Speeches 2005-13 31052

CONCLUSION OF THE MONTH OF MAY Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens Thursday, 31 May 2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am always delighted to take part in this Marian Vigil in the Vatican, a moment which, although in the presence of so many people, always retains its intimate, family character. The month which the devotion of the faithful dedicates in a special way to veneration of the Mother of God closes with the liturgical feast, recalled in the “second Joyful Mystery” of the Visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. This event is marked by the joy expressed in the words with which the Our Lady glorifies the Almighty for the great things he has done looking upon the humility of his handmaid: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (
Lc 1,46). The Magnificat is the hymn of praise which rises from humanity redeemed by divine mercy, it rises from all the People of God; at the same time, it is a hymn that denounces the illusion of those who think they are lords of history and masters of their own destiny.

On the contrary Mary puts God at the centre of her life, she abandons herself trustingly to his will, in an attitude of humble obedience to his loving plan. Because of her docile spirit and humility of heart, she is chosen to be the temple which bears within it the Word, God made Man. She, therefore, is the symbol of the “Daughter of Zion” whom the prophet Zephaniah calls to rejoice, to exult with joy (cf. Zeph So 3,14).

Dear friends, tonight let us turn our gaze to Mary with renewed filial affection. We must all learn from our heavenly Mother always: her faith invites us to look beyond appearances and to believe firmly that daily struggles are making way to a spring that has already begun in the Risen Christ. Let us draw upon the Immaculate Heart of Mary this evening with renewed trust to allow ourselves to be caught up in her joy, which finds its deepest source in the Lord. Joy, a fruit of the Holy Spirit, is a fundamental hallmark of the Christian: it is founded on hope in God, it draws strength from ceaseless prayer, and allows us to face tribulation with serenity. St Paul reminds us: “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rm 12,12). These words of the Apostle are like an echo of Mary’s Magnificat and exhort us to reproduce in ourselves, in our every day life, the feelings of joy in faith, which belong to Mary’s canticle.

I would like to express to each and every one of you, dear brothers and sisters, Venerable Eminences, Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and all the faithful, the hope that this spiritual joy, which overflowed from the heart brimming with gratitude of the Mother of Christ and our Mother may be further strengthened, at the end of this month of May, in our souls, in our personal and family lives, in every environment, especially in the life of this family which here in the Vatican serves the universal Church. Thank you everyone


MEETING WITH THE CITIZENS Duomo Square, Milan Friday, 1st June 2012


Mr Mayor,
Distinguished Authorities,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Archdiocese of Milan,

I cordially greet all of you gathered here in such large numbers, as well as those who are following this event via radio and television. Thank you for your warm welcome! I thank the Mayor for his kind words of welcome on behalf of the civil community. I respectfully greet the Government Representatives, the President of the Region, the President of the Province, and the other representatives of civil and military Institutions, and express my appreciation of their collaboration in all the various events of this Visit. And thank you, Your Eminence, for your cordial greeting!

I am very happy to be among you today and I thank God for offering me the opportunity to visit your beautiful city. My first encounter with the Milanese is taking place in the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of Milan, where the imposing symbol of this city stands. With its forest of steeples it calls us to raise our gaze to God. This soaring to the heavens has always characterized Milan and has enabled it over time to respond fruitfully to its vocation: to be a crossroads — a Mediolanum — of peoples and cultures. The city has wisely succeeded in combining pride in its identity with the ability to welcome every positive contribution which has been offered to it in the course of history. Still today, Milan is called to rediscover its positive role as a herald of peace and development for the whole of Italy.

My warm thanks go once again to the Pastor of this Diocese, Cardinal Angelo Scola, for his welcome and for his words to me on behalf of the entire diocesan Community; with him I greet the Auxiliary Bishops and those who preceded him on this great and ancient Cathedra, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini. I address a special greeting to the representatives of families — coming from all over the world — who are taking part in the Seventh World Meeting. My thoughts turn affectionately to those who are in need of help and comfort and are afflicted by various worries: to people who are lonely or in trouble, to the unemployed, the sick, those in prison, to the homeless and those who are without the means to live a dignified life. May none of these brothers and sisters lack the community’s constant solidarity and concern.

In this regard, I appreciate all that the Archdiocese of Milan has done and continues to do in practice to meet the needs of families most severely hit by the economic and financial crisis; and for having taken immediate action, together with the entire Church and civil society in Italy, to help the people hit by the earthquake in Emilia Romagna, who are in our hearts and in our prayers. On their behalf, I once again invite you to show generous solidarity.

The Seventh World Meeting of Families offers me the opportunity to visit your city and to renew the strong and constant bonds that link the Ambrosian community to the Church of Rome and to the Successor of Peter. As is well known, St Ambrose came from a Roman family and always kept alive his ties with the Eternal City and with the Church of Rome, manifesting and praising the primacy of the Bishop who presided over her. “In Peter”, he affirmed, “there is the foundation of the Church and the magisterium of discipline” (De Virginitate, 16, 105); and there is also his famous statement: “Where Peter is, there is the Church” (Explanatio
Ps 40, 30, 5). Ambrose’s pastoral wisdom and teachings on the orthodoxy of the faith and on Christian life have made an indelible impression on the universal Church and, in particular, mark the Church of Milan, which has never ceased to cultivate his memory and to preserve his spirit. The Ambrosian Church, safeguarding the prerogatives of her rite and her own expression of the one faith, is called to live the full catholicity of the one Church, to witness to her and to contribute to her enrichment.

The profound sense of Church and the sincere warmth of communion with the Successor of Peter have been part of the wealth and identity of your Church throughout her journey and shine out in the great Pastors who have guided you. First of all, St Charles Borromeo, a son of your land. As the Servant of God Paul VI said, “he moulded the people’s consciences and morals” (Discourse to the Milanese, 18 March, 1968); and he did so above all with his broad, tenacious and rigorous application of the Tridentine reforms, with his creation of institutions for renewal, starting with seminaries, and with his boundless pastoral charity, rooted in profound union with God, accompanied by the exemplary austerity of his life. However, along with St Ambrose and St Charles, I wish to mention other excellent Pastors, closer to us, who with their holiness and their doctrine have adorned the Church of Milan: Bl. Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari, an apostle of catechesis and of speakers and promoters of social renewal in the Christian sense; Bl. Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, the “Cardinal of prayer”, a Pastor tireless to the point of totally consuming himself for his faithful. Further, I would like to recall two Archbishops of Milan who became Pontiffs: Achille Ratti, Pope Pius XI; it was his determination that was responsible for resolving the Roman Question and for constituting Vatican City State; and the good and wise Servant of God Giovanni Battista Montini, Paul VI, who was able, with an expert hand, to steer the Second Vatican Council and bring it to a successful conclusion. From the Ambrosian Church certain spiritual fruits have developed that are particularly important for our time. Among them all, I would like today, thinking precisely of the family, to mention St Gianna Beretta Molla, a wife and mother, a woman committed to ecclesial and civil life who made the beauty and joy of faith, hope and charity resplendent.

Dear friends, your history is very rich in culture and faith. Such wealth has inspired the art, music, literature, culture, industry, politics and initiatives of solidarity of Milan and of the whole Archdiocese. It is now up to you, heirs of a glorious past and a spiritual patrimony of inestimable value: commit yourselves to passing on to the future generations the torch of this brilliant tradition. You know well how urgent it is to insert the Gospel leaven into today’s cultural context. Faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us and is alive in our midst, must revive the whole fabric of personal and communal, public and private life, so as to enable a permanent and authentic “well being”, starting with the family, which must be rediscovered as the principal patrimony of mankind, a coefficient and the sign of a true and enduring culture in favour of the human being. The unique identity of Milan must not isolate or separate it, closing in on itself. On the contrary, keeping the sap in its roots and the characteristic traits of its history, it is called to look to the future with hope, cultivating an intimate and dynamic link with the life of all Italy and of Europe. In the clear distinction between roles and aims, a positively “secular” Milan and the Milan of faith are called to coordinate for the common good.

Dear brothers and sisters, thank you again for your welcome! I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary, who from the highest spire of the Cathedral keeps motherly watch over this city, day and night. To all of you, whom I hold in a great embrace, I impart my affectionate blessing. Thank you!


Dear Cardinals,
Distinguished Authorities,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Delegations of the Seventh World Meeting of Families,

In this historic place I would like first of all to remember an event. It was 11 May 1946 and Arturo Toscanini raised his baton to conduct a memorable concert at La Scala, rebuilt after the horrors of the war. It is said that the great Maestro, having just arrived here in Milan, went straight to this theatre and in the centre of the hall began clapping his hands to test whether the proverbial acoustics had been preserved and, finding them perfect, he exclaimed: “It’s La Scala, it’s still my Scala!”. These words “It’s La Scala!” evoke the significance of this place, the Temple of Opera, a musical and cultural reference point not only for Milan and Italy but for the whole world.

La Scala is deeply bound to Milan, it is one of its greatest glories and I wanted to recall that date in May 1946, because the rebuilding of La Scala was a sign of hope for the revival of the entire city’s life following the destruction of the war. So, it is an honour for me to be here with all of you and to have experienced, by way of this splendid concert, a momentary uplifting of our thoughts. I thank Hon. Mr Giuliano Pisapia, the Mayor, and Dr Stéphane Lissner, the Superintendent, for having introduced the evening, and in particular, I thank the Orchestra and Choir of La Scala, the four soloists and the conductor, Maestro Daniel Barenboim, for the intense and engaging interpretation of one of the absolute masterpieces in the history of music. The composition of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was long and complex, but from the famous first sixteen bars of the first movement an expectation of something grandiose is created and the expectation is not disappointed.

While essentially following the traditional forms and language of the classical symphony, Beethoven leads us to notice something new, unprecedented in all the opera’s movements and which is confirmed in the final part. It is introduced by a terrible dissonance from which stands out the recitative with the famous words “O friends, not these sounds! But let us strike up more pleasant sounds and more joyful words” that in a certain sense “turn the page” and introduce the central theme of the Ode to Joy.

What Beethoven portrays with his music is an ideal vision of humanity: “living joy in brotherhood and in mutual love, under God’s paternal gaze” (Luigi Della Croce). What Beethoven praises is not really Christian joy, yet it is the joy of the fraternal coexistence of peoples, of victory over selfishness, and it expresses the wish that humanity’s journey may be marked by love. It is, as it were, an invitation to everyone, beyond every barrier and belief.

A shadow is cast over this concert — which should have been a joyous celebration on the occasion of the convergence of people from almost all the nations in the world — by the earthquake which brought great suffering to many people in our country. The words taken from Schiller’s Ode to Joy, sound empty to us; indeed, they do not seem true.

We have no experience at all of the divine sparks of Elysium. We are not drunk with fire but rather paralyzed with the pain of so much incomprehensible destruction which has taken human lives, has swept away the houses and dwellings of many. Even the hypothesis that a good father must live above the starry firmament seems to us to be disputable. Is the good father to be found only above the starry firmament? Does his goodness not reach down to us? We seek a God that does not reign from a distance but enters our life and our suffering.

At this time we would almost like Beethoven’s words, “Friends, not these sounds...” to refer to Schiller’s. Not these sounds. We are not in need of an unreal discourse by a distant God, or of a brotherhood which is not challenging. We seek a God who is close. We seek a brotherhood which sustains others in the midst of suffering and thereby helps them journey on.

After this concert many will go to the Eucharistic Adoration, to the God who immersed himself in our suffering and continues to do so, to the God who suffers with us and for us and thus made men and women capable of sharing the suffering of the other and transforming it into love. It is precisely to this that we feel called by this concert.

Thanks, therefore, once again to the Orchestra and Choir of La Scala, to the soloists and to those who made this event possible. Thanks to Maestro Daniel Barenboim, also because, with the choice of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, he has enabled us to send a message through music which affirms the fundamental values of solidarity, brotherhood and peace.

I think this message is also precious for the family, because it is in the family that we experience for the first time that the human person is not created to live withdrawn into him- or herself but in a relationship with others. It is in the family that we understand how self-fulfilment is not found in making ourselves the centre, driven by selfishness, but rather in giving ourselves. It is in the family that we begin to kindle in our hearts the light of peace, so that it may illuminate this world of ours. I thank you all for this moment we have spent together. My heartfelt thanks!

CELEBRATION OF MID-MORNING PRAY Milan's Cathedral Saturday, 2 June 2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are gathered in prayer, responding to the invitation of the Ambrosian Hymn for the Hour of Terce. “It is the third hour. The wounded Jesus mounts the Cross”. This is a clear reference to Jesus’ loving obedience to the Father’s will. The Paschal Mystery has given rise to a new season: the death and Resurrection of Christ recreate innocence in humanity and elicit joy. In fact, the hymn continues: “From this the era of salvation begins — Hinc iam beata tempora coepere Christi gratia”.

We are gathered in the Cathedral Basilica, in this Cathedral, which is truly the heart of Milan. From here our thoughts extend to the immense Archdiocese of Milan which down the centuries and also in recent times has given the Church men outstanding in holiness of life and in their ministry, like St Ambrose and St Charles, Popes of uncommon stature, such as Pius XI and the Servant of God Paul VI, as well as the Blesseds, Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari and Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster.

I am very pleased to spend a little time with you! I address an affectionate thought of greeting to you all and to each one in particular, and I would like to reach out in a special way to those who are ill or very elderly. I greet with warm cordiality Cardinal Angelo Scola, your Archbishop, and thank him for his kind words. I greet with affection your Pastors emeritus, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, together with the other Cardinals and Bishops present.

At this moment we are living the mystery of the Church in its loftiest expression, liturgical prayer. Our lips, our hearts and our minds, in the prayer of the Church, express the needs and longings of all humanity. In the words of Psalm 119 [118] we have implored the Lord on behalf of all men and women, “Incline my heart to your testimonies... Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord”. The daily prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours is an essential task of the ordained ministry in the Church. Further, through the Divine Office, which prolongs the central mystery of the Eucharist throughout the day, priests are in a special way united to the Lord Jesus, alive and active in time. The Priesthood: what a precious gift!

Dear Seminarians, you are preparing yourselves to receive it, learn how to savour it from this moment and live with commitment your precious time at the Seminary. During the Ordinations in 1958 Archbishop Montini said in this very Cathedral: “priestly life begins: a poem, a drama, a new mystery... a source of perpetual meditation... ever the object of discovery and wonder. [The priesthood]”, he said, “is always newness and beauty for those who dedicate loving thought to it... it is a recognition of God’s work in us” (Homily for the Ordination of 46 priests, 21 June 1958).

If Christ, to build his Church, puts himself into the hands of the priest, the priest in his turn must entrust himself to Christ without reserve; love for the Lord Jesus is the soul of the priestly ministry and the reason for it, just as it was the premise for him to assign to Peter the mission to feed his flock: “Simon..., do you love me more than these?”.... Feed my lambs (
Jn 21,15)”.

The Second Vatican Council recalled that Christ “remains always the principle and source of the unity of their lives. Therefore priests will be the unity of their lives by joining themselves with Christ in the recognition of the Father’s will and in the gift of themselves to the flock entrusted to them. In this way, by adopting the role of the Good Shepherd they will find in the practice of pastoral charity itself the bond of priestly perfection which will reduce to unity their life and activity” (Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 14).

The Council spoke of this very matter: on how to find in the different occupations, from one hour to the next, unity of life, the unity of being a priest, precisely in this source of profound friendship with Jesus, of inwardly being with him. And there is no opposition between the personal good of the priest and his mission. Indeed, pastoral charity is a unifying element of life that starts in an ever closer relationship with Christ in prayer so that priests may live the total gift of themselves to the flock in such a way that the People of God grow in communion with God and are a manifestation of the communion of the Blessed Trinity. Our every action, in fact, aims to lead the faithful to union with the Lord and thereby make ecclesial communion increase for the salvation of the world.

The three things: personal union with God, the good of the Church and the good of humanity in its totality, are not different or opposite but faith lived in concert.

A luminous sign of this pastoral charity and of an undivided heart are priestly celibacy and consecrated virginity. We have sung in St Ambrose’s hymn: “If the Son of God is born in you, keep your life blameless”. “To welcome Christ – Christum suscipere” – is a motif that recurs frequently in the holy Bishop of Milan’s preaching. I quote a passage from his Commentary on St Luke “He who welcomes Christ into the intimacy of his house will be satiated with the greatest joys” (Expos. Evangelii Secundum Lucam, v, 16). The Lord Jesus was his great lode star, the principal subject of his thinking and preaching, and above all the term for a living and confidant love. Without any doubt, love for Jesus is equally valid for all Christians, but for the celibate priest and for those who have responded to the vocation to the consecrated life it acquires special significance. In order to repeat the “yes” to God’s will every day the source and model is found only and always in Christ. St Ambrose who preached and fostered virginity in the Church with surprising intensity, and who in addition promoted the dignity of women, would ask himself “How can we retain Christ?”. He would answer the question cited, “Not with knotted ropes, but with the bonds of love and with the affection of the soul” (De Virginitate, 13, 77). And in a famous sermon to virgins he said: “Christ is everything for us: if you desire to heal your wounds, he is the doctor; if you are parched by the heat of fever, he is a fountain; if you are oppressed by guilt, he is justice; if you have need of help, he is strength; if you are afraid of death, he is life; if you wish for paradise, he is the road; if you flee from darkness, he is light; if you look for food, he is nourishment” (ibid., 16, 99).

Dear Consecrated Brothers and Sisters, I thank you for your testimony and encourage you: look to the future with trust, relying on the fidelity of God that will never be lacking, and the power of his grace that can work ever new marvels, also in and with us. The antiphons of this Saturday’s Psalmody have in fact led us to contemplate the mystery of the Virgin Mary. Indeed in her we can recognize the “kind of poor and virginal life which Christ the Lord chose for himself and which his Virgin Mother embraced” (Lumen Gentium LG 46), a life in full obedience to God’s will.

Once again the Hymn has reminded us of Jesus’ words on the Cross: “From the glory of the Cross, Jesus speaks to the Virgin: “woman, behold, your son!”; and to John, “Behold, your mother!”. Mary, Mother of Christ, extends and prolongs her divine motherhood in us too, so that the ministry of the word and of the sacraments, the life of contemplation and apostolic work in its many forms may persevere, unflagging and courageous, in service to God and in building up his Church.

At this moment I would like to thank God for the array of Milanese priests and men and women religious who have spent their energy in service to the Gospel, sometimes even going so far as to make the supreme sacrifice of life. Some of them have been held up for the worship and imitation of the faithful even in recent times: the Blessed priests Luigi Talamoni, Luigi Biraghi, Luigi Monza, Carlo Gnocchi and Serafino Morazzone; the Blessed men religious Giovanni Mazzucconi, Luigi Monti and Clemente Vismara, and the Blessed women religious, Maria Anna Sala and Enrichetta Alfieri.

Through their common intercession let us trustingly ask the Giver of every gift to make the ministry of priests ever fruitful and to strengthen the witness of consecrated men and women in order to show the world the beauty of the gift of self to Christ and to the Church and to renew Christian families in accordance with God’s plan so that they may be places of grace and holiness, a fertile terrain for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. Amen. Many thanks.

MEETING WITH THE CANDIDATES FOR CONFIRMATION "Meazza" Stadium, San Siro Saturday, 2 June 2012

Dear Young People,

It gives me great joy to be able to meet you during my Visit to your city. You are the champions today in this famous football stadium! I greet Cardinal Angelo Scola, your Archbishop, and thank him for his words. My thanks also go to Fr Samuele Marelli. I greet your friend who has welcomed me on behalf of you all. I am glad to greet the Episcopal Vicars who, on the Archbishop’s behalf, have administered or will administer Confirmation to you.

A special “thank you” to the Fondazione Oratori Milanesi, which has organized this meeting, to your priests, to all the catechists, to your teachers and sponsors, as well as to all those in the individual parish communities who have been your travelling companions and have witnessed to faith in Jesus Christ, dead and risen, and alive.

Dear young people, you are either preparing to receive the sacrament of Confirmation or you have just received it. I know that you have completed a good formation process, this year entitled: “The Spectacle of the Spirit”. Helped by this itinerary with its various stages, you have learned to recognize the wonderful things that the Holy Spirit has done and is doing in your life and in all those who say “yes” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You have discovered the great value of Baptism, the first of the sacraments, the entrance gate to Christian life.

You received it thanks to your parents, who, with your Godparents, professed the Creed on your behalf and committed themselves to raise you in the faith. This was an immense grace for you — as it was for me — so long ago! From that moment, reborn through water and the Holy Spirit, you belonged to the family of God’s children, you became Christians, members of the Church.

Now you have grown up and you yourselves can say your personal “yes” to God, a free and informed “yes”. The sacrament of Confirmation strengthens Baptism and pours out the Holy Spirit upon you in abundance. You yourselves, full of gratitude, now have the possibility of accepting his important gifts that help you on your way through life to become faithful and courageous witnesses of Jesus. The gifts of the Spirit are stupendous realities that enable you to be formed as Christians, to live out the Gospel and to be active members of the community. I briefly recall these gifts, of which the Prophet Isaiah and then Jesus have already spoken to us:

— the first gift is wisdom, which enables you to see how good and great the Lord is and, as the word says, fills your life with flavour, so that, as Jesus said, you may be “salt of the earth”;

— then there is the gift of understanding, so that you may understand in depth the word of God and the truth of the faith;

— next is the gift of counsel, which will guide you to the discovery of God’s plan for your life, the life of each one of you;

— the gift of fortitude, in order to overcome the temptations of evil and to do good always, even at the cost of making a sacrifice;

— then comes the gift of knowledge, not knowledge in the technical sense, as is taught at university, but knowledge in the deepest sense which teaches you to find in creation the signs and impressions of God, to understand how God speaks in every epoch and speaks to me, and to inspire your daily work with the Gospel; to understand that there is depth, and to understand this depth and thus give a taste to work, even work that is difficult;

— another gift is that of piety, which keeps alive in the heart the flame of love for our Father who is in heaven, so as to pray to him every day with the trust and tenderness of beloved children; of not forgetting the fundamental reality of the world and of my life: that God exists and that God knows me and expects my response to his project;

— and finally the seventh and last gift is fear of God —we spoke earlier of fear — fear of God does not mean being afraid of him but feeling profound respect for him, the respect of God’s will which is the true plan of my life and the way on which personal and community life can be good. Today too with all the crises that there are in the world, we see how important it is that each one may respect this will of God impressed in our hearts and by which we must live; and so this fear of God is a desire to do good, to do what is true, to do God’s will.

Dear young people, the whole of Christian life is a journey, it is like following a path that winds up a mountain — therefore it is not always easy but climbing a mountain is something beautiful — in the company of Jesus. With these precious gifts your friendship with him will become even truer and closer. It is continually nourished with the sacrament of the Eucharist, in which we receive his Body and his Blood. For this reason I invite you always to take part joyfully and faithfully in Sunday Mass, when the entire community gathers together to pray, to listen to the word of God and to take part in the Eucharistic sacrifice.

And also receive the sacrament of Penance and Confession: it is an encounter with Jesus who forgives our sins and helps us to do good. Receiving the gift, starting out anew is a great gift in life, knowing that I am free, that I can start again, that everything is forgiven. Then do not omit your personal, daily prayer. Learn to converse with the Lord, confide in him, tell him of your joys and anxieties and ask him for enlightenment and support for your journey.

Dear friends, you are fortunate because in your parishes there are oratories, after-school recreation and prayer centres, a great gift of the Diocese of Milan. An “oratory”, as the word says, is a place for prayer, but also for being together in the joy of faith with catechesis and games and where duties and other kinds of activities are organized; where one learns to live, I would say. Attend your oratory regularly to grow increasingly in knowledge and in the following of the Lord! These seven gifts of the Holy Spirit develop in this very community where life is lived in truth, with God. In the family, be obedient to your parents, listen to the instructions they give you, so as to increase, like Jesus, “in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man” (
Lc 2,51-52).

Lastly, do not be lazy but be hard-working boys and girls and young people, especially in your studies, with a view to your future life. It is your daily duty and is a great opportunity you have in order to develop and to prepare for the future. Be available and generous to others, overcoming the temptation to focus on yourselves, because selfishness is the enemy of true joy. If you now taste the beauty of belonging to Jesus’ community, you too will be able to make your contribution to increase it and will be able to invite others to belong to it. Allow me also to tell you that every day, and also here today, the Lord calls you to great things. Be open to what he suggests to you and if he should call you to follow him on the path of the priesthood or of the consecrated life, do not say “no” to him! It would be a mistaken laziness! Jesus will fill your heart for your whole life!

Dear young men, dear young women, I tell you, forcefully, strive for high ideals, everyone can attain a high standard, not only a few! Be holy! But is it possible to be holy at your age? I answer you: of course it is! St Ambrose too, a great Saint of your city, says so in one of his works where he writes “Every age is mature for Christ” (De Virginitate, 40).

And above all the witness borne by so many Saints the same age as you, such as Domenico Savio and Maria Goretti, demonstrate it. Holiness is the normal path for Christians; it is not reserved for a few chosen ones but is open to all. Naturally, with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit whom we will not lack if we hold out our hands and open our hearts! And with the guidance of our Mother. Who is our Mother? She is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Before dying on the Cross Jesus entrusted all of us to her. May the Virgin Mary therefore always preserve the beauty of your “yes” to Jesus, her Son, the great and faithful Friend of our life. So may it be!

Speeches 2005-13 31052