S. John Paul II Homil. 1260


Holy Thursday, 12 April 2001

1261 1. "Spiritus Domini super me, eo quod unxerit Dominus me - The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me" (Is 61,1).

These verses from the Book of Isaiah have the same theme as the Chrism Mass. Our attention focuses on the anointing, since in a little while the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and chrism will be blessed.

This morning we are taking part in a special celebration in the sign of the "oil of gladness" (Ps 44,8). It is a feast of the People of God, who fix their gaze today on the mystery of the anointing, which marks the life of every Christian, from the day of his Baptism.

It is the special feast of all of us, dear and venerable brothers in the priesthood, ordained priests to serve the Christian people. I cordially thank you for gathering in such large numbers: around the altar of the Confessio of St Peter. You represent the presbyterate of Rome and, in a certain sense, of the world.

We celebrate the Chrism Mass on the threshold of the Easter Triduum, the centre and culmination of the liturgical year. This evocative rite draws light as it were from the Upper Room, that is, from the mystery of Christ the Priest, who consecrates himself at the Last Supper, anticipating the bloody sacrifice of Golgotha. The sacred anointing flows from the Eucharistic Table. The divine Spirit fills the house with his mystical fragrance (cf. Jn Jn 12,3), that is, he fills the Church and gives priests in particular a share in the consecration of Jesus (cf. Opening Prayer).

2. "Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo - I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever" (Responsorial Psalm).

Deeply renewed by the experience of the Jubilee that has recently ended, we have entered the third millennium with the words of the Psalm in our hearts and on our lips: "I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, for ever". Every baptized person and every Christian community are called to praise and bear witness to God's merciful love by holiness of life. "This is the will of God", writes the Apostle Paul, "your sanctification" (1Th 4,3). And the Second Vatican Council explains: "all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love" (Lumen gentium, LG 40).

This fundamental truth, which should be given priority in pastoral matters, 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); but we could add: "Be holy, so that the people whom God has entrusted to you may be holy". The holiness of the flock does not of course derive from that of the Pastor, but there is no doubt that it is fostered, encouraged and nourished by it.

In the Letter which I addressed to priests as I do every year for Holy Thursday, I said that this "special day of our vocation, calls us to reflect above all "on who we are', and in particular on our journey to holiness. It is from this source too that our apostolic zeal will flow" (n. 6).

I wanted to accentuate the fact that the priestly vocation is "a mystery of mercy" (ibid., n. 7). Like Peter and Paul, we know we are unworthy of so great a gift. Therefore we do not cease to feel wonder and gratitude before God for the gratuitousness with which he chose us, for the trust he places in us, for the forgiveness he never refuses us (cf. ibid., n. 6).

3. In this spirit, dear brothers, we will shortly renew our priestly promises. This is a rite that acquires fullness of value and significance precisely as an expression of the journey of holiness, to which the Lord has called us on the path of the priesthood. It is a journey which each one makes in a very personal way, known only to God, who searches and knows hearts. However in today's liturgy, the Church offers us the consoling opportunity to be united, to sustain one another at the moment when we repeat in unison: "I do".

1262 This fraternal solidarity can only become a concrete commitment to bearing each other's burdens in the ordinary circumstances of life and in the ministry. Indeed if it is true that no one can become holy in place of another, it is also true that everyone can and must become holy with and for others, after Christ's example.

Is not personal holiness nourished by that spirituality of communion, which must always precede and accompany charitable initiatives in practice? (cf. Novo millennio ineunte,
NM 43). To teach this to the faithful, we Pastors are asked to bear a consistent witness to it. In this regard the Chrism Mass acquires extraordinary eloquence. In fact, of all the celebrations of the liturgical year, it best reveals the bond of communion that exists between Bishops and priests and among priests with one another: it is a sign that the Christian people expect and appreciate with faith and affection.

4. "Vos autem sacerdotes Domini vocabimini, ministri Dei nostri, dicetur vobis - you shall be called priests of the Lord, men shall speak of you as the ministers of our God" (Is 61,6).

In this way the prophet Isaiah addresses the Israelites, prophesying the messianic times in which all the members of the People of God would receive the priestly, prophetic and royal dignity through the work of the Holy Spirit. All this was fulfilled in Christ with the New Covenant. Jesus passed on to his disciples the anointing received from his Father, that is, the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" which made him Messiah and Lord. He communicates this same Spirit to them; thus his mystery of salvation extends its effectiveness to the ends of the earth.

Today, dear brothers in the priesthood, we gratefully commemorate the sacramental anointing we have received, and at the same time, we renew our commitment to spread always and everywhere the good fragrance of Christ. (cf. Prayer after Communion).

May we be supported by the Mother of Christ, the Mother of priests, whom the litanies address with the title of "Spiritual Vessel". May Mary obtain for us, fragile clay vessels, to be filled with the divine anointing. May she help us never to forget that the Spirit of the Lord "sent us to proclaim the glad message to the peoples". Docile to the Spirit of Christ, we will be faithful ministers of his Gospel. For ever and ever. Amen!


Holy Thursday, 12 April 2001

1. “In supremae nocte Cenae / recumbens cum fratribus . . . On the night of that Last Supper, / seated with his chosen band . . ., / Then as food for his apostles / gives himself with his own hand.”

With these words, the moving hymn “Pange Lingua” presents the Last Supper, at which Jesus left us the marvellous Sacrament of his Body and Blood. The readings which have just been proclaimed illustrate its profound meaning. They form a kind of triptych: they present the institution of the Eucharist, its prefiguration in the Paschal lamb, and its existential representation in brotherly love and service.

It is the Apostle Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, who reminds us of what Jesus did “on the night when he was betrayed”. To the historical account Paul has added his own commentary: “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1Co 11,26). The Apostle’s message is clear: the community that celebrates the Lord’s Supper makes his Passover present. The Eucharist is not simply the memorial of a past rite but the living representation of the Saviour’s supreme gesture. From this experience the Christian community cannot but be moved to become the prophetic voice of the new creation inaugurated at Easter. Contemplating this evening the mystery of love that the Last Supper puts before us once again, we too remain in absorbed and silent adoration.

2. “Verbum caro, / panem verum verbo carnem efficit . . . Word made Flesh, the bread of nature / By his word to Flesh he turns.”

1263 This is the wonder which we priests touch every day with our hands during Holy Mass! The Church continues to repeat Jesus’ words and knows that she must do so until the end of the world. By virtue of those words a marvellous change takes place: the Eucharistic species remain, but the bread and wine become, in the felicitous expression of the Council of Trent, “truly, really and substantially” the Body and Blood of the Lord.

The mind feels lost before such a sublime mystery. Many queries arise in the hearts of believers, who nonetheless find peace in Christ’s words. “Et si sensus deficit / ad firmandum cor sincerum sola fides sufficit – Faith, for all defects supplying / where the feeble senses fail.” Sustained by this faith, by the light which illumines our steps even in the night of doubt and difficulty, we can proclaim: “Tantum ergo Sacramentum / veneremur cernui – Down in adoration falling / Lo, the sacred host we hail.”

3. The institution of the Eucharist is connected to the Passover rite of the first Covenant, which has been described for us in the passage from Exodus just proclaimed: it speaks of the lamb “without blemish, a male a year old” (
Ex 12,6), the sacrifice of which would save the people from the coming slaughter. “The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you” (12:13).

The hymn of Saint Thomas comments: “Et antiquum documentum / novo cedat ritui – Lo! O’er ancient forms departing, / Newer rites of grace prevail”. It is right then that the Biblical readings of this evening’s Liturgy should point our gaze towards the new Lamb, who by his blood freely shed on the Cross has established a new and definitive Covenant. Thus the Eucharist, the sacramental presence of the sacrificed body and the spilt blood of the new Lamb! In the Eucharist salvation and love are offered to all mankind. How could we not be fascinated by this mystery? Let us make our own the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas: “Praestet fides supplementum / sensuum defectui – Faith for all defects supplying / Where the feeble senses fail”. Yes, faith leads us to wonder and adoration!

4. It is at this point that our gaze takes in the third element of the triptych that makes up today’s liturgy. This we owe to the account of the Evangelist John, who depicts for us the marvellous icon of the washing of feet. By this action Jesus reminds his disciples in every age that they must bear witness to the Eucharist in loving service to others. We have heard the words of the Divine Master: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13,14). It is a new style of life that springs from Jesus’ deed: “For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (13:15).

The washing of feet is intended to be an exemplary act, which in Christ’s death on the Cross and in his Resurrection has its interpretative key and fullest explanation. In this act of humble service the Church’s faith sees the natural consequence of every Eucharistic celebration. Genuine participation in the Mass cannot but produce fraternal love in the individual believer and in the whole ecclesial community.

5. “He loved them to the end” (Jn 13,1). The Eucharist is the permanent sign of God’s love, the love that sustains our journey to full communion with the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. This is a love that surpasses the human heart. As we pause this evening to adore the Blessed Sacrament, and as we meditate on the mystery of the Last Supper, we feel immersed in the ocean of love that flows from God’s heart. With grateful minds, let us make our own the hymn of thanksgiving of the people which has been redeemed:

“Genitori Genitoque / laus et iubilatio ... To the Everlasting Father, / and the Son who reigns on high, / With the Holy Spirit proceeding / Forth from each eternally, / Be salvation, honour, blessing, / Might and endless majesty.” Amen!


Holy Saturday, 14 April 2001

1. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lc 24,5).

These words of the two men dressed “in dazzling apparel” rekindle the hope of the women who had rushed to the tomb at the break of dawn. They had experienced the tragic events culminating in Christ’s crucifixion on Calvary; they had felt the sadness and the confusion. In the hour of trial, however, they had not abandoned their Lord.

1264 They go secretly to the place where Jesus was buried in order to see him again and embrace him one last time. They are moved by love, that same love that led them to follow him through the byways of Galilee and Judea, all the way to Calvary.

What blessed women! They did not yet know that this was the dawn of the most important day of history. They could not have known that they, they themselves, would be the first witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection.

2. “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (
Lc 24,2).

So narrates the evangelist Luke, adding that, “when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (cf. 24:3). In one brief moment, everything changes. Jesus “is not here, but has risen”. This announcement, which changed the sadness of these pious women into joy, re-echoes with changeless eloquence throughout the Church in the celebration of this Easter Vigil.

A singular Vigil of a singular night. A Vigil, the mother of all vigils, during which the whole Church waits at the tomb of the Messiah, sacrificed on the Cross. The Church waits and prays, listening again to the Scriptures that retrace the whole of salvation history.

But on this night, it is not darkness that dominates but the blinding brightness of a sudden light that breaks through with the starling news of the Lord’s Resurrection. Our waiting and our prayer then become a song of joy: “Exultet iam angelica turba caelorum . . . Exult, O chorus of Angels!”

The perspective of history is completely turned around: death gives way to life, a life that dies no more. In the Preface we shall shortly sing that Christ “by dying destroyed our death, by rising restored our life”. This is the truth that we proclaim with our words, but above all with our lives. He whom the women thought was dead is alive. Their experience becomes our experience.

3. O Vigil imbued with hope, you fully express the meaning of the mystery! O Vigil rich in symbolism, you disclose the very heart of our Christian existence! On this night, everything is marvellously summed up in one name, the name of the Risen Christ.

O Christ, how can we fail to thank you for the ineffable gift which, on this night, you lavish upon us? The mystery of your Death and Resurrection descends into the baptismal waters that receive the old, carnal man and make him pure with divine youthfulness itself.

Into the mystery of your Death and Resurrection we shall shortly be immersed, renewing our baptismal promises; in a special way, the six catechumens will be immersed in this mystery as they receive Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.

4. Dear Brother and Sister Catechumens, I greet you with all the warmth of my heart, and in the name of the Church gathered here I welcome you with brotherly affection. You come form different nations: Japan, Italy, China, Albania, the United States of America and Peru.

1265 Your presence here in Saint Peter’s Square is indicative of the variety of cultures and peoples who have opened their hearts to the Gospel. On this night death gives way to life for you too, as for all the baptized. Sin is erased and a new life begins. Persevere to the end in fidelity and love. And do not be afraid when difficulties arise, for “Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Rm 6,9).

5. Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters, Jesus lives and we live in him. For ever. This is the gift of this night, which has definitively revealed to the world the power of Christ, Son of the Virgin Mary, whom he gave to us as Mother at the foot of the Cross.

This Vigil makes us part of a day that knows no end. The day of Christ’s Passover, which for humanity is the beginning of a renewed springtime of hope.

“Haec dies quam fecit Dominus: exsultemus et laetamur in ea - This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice in it and be glad”. Alleluia!


Sunday, 22 April 2001

1. "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore" (Ap 1,17-18).

We heard these comforting words in the Second Reading taken from the Book of Revelation. They invite us to turn our gaze to Christ, to experience his reassuring presence. To each person, whatever his condition, even if it were the most complicated and dramatic,the Risen One repeats: "Fear not!"; I died on the Cross but now "I am alive for evermore"; "I am the first and the last, and the living one".

"The first", that is, the source of every being and the first-fruits of the new creation; "the last", the definitive end of history; "the living one", the inexhaustible source of life that triumphed over death for ever. In the Messiah, crucified and risen, we recognize the features of the Lamb sacrificed on Golgotha, who implores forgiveness for his torturers and opens the gates of heaven to repentant sinners; we glimpse the face of the immortal King who now has "the keys of Death and Hades" (Ap 1,18).

2. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endures for ever!" (Ps 117,1).

Let us make our own the Psalmist's exclamation which we sang in the Responsorial Psalm: the Lord's mercy endures for ever! In order to understand thoroughly the truth of these words, let us be led by the liturgy to the heart of the event of salvation, which unites Christ's Death and Resurrection with our lives and with the world's history. This miracle of mercy has radically changed humanity's destiny. It is a miracle in which is unfolded the fullness of the love of the Father who, for our redemption, does not even draw back before the sacrifice of his Only-begotten Son.

In the humiliated and suffering Christ, believers and non-believers can admire a surprising solidarity, which binds him to our human condition beyond all imaginable measure. The Cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, "speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to his eternal love for man.... Believing in this love means believing in mercy (Dives in misericordia, DM 7).

1266 Let us thank the Lord for his love, which is stronger than death and sin. It is revealed and put into practice as mercy in our daily lives, and prompts every person in turn to have "mercy" towards the Crucified One. Is not loving God and loving one's neighbour and even one's "enemies", after Jesus' example, the programme of life of every baptized person and of the whole Church?

3. With these sentiments we are celebrating the Second Sunday of Easter, which since last year, the year of the Great Jubilee, is also called "Divine Mercy Sunday". It is a great joy for me to be able to join all of you, dear pilgrims and faithful who have come from various nations to commemorate, after one year, the canonization of Sr Faustina Kowalska, witness and messenger of the Lord's merciful love. The elevation to the honours of the altar of this humble religious, a daughter of my land, is not only a gift for Poland but for all humanity. Indeed the message she brought is the appropriate and incisive answer that God wanted to offer to the questions and expectations of human beings in our time, marked by terrible tragedies. Jesus said to Sr Faustina one day: "Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy" (Diary, p. 132). Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity at the dawn of the third millennium.

4. The Gospel, which has just been proclaimed, helps us to grasp the full sense and value of this gift. The Evangelist John makes us share in the emotion felt by the Apostles in their meeting with Christ after his Resurrection. Our attention focuses on the gesture of the Master, who transmits to the fearful, astounded disciples the mission of being ministers of divine Mercy. He shows them his hands and his side, which bear the marks of the Passion, and tells them: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (
Jn 20,21). Immediately afterwards "he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained' " (Jn 20,22-23). Jesus entrusted to them the gift of "forgiving sins", a gift that flows from the wounds in his hands, his feet, and especially from his pierced side. From there a wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity.

Let us relive this moment with great spiritual intensity. Today the Lord also shows us his glorious wounds and his heart, an inexhaustible source of light and truth, of love and forgiveness.

5. The Heart of Christ! His "Sacred Heart" has given men everything: redemption, salvation, sanctification. St Faustina Kowalska saw coming from this Heart that was overflowing with generous love, two rays of light which illuminated the world. "The two rays", according to what Jesus himself told her, "represent the blood and the water" (Diary, p. 132). The blood recalls the sacrifice of Golgotha and the mystery of the Eucharist; the water, according to the rich symbolism of the Evangelist John, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn Jn 3,5 Jn 4,14).

Through the mystery of this wounded heart, the restorative tide of God's merciful love continues to spread over the men and women of our time. Here alone can those who long for true and lasting happiness find its secret.

6. "Jesus, I trust in you". This prayer, dear to so many of the devout, clearly expresses the attitude with which we too would like to abandon ourselves trustfully in your hands, O Lord, our only Saviour.

You are burning with the desire to be loved and those in tune with the sentiments of your heart learn how to build the new civilization of love. A simple act of abandonment is enough to overcome the barriers of darkness and sorrow, of doubt and desperation. The rays of your divine mercy restore hope, in a special way, to those who feel overwhelmed by the burden of sin.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, help us always to have this trust in your Son, our Redeemer. Help us too, St Faustina, whom we remember today with special affection. Fixing our weak gaze on the divine Saviour's face, we would like to repeat with you: "Jesus, I trust in you". Now and for ever. Amen.


Sunday, 29 April 2001

1. "Just as the day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach" (Jn 21,4). At the crack of dawn, the Risen One appeared to the Apostles, who had just returned after a night of unsuccessful fishing on the lake of Tiberias. The Evangelist explains that on that night "they caught nothing" (Jn 21,3) and adds that they had nothing to eat. They obeyed Jesus' invitation: "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some" (Jn 21,6) without hesitation. Their response was prompt and their reward great, because all night long their net had been empty and now, "they were not able to haul it in for the great quantity of fish" (Jn 21,6).

1267 How can we not see in this episode, which St John mentions in the epilogue of his Gospel, an eloquent sign of what the Lord continues to do in the Church and in the hearts of believers who trust in him without reserve? The five Servants of God whom I have had the joy of raising to the honour of the altars today are special witnesses of the extraordinary gift which the risen Christ lavishes upon every baptized person: the gift of holiness.

Blessed are those who make this mysterious gift fruitful, allowing the Holy Spirit to conform their lives to Christ who died and was raised! Blessed are you who shine today like bright stars in the firmament of the Church: Manuel González García, Bishop, Founder of the Congregation of the Misioneras Eucarísticas de Nazaret; Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodríguez Santiago, layman; Marie Anne Blondin, virgin, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of St Anne; Caterina Volpicelli, virgin, foundress of the Servants of the Sacred Heart; Caterina Cittadini, virgin, foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of Somasca.

Each one of you, in promising yourselves to Christ, made the Gospel the your rule of life. Thus you became his faithful disciples, having drawn that newness of life, inaugurated by the mystery of the Resurrection, from the inexhaustible spring of his love.

2. "That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord' " (
Jn 21,7). In the Gospel we have heard that seeing the miracle worked, a disciple recognizes Jesus. The others will recognize him later. In presenting to us Jesus who "came and took the bread and gave it to them" (Jn 21,13), the Gospel points out how and when we can meet the risen Christ: in the Eucharist, where Jesus is truly present under the appearances of bread and wine. It would be sad if, after so long, the Saviour's loving presence were still to be unknown by humanity.

This was the great passion of the new blessed, Bl. Manuel González García, Bishop of Malaga and later of Palencia. His experience before a deserted tabernacle in Palomares del Río was to mark his whole life, and from that moment he dedicated himself to spreading devotion to the Eucharist, proclaiming the words he subsequently chose as his epitaph: "Here is Jesus! He is here! Do not abandon him!" Bl. Manuel González, founder of the Misioneras Eucarísticasde Nazaret, is a model of Eucharistic faith whose example continues to speak to the Church today.

3. "None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?'. They knew it was the Lord" (Jn 21,12). When the disciples recognize him by the lake of Tiberias, their faith in Christ, risen and present among his disciples, is strengthened. For two millennia the Church has not tired of proclaiming and repeating this fundamental truth of faith.

The experience of the mystery of Easter renews all things, since as we sang in the Easter Proclamation: "the power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy". This spirit animated the whole existence of Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago, the first Puerto Rican to be raised to the glory of the altars. The new blessed, illumined by faith in the Resurrection, shared with everyone the profound meaning of the paschal mystery, repeating frequently: "We live for this night", the Easter Vigil. His fruitful and generous apostolate chiefly consisted in the effort to help the Church in Puerto Rico to attain an awareness of this important event of our salvation.

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez emphasized the universal call to holiness for all Christians and the importance for all the baptized to respond to it in a conscious and responsible way. May his example help the whole Church of Puerto Rico to be faithful, living with great consistency the values and Christian principles received during the evangelization of the island.

4. Marie Anne Blondin, foundress of the Sisters of St Anne, is a model of a life given to love and inspired by Christ's death and resurrection. This young Canadian country woman proposed to her Bishop the foundation of a religious congregation for the education of poor children in rural areas, to overcome illiteracy. With a spirit of abandonment in Providence whose ways she blessed, she would humbly accept the Church's decisions and until her death did menial tasks for her sisters' good. Trials would never lessen her great love for Christ and for the Church, nor her concern to form true teachers of youth. The model of a humble and hidden life, Marie Anne Blondin drew her inner strength from contemplation of the Cross, showing us that a life of closeness to Christ is the surest way to bear fruit mysteriously and to accomplish the mission willed by God. May her example awaken in the religious of her Institute and in many young women an inclination to serve God and others, particularly youth, to whom it is important to offer the means for an authentic spiritual, moral and intellectual development!

5. "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!" (Ap 5,12). These words taken from the Book of Revelation and proclaimed in the Second Reading can also be fittingly applied to the mystical experience of Bl. Caterina Volpicelli. Three significant aspects stand out in her life, which was totally consecrated to the heart of the Lamb slain for our salvation: a deep Eucharistic spirituality, an indomitable fidelity to the Church and a surprising apostolic generosity.

The Eucharist, which she adored for long hours and made the centre of her life, to the point of taking a vow as a victim of reparation, was a school of docile and loving obedience to God for her. At the same time it was a source of tender and merciful love for her neighbour; in the poorest and most marginalized she loved her Lord, contemplated at length in the Blessed Sacrament.

1268 She was always able to find in the Eucharist the missionary fervour which impelled her to express her vocation in the Church with docility to her pastors and with prophetic intentions of promoting the laity and new forms of consecrated life. Without determining places for action or founding specific institutions, she wanted, as she herself said, to seek solitude in work and fruitful work in solitude. She was the first "messenger" of the Apostleship of Prayer in Italy, and left as a legacy, especially to the Ancelle del Sacro Cuore (Servants of the Sacred Heart), a unique apostolic mission which must continue to be ceaselessly nourished at the source of the Eucharistic mystery.

6. "Lord; you know that I love you" (
Jn 21,15 cf. vv. Jn 16,17). The threefold declaration of love which Peter makes to the Lord in today's Gospel passage, leads us to think of Caterina Cittadini. In her difficult life the new blessed showed indomitable love for the Lord. Her deep capacity for loving, sustained by great emotional balance, is emphasized by all those who had the opportunity to know her. Having been orphaned at a very early age, she made herself a loving mother to orphans. Moreover, she wanted her spiritual daughters, at the school and in their contact with the children, to be "mothers".

Caterina did her utmost to "be of Christ to bring people to Christ". For her too, the secret was union with the Eucharist. She recommended her first co-workers to foster an intense spiritual life and an especially vital contact with Jesus in the Eucharist. How very timely is her spiritual legacy for those who are called to be teachers of the faith and want to pass on the values of Christian culture to the new generations in this time of great social changes!

7. "We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him" (Ac 5,32). Let us joyfully make our own the words taken from the Acts of the Apostles which have rung out during the Mass. Yes, we are witnesses of the miracles that God works in those "who submit to him".

We find the truth of this affirmation in your life, O new blesseds, whom we are venerating today and invoke as intercessors. Your heroic fidelity to the Gospel is a proof of the Holy Spirit's fruitful action.

Help us in turn to take the path of holiness, especially when it becomes difficult. Steady us as we keep our gaze fixed on the One who has called us. Let us join our voices to those of the Virgin Mary and all the saints, to sing: "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!" (Ap 5,13). Amen!

S. John Paul II Homil. 1260