanskym prywitom zwertajusia do was, dorohi Bratia i Sestry, u waszij ridnij ukrajinskij mowi, zaky zacznu howoryty do was po anglijsky.
W perszu czerhu wytaju wsich tut prysutnych Wladyk, tak Filadelfijskoji jak tez Pitsburgskoji mytropoliji.
Zokrema wytaju nowoimenowanoho Mytropolyta Filadelfiji.
Wytaju wsich dorohych swiaszczenykiw, monachiw i monach?n.
Serdeczno wytaju was wsich dorohych wirnych ukrajinskoji Filadelfijskoji mytropoliji, szczo zibralysia tut, u tomu chrami Preswiatoji Bohorodyci, szczob prywytaty w mojij osobi naslidnyka Swiatoho Petra na Rymskim Prestoli, Chrystowoho Namistnyka na zemli.
Dla was wsich, dorohi Bratia i Sestry, blahaju obylnych lask wid Wsemohuczoho Boha, za molytwamy Neporoczno Zaczatoji Diwy Mariji, jakij pryswiaczena wasza katedra.
Wsich was blahoslowlu zo szczyroho sercia.
Slawa Isusu Chrystu !
Dear brothers and sisters,
"Now in Christ Jesus ... you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God's household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone" (Ep 2,13). With these words the Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesians of the tremendous blessing they had received in becoming members of the Church. And those words are still true today. You are part of the household of God. You, members of the Ukrainian tradition, are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. This has all occurred according to the providential plan of God.
Several years ago, my beloved predecessor, Paul VI, gave a stone from the tomb of Saint Peter to be included in the construction of this beautiful Cathedral dedicated to Mary Immaculate. Pope Paul intended this gift to be a visible symbol of the love and esteem of the Apostolic See of Rome for the Ukrainian Church. At the same time, this stone was meant to serve as a sign of the fidelity of the Ukrainian Church to the See of Peter. In this profound symbolic gesture, Paul VI was re-affirming the teaching of the Apostle Paul in the letter to the Ephesians.
Today, as successor to Paul VI in the Chair of Saint Peter, I come to visit you in this magnificent new Cathedral. I am happy for this opportunity. I welcome the occasion to assure you, as universal pastor of the Church, that all who have inherited the Ukrainian tradition have an important and distinguished part to fulfill in the Catholic Church.
As history testifies, the Church developed a number of rites and traditions as in the course of time she spread from Jerusalem to the nations and took flesh in the language, culture and human traditions of the individual peoples who accepted the Gospel with open hearts. These various rites and traditions, far from being a sign of deviation, infidelity or disunity, were in fact unfailing proof of the presence of the Holy Spirit who continually renews and enriches the Church, the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 3).
The various traditions within the Church give expression to the multitude of ways the Gospel can take root and flower in the lives of God's people. They are living evidence of the richness of the Church. Each one, while united to all the others in the "same faith, the same sacraments and the same government" (Orientalium Eccl?siarum, 2), is nevertheless manifested in its own liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline and spiritual patrimony. Each tradition combined particular artistic expressions and unique spiritual insights with an unparalleled lived experience of being faithful to Christ. It was in view of these considerations that the Second Vatican Council declared: "History, tradition, and numerous ecclesiastical institutions clearly manifest how much the universal Church is indebted to the Eastern Churches. Thus this sacred Synod not only honors this ecclesiastical and spiritual heritage with merited esteem and rightful praise, but also unhesitatingly looks upon it as the heritage of Christ's universal Church" (Orientalium Eccl?siarum, 5).
For many years, I have highly esteemed the Ukrainian people. I have known of the many sufferings and injustices you have endured. These have been and continue to be matters of great concern to me. I am also mindful of the struggles of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, throughout its history, to remain faithful to the Gospel and to be in union with the successor of Saint Peter. I cannot forget the countless Ukrainian martyrs, in ancient and more recent times, most of whose names are unknown, who gave up their lives rather than abandon their faith. I mention these in order to show my profound esteem for the Ukrainian Church and its proved fidelity in suffering.
I also wish to mention those things which you have preserved as your special spiritual patrimony: the Slavonic liturgical language, the ecclesiastical music and the numerous forms of piety which have developed over the centuries and continue to nourish your lives. Your appreciation of these treasures of the Ukrainian tradition is demonstrated by the way that you have maintained your attachment with the Ukrainian Church and have continued to live the faith according to its unique tradition.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, I want to recall in your presence the words Jesus prayed on the vigil of his death upon the Cross: "Father ... that they may be one" (Jn 17,11). We must never forget this prayer ; in fact we must continually search for still better ways to safeguard and strengthen the bonds of union which unite us in the one Catholic Church.
Remember the words of Saint Paul : "you form part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone" (Ep 2,20). The unity of this spiritual building, which is the Church, is preserved by fidelity to the cornerstone, who is Christ, and to the teaching of the apostles preserved and explained in the tradition of the Church. A real unity of doctrine binds us as one.
Catholic unity also entails a recognition of the successor of Saint Peter and his ministry of strengthening and preserving intact the communion of the universal Church, while safeguarding the existence of legitimate individual traditions within it. The Ukrainian Church, as well as the other Eastern Churches, has a right and duty, in accordance with the teaching of the Council (cf. Orientalium Eccl?siarum, 5), to preserve its own ecclesiastical and spiritual patrimony. It is precisely because these individual traditions are also intended for the enrichment of the universal Church that the Apostolic See of Rome takes great care to protect and foster each one. In turn, the ecclesial communities that follow these traditions are called to adhere with love and respect to certain particular forms of discipline which my predecessors and I, in fulfilling our pastoral responsibility to the universal Church, have judged necessary for the well-being of the whole body of Christ.
To a great extent, our Catholic unity depends on mutual charity. Let us remember that the unity of the Church originated on the Cross of Christ, which broke down the barriers of sin and division and reconciled us with God and with one another. Jesus foretold this unifying act when he said : "... and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12,32). If we continue to imitate the love of Jesus, our Savior, on the Cross, and if we persevere in love for one another, then we shall preserve the bonds of unity in the Church and witness the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer : "Father ... that they may be one" (Jn 17,11) .
As for the future, I entrust you to the protection of Mary Immaculate, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church. I know that you honor her with great devotion. This magnificent Cathedral dedicated to the Immaculate Conception bears eloquent witness to your filial love. And for centuries, our Blessed Mother has been the strength of your people throughout their sufferings, and her loving intercession lias been a cause of their joy.
Continue to entrust yourselves to her protection.
Continue to be faithful to her son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world.
And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Thursday, 4 October 1979
Dear brothers and sisters,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today with you, in the heartland of America, in this lovely Saint Patrick's Church at the Irish Settlement. My pastoral journey through the United States would have seemed incomplete without a visit, although short, to a rural community like this. Let me share with you some thoughts that this particular setting brings to mind, and that are prompted by my meeting with the families who make up this rural parish.
To proclaim Jesus Christ and his Gospel is the fundamental task which the Church has received from her Founder, and which she has taken up ever since the dawn of the first Pentecost. The early Christians were faithful to this mission which the Lord Jesus gave them through his Apostles: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers" (Ac 2,42). This is what every community of believers must do: proclaim Christ and his Gospel in fellowship and apostolic faith, in prayer and in the celebration of the Eucharist.
How many Catholic parishes have been started like yours in the early beginnings of the settlement of this region: a small, unpretentious church at the center of a group of family farms, a place and a symbol of prayer and fellowship, the heart of a real Christian community where people know each other personally, share each other's problems, and give witness together to the love of Jesus Christ!
On your farms you are close to God's nature; in your work on the land you follow the rhythm of the seasons; and in your hearts you feel close to each other as children of a common Father and as brothers and sisters in Christ. How privileged you are, that in such a setting you can worship God together, celebrate your spiritual unity and help to carry each other's burdens. The 1974 Synod of Bishops in Rome and Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi have devoted considerable attention to the small communities where a more human dimension is achieved than is possible in a big city or in a sprawling metropolis. Let your small community be a true place of Christian living and of evangelization, not isolating yourselves from the diocese or from the universal Church, knowing that a community with a human face must also reflect the face of Christ.
Feel grateful to God for the blessings he gives you, not least for the blessing of belonging to this rural parish community. May our heavenly Father bless you, each and every one of you. May the simplicity of your life style and the closeness of your community be the fertile ground for a growing commitment to Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of the world.
I for my part thank the Lord for the opportunity he gave me to come and visit you, and as Vicar of Christ to represent him in your midst. Thank you also for your warm welcome and for offering me your hospitality as I prepare for my encounter with the larger group of people at the Living Farms.
My gratitude goes in a special way to the Bishop of Des Moines for his most cordial invitation. He pointed out many reasons why a visit to Des Moines would be so meaningful: a city that is one of the major agricultural centers of this country; the headquarters also of the dynamic and deserving Catholic Rural Life Conference, whose history is so closely linked to the name of a pastor and a friend of the rural people, Monsignor Luigi Ligutti; a region distinguished by community involvement and family-centered activity, a diocese that is involved, together with all the Catholic Bishops of the heartland, in a major effort to build community.
My greetings and best wishes go also to the whole State of Iowa, to the civil authorities and to all the people, who have so generously extended to me a hospitality marked by kindness.
May God bless you through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of his Church.
Thursday, 4 October 1979
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
From Philadelphia to Des Moines, from Des Moines to Chicago! In one day I have seen a great part of your spacious land, and I have thanked God for the faith and the achievements of its people. This evening brings me to Chicago, to Holy Name Cathedral. I am grateful to the Lord for the joy of this encounter.
My special gratitude goes to you, Cardinal Cody, my Brother for many years in the College of Bishops, the Pastor of this great See of Chicago. I thank you for your kind invitation and for all you have done to prepare for my coming. A greeting of esteem and love goes also to all the priests, both diocesan and religious, who share so particularly and intimately in the responsibility of bringing the message of salvation to all the people. I am likewise looking forward to meeting people from all categories in the Church: deacons and seminarians, religious brothers and women religious, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, the single, the widowed, the young and the children : so that we can celebrate together our ecclesial unity in Christ.
It is with a special joy that I greet all of you who are present here in Holy Name Cathedral, to which, by God's grace, I return once more. Here there is symbolized and actuated the unity of this Archdiocese, this local Church—rich in history and in fidelity, rich in generosity to the Gospel, rich in the faith of millions of men, women and children who over the decades have found holiness and justice in our Lord Jesus Christ.
And today I wish to celebrate with you the great mystery expressed in the title of your Cathedral : the Holy Name of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary.
I have come to you to speak of salvation in Jesus Christ. I have come to proclaim it anew : to proclaim this message to you and with you and for you—and for all the people. As Successor of the Apostle Peter speaking in the Holy Spirit, I too proclaim : "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given by which we must be saved" (Ac 4,12).
It is in the name of Jesus that I come to you. Our service to the needy of the world is exercised in the name of Jesus. Repentance and the forgiveness of sins are preached in his name (cf. Lk Lc 24,27). And through faith, all of us have "life in his name" (Jn 20,31).
In this name—in the holy name of Jesus—there is help for the living, consolation for the dying, and joy and hope for the whole world.
Brothers and sisters in the Church of Chicago : let us do everything "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Cal 3 :12).
May the words which I address to you on my arrival here—coming from him who is called to be servant of the servants of God—be for all of Chicago, the authorities and the people, an expression of my fraternal solidarity. How greatly I would like to meet each one of you personally, to visit you in your homes, to walk your streets so that I may better understand the richness of your personalities and the depth of your aspirations. May my words to you be an encouragement for all those who strive to bring to your community a sense of brotherhood, dignity, and unity. For in coming here I want to show my respect—beyond the limit of the Catholic faith, even beyond all religion—for man, for the humanity that is in every human being. The Christ, whom I unworthily represent, taught me to do this. I must obey his command of fraternal love. And I do it with great joy.
May God uplift humanity in this great City of Chicago!
Thursday, 4 October 1979
Brothers in Christ,
1. " I thank my God whenever I think of you ; and every time I pray for you, I pray with joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the Good News from the day you first heard it right up to the present" (Ph 1,3-5). These words of Saint Paul express my feelings this evening. It is good to be with you. And I am grateful to God for your presence in the Church and for your collaboration in proclaiming the Good News.
Brothers, Christ is the purpose and the measure of our lives. In the knowledge of Christ, your vocation took its origin; and in his love, your life is sustained. For he has called you to follow him more closely in a life consecrated through the gift of the evangelical counsels. You follow him in sacrifice and willing generosity. You follow him in joy, "singing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns, and inspired songs" (Col 3,16). And you follow him in fidelity, even considering it an honor to suffer humiliation for the sake of his name (cf. Acts Ac 5,42).
Your religious consecration is essentially an act of love. It is an imitation of Christ who gave himself to his Father for the salvation of the world. In Christ, the love of his Father and his love for mankind are united. And so it is with you. Your religious consecration has not only deepened your Baptismal gift of union with the Trinity, but it has also called you to greater service of the people of God. You are united more closely to the person of Christ, and you share more fully in his mission for the salvation of the world.
It is about your share in the mission of Christ that I wish to speak this evening.
2. Let me begin by reminding you of the personal qualities needed to share effectively with Christ in his mission. In the first place, you must be interiorly free, spiritually free. The freedom of which I speak is a paradox to many ; it is even misunderstood by some who are members of the Church. Nevertheless it is the fundamental human freedom, and it was won for us by Christ on the Cross. As Saint Paul said, "We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men" (Rm 5,6).
This spiritual freedom which you received in Baptism you have sought to increase and strengthen through your willing acceptance of the call to follow Jesus more closely in poverty, chastity and obedience. No matter what others may contend or the world may believe, your promises to observe the evangelical counsels have not shackled your freedom : you are not less free because you are obedient; and you are not less loving because of your celibacy. On the contrary. The faithful practice of the evangelical counsels accentuates your human dignity, liberates the human heart and causes your spirit to burn with undivided love for Christ and for his brothers and sisters in the world (cf. Perfectae Caritatis PC 1,12).
But this freedom of an undivided heart (cf. 1Co 7,32-35) must be maintained by continual vigilance and fervent prayer. If you unite yourselves continually to Christ in prayer, you will always be free and ever more eager to share in his mission.
3. Secondly, you must center your life around the Eucharist. While you share in many ways in the passion, death and Resurrection of Christ, it is especially in the Eucharist where this is celebrated and made effective. At the Eucharist, your spirit is renewed, your mind and heart are refreshed and you will find the strength to live day by day for him who is the Redeemer of the world.
4. Thirdly, be dedicated to God's word. Remember the words of Jesus: "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice" (Lc 8,21). If you sincerely listen to God's word, and humbly but persistently try to put it into practice, like the seed sown in fertile soil, his word will bear fruit in your life.
5. The fourth and final element which makes effective your sharing in Christ's mission is fraternal life. Your life lived in religious community is the first concrete expression of love of neighbor. It is there that the first demands of self-sacrifice and generous service are exercised in order to build up the fraternal community. This love which unites you as brothers in community becomes in turn the force which supports you in your mission for the Church.
6. Brothers in Christ, today the universal Church honors Saint Francis of Assisi. As I think of this great saint, I am reminded of his delight in God's creation, his childlike simplicity, his poetic marriage to "Lady Poverty", his missionary zeal and his desire to share fully in the Cross of Christ. What a splendid heritage he has handed on to those among you who are Franciscans, and to all of us.
7. Similarly, God has raised up many other men and women outstanding in holiness. These too he destined to found religious families which, each in a distinctive way, would play an important role in the mission of the Church. The key to the effectiveness of every one of these religious institutes has been their faithfulness to the original charism God had begun in their founder or foundress for the enrichment of the Church. For this reason, I repeat the words of Paul VI : "Be faithful to the spirit of your founders, to their evangelical intentions and to the example of their holiness ... It is precisely here that the dynamism proper to each religious family finds its origin" (Evangelica Testificatio, 11-12). And this remains a secure basis for judging what specific ecclesial activities each institute, and every individual member, should undertake in order to fulfill the mission of Christ.
8. Never forget the specific and ultimate aim of all apostolic service: to lead the men and women of our day to communion with the Most Holy Trinity. In the present age, mankind is increasingly tempted to seek security in possessions, knowledge and power. By the witness of your life consecrated to Christ in poverty, chastity and obedience, you challenge this false security. You are a living reminder that Christ alone is "the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14,6).
9. Religious brothers today are involved in a wide range of activities : teaching in Catholic schools, spreading God's word in missionary activity, responding to a variety of human needs by both your witness and your actions, and serving by prayer and sacrifice. As you go forward in your particular service, keep in mind the advice of Saint Paul: "Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being. Do it for the Lord rather than for men" (Col 3,23). For the measure of your effectiveness will be the degree of your love for Jesus Christ.
10. Finally, every form of apostolic service, of either an individual or a community, must be in accord with the Gospel as it is put forward by the Magisterium. For all Christian service is aimed at spreading the Gospel ; and all Christian service incorporates Gospel values.
Therefore be men of God's word: men whose hearts burn within them when they hear the word proclaimed (cf. Lk Lc 24,32) ; who shape every action according to its demands ; and who desire to see the Good News proclaimed to the ends of the earth.
Brothers, your presence in the Church and your collaboration in promoting the Gospel are an encouragement and joy to me in my role as Pastor of the whole Church. May God give each of you long life. May he call many others to follow Christ in the religious life. And may the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and model of consecrated life, obtain for you the joy and consolation of Christ, her son.
Speeches 1979 - Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul, Philadelphia