Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. At this first General Audience of the New Year let us pause to meditate on the famous Christological Hymn contained in the Letter to the Colossians which constitutes, as it were, the solemn entrance into the wealth of this Pauline text; it is also a doorway through which to enter this year.
The hymn proposed for our reflection is framed by a rich expression of thanks (cf. vv. 3, 12-14). It helps us to create the spiritual atmosphere required to live well these first days of 2006 and our long journey throughout the new year (cf. vv. 15-20).
The praise of the Apostle, together with our praise, rises up to "God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. v. 3), the source of that salvation which is described using negative and positive images: first as having "delivered us from the power of darkness" (cf. v. 13), that is, as "redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (v. 14), and then re-presented as "the inheritance of the saints in light" (v. 12) and as the entrance "to the Kingdom of his beloved Son" (v. 13).
2. At this point the great and full Hymn unfolds: its centre is Christ and it exalts his primacy and work both in Creation and in the history of Redemption (cf. vv. 15-20). Thus, the Canticle has two movements. In the first movement, Christ is presented as the Firstborn of all creation, Christ "generated before every creature" (cf. v. 15). Indeed, he is "the image of the invisible God" and this expression has the same impact that the "icon" has in Eastern culture: it is not only the likeness that is emphasized but the profound intimacy with the subject that is represented.
Christ visibly re-proposes among us the "invisible God". In him we see the face of God through the common nature that unites them. By virtue of his most exalted dignity, Christ precedes "all things", not only because of his eternity, but also and especially in his creative and provident work: "in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible... and in him all things hold together" (cf. vv. 16-17). Indeed, they were also created "for him" (v. 16).
And so St Paul points out to us a very important truth: history has a destination, a direction. History moves toward humanity united in Christ and thus moves in the direction of the perfect man, toward the perfect humanism.
In other words, St Paul tells us: yes, there is progress in history. There is, we could say, an evolution of history. Progress is all that which brings us closer to Christ and thus closer to a united humanity, to true humanism. And so, hidden within these indications there is also an imperative for us: to work for progress, something that we all want. We can do this by working to bring others to Christ; we can do this by personally conforming ourselves to Christ, thereby taking up the path of true progress.
3. The second movement of the Hymn (cf. Col Col 1,18-20) is dominated by the figure of Christ the Saviour within the history of salvation. His work is revealed first of all in his being "the head of the Body, the Church" (v. 18): this is the privileged salvific horizon that manifests the fullness of liberation and redemption, the vital communion that joins the head and the members of the body, that is, between Christ and Christians. The Apostle's gaze extends to the ultimate goal towards which history converges: Christ, "the first-born from the dead" (v. 18), is the One who opens the doors to eternal life, snatching us from the limits of death and evil.
Here, in fact is that pleroma, that "fullness" of life and grace that is in Christ himself and that was given and communicated to us (cf. v. 19). With this vital presence that allows us to share in his divinity, we are interiorally transformed, reconciled, and peace is reestablished: this is the harmony of the entire redeemed being, in whom henceforth God will be "all in all" (1Co 15,28). To live as Christians means allowing ourselves, in this way, to be interiorly transformed into the likeness of Christ. Here, reconciliation and peace are achieved.
4. Let us now give this grandiose mystery of Redemption a contemplative look, borrowing the words of St Proclus of Constantinople, who died in 446. In his First Homily on Mary, Mother of God, he presents the mystery of Redemption anew, as a consequence of the Incarnation.
Indeed, God, the Archbishop recalls, was made man in order to save us and thus to snatch us from the powers of darkness and bring us back to the Kingdom of the Beloved Son, exactly as this Canticle of the Letter to the Colossians recalls: "The One who redeemed us", Proclus observes, "is not purely human; indeed, the whole of the human race was enslaved to sin; but he was also not merely a God deprived of human nature: he actually had a body. If he had not been clothed in my flesh he would not have saved me. Having been formed in the Virgin's womb, he was clad in the guise of one condemned. In a wonderful exchange, he gave his spirit and took on flesh" (8: Testi mariani del primo millennio, I, Rome, 1988, p. 561).
We therefore stand before the work of God who brought about Redemption precisely because he was also a man. He was at the same time the Son of God, the Saviour, but also our brother, and it is with this closeness that he pours forth in us the divine gift.
It is truly God-with-us. Amen!
* * *
To special groups
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including groups from Korea and the United States of America. In particular, I greet the delegates attending the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Brothers of St Gabriel. I pray that the time you spend here in Rome will help you to grow in your love for the Lord. As the New Year begins, I ask God to bless all of you, as well as your friends and families at home.
Lastly I address a special greeting to the young people, the sick and the newly-weds.May Jesus, whom we contemplate in the mystery of Christmas, be a sure guide for everyone, in the new year that has just begun. Best wishes!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Our journey through the Psalter used by the liturgy of Vespers now comes to a royal hymn, Psalm 144, the first part of which has just been proclaimed: in fact, the liturgy divides this hymn into two separate sections.
The first part (cf. vv. 1-8) shows clearly the literary character of this composition: the Psalmist has recourse to citations of other texts of psalms, presenting them in a new project of song and prayer.
Precisely because the Psalm is of a later epoch, it is easy to imagine that the king who is exalted might no longer possess the features of the Davidic sovereign, since the Jewish royal house came to an end with the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century B.C., but rather represents the shining and glorious figure of the Messiah, whose triumph is no longer an event of war or politics but an intervention of liberation from evil. The "messiah" - a Hebrew word that means "anointed one", as was a sovereign - thus gives way to the "Messiah" par excellence, who in the Christian interpretation has the Face of Jesus Christ, "son of David, son of Abraham" (cf. Mt Mt 1,1).
2. The hymn opens with a blessing, that is, with an exclamation of praise addressed to the Lord, celebrated with a brief litany of saving titles: he is the rock, safe and sound, he is loving grace, he is the protected fortress, the stronghold of defence, liberation, the shield that keeps at bay any assault by evil (cf. 144: 1-2). There is also the martial image of God who trains his faithful one for battle so that he will be able to face the hostilities of the environment, the dark powers of the world.
Before the all-powerful Lord, the person of prayer feels weak and frail, despite his royal dignity. He therefore makes a profession of humility that is formulated, as was said, with words from Psalms 8 and 39. Indeed, he feels like "a breath", similar to a fleeting shadow, ephemeral and inconsistent, plunged into the flow of time that rolls on and marked by the limitations proper to the human creature (cf. Ps 144: 4).
3. Here then, is the question: why does God care for and think about this creature who is so wretched and ephemeral?
This question (cf. v. 3) elicits the great manifestation of the divine, the so-called theophany that is accompanied by a procession of cosmic elements and historical events, directed at celebrating the transcendence of the supreme King of being, of the universe and of history.
Here, mountains smoke in volcanic eruptions (cf. v. 5), lightning like arrows routs the wicked (cf. v. 6), here are the "mighty waters" of the ocean that are the symbol of the chaos from which, however, the king is saved by the action of the divine hand itself (cf. v. 7).
In the background remain the wicked who tell "lies" and swear false oaths (cf. vv. 7-8): a practical depiction, in the Semitic style of idolatry, of moral perversion and evil that truly oppose God and his faithful.
4. Now, for our meditation, we will reflect initially on the profession of humility made by the Psalmist, and entrust ourselves to the words of Origen, whose commentary on our text has come down to us in St Jerome's Latin version.
"The Psalmist speaks of the frailty of the body and of the human condition", because "with regard to the human condition, the human person is nothing. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity', said Ecclesiastes".
But the marvelling, grateful question returns: ""Lord, what is man that you manifested yourself to him?'... It is a great happiness for men and women to know their Creator. In this we differ from wild beasts and other animals, because we know we have our Creator, whereas they do not".
It is worth thinking a bit about these words of Origen, who sees the fundamental difference between the human being and the other animals in the fact that man is capable of recognizing God, his Creator, that man is capable of truth, capable of a knowledge that becomes a relationship, friendship. It is important in our time that we do not forget God, together with all the other kinds of knowledge we have acquired in the meantime, and they are very numerous! They all become problematic, at times dangerous, if the fundamental knowledge that gives meaning and orientation to all things is missing: knowledge of God the Creator.
Let us return to Origen. He says: "You will not be able to save this wretch that is man unless you take it upon yourself. "Lord..., lower your heavens and come down'. Your lost sheep cannot find healing unless it is placed on your shoulders.... These words are addressed to the Son: "Lord, lower your heavens and come down'.... You have come down, lowered the heavens, stretched out your hand from on high and deigned to take our human flesh upon yourself, and many believed in you" (Origen-Jerome, 74 Homilies on the Book of Psalms, Milan, 1993, PP 512-515).
For us Christians God is no longer a hypothesis, as he was in the philosophy that preceded Christianity, but a reality, for God "lowered the heavens and came down". Heaven is God himself and he came down among us.
Origen rightly sees in the Parable of the Lost Sheep that the shepherd takes upon his shoulders the Parable of God's Incarnation. Yes, in the Incarnation, he came down and took upon his shoulders our flesh, we ourselves.
Thus, knowledge of God became reality, it became friendship and communion. Let us thank the Lord because he "lowered the heavens and came down", he took our flesh upon his shoulders and carries us on our journey through life.
The Psalm, having started with our discovery that we are weak and far from divine splendour, ends up with this great surprise of God's action: beside us, with us, is God-Emmanuel, who for Christians has the loving Face of Jesus Christ, God made man, God made one of us.
To special groups:
I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, including groups from Finland, Japan and the United States of America. Upon you and your loved ones at home, I invoke the joy and peace of Christ our Lord! I wish to offer my heartfelt greetings to the students and teachers of The Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Switzerland. I hope that your visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, together with your meetings, will be a stimulus to strengthen your commitment to the vital task of promotion of unity among Christians.
Lastly, my thoughts go to the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. May the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord that concluded the Christmas season be an incentive to you, dear friends, so that in remembering your Baptism you will be ready to witness joyfully to faith in Christ in every situation, in health and in sickness, in the family, at work and in all environments.
"If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven" (Mt 18,19). This solemn assurance of Jesus to his disciples also sustains our prayer.
The "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity", by now a tradition, begins today. It is an important event for reflecting on the tragedy of the division of the Christian community and to ask with Jesus himself "that they may all be one... so that the world may believe" (Jn 17,21). We also do so here today, in harmony with a great multitude throughout the world.
Indeed, prayer "for the union of all" involves Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, brought together in different forms, times and ways by the same faith in Jesus Christ, the one Lord and Saviour.
Prayer for unity is part of the central nucleus which the Second Vatican Council calls "the soul of the whole ecumenical movement" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 8), a nucleus that includes public and private prayers, conversion of heart and holiness of life. This vision takes us back to the heart of the ecumenical problem, which is obedience to the Gospel in order to do God's will with his necessary and effective help.
The Council explicitly pointed this out to the faithful, declaring: "The closer their union with the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, the more deeply and easily will they be able to grow in mutual brotherly love" (ibid.,n. 7).
The elements that, despite the persistent division, still unite Christians, make it possible to raise a common prayer to God. This communion in Christ sustains the entire ecumenical movement and indicates the very purpose of the search for unity of all Christians in God's Church. It is what distinguishes the ecumenical movement from any other initiative of dialogue and relations with other religions and ideologies.
In this too, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism is precise: "Taking part in this movement, which is called ecumenical, are those who invoke the Triune God and confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour" (ibid.,n. 1).
The common prayers that are prayed throughout the world, particularly in this period or around Pentecost, also express the desire for a common commitment to re-establish communion among all Christians. These prayers in common "are certainly a very effective means of petitioning for the grace of unity" (ibid.,n. 8).
With this affirmation, the Second Vatican Council basically interprets what Jesus said to his disciples when he assured them that if two of them were to agree on earth about anything for which they were to ask the Father who is in Heaven, he would grant it, "because" where two or three are gathered in his name he is in their midst.
After the Resurrection he assured them further that he would be with them "always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20). It is Jesus' presence in the community of disciples and in our prayer itself which guarantees its effectiveness, to the point that he promised: "whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt 18,18).
However, let us not limit ourselves to imploring. We can also thank the Lord for the new situation that, with effort, has been created in ecumenical relations among Christians in brotherhood rediscovered through the establishment of strong ties of solidarity, the growth of communion and the forms of convergence achieved - certainly, in an unequal manner - between the various dialogues.
There are many reasons to give thanks. And if there is still so much to hope for and to do, let us not forget that God has given us a great deal on our way towards unity. Let us therefore be grateful to him for these gifts.
The future lies before us. The Holy Father John Paul II of happy memory - who did and suffered so much for the ecumenical cause - has opportunely taught us that "an appreciation of how much God has already given is the condition which disposes us to receive those gifts still indispensable for bringing to completion the ecumenical work of unity" (Ut Unum Sint UUS 41).
Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us continue to pray, because we know that the holy cause of the restoration of Christian unity exceeds our poor human efforts and that unity, finally, is a gift of God.
In this regard and with these sentiments, I will be following in John Paul II's footsteps next Wednesday, 25 January, the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle to the Gentiles, in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls to pray with our Orthodox and Protestant brethren: to pray to thank the Lord for what he has granted us; to pray that the Lord will guide us in the footprints of unity.
In addition, my first Encyclical will finally be published that same day, 25 January; its title is already known: "Deus Caritas Est", "God is love". The theme is not directly ecumenical, but the context and background are ecumenical because God and our love are the condition for Christian unity. They are the condition for peace in the world.
In this Encyclical I desire to show the concept of love in its various dimensions. Today, in the terminology with which we are familiar, "love" often appears very far from what a Christian thinks when he speaks of charity.
For my part, I would like to show that this is a single impulse with various dimensions. The "eros", this gift of love between a man and a woman, comes from the same source, the Creator's goodness, as the possibility of a love that gives itself for the sake of the other. The "eros" becomes "agape" to the extent that the two truly love each other and no longer seek themselves, their own joy and their own pleasure, but seek above all the good of the other.
Thus, this love which is "eros" is transformed into charity in a process of purification and deepening. From its own family it is opened to the greater family of society, the family of the Church, the family of the world.
I also endeavour to show that the very personal act that comes to us from God is a unique act of love. It must also be expressed as an ecclesial and organizational act.
If it is true that the Church is an expression of God's love, of that love God feels for his human creature, it must also be true that the fundamental act of faith, which creates and unites the Church and gives us the hope of eternal life and of God's presence in the world, gives rise to an ecclesial act. In practice, the Church must also love as a Church, as a community, institutionally.
And this so-called "Caritas" is not a mere organization like other philanthropic organizations, but a necessary expression of the deepest act of personal love with which God has created us, awakening in our hearts the impulse to love, a reflection of the God-Love who makes us in his image.
It took time to prepare and translate the text. It now seems to me a gift of Providence, the fact that the text should be published on the very day on which we will pray for Christian unity. I hope that it will be able to illuminate and help our Christian life.
To special groups
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Audience, and in particular to the groups from Sweden, South Korea and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace.
I would also like to offer a special greeting to the circus people present in Rome in these days. I thank them for the beautiful performance and I encourage them always to show their faith in Christ joyfully.
Lastly, my thoughts go to the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. Dear friends, during these days of prayer for Christian unity I ask you, dear young people, to be everywhere, and especially among your peers, apostles of faithful adherence to the Gospel; I ask you, dear sick people, to offer your suffering for the full communion of all Christ's disciples; I urge you, dear newly-weds, to become more and more of one heart and one mind and to live in your families the "commandment of love".
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, during which we reflected on the constant necessity to invoke the Lord for the immense gift of full unity among all of Christ's disciples. Indeed, this prayer contributes in an essential way to make the common ecumenical effort of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities more sincere and fruitful.
At this gathering of ours, I would like to take up once more the meditation on Psalm 144, proposed by the Liturgy of Vespers in two distinct moments (cf. vv. 1-8 and vv. 9-15). The tone is still hymnal and entering into the scene is, also in the second movement of this Psalm, the figure of the "Anointed One", that is, the "Consecrated One" par excellence, Jesus, who draws everyone to himself to make of all "one" (cf. Jn Jn 17,11). It is not by chance that the scene dominating the hymn is marked by prosperity and peace, symbols typical of the messianic era.
2. For this reason, the hymn is defined as "new", a term which, in biblical language, evokes not so much the exterior novelty of the words, as the ultimate fullness that seals hope (cf. v. 9). It sings, therefore, of the destination of history where the voice of evil, described by the Psalmist as "lies" and "perjury", expressions which indicate idolatry (cf. v. 11), will finally be silenced.
But this negative aspect is replaced by a more spacious positive dimension, that of the new world, a joyful one about to appear. This is the true shalom or messianic "peace", a luminous horizon that is articulated with a series of images drawn from social life: they too can become for us an auspice for the birth of a more just society.
3. It is above all the family (cf. v. 12) that is founded on generations of young people. Sons, the hope of the future, are compared to strong saplings; daughters are like sturdy columns supporting the house, similar to those of a temple.
From the family we pass on to agriculture and farming, to the fields with its crops stored in the barns, with large flocks of grazing sheep and the working animals that till the fertile fields (cf. vv. 13-14).
Our gaze then turns to the city, that is, to the entire civil society which finally enjoys the precious gift of public peace and order. Indeed, the city walls are never more to be "breached" by invaders during assaults; raids are over, that mean plundering and deportation, and finally, the "sound of weeping" of the despairing, the wounded, victims and orphans, the sad inheritance of war, is no longer raised (cf. v. 14).
4. This portrait of a different yet possible world is entrusted to the work of the Messiah and also to that of his people. Under the guidance of Christ the Messiah, we must work together for this project of harmony and peace, stopping war's destructive action of hatred and violence. It is necessary, however, to make a choice, choosing to be on the side of the God of love and justice.
It is for this reason that the Psalm ends with the words: "Happy the people whose God is the Lord" (v. 15). God is the Good of goods, the condition of all other goods.
Only a people that knows God and defends spiritual and moral values can truly go towards a profound peace and also become a strength of peace for the world and for others; therefore, together with the Psalmist they can sing the "new song", full of trust and hope.
Spontaneous reference is made to the new covenant, to the novelty itself of Christ and his Gospel.
This is what St Augustine reminds us. Reading this Psalm, he also interprets the words: "I will play on the ten-stringed harp to you". To him, the ten-stringed harp is the law summed up in the Ten Commandments.
But we must find the right peg for these ten strings, these Ten Commandments. And only if these ten cords of the Ten Commandments - as St Augustine says - are strummed by the charity of the heart do they sound well.
Charity is the fullness of the law. He who lives the Commandments as a dimension of the one charity, truly sings the "new song". Charity that is united to the sentiments of Christ is the authentic "new song" of the "new man", able to create also a "new world".
This Psalm invites us to sing "on the ten-stringed harp" with a new heart, to sing with the sentiments of Christ, to live the Ten Commandments in the dimension of love and to thereby contribute to the peace and harmony of the world (cf. Esposizioni sui Salmi, 143, 16: Nuova Biblioteca Agostiniana, XXVIII, Rome, 1977, p. 677).
* * *
To special groups
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims here today, especially the students and teachers from Denmark and the ecumenical group from Japan. I greet also those who have come from Ireland, New Zealand and the United States of America. May you experience in your lives the peace and joy of Christ our Lord, and may God bless you all.
Lastly, my thought goes to you, young people, the sick and newly-weds. Among the young people I especially have in mind the students of the "Leopardi" lycée of San Benedetto del Tronto, accompanied by Bishop Gervasio Gestori, and the alumni of the "Pio IX" Pontifical School of Rome. Following the example of the Apostle Paul, whose conversion we celebrated today, I invite you all to live authentically the Christian vocation.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. We have just prayed Psalm 145, a joyful song of praise to the Lord who is exalted as a tender and loving King, concerned for all his creatures. The liturgy presents this hymn to us in two separate parts that also correspond to the two poetical and spiritual movements of the Psalm itself. We now reflect on the first part, which corresponds to verses 1-13.
The Psalm is raised to the Lord who is invoked and described as "King" (cf. Ps 145: 1), a depiction of the divine that is also dominant in other psalmic hymns (cf. Ps 47, 93; 96-99).
Indeed, the spiritual centre of our canticle is constituted precisely by an intense and passionate celebration of the divine kingship. The Hebrew word malkut, "reign", is repeated in it four times, almost as if to indicate the four cardinal points of being and of history (cf. Ps 145: 11-13).
We know that this royal symbolism, which was also to be central in Christ's preaching, is the expression of God's saving project: he is not indifferent to human history; on the contrary, he desires to put a plan of harmony and peace for human history into practice with us and for us.
The whole of humanity is called together to implement this plan in order that it comply with the divine saving will, a will that is extended to all "men", to "all generations", from "age to age".
It is a universal action that uproots evil from the world and instils in it the "glory" of the Lord, that is, his personal, effective and transcendent presence.
2. The prayerful praise of the Psalmist, who makes himself the voice of all the faithful and today would like to be the voice of all of us, is directed to this heart of the Psalm, placed precisely at the centre of the composition. The loftiest biblical prayer is in fact the celebration of the works of salvation, which reveal the Lord's love for his creatures.
In this Psalm the Psalmist continues to praise the divine "name", that is, the person of the Lord (cf. vv. 1-2), who manifests himself in his historical action: indeed, his "works", "splendour", "wonderful works", "mighty deeds", "greatness", "justice", "patience", "compassion", "grace", "goodness" and "love" are mentioned.
It is a prayer in the form of a litany which proclaims God's entry into human events in order to bring the whole of created reality to a salvific fullness. We are not at the mercy of dark forces nor alone with our freedom, but rather, we are entrusted to the action of the mighty and loving Lord, who has a plan for us, a "reign" to establish (cf. v. 11).
3. This "kingdom" does not consist of power and might, triumph and oppression, as unfortunately is often the case with earthly kingdoms; rather, it is the place where compassion, love, goodness, grace and justice are manifested, as the Psalmist repeats several times in the flow of verses full of praise.
Verse 8 sums up this divine portrait: the Lord is "slow to anger, abounding in love". These words are reminiscent of God's presentation of himself on Sinai when he said: "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex 34,6).
We have here a preparation for the profession of faith in God of St John the Apostle, who simply tells us that he is love: "Deus caritas est" (cf. I Jn 4: 8, 16).
4. Our attention, as well as being fixed on these beautiful words that portray to us a God who is "slow to anger" and "full of compassion", always ready to forgive and to help, is also fixed on the very beautiful verse 9 which follows: "How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures". These are words to meditate upon, words of consolation, a certainty that he brings to our lives.
In this regard, St Peter Chrysologus (c. 380 c. 450) says in his Second Discourse on Fasting: ""Great are the works of the Lord'; but this grandeur that we see in Creation is surpassed by the greatness of his mercy. Indeed, after the Prophet has said, "Great are the works of God', in another passage he adds: "His compassion is greater than all his works'. Mercy, brothers and sisters, fills the heavens, fills the earth.... That is why the great, generous, unique mercy of Christ, who reserved every judgment for a single day, allotted all of man's time to the truce of penance.... That is why the Prophet who did not trust in his own justice abandons himself entirely to God's mercy; "Have mercy on me, O God', he says, "according to your abundant mercy' (Ps 51: 3)" (42, 4-5: Sermoni 1-62bis, Scrittori dell'Area Santambrosiana, 1, Milan-Rome, 1996, PP 299,45).
And so, let us too say to the Lord, "Have mercy on me, O God, you who are great in your mercy".
To special groups:
I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including groups from England and the United States of America. I greet in particular those attending the Conference of European English-speaking Rectors as well as the trustees and officers of the University of Notre Dame. Upon all of you, I invoke the peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord!
Lastly, I address the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. Yesterday, we celebrated the memorial of St John Bosco, priest and educator. Look at him, dear young people, as an authentic teacher of life and holiness. Dear sick people, learn from his spiritual experience to trust in the Crucified Christ in every circumstance. And you, dear newly-weds, have recourse to his intercession so that he may help you take on generously your mission as husbands and wives.