S. John Paul II Homil. 43


Sistine Chapel

Saturday, 10 February 1979


Hail Mary...

Today I would like to be in spirit in that corner of France where, for a hundred and twenty-one years, these words have been murmured incessantly by the lips of thousands, of millions, of men and women since the day when, precisely in this place, they were uttered by a child full of amazement. The child was called Bernadette Soubirous, she was fourteen years old, and she was the daughter of modest workers in Lourdes.

Hail Mary...

It is with these words that, always and everywhere, we greet her who heard them for the first time in Nazareth. On receiving this greeting, she was called by her name; that was how she was called by her family and all those who knew her in the neighbourhood; it was with this name also that she was chosen by God. The Lord called her by this name: Mary! Myriam!

However, when Bernadette asked her for her name, she did not answer "Mary", but "Que soy era Immaculada Conception", "I am the Immaculate Conception". Thus, in Lourdes, she called herself by the name that God had given her from time immemorial. Yes, from time immemorial, he chose her with this name and destined her to be the Mother of his Son, the eternal Word. This appellation, "Immaculate Conception", is ultimately far deeper and far more important than that used by her parents or by the people whom she knew; the one that she heard at the moment of the annunciation: "Hail Mary!".

Let us pause at this greeting. Millions of human lips repeat it every day, in every kind of language and dialect, in a great many places of the globe. Between the Massabielle grotto and the river Gave, there are also millions of pilgrims who repeat it in the course of the year. Today, I wish to repeat this "Hail Mary" with everyone, becoming a pilgrim in spirit and in heart, while waiting for the opportunity to be in that place personally. I wish to call Christ's Mother by this name which she had on earth. I wish to greet her with this greeting which can be termed a "historic" one, in the sense that it is bound up with a decisive moment of the history of salvation. This decisive moment is, at the same time, that of her act of faith, of her response of faith: "Blessed is she who believed!" (
Lc 1,45).

Yes, Mary, it is this day, this hour that counts, at the moment when you heard this greeting, with your name: Myriam, Mary! For the history of salvation is inscribed in the time of men marked by the hours, the days, the years. This history also takes on a dimension of faith, in the response given by the human heart to the living God. Among these answers, the one that follows the Angel's "Hail Mary", in Nazareth, marks a peak point: Fiat! "Let it be to me according to your word!".

Blessed are you who believed!

It is Elizabeth who addresses this blessing to Mary. Not at the moment of the Annunciation, but several weeks afterwards, when Mary came to Ain-Karim. And these words of Elizabeth, who was the person closest to her spiritually, brought forth in Mary a new response of faith: "Magnificat!

We are accustomed to the terms of this canticle. The Church has made them hers. She repeats them, following the Mother of Christ, to express her greatest joys or merely to give thanks: "He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name, and his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation... He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree: he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away…" (Lc 1,49-50 Lc 1,52-53).

We often hear these words! We repeat them so often! Let us try once, why not today, to dwell on the admirable transparency of this heart of Mary: God speaks in it and through it. He speaks at a level which transcends man's daily words and perhaps even the words used every day by Myriam, this girl of Nazareth, a kinswoman of Elizabeth and Zechariah, just betrothed to Joseph. Actually, is not Mary, the bride, as it were, of the Holy Spirit?

It is certainly the Spirit that gives such transparency to her heart—this simple, humble heart of a girl from Nazareth—thanks to the promises made "to Abraham and to his posterity for ever" (Lc 1,55). God is also mysteriously present in the whole history of men, of the generations that succeed one another, of peoples, capable of bringing forth, in a marvellous way, a transparency, a hope, a call to holiness, a purification, a conversion. In this sense, he is present in the history of the humble.., and of the powerful; yes, in the history of the hungry, the oppressed, the underprivileged, who know they are loved by him and find again with him, courage, dignity and hope; in the history also of the rich, of oppressors, of men sated with everything, who do not escape the judgment of God and are also urged to humility, justice, and sharing, in order to enter his kingdom. God is present in the history of those who are responsible for the consumer civilization which is spreading,, and in that of its victims. He wishes to set man free from the slavery of things and to put him back continually on the way of love of persons—love of God and love of his brothers—with the spirit of purity, poverty, and simplicity.

Today I want to meditate on these admirable words of the Magnificat with all those who are taking part in this eucharistic sacrifice, with all the pilgrims of Lourdes, with the whole Church.

Some people are questioning themselves about the mission of the Church today. But cannot the Church of our time catch sight of the truth about her mission in these words of Mary? Do they not contain what we can, what we want to, what we must, announce, proclaim and carry out in this vast field in which "evangelization" and "human advancement" are linked? Does not the Magnificat make it possible to answer the question of knowing what progress, what advancement, is meant, of knowing also what is understood by "evangelizing", proclaiming the Good News to the men of today? For this "today" with its miseries and its signs of hope constitutes, in all countries, a challenge for the "prophetic" mission of the Church, and at the same time for her "motherly" mission. It is a question of opening hearts and mentalities to Christ, to the Gospel, to its scale of values, to contribute to the elevation of the whole man and of all men, to organize a world less unworthy of man and of God's plan for him, and, at the same time, to prepare the kingdom of heaven.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, it is with deep emotion that I celebrate today this Mass in the French language, in the Sistine Chapel. In this way, in the eucharistic liturgy I can unite spiritually with all those who speak this language, and there are a great many of them, spread in many countries, and represented here in Rome and in this assembly. In particular, I can gather in the spirit all the sons and daughters of the Church of this great French nation, whose history is linked in a special way with the history of the Gospel in Europe and in the whole world.

We have the impression that we are in Lourdes, where pilgrims from all countries as well as France flock continually:

45 — in Lourdes which celebrates this year, with Nevers, the centenary of Bernadette's death;

— in Lourdes where Mary's message, transmitted by Bernadette, incessantly calls souls to prayer, repentance, conversion, purification, and the glory of the Christian assembly—in a word, to a stronger faith;

— in Lourdes where so many sick persons find, if not a physical cure, at least a Christian meaning for their sufferings, the peace of God's love and the eager welcome of their brothers;

— in Lourdes where every year the French Bishops gather in a plenary meeting which I am happy to greet very cordially from the See of the Apostle Peter;

— in Lourdes which is preparing the 1981 Eucharistic Congress. We have together started to prepare the celebration of the centenary of the first International Eucharistic Congress, which took place in Lille in 1881.

Turning towards the land of France, towards the whole Church that is in France, I would like above all to repeat: blessed are you, who received the faith right from the beginning. Do not let your faith fade or dissolve. Strengthen your faith! And let it shine forth!

In this spirit of faith, we now approach the altar in order to celebrate the Sacrifice of Christ: the Sacrifice of the Bread that we consecrate and that we break for the life of the world (cf.
1Co 10,16 Jn 6,51). This is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress for which we are preparing together: For the life of the world, for the salvation of the world! Amen!


11 February 1979

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

1. I greet all of you who are present here today. I greet you in a particularly cordial way and with great emotion. Precisely today, 11 February, the day on which the liturgy of the Church recalls every year the apparition of the Our Lady at Lourdes, I greet you, who are accustomed to go on pilgrimage to that sanctuary, and you, who help sick pilgrims: priests, doctors, nurses, and members of the health, transportation, and welfare services. I thank you because you have filled St Peter's Basilica today and honour the Pope with your presence, making him almost a participant in your annual pilgrimages to Lourdes, in your community, your prayer, your hope and also in all your personal renunciation and that mutual donation and sacrifice, which characterize your friendship and solidarity. This Basilica and St Peter's Chair need your presence. This presence of yours is necessary for the whole Church, for the whole of mankind. The Pope is grateful, immensely grateful, to you for this. In fact, today's meeting is certainly accompanied by the joy which springs from a living faith, but also by considerable effort and sacrifice.

2. The Lord Jesus, in today's Gospel, meets a man who is seriously ill: a leper, who begs him: "if you will, you can make me clean" (Mc 1,41). And immediately afterwards, Jesus forbids him to spread the news of the miracle, that is, to speak of his cure. And although we know that "Jesus went about...preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity" (Mt 9,35), the restriction, the "reservation" of Christ with regard to the cure he had brought about, is significant. Perhaps there is here a distant anticipation of that "reservation", that caution with which the Church examines all supposed miraculous cures, for example, those that have taken place at Lourdes for over a hundred years. It is well known to what severe medical controls each of them is subjected.

46 The Church prays for the health of all the sick, of all the suffering, of all the incurables humanly condemned to irreversible infirmity. She prays for the sick and she prays with the sick. She is extremely grateful for every cure, even if it is partial and gradual. And at the same time, with her whole attitude she makes it understood—like Christ—that cure is something exceptional, that from the point of view of the divine "economy" of salvation it is an extraordinary and almost "supplementary" fact.

3. This divine economy of salvation—as Christ revealed—is certainly manifested in the liberation of man from that evil, which "physical" suffering is. It is manifested even more, however, in the interior transformation of that evil, which spiritual suffering is, in "salvific" good, in the good that sanctifies the one who suffers and, through him, also others. And, therefore, the text of today's liturgy, on which we must dwell today above all, are not the words: "I will; be clean", but the words: "Be an imitator of me". It is St Paul who addresses the Corinthians with these words: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (
1Co 11,1). Earlier than he, Christ himself had many times said: "come and follow me" (cf Mt 8,22 Mt 19,21 Mc 2,14 Lc 18,22 Jn 21,22).

These words do not have the power to cure, they do not liberate from suffering. But they have a transforming power. They are a call to become a new man, to become particularly like to Christ, in order to find in this likeness, through grace, all the interior good in that which in itself is an evil, which makes one suffer, which limits, which perhaps humiliates or is embarrassing. Christ who says to suffering man "come and follow me", is the same Christ who suffers: the Christ of Gethsemane, the scourged Christ, Christ crowned with thorns, Christ on the way of the cross, Christ on the cross... It is the same Christ who drained the cup of human suffering "which the Father gave him" (cf. Jn Jn 18,11). The same Christ, who assumed all the ills of the earthly human condition except sin, in order to draw from them salvific good: the good of redemption, the good of purification and reconciliation with God, the good of grace. If he says to each of you, dear Brothers and Sisters: "Come and follow me", he invites you and calls you to take part in the same transformation, in the same transmutation of the evil of suffering into salvific good: that of the redemption, of grace, purification, and conversion... for oneself and for others.

Just for this reason, St Paul, who so passionately wished to imitate Christ, says in another place: "In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" (Col 1,24).

Each of you can make these words the essence of your own life and vocation.

I wish you this transformation, which is "an interior miracle" even greater than the miracle of healing; this transformation, which corresponds to the normal way of God's economy of salvation as Jesus Christ presented it to us. I wish you this grace and I implore it on each of you, dear Brothers and Sisters.

4. "I was sick", Jesus says of himself, "and you visited me" (Mt 25,36). According to the logic of the same economy of salvation, he, who identifies himself with each suffering person, waits—in this man—for other men, who "come to visit him". He waits for the expression of human compassion, solidarity, kindness, love, patience, solicitude, in all their various forms. He waits for the expression of all that is noble, elevated, in the human heart: "you visited me."

Jesus, who is present in our suffering neighbour, wishes to be present in every act of charity and service of ours, which is expressed also in every glass of water we give "in his name" (cf Mc 9,41). Jesus wants love, the solidarity of love, to grow from suffering and around suffering. He wants, that is, the sum of that good which is possible in our human world. A good that never passes away.

The Pope, who wishes to be a servant of this love, kisses the forehead and kisses the hands of all those who contribute to the presence of this love and to its growth in our world. He knows, in fact, and believes that he is kissing the hands and the forehead of Christ himself, who is mystically present in those who suffer and in those who, out of love, serve the suffering.

With this "spiritual kiss" of Christ, let us prepare, dear Brothers and Sisters, to celebrate and take part in this sacrifice, in which the sacrifice of each of you has had its place since time immemorial. And perhaps it is particularly opportune to recall that, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, on celebrating this sacrifice and praying "cum clamore valido" (He 5,7), Christ is heard by the Father:

Christ of our sufferings,

47 Christ of our sacrifices,

Christ of our Gethsemane,

Christ of our difficult transformations,

Christ of our faithful service to our neighbour,

Christ of our pilgrimages to Lourdes,

Christ of our community, today, in St Peter's Basilica,

Christ our Redeemer,

Christ our Brother!




18 February 1979

1. In the Gospel of today we read that at Capernaum, in the house in which Jesus stayed, "many were gathered together" (Mc 2,2). There was not room for them all in the house, so great was the number of those who wished to listen to "the word that he was preaching", and to see what he did.

48 And lo, in the midst of this crowd, Jesus does a very significant thing when a paralytic is put in front of him, lowered through an opening in the roof for lack of other space. Jesus first of all says to this man, "My son, your sins are forgiven" (Mc 2,5). At these words a murmur arises among those who, with mistrust, have followed Christ's action. These are scribes who (rightly) affirm, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mc 2,7). But it had only been aversion to Jesus that had dictated this objection to them:: "Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy!" (Mc 2,7). Jesus, in a certain sense, reads their thoughts and gives an answer: "'Which, is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven', or to say, 'Rise, take up your pallet and walk'?" (Mc 2,9). "That you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he said to the paralytic—"I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home" (Mc 2,10-11).

Everything happens as Jesus has ordered.

Jesus cures an incurable man.

He works a miracle. By so doing he gives the proof that he has the power on earth to forgive sins. And as the scribes have affirmed that only God has this power, they should now draw the conclusion of what they themselves had sustained in words.

Jesus reaffirms the presence of God among the crowd.

Jesus reaffirms the divine power, proper to him, of forgiving sins.

Jesus proves, at the same time, that the evil of sin is more dangerous and worrying than physical illness (in this case, serious and chronic disease). He is the Saviour who has come in the first place to remove this serious evil.

What does this passage of the Gospel say to us gathered here?

"Many were gathered together" then. And today, too, many are gathered. And I am thinking not only of the persons present in this church now, but of all the inhabitants of the Magliana area. For some time now, people who came to Rome from various parts have been gathering here. A large district has sprung up; at the same time, a new parish has come into being which now contains forty-five thousand persons. It is a very large parish.

What does "parish" mean?

Parish means: Christ's presence among men.Parish means a set of persons, it means a community in which and with which Jesus Christ reconfirms the presence of God. The parish is a living part of the People of God.

49 While I say these things, your thought goes instinctively to your experience here, day after day, in the concrete context of your parish. Many of you, beginning with the parish priest, Don Pietro Cecchelani, knew this parish, so to speak, in its infancy, when the community met in a small chapel which could hold at most two hundred persons. It is not necessary to go back very far in the years: the parish was constituted, in fact, on 13 December 1963.

How much distance has been covered since then! The district has grown at a bewildering pace, rising from the four thousand five hundred inhabitants of the beginnings to the present forty-five thousand and more. But, at the same time, the Christian community has also grown, and not just in numbers: around the word of God, proclaimed by the priests, re-echoed by the catechists, borne witness to by the faithful in everyday life, there has been formed a community of persons who know one another, help one another, and love one another. An open, lively community, aware of the immense riches constituted by the Gospel of Christ, and therefore straining to proclaim it to the mass of the indifferent, the "distant".

Evangelization—rightly felt as a primary commitment—occupies the priests, the Sisters of the two communities present in the parish, the youthful groups of the catechists; and it is developed not only in the ordinary forms, but also by means of new approaches, such as by reading and meditating on the Gospel in homes, in the so-called "block groups", in which several families gather together for a moment of reflection and communion.

From this contact with the Gospel there springs a concrete commitment of charity towards brothers, both in the many initiatives in favour of the old, the sick, the disinherited, to whom large numbers of young people dedicate themselves, and also in solidarity with the problems of the district. This district, having "exploded" rather chaotically in the last few years, bears the sign of not a few inadequacies as regards primary social services, and suffers from the discomforts characteristic of recently formed suburban agglomerations.

A great deal, obviously, has still to be done for the ecclesial community to reach full Christian maturity. What has already been done, however, and the intense pulsation of liturgical life within the walls of your new church, consecrated just over a year ago, hold out good hopes for the future of your parish. Recognizing the work you have carried out in the last few years, the Pope wishes to encourage you to persevere with renewed impetus in your Christian testimony within the district. You must feel the responsibility and pride of being leaven in it (cf. Mt
Mt 13,33) in order to stimulate opening to Christ and, at the same time, human elevation, thus contributing to the establishment in it of a more just and brotherly society.

3. Jesus Christ is present in the midst of you all to confirm daily in this way the salvific presence of God. Here there are certainly immense material, economic, and social needs; but, above all, there exists the need of this salvific power which is in God and which Christ alone possesses. It is this power that frees man from sin and directs him towards good, in order that he may lead a life really worthy of man: that married couples, parents, may give their children not only life, but also an upbringing, a good example; that real Christian life may flourish here, so that hatred, destruction, dishonesty and scandal may not prevail; that the work of fathers and also of mothers may be respected, and that this work may create the indispensable conditions to maintain the family; that the fundamental requirements of social justice may be respected; that real culture may be developed, beginning with the culture of everyday life.

To bring all this about, so very much human work, so very much initiative, resourcefulness, and good will are necessary. But beyond everything the presence of Christ is necessary. He can say to each of these forty-five thousand persons, "Your sins are forgiven". That is, he can liberate everyone from interior evil and direct the mind and the heart towards good from within. In fact, man, human life, and everything that is human is formed first from within. And according to what is "in man", in his conscience, in his, heart, his whole exterior life and his relations with other men are modelled. If within man there is good—a sense of justice, love, chastity, benevolence to others, a wholesome desire for dignity—then good radiates outside, and is stamped on families, environments and institutions.

The parish of St Gregory the Great at Magliana exists so that this good may be found in, every man who lives in this vast district, and so that it may irradiate your family, professional, and social life, your work benches, educational institutions, playgrounds and places of entertainment.

St Paul tells us today in the passage of the Letter to the Corinthians that "we utter the Amen through him [Christ], to the glory of God" (2Co 1,20). It is a question just of this: to say "amen" to God; this means to say "yes", and never to say "no" to God. This is the task of the parish. My wish for you all, headed by your pastors, is that the whole parish, more and more consistently and more and more unanimously, will always say "yes" to Christ and, together with the Christ Redeemer, say "yes" to God, so that "no", the negation of God and of what corresponds to his holy will in our human life, may be uttered less and less here, in words and in deeds.

4. Your parish has grown considerably as regards the number of inhabitants. Some buildings are so large that each of them could be considered a "parish" in itself within the vast parish. Think it over, to try to find practical and effective lessons. We heard in the Gospel of today that the Lord taught in a house. It seems to me that this is an encouragement to continue in the attempts you have already started and which I mentioned above.

For all of you and for your pastors in particular, let Pope St Gregory, who was a great master in the pastoral art, be an example and guide. He recalled that the pastor of souls "must be near everyone with the language of compassion and understanding", but he pointed out, at the same time, that to do this, he "must be able, to an extraordinary extent, to rise above all others through prayer and contemplation" (cf. Regola Past. II, 5). In the intimacy of conversation with God and in the regenerating contact with his grace, he can find the light and wisdom necessary to "adapt his word to the audience listening to him, so that it may be grasped by the mind of everyone, without losing the power of being edifying for all" (Ibid. II, prol.). May this happen in your parish! Then will be realized among you that which St Gregory, in a poetic image, indicated as the ideal of every Christian community: that is, to be like a "well-tuned lyre" which, skilfully touched by the artist, raises to God the harmonious sound of its melody (cf. ibid.).

50 Before concluding, I would like to tell you my joy in knowing that in your parish there is a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, the great apostle of our century. Together with him and with Pope St Gregory, I entrust you all to the Blessed Lady who is the Mother of the Church, and who is invoked confidently by the inhabitants of this City of ours as Salus Populi Romani.

In the liturgy of today the Prophet Isaiah says:

"Behold, I am doing a new thing... do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert... The people whom I formed for myself [will] declare my praise" (
Is 43,19-21).

May all this take place among you.

This is what the Bishop of Rome, Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of today's visit, wishes for the parish of St Gregory, at Magliana.


25 February 1979

1. I express my special joy at today's visit to this Roman parish of the suburb La Rustica, dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa. Corning here, I begin the canonical visitation which will then be completed by Bishop Giulio Salimei, who is particularly in charge of pastoral care for the East Sector of Rome.

My joy is made even greater by the memory, so much alive in my mind and my heart, of the day on which I came here together with Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski and other Polish Bishops who were taking part in the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. At the same time the jubilee of the first millennium of the Baptism of Poland was approaching, and Pope Paul VI decided to highlight, also in Rome, that great event in the history of the people and Church in Poland. Just for this reason, he gave instructions that a Church dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa should be constructed on the territory of the parish, which had been planned in those months to meet the spiritual and pastoral requirements of this area, which at that time was cut off from the city and really corresponded to the name "Rustic".

I remember that when we came to this place for the first time, during the Council, there were still spacious fields here, and the houses stood out against the horizon.

But work on the parish church started at once; soon suspended, it was not resumed until 1969. Finally, in the October of 1971 the new church was consecrated by Cardinal Wyszynski, also with my participation.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters, in today's reading St Paul addresses the Corinthians, calling them a "letter written on our hearts, to be known and read by all men" (2Co 3,2). Referring to these words I wish to say that also your parish and the church are such a letter written deeply on the heart of the late Pope Paul VI and of the whole Polish Episcopate. It was born from this extraordinary inscription "on hearts" and from great faith. Therefore my emotion is particularly deep, coming here for the first time as Successor of Paul VI and, at the same time, as a witness of the origins of your dear parish.

51 2. St Paul, addressing the faithful of Corinth, writes that they are "a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" (2Co 3,3).

Long beforehand, the Lord God had given the commandments to Moses on tablets of stone on Mount Sinai. But he had given them in order that they might be written continually on the tablets of flesh of your hearts, that is, on human hearts. For this reason God did not stop at revelation of his commandments to the People of God, but sent his Son to bear witness to his love for us. And it is just this love that the Son, Jesus Christ, writes on our hearts. He writes with the eloquence of his life, his Gospel, his mercy for sinners, his kindness to children and to suffering men. Jesus Christ writes on our hearts with the power of the Holy Spirit, which he obtained for us on the cross, in order that we men may be sensitive and open to the action of the living God. Even if man were far from God, like that unfaithful bride of whom the prophet Hosea speaks today, God would not stop looking for him with his love. Jesus Christ looks for every lost sheep in order to show it the way and restore life to it.

The words of the responsorial Psalm of today bear witness to this magnificently: "He forgives all your iniquity, he heals all your diseases, he redeems your life from the Pit, he crowns you with steadfast love and mercy...

"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love... He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities."

3. The Church bears witness to the love that God has for every man, and therefore, like Christ the shepherd, goes to meet men wherever they may be.

In this way she, too, continually goes to meet all the inhabitants of this district, both those who came first, and those who are now arriving from various parts.

I know how most of you toil, workers in neighbouring industries or in building. I am well aware that the parish has been formed gradually, with imported inhabitants, in a district which, even today, unfortunately, does not enjoy all social services. My heartfelt desire is that your civic life will also grow fully and that the requests most in conformity with your human dignity may be carried out. An effort is already being made to do so, even if from a religious point of view, by the persons directly responsible for the parish apostolate: the well-deserving Sylvestrine Benedictine Fathers and all their worthy collaborators in catechesis, in contacts with families, in care of the sick. The preaching of the Gospel has always been accompanied by sound human advancement!

In the Gospel of today we listened to two comparisons: "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wine-skills; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins" (Mc 2,21-22).

There is great practical wisdom and great prudence in these two comparisons. The Church is inspired by this principle in her pastoral activity. When a new human environment, a new district, is created, a new parish also comes into being; because one cannot "put new wine into old wineskins"; and "no one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment".

4. Today the Bishop of Rome wishes to the Parish of Our Lady of Czestochowa in the suburb La Rustica—a young parish—that a new life in its fullness may develop in it.

The men who came here have built houses; families have entered these houses. Pictures have been hung on the walls, perhaps also a favourite religious picture: of Jesus Christ, of his Mother. Human life necessarily needs the human house.

52 The parish too is a family. Its house is this temple: "the dwelling of God with men" (Ap 21,3). In the central place of this house there is the picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa, a sign of the presence of the Mother beside the Son, close to his Tabernacle.

Love the house of your family.

Love this House, too, in which God dwells with you.

May human life, which is developing in so many houses, find its central point here.

Meet here in prayer!

Meet at the Table of the Divine Word and the Eucharist.

Meet before the Mother, whose eyes speak to you of this great love with which the Father loved you in Christ.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

May the canonical visitation which I have begun today, and which will be carried out afterwards by Bishop Salimei, be of help to you for the unification of your parish and for the consolidation of Christian life in it.

S. John Paul II Homil. 43