I am pleased with the spiritual enthusiasm that motivates you: it is the best guarantee of an authentic renewal of consecrated life. The motto "Duc in altum", which I addressed to the entire Christian people in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, is significantly interpreted by your foundress' expression: "From Bethlehem to Calvary" which she passed on to you. Following Christ in his entire saving process, enables us to "put out into the deep" towards the boundless horizons of holiness, letting God work miracles of goodness and love in us and through us.
3. In 17th-century Rome, Anna Moroni, with her first religious, had limited means but she was rich in God; thus, with the advice of her spiritual director, Fr Cosimo Berlinsani, she was able to do great works for the little, simple people, combining faith and life and attracting many souls to Christ. Your foundress was in love with the Child Jesus and felt deeply moved by the Crucified One, whom she described as her "only book".
Faithful to your charism, you are able to respond to the new challenges of education and evangelization, giving priority, in accordance with your institute's specific character, to catechesis and the pastoral care of youth. Without letting yourselves be discouraged by difficulties and trials, continue to spread your apostolic action in the world as, for example, you have done recently - and I praise you for it - with your new institution in the suburbs of Lima, Peru. Dedication to educating children and young people is an apostolic priority that the Church has never given up and never will. This complicated pastoral context is staked on an essential aspect of Christ's mandate to the Apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations ..." (Mt 28,19).
Dear Oblate Sisters of the Child Jesus, you cooperate with many initiatives in this mission: from catechesis - your priority commitment - to parish activities, from spiritual retreats for young people to other forms of youth ministry such as lodging university students, teaching in schools, extra tutoring, helping families in difficulty, and visiting poor families as well as hospitality for pilgrims.
4. In each one of your activites, may you feel you are "nurses of the Child Jesus", seeing his face in every person you meet and spreading his virtues through filial obedience, abandonment to the Father, simplicity and joie de vivre, poverty and daily work, prayer and the spirit of fraternal communion. With your attractive style of spiritual childhood, it will be easy for you to involve in your apostolate the lay people who are close to you. Their collaboration is invaluable, because it complies with a clear teaching of the Second Vatican Council, and enables the Gospel leaven to spread more widely in families and in society.
I am thinking of the well-organized group of "Animatori laici Anna Moroni" (ALAM), (lay spiritual leaders) and the projects that you carry out with them. As I greet the many who are here today, I urge you to continue generously on this path: God will bless your efforts with many vocations and new and effective collaborators.
Dear sisters, may burning love for the Child Jesus inspire every moment of your life as well as your apostolate among young people. May you feel contemplation and action as a single call, since only from their union springs that genuine spiritual motherhood which must guide the charitable and educational activity you are dedicated to.
May you find support in an intense and confident devotion to Blessed Mary and to her husband St Joseph, whom the heavenly Father entrusted with the care of his Only-Begotten Son made man. With affection, I once again express to you my esteem and gratitude, as I pray for each one of you and for your whole institute, which intends through its multiple activities and future prospects to live "union and harmony", with lay collaborators.
May God help you preserve and increase this precious inheritance for the good of all. With this hope, I bless you from my heart.
From the Vatican, 2 July 2002.
To my Venerable Brother Cardinal Lubomyr Husar
Major Archbishop of Lviv for the Ukrainians
1. On the occasion of the important assembly of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church which is taking place in Lviv from 30 June to 6 July, a year after my unforgettable Pastoral Visit to this country, I would like to address my cordial greeting to you, to my Brothers in the Episcopate and to all the participants.
The theme chosen for your meeting is especially significant and of great importance: "Christ, Source of the Rebirth of the Ukrainian People". With fraternal affection I join this beloved Ecclesial Community in invoking the Holy Spirit, so that he may grant you a deeper knowledge of Christ and that your assembly's work may effectively imbue the faithful with new courage in witnessing to the message of salvation.
In my first Encyclical Redemptor hominis, I pointed out that Christ must occupy the central place in the life of the Church and of every Christian. Indeed, he is the Redeemer of man, the Redeemer of the world. In Christ and through Christ "God has revealed himself fully to mankind and has definitively drawn close to it; at the same time, in Christ and through Christ man has acquired full awareness of his dignity, of the heights to which he is raised, of the surpassing worth of his own humanity, and of the meaning of his existence" (n. 11). The Church's mission, therefore, is to announce the mystery of Christ to everyone, under the constant action of the Holy Spirit, to ensure that it may be effective and fruitful for every person.
2. "At your word, I will let down the nets" (Lc 5,5). The Christian community grows and is renewed principally through listening to Christ's word. The long years of atheism, during which an effort was made to blot out the Christian values which distinguish the history of the Ukrainian people, have left their mark on the people's mind and behaviour. Today, in addition, we have the erosive action of the process of secularization with its essentially material vision of life, combined with the unbridled quest for a well-being that is often here today and gone tomorrow. These are the perils that frequently characterize Western societies today and hamper the daily effort to witness consistently to the "good news" of the faith.
In this context, your Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church appropriately intends to redouble the evangelization work it has been carrying out in recent years. In my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, I invited believers to draw nourishment from the Word in order to be "servants of the Word" in the commitment to evangelization, and I recalled that this is certainly one of the Church's priorities at the beginning of the new millennium (cf. n. 40). Christ's invitation "Duc in altum", is also addressed to each member of this Church so that, strong in the presence of the Lord, he may pass on clearly to those around him the perennial message of the Gospel, the Good News that in Jesus, "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14,6), one can encounter the accepting and merciful love of the Father. To bring this work to completion it will be necessary to foster a solid formation of the clergy, a thorough catechesis for young people and adults, and an increasingly informed participation of the faithful in the liturgy, the source and summit of the life of the Church (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 10).
You have before you the shining example of the martyrs and confessors of faith who did not hesitate to pay with their lives for fidelity to Christ and his Church. They are a constant lesson for everyone. Yes, the land of Ukraine, bathed in the blood of her martyrs, has given the world an example of invincible fidelity to the Gospel!
3. You can draw on this spiritual heritage in order to continue with apostolic and missionary enthusiasm, keeping alive before your eyes the icon of Jesus who stoops to wash the Apostles' feet.
Through humble service your Church should seek to transmit the Gospel of charity and joy. In contemporary society, in which the quest for power, success at any price, and selfishness that make people unaware of their neighbour's needs seem to have the upper hand, every ecclesial community is called to proclaim and to witness to respect for the dignity of every human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and to exercise authority, not as domination, but as service in the evangelical logic of the divine Teacher who came not to be served but to serve (cf. Mk Mc 10,45).
Aware of this, your assembly will not fail to focus attention on families, mindful of the difficulties they are unfortunately encountering in Ukraine too, where the divorce rate is growing and the scourge of abortion spreading.
As well as to families, priority must be given to the pastoral care of young people, who are the Church's hope and future, and they must be helped to rediscover the religious roots of the culture they belong to. Show them that only in Christ can they find the response that will answer the questions in their hearts; help them feel that they have a principal role to play in the spiritual and material rebuilding of the country, whilst remaining faithful to the Gospel and its shining spiritual values.
Your Church is generously investing energy and means in the formation of the new generations. May she courageously present Christ and the Gospel to them, "sine glossa" (without comment).
Only in this way will the world of youth be able to overcome the temptation to be taken in by the deceptive mirages and misleading models imposed by materialism and hedonism.
4. The apostolic field in which the Lord calls your Church to be present and active is immense. Venerable Brother, as I assure you of my spiritual closeness to the Greek Catholic faithful of Ukraine, I invite you and the whole assembly to listen once again to Christ's words: "that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us" (Jn 17,21). This prayer, which Jesus addressed to God the Father at the last moments of his earthly life, is "a binding imperative, the strength that sustains us, and a salutary rebuke for our slowness and closed-heartedness" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 48).
A host of misunderstandings and divisions have marked the history of the Church in Ukraine. The time has come to redouble efforts to achieve understanding and communion, first of all between the Catholics of the two rites. It will also be important to increase the commitment to bring about closeness and reconciliation with other Christians, and especially with the Orthodox brethren. May your Church's Eastern identity and full communion with the Successor of Peter help you find ever new paths of dialogue, solidarity and collaboration with the Orthodox Churches. I am sure that the personal and community process of conversion to Christ and to his Gospel, to which the Second Vatican Council invites everyone (cf. Unitatis redintegratio UR 7), will hasten the coming of that full unity which Christ wanted for his disciples.
5. Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine, a future rich in hope lies before you! It may be strewn with problems and disappointments, but do not be afraid! The Lord is close to you. The Blessed Mother of God, who shared in the suffering of her Son's death on the Cross, but was also a joyful witness of his glorious Resurrection, accompanies you. May her maternal help make the work of your assembly fruitful, for the benefit of the entire People of God.
With these sentiments and with deep affection, I very willingly impart a special Blessing to you, Venerable Brother, to those who are taking part in the Assembly of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine, and to all the other faithful of your country, which is so dear to me.
From the Vatican, 25 June 2002.
To the Reverend Mother Sr Lina Colombini
Superior General of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
1. On the occasion of this institute's forthcoming General Chapter, I am pleased to send you and the chapter sisters my best wishes and greetings, and the assurance of my spiritual closeness, witnessed by a special prayer to the Lord that your work may be fruitful.
This first ordinary Chapter of the new millennium is a privileged moment of grace for the Cabrini family, called to accept Jesus' invitation to Peter and his first companions to "put out into the deep and let your nets down" (cf. Lk Lc 5,4). I repeated this invitation to all the Church in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte.
"Put out into the deep! The Lord's words prompt us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to open ourselves confidently to the future: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever' (He 13,8)" (ibid., 1). The Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus enters the third millennium enriched not only with the extraordinary experience of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, but also with the fruits gathered during the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the birth of your foundress, St Frances Xavier Cabrini, as well as those for the 50th anniversary of her proclamation as Patroness of migrants.
2. The theme you have chosen for your Chapter: "Put out into the deep and let your nets down' (cf. Lk Lc 5,4). Challenges and prophecy of the Cabrini family", fits into this context and invites generous apostolic enthusiasm at the beginning of a century that abounds in challenges, often unheard of, but is also always penetrated by God's watchful and active presence. In this regard, your Constitutions recall that "the vocation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart is a commitment to spread that fire which Jesus came to bring to the earth" (Constitutions, 15).
This is what Frances Cabrini did courageously throughout her life, which she dedicated to bringing Christ's love to all those, far from their homeland and family, who risked drifting apart from God as well. She would often repeat to her daughters: "Let us imitate the charity of the adorable Heart of Jesus in the salvation of souls, let us make ourselves everything to everyone to win them all for Jesus, as he himself continues to do", and again: "O Jesus, if only I could open my arms wide and embrace the whole world to give it to you. Oh! How happy I should be!".
If they intend to follow in the foundress' footsteps, her spritual Daughters cannot but forge ahead with new ardour on the boundaries of charity, to make the Lord's merciful and compassionate love visible and the announcement of Christ ring out wherever Providence sends them to work.
3. As they face the changing conditions of human mobility, Mother Cabrini's religious are called to offer an attentive welcome and solidarity to the migrants of our time, who often bring with them, in addition to a burden of suffering, loneliness and poverty, a wealth of humanity, values and hopes.
At the same time they feel committed to devoting special care to the advancement of women, particularly in the contexts where they are most at risk and defenceless. Educating children and adolescents, catechesis and the pastoral care of youth continue to be their principal means of evangelization and Christian formation, channels for passing on a faith which has a profound effect on culture and on life.
Sustained by the words of the Lord who invites them to "put out into the deep" and contemplating the example of their foundress, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will devote themselves with zeal and enthusiasm to the harvests that the Lord entrusts to them. Despite the social context which is often distressing, they will not cease to witness to God's primacy and to spread through their words and their life the joy of their own consecration to Christ, chaste, poor and obedient.
This presupposes a clear awareness that their priority commitment must be the daily effort of Christian ascesis, at both the personal and community levels, in order to be configured to Christ, as Mother Cabrini wrote: "taking Jesus as your model in all events and in all your actions, falling into step with him, to walk only on his path of love".
4. I am confident that the desire to be faithful to its mission and its founding charism will lead this institute always to cherish the incalculable value of community life. It is especially important to build fraternal communities whose principal means of evangelization is their own life witness. May the houses in which the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus live be true schools of formation and of human and spiritual growth, where love of God is expressed in service and in charity, in reciprocal forgiveness. This way of life will be an eloquent echo of the Good News for everyone and an effective vocational proposal, which will not fail to motivate young women to think seriously about the consecrated life.
Another important commitment for the Institute will be to persevere in the process of communion and in sharing its own charism with lay people, to face today's challenges together. The desire to be faithful to the founding charism, keeping alive the superior requirements of the Kingdom of God, cannot but spur every member and every community to set out on the demanding journey of continuing formation with constant attention to the modern challenges and to the signs of the times.
5. Reverend Mother, may the Lord guide the Chapter's work with the power of his Spirit, so that it may bring your entire religious family the hoped-for spiritual and apostolic fruits.
As I invoke upon you the motherly protection of Blessed Mary, Our Lady of Grace, whom St Frances Xavier Cabrini pointed out as Mother and Teacher to her daughters, I encourage you in your mission, Reverend Mother, and I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you with affection, as a pledge of abundant graces and spiritual joy.
From the Vatican, 24 June 2002.
I am pleased to address you on the occasion of the celebration in Rome of your 20th General Assembly at the Pontifical Spanish College of San Josť. Through you, I would also like to greet all the members of the Fraternity and to express my gratitude for your important ecclesial service, especially in the context of the pastoral care of vocations. I do so at the same time with the principal aim of encouraging you to take a daring and realistic look at the future to discern the new signs of the Kingdom, to give new life to your charism - one of those charisms which constitute the very marrow of the Church - and to respond to peoples' true aspirations and needs in giving their lives an orientation.
Therefore, taking into account your own specific features and fully complying with my frequent appeal to redouble the pastoral care of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, you described the main focus of your work in these days as: "The pastoral care of vocations, a challenge to our identity today".
As Diocesan Worker Priests, you have always done your utmost in the pastoral care of priestly, religious and apostolic vocations, aware that they are the most universal and effective means of promoting all the other pastoral areas.
This Assembly, therefore, must be an event of grace in which, by reaffirming your authentic institutional foundations, you can formulate the vitality, fruitfulness and radicalism that is still inherent in the charism you have inherited, to bring new and unheard of approaches to the sensitive work of vocations ministry.
This task, especially today, is really urgent and necessary. It entails fostering, forming and following up the processes of the birth, development and discernment of every ecclesial vocation, especially to the priestly ministry, helping the person to discover it as a gift, and to live it with continuous thanksgiving as a gift of love, and a present from God, "a gratia gratis data (charisma)" [a gracious gift] (Post-Synodal Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis PDV 35).
I want to urge you to reproduce your founder's bold creativity and holiness, adapting yourselves when necessary to the new situations and requirements in full docility to the divine inspiration and to ecclesial discernment. Ever greater attention to your original identity will be a reliable criterion in the search for the appropriate forms of a witness that is capable of responding to the needs of the times (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata VC 37).
Then be faithful in your work to the charism the Lord inspired in Bl. Manuel Domingo y Sol, whom my Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, called the "holy Apostle of priestly vocations" and of whom I myself wrote, on the occasion of the Fraternity's first centenary: "Faithful to the call of Christ and docile to the promptings of the Spirit ... not only was he able to identify the appropriate regulations ... but with his exemplary conduct and writings, also gave us the key to truly configuring priestly life to the stature of Christ's gift ... and in the Church, he was the seed of a new family of priests, imbued with the Gospel spirit and committed to serving men and women with unconditional dedication ..." (Message of the Holy Father to Diocesan Worker Priests for the centenary of the Foundation of the Fraternity, 25 January 1983).
Dear sons, persevere with renewed courage in the work the Church has entrusted to you, seeking to impress on it your characteristic style of life and action: priestly brotherhood. You may rest assured that "without claiming to be other than priests and no more than priests and holy ones" (cf. Escritos), your life and example will certainly be an incentive to all who seek the radical following of Christ, fostering in those who are called "that free, willing and generous response which carries into effect the grace of vocation" (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata VC 64); for, all things considered, "the priestly vocation is essentially a call to holiness which ... is intimacy with God; it is the imitation of Christ, who was poor, chaste and humble; it is unreserved love for souls and a giving of oneself on their behalf and for their true good; it is love for the Church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because this is the mission that Christ entrusted to her" (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis PDV 33).
Go through with your arduous task mindful of the related aspect of inculturation since today the institute, which spread from Tortosa [in Italy] to other countries, and to Latin America in particular, lives an edifying pluricultural reality. Always work in full harmony with the particular Churches in which the Fraternity is present and in close collaboration with the bishops, diocesan institutions and congregations, giving priority to those that specifically encourage and coordinate vocational promotion, seeking new channels and methods that will enliven this pastoral context.
Confident in Christ's words, "Duc in altum!" (Lc 5,4), open your hearts to the invitation I addressed to all in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte (cf. 1,15; 58) and bravely face the challenges of evangelization in this millennium, a new springtime of the Spirit, which we have just begun. Never say: we have tried everything: nothing more can be done. On the contrary, always be ready to continue transforming your commitment and identity as "workers" into practical pastoral approaches that respond to the requirements of your charism and the needs of the Church in the contemporary world.
Spread awareness of vocations to the priesthood as a vital problem central to the Church
When you return to your places of origin, remind all the Fraternity's members of the Teacher's words: "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (Lc 5,4). Do not give in to despair. Work with cheerfulness and determination, knowing that it is not your work, but the Lord's. Firmly commit yourselves, therefore, to the indispensable duty of encouraging vocations to your institute, of reviving vocations to every type of consecrated life and of increasing awareness in the ecclesial communities where you carry out your work of evangelization, to make them realize that vocations to the priesthood are a vital problem at the very heart of the Church. Remembering that your institute has a specifically Eucharistic character, ensure that Jesus in the Sacrament is always the source of all graces in your initiatives (cf. Escritos, 1, 5-31) and that the Blessed Virgin, the model of consecrated life and of the sequela, accompanies you always and everywhere in your work of evangelization!
With these sentiments and as a pledge of abundant divine graces, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.
From the Vatican, 6 July 2002
1. On the occasion of the fifth centenary of St Anthony Mary Zaccaria's birth, I would like to join in spirit in the joy of this congregation, as well as in that of the Sisters Angelicals of St Paul and the Lay Movement of St Paul, raising fervent thanks to the Lord for giving the Church this tireless imitator of the Apostle to the Gentiles and luminous model of pastoral charity. I express the most ardent hope that the solemn Jubilee celebrations will be a precious opportunity to highlight the gift of holiness that shines out in the Church in all the ages and found a unique witness, in the 16th century, in St Anthony Mary Zaccaria. I also hope that you will faithfully follow in his footsteps, with those who work with you and with the entire spiritual family of St Anthony Mary Zaccaria. He brought countless souls to the "knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ", inspiring a variety of charisms in the consecrated life. He constantly pointed out the goal of holiness, not only to his religious who had set out on the path of spiritual "reform" or "renewal", but to all the faithful, whom he reminded of their call to become "not small ... but great saints" (Lett. XI).
The celebrations of the fifth centenary of the founder's birth afford a valuable opportunity to look more closely at the timeliness of his Message. I am sure that reflection on his burning love for Jesus, "exalted on the Cross and concealed beneath the veils of the Eucharist", and his unflagging zeal for souls will impel his spiritual sons to devote themselves with renewed enthusiasm to the human and Christian education of the young generations, who represent the future of the Church and of society as a whole.
2. In pursuing this objective, St Anthony Mary Zaccaria was inspired by the Apostle of the Gentiles. He therefore liked to call himself "Priest of the Apostle Paul". This was the model he held up to the religious families and the lay movement he founded. He liked to recommend to his followers: "So be sure and certain that you will build on the foundations of Paul, not on hay nor on wood, but on gold and pearls, and the heavens and their treasures will be open above you and yours" (Lett. VI).
At the school of St Paul he learned the fundamental rule of spiritual life, understood as "growth from one moment to the next" (Lett. X), until the stature of the perfect man in Christ is attained, by constantly laying aside the old man and putting on the new, in justice and in holiness (cf. Eph Ep 4,22-24).
Throughout his life he had to face obstacles and persecution, but he always showed indomitable courage and trust in the Lord. Today these same sentiments must nourish all the members of his spiritual family. Indeed, if you are to continue putting the riches of your pedagogical tradition at the service of young people, their families and society, with the courage that is born of love, you must face the difficult situation of many of your worthy and age-old educational institutions.
Moreover, it is necessary to dedicate yourselves with special zeal to the Christian formation of the new generations, through the preaching of God's Word, regular and devout celebration of the sacraments, especially Reconciliation, spiritual direction, retreats and spiritual exercises. All these features which have made up a special feature of the Barnabite charism from the outset, demand of the Clerics Regular of St Paul an apostolic zeal that is bold and constant. The People of God have a greater need than ever for authorititive guides and givers of abundant spiritual sustenance, to enable them to accept and live the "high standard of ordinary Christian living" through an appropriate "training in holiness" (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 31).
3. The founder's words and example continue to impel his sons towards renewed fidelity to the missionary drive that is nourished by fervent prayer and based on a sound theological and cultural formation. Only in this way, in fact, is it possible to take an effective proclamation and a credible witness of the Gospel everywhere (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 42-57), and contribute to the far-reaching action of the new evangelization which involves the whole of the ecclesial community.
May this praiseworthy congregation, drawing on the founder's rich spiritual heritage, walk the path of God with determination (cf. Serm. VI), to bring "spiritual vitality" (Lett. V) to the Christian people.
Do not be afraid, dear brothers and sisters, to openly combat mediocrity, compromise and every kind of apathy, which the holy founder described as "a plague and the greatest enemy of the crucified Christ, which is so widespread in modern times" (Lett.V). May each one take pains to make fruitful the gifts he has received and to persevere in prayer and in works of love, keeping confidence in divine Providence alive in all circumstances.
4. St Anthony Mary Zaccaria was not only concerned constantly to remind lay people of the universal call to holiness, but sought to involve them in evangelization. As you imitate his example, dear Barnabites, together with the Angelicals and the lay movement of St Paul, do not hesitate to encourage all who feel called to witness to your founder's charism in different social settings. In addition, promote an attentive and updated recruitment of vocations to accompany and sustain the persons the Lord calls to consecrated life.
In this way the three branches of the spiritual family, which St Anthony founded to follow in the footsteps of St Paul after his example, will grow in communion of mind and heart, and will be able once again to present the path of holiness to the men and women of our time with ever new zeal. May the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin for whom St Anthony Mary Zaccaria had a tender and faithful devotion, awaken in each member of this institute the enthusiasm and courage of goodness at the service of God and of our needy brothers and sisters.
With these vows I cordially impart a special Blessing to you, Reverend Father, to your Barnabite confreres, to the Angelicals and to the members of the lay movement of St Paul, that will favour graces and renewed spiritual and apostolic zeal.
From the Vatican, 5 July 2002.