GENERAL AUDIENCE 1979 25
1. During Lent, the Church, referring to the words of Christ, to the teaching of the Old Testament prophets, and to her own centuries-old tradition, urges us to particular solidarity with all those who are suffering and experiencing, in any way, poverty, want, injustice, persecution. We spoke about it last Wednesday, continuing our Lenten reflections on the present-day meaning of penitence, which is expressed through prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds. The exhortation to solidarity, on behalf of Christ, with all the tribulations and necessities of our brothers, and not only with those who enter the radius of our eye and our hand, but with all, even with the cries of tormented souls and bodies, is almost the very essence of living spiritually the period of Lent in the existence of the Church. In the last week of Lent—after this preparation (and only after it!)—the Church exhorts us to special and exceptional solidarity with suffering Christ himself. Although awareness of Christ's passion accompanies us throughout all the weeks of this period, this week alone, however, unique in the full sense of the word, is the week of the Lord's Passion. It is Holy Week.
The call to special and exceptional solidarity with suffering Christ is felt towards the end of the Lenten period. It is felt when the attitude of spiritual conversion, and especially the sense of solidarity with all our suffering brothers, has already matured in us. This corresponds to the logic of the revelation: love of God is the first and greatest commandment, but it cannot be fulfilled outside love of man. It cannot be fulfilled without it.
2. At the same time the deepest and most powerful impulses of love must spring from this Week, in which we are called to a special and exceptional, solidarity with Christ, in his passion and death on the Cross. "For God so loved the world"—man in the world—"that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16). He gave him to suffering and death. Contemplating this revelation of love, which starts from God and goes towards man in the world, we cannot stop, but must take "the way back": the way of the human heart which goes towards God, the way of love. Lent—and above all Holy Week—must be, in every year of our life in the Church, a new beginning of this "way of love". Lent is identified, as we see, with the culminating point of the revelation of God's love for man.
Therefore the Church exhorts us to linger in a quite, special and exceptional way beside Christ, alone near him. She exhorts us to endeavour—like St Paul — (at least in this week) to "Know nothing... except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1Co 2,2). The Church addresses this exhortation to everyone: not just to the whole community of believers to all followers of Christ, but also to all the others. To stop before Christ who is suffering, to find solidarity with him in oneself again—this is the duty and need of every human heart, this is the verification of human sensitivity. Man's nobility is manifested in this. Holy Week is therefore the time of the Church's greatest opening to humanity and at the same time the peak time of evangelization: through everything that the Church thinks and says of Christ in these days, through the way in which she lives his passion and death, through her solidarity with him, the Church returns, year after year, to the very roots of her mission and her proclamation of salvation. And if in this Holy Week the Church, more than speaking, is silent, she does so in order that Christ himself can speak all the more. That Christ whom Pope Paul VI called "the very first and the greatest evangelizer" (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 7).
3. Evangelization is carried out with the help of words. And just the words spoken by Christ during his passion have an enormous force of expression. It can also be said that they are a place for a special meeting with every man; they are the opportunity and the reason to manifest great solidarity. How often do we return to what the Evangelists recorded as the guiding thread of Christ's prayer in the garden of Olives? "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Mt 26,39). Does not every man say so? Does not every man feel like this in suffering, in tribulation, before the cross?: "Let it pass from me..." How much deep human truth is contained in this sentence! Christ, as a real man, felt aversion to suffering: "He began to be sorrowful and troubled" (Mt 26,37) and said: "Let it pass from me..."; let it not come, let it not reach me! It is necessary to accept the whole human expression, the whole human truth of these words, in order to be able to unite them with those of Christ: "If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt!" (Mt 26,39). Every man, confronted by suffering, is faced with a challenge... Is this only a challenge of fate? Christ gives the answer, saying: "As thou wilt". He does not address fate, a "blind fate". He speaks to God. To the Father. Sometimes this answer is not enough for us, because it is not the last word, but the first. We cannot understand either Gethsemane or Calvary unless in the context of the whole paschal event.Of the whole mystery.
4. In the words of Christ's passion there is a particularly intense meeting of the "human" with the "divine". The Gethsemane words already show this. Later on Christ will rather be silent. He will say a sentence to Judas. Then to those brought by Judas to the garden of Gethsemane to arrest Him. Then again to Peter. Before the Sanhedrin he does not defend himself, but bears witness. And so also before Pilate. Before Herod, on the other hand, "he made no answer" (Lc 23,9). During the infliction of the sentence, the words of Isaiah come true: "like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth" (Is 53,7). His last words fall from the cross.
They can be explained as a whole by the course of the event, by the horrible torture and, at the same time, through them, in spite of their brevity and conciseness, there appears what is "divine" and "salvific". We feel the "salvific" significance of the words addressed to his Mother, to John, to the good thief, as also the words referring to the crucifiers. The last words addressed to the Father are overwhelming: the last echo and at the same time almost the continuation of the Gethsemane prayer. Christ says: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mt 27,46), repeating the Psalmist's words (cf. Ps 22,1 (21)). At Gethsemane he had said: "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Mt 26,39). And now, from the cross, he has publicly confirmed that the "cup" has not been removed, that he must drink it to the dregs. Such is the Father's will. In fact, this last word: "It is finished" (Jn 19,30) is an echo of the Gethsemane prayer. And, finally, only these: "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit" (Lc 23,46).
Christ's agony. First the moral agony at Gethsemane. Then the agony, at once moral and physical, on the cross. No one has expressed so deeply as Christ the human torment of dying, just because he was the Son of God; because in him the "human" and the "divine" constituted a mysterious unity. Therefore also those words of Christ's passion, so penetratingly human, will remain for ever a revelation of the "divinity" which in Christ is bound up with humanity, in the fullness of personal unity. It can be said: the death of God-Man was necessary, in order that we, heirs to original sin, might see what the drama in man's death is.
In this Holy Week, we must arrive at a special solidarity with suffering, crucified and dying Christ, in order to find again in our lives the closeness of what is "divine" and what is "human". God decided to speak to us with the language of love which is stronger than death. Let us welcome this message.
1. "Haec dies quam fecit Dominus"
All these days, between Easter Sunday and the second Sunday after Easter "in Albis", constitute, in a certain sense, the One Day. The liturgy is concentrated on an Event, on the one Mystery. "He has risen, he is not here" (Mc 16,6). He fulfilled the Passover. He revealed the meaning of the Passing. He confirmed the truth of his words. He spoke the last word of his message: the message of the Good News, of the Gospel. God himself, who is the Father, the author of life, God himself who does not want death (cf. Ez 18,23 Ez 18,32) and "created all things that they might exist" (Sg 1,14), manifested his Love, in Him and through Him, right to the end. Love means Life.
The Resurrection is the definitive testimony of Life, that is, of Love.
"Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando / Dux vitae mortuus regnat Vivus"! / "Death and Life faced each other / in an amazing duel. The Lord of life had died; but now, alive, He triumphs" (Sequence).
"This is the Day which the Lord has made" (Ps 118,24 (117)): "excelsior cunctis, lucidior universis, in quo Dominus resurrexit, in quo sibi novam plebem... regenerationis spiritu conquisivit, in quo singuloruin mentes gaudio et exsultatione perfudit" (more sublime than all, more luminous than all; on which the Lord rose again; on which he won for himself a new people... by means of the spirit of regeneration; on which he filled the soul of everyone with joy and exultation—St Augustine. Sermo 168, in Pascha X.1: P.L. 39, 2070).
This One Day corresponds, in a certain way, to all the seven days, of which the book of Genesis speaks, and which were the days of creation (cf. Gn 1-2). Therefore we celebrate them all on this one day. On these days during the octave we celebrate the mystery of the new Creation. This mystery is expressed in the Person of the Risen Christ. He himself is already this Mystery and is for us its announcement, the invitation to it. The leaven. By virtue of this invitation and of this leaven we all become in Jesus Christ the "new creation".
"Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven... but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1Co 5,8).
2. Christ, after his resurrection, returns to the same place from which he had gone to his Passion and death. He returns to the Upper Room, where the apostles were. While the doors were closed, he came, stood among them and said: "Peace be with you". And he goes on: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20,19-23).
How significant are these first words of Jesus after his Resurrection! The message of the Risen Christ is contained in them. When he says: "Receive the Holy Spirit", there comes into our mind the same Upper Room in which Jesus delivered the farewell address. Then he uttered the words pregnant with the mystery of his heart: "It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (Jn 16,7). He said so thinking of the Holy Spirit.
And now, after having made his sacrifice, his "departure" through the Cross, he comes again to the Upper Room to bring them the One he has promised. The Gospel says: "He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20,22). He states the mature word of his Passover. He brings them the Gift of the Passion and the Fruit of Resurrection. With this gift he models them anew. He bestows on them the power of awakening others to Life, even when this Life is dead in them: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" (Jn 20,23).
28 Fifty days will pass from the Resurrection to Pentecost. But the essential Gift and the Fruit of Pentecost are already enclosed in this One Day which the Lord has made (cf. Ps 118,24). When Christ says: "Receive the Holy Spirit", he proclaims his paschal mystery to the end.
"Hoc autem est mysticum et secretissimum, quod nemo novit, nisi qui accipit, nec accipit nisi qui desiderat, nec desiderat, nisi quem ignos Spiritus Sancti medullitus inflammat, quem Christus misit in terram" (This is a mysterious and hidden reality, which no one knows but he who receives it, and no one receives it but he who desires it, and no one desires it but he who is inflamed in the innermost depths of his heart by the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent on the earth (St Bonaventure, Itinerarium mentis in Deum, cap. 7, 4: Opera omnia, ed. min. Quaracchi, 5, p. 213).
3. The Second Vatican Council again illuminated the paschal mystery in the earthly pilgrimage of the People of God. It drew from it the full image of the Church, which always plunges its roots in this salvific mystery, and draws vital sap from it. "In the human nature united to himself, the son of God, by overcoming death through his own death and resurrection, redeemed man and changed him into a new creation (cf. Ga 6,15 2Co 5,17). For by communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation. In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his passion and glorification" (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium LG 7).
The Church remains constantly in the mystery of the Son which was accomplished with the descent of the Spirit, at Pentecost.
The paschal octave is the Day of the Church!
Living this Day, we must accept, together with it, the words that rang out for the first time in the Upper Room where the Risen Christ appeared: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20,21).
To accept the Risen Christ means accepting the mission, as those who were gathered at that moment in the Upper Room, the apostles, accepted it.
To believe in the Risen Christ means taking part in the same mission of salvation which he carried out with the paschal mystery. Faith is a conviction of the intellect and of the heart.
This conviction takes on its full meaning when participation in this mission, which Christ accepted from the Father, springs from it.
To believe means accepting as a consequence this mission from Christ.
Among the apostles, Thomas was absent when the Risen Christ came for the first time to the Upper Room. This Thomas, who declared aloud to his brothers "Unless I see... I will not believe" (Jn 20,25), was convinced by the next coming of the Risen Christ. Then, as we know, all his reservations vanished and he professed his faith with these words: "My Lord and my God" (Jn 20,28). Together with the experience of the paschal mystery, he reconfirmed his participation in Christ's mission. As if, eight days afterwards, these words of Christ: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (cf. Jn 20,21), reached him, too.
29 Thomas became a mature witness to Christ.
4. The Second Vatican Council teaches the doctrine on the mission of the whole People of God, which has been called to take part in the mission of Christ himself (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium LG 10-12). It is a triple mission. Christ—Priest, Prophet and King—expressed his mission to the end in the paschal mystery, in the Resurrection.
Each of us in this large community of the Church, of the People of God, takes part in this mission by means of the sacrament of Baptism. Each of us is called to faith in the Resurrection like Thomas: "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing" (Jn 20,27).
Each of us has the duty of defining the meaning of his own life by means of this faith. This life has a very varied form. It is we ourselves who give it a determined form. And it is precisely our faith which brings it about that the life of each one of us is penetrated somewhere by this mission, which Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, accepted from the Father and shared with us. Faith brings it about that some part of the paschal mystery penetrates the life of each of us. A certain irradiation of it.
We must find this ray in order to live it every day for all this time, which began again on the Day which the Lord has made.
Pope's special greeting to the young
A particularly affectionate greeting now goes to the boys and girls and all the young people who have come in such large numbers to bring joy to this General Audience. Beloved young people, I thank you warmly for this significant presence of yours and for the joy you give me with the gift of your youth and your faith in the Risen Christ. In this paschal time, I will say to you with the Apostle Paul: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Col 3,1-2).
Dear young people, raise up your hearts and advance in the Lord's name!
1. These words which, a few days ago, were recalled to the City and to the world, tell us a great deal! They also tell every individual man a great deal. Because man is a "historical being". That does not mean just that he is subjected to time, like all other living beings in this world of ours. Man is a historical being because he is capable of making of time, of the transitory, of the past, a particular content of his own existence, a particular dimension of his own "temporariness". All this happens in the various sectors of human life. Each of us, beginning from the day of his birth, has a history of his own. At the same time each of us, through history, is part of the community. The fact that each of us, as a "social being", belongs to a certain group and to a determined society is always realized by means of history. It is realized on a certain historical scale.
In this way families have their history. And also nations have their history. One of the tasks of the family is to draw from the history and culture of the nation, and at the same time to prolong this history in the educative process.
When we speak of the anniversary of the founding of Rome, we meet with an even vaster reality. Certainly, a particular right and duty to refer to this event, to this date, belongs to the persons for whom the Rome of today is their City, their Capital. Nevertheless all the Romans of our time know perfectly well that the exceptional character of this City, of this Capital, consists in the fact that they cannot limit Rome merely to their own history. Here it is necessary to go back to a past far more distant in time and to conjure up not only the centuries of the ancient Empire, but even more remote times, until we arrive at that date that recalls to us the founding of Rome.
An immense heritage of history, various eras of human culture and civilization, different socio-political changes, separate us from that date and at the same time unite us with it. I would say even more: this date, the founding of Rome, marks not only the beginning of a succession of human generations who lived in this City, and together in this peninsula; the founding of Rome is also a beginning for distant peoples and nations, who feel a link and a special unity with the Latin cultural tradition, in its deepest contents.
I, too, though I came here from distant Poland, feel bound by my spiritual genealogy to the founding of Rome, just like the whole nation from which I come, and many other nations of contemporary Europe, and not only of Europe.
2. The anniversary of the founding of Rome has a quite special eloquence for us who believe that the history of man on earth the history of the whole of mankind reached a new dimension through the mystery of the Incarnation. God entered man's history becoming Man. This is the central truth of the Christian faith, the fundamental content of the Gospel and of the mission of the Church.
Entering the history of man, becoming Man, God made this history, in all its extension, the history of salvation. What was fulfilled at Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem is history and, at the same time, it is a ferment of history. And although the history of men and peoples has developed and continues to develop along paths of its own, although the history of Rome—then at the peak of its ancient splendour—passed almost without noticing it alongside the birth, the life, the passion, the death and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, yet these salvific events became new leaven in the history of man.
They became new leaven particularly in the history of Rome. It can be said that at the time when Jesus was born, at the time when he died on the cross and rose again, ancient Rome, then the capital of the world experienced a new birth. Not by chance do we find it already so deeply integrated in the New Testament. St Luke, who plans his Gospel as the path of Jesus to Jerusalem where the paschal mystery is accomplished, takes, in the Acts of the Apostles, as the point of arrival of the apostolic journeys, Rome, where the mystery of the Church will be manifested.
The rest is well known to us. The apostles of the Gospel, and first among them Peter of Galilee, then Paul of Tarsus, came to Rome and planted the Church here also. Thus in the capital of the ancient world there came into existence the See of Peters successors, of the bishops of Rome. Even before coming here, St Paul wrote his masterly letter to the Romans, and the Bishop of Antioch, Ignatius, addressed his spiritual testament to them, on the eve of martyrdom. What was Christian took root in what was Roman, and at the same time, after having fermented in the Roman soil, it began to germinate with new strength. With Christianity, what was "Roman" began to live a new life, while continuing to remain truly "native".
D'Arcy was right when he wrote: "There is in history a presence, which makes it something more than a mere 'succession of events'. As in a palimpsest, the new is indelibly superimposed on what is already written and widens its meaning indefinitely" (M.C. D'Arcy, S.J., The Sense of History Secular and Sacred, London 1959, 275). Rome owes to Christianity a new universality of its history, its culture, its heritage. This Christian ("catholic") universality of Rome endures even until today. Not only does it have two thousand years of history behind it, but it continues to develop incessantly: it reaches new peoples, new lands. And so people from all over the world willingly flock to Rome, to find themselves at home in this ever living centre of universality.
3.I will never forget the years, the months, the days in which I was here for the first time. My favourite spot, to which I returned most often, perhaps, was the ancient Roman Forum, still so well preserved today. How eloquent for me was the temple of S. Maria Antiqua, which rises directly on an ancient Roman building. Christianity entered the history of Rome not with violence, not with military force, not by conquest or invasion, but with the force of testimony, paid at the clear price of the blood of the martyrs, throughout more than three centuries of history. It entered with the strength of the evangelical leaven which, revealing to man his ultimate vocation and his supreme dignity in Jesus Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 40 Gaudium et Spes GS 22), began to act in the depths of souls, penetrating subsequently into human institutions and the whole of culture. That is why this second birth of Rome is so authentic and has within it such a charge of interior truth and such force of spiritual irradiation!
You, Romans of ancient date, accept this testimony of a man who has come here to Rome to become, by Christ's will, at the end of the second millennium, your Bishop. Accept this testimony and integrate it in your magnificent heritage, in which we all participate. Man comes up from history. He is the son of history, subsequently becoming its responsible architect. Therefore the heritage of this history commits him deeply. It is a great good for man's life, to be remembered not just on festivities, but every day! May this good always find an adequate place in our conscience and in our behaviour! And let us try to be worthy of the history, to which the temples, the basilicas and even more the Colosseum and the catacombs of ancient Rome bear witness here.
31 These are the wishes addressed to you, dear Romans, for the anniversary of the founding of Rome, by your Bishop, whom you welcomed, six months ago, so openheartedly, as the successor of St Peter and witness to that universal mission, which divine Providence has inscribed in the history book of the Eternal City.
Having giving his address in Italian, the Holy Father addressed various groups in other languages. To English speaking pilgrims who were present the Pope said:
Dear brothers and sisters,
You are all very welcome to Rome. I greet in particular the American seminarians who are to be ordained deacons tomorrow, and I pray that God will abundantly bless you and your future ministry. My greeting goes also to each and every one of you, from whatever country or continent you have come.
To the International Council for Catechesis:
I now wish to address a special greeting to members of the International Council for Catechesis, composed of bishops, priests, Sisters and lay experts, who have met here in Rome in these days to examine the important subject of the "Formation of Catechists", and who, together with the superiors and some officials of the S. Congregation for the Clergy, which organized the meeting, have come here to express to the Pope their ecclesial communion.
I thank you, dear Brothers, for this significant presence of yours and, even more, for your active commitment in updating the delicate and important sector of catechesis, which is certainly the "opus princeps" of the Church's mission. The theme you have chosen is too vast and important for me to be able to refer to it here: I will limit myself, therefore, to a short and simple exhortation. I am of the opinion that in the catechist's formation, over and above all problems regarding the content and the method of teaching, uprightness of life and sincerity of Christian faith are necessary. Neither cultural preparation nor pedagogical skill are sufficient to make the revealed truths accessible to the mentality of modern man. These are necessary things, but they are not enough: the catechist must have a soul, which lives and brings life to everything he professes. In this connection I am glad to leave you, as an inspiring motive, some expressions of St Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, who, in his"Itinerarium mentis in Deum" admonished the teachers of his time, with sculptural clarity, as follows: "Nemo credat quod sibi sufficiat lectio sine unctione, speculatio sine devotione, investigatio sine admiratione, circumspectio sine exultatione, industria sine pietate, scientia sine charitate, intelligentia sine humilitate, studium absque divina gratia, speculum absque sapientia divinitus inspirata" (Itinerariummentis in Deum, Introduction, n. 4).
All that demands of the catechist, of course, great love for Jesus Christ, our Master, it demands readiness to listen to his voice and follow him daily in order to be able to learn how he spoke, in his continual catechesis, to children, to the young, to the learned and to the ignorant.
This is, dear Brothers, the brief thought I wished to express to you. May the Holy Spirit sustain you in your work, and the Blessed Virgin, Sedis Sapientiae, encourage you in difficulties. To all of you my fatherly Blessing, which I willingly bestow also on all those who are engaged in various capacities in the delicate field of catechesis.
To a group of diocesan priest delegates for the apostolate of manual labour:
A cordial greeting now goes to the large group of priests, diocesan delegates for the apostolate of manual labour, who are concluding in Rome today their annual Congress, organized by the National Office of the Italian Episcopal Conference for the Apostolate in the World of Manual Labour.
Beloved priests, I express to you my deep satisfaction with the interesting programme you have carried out in the last few days for a more effective "Apostolate of Manual Labour in Italian Churches".
As you well know, the Church follows with all care and anxiety the vast, varied and, sometimes, dramatic social question regarding the workers. Since she "cannot remain insensible to whatever serves man's true welfare, any more than she can remain indifferent to what threatens it" (Enc. Redemptor Hominis RH 13), she constantly safeguards the Christian meaning of work and at the same time the inviolable dignity of the worker, which is all the more sacred the more it is recognized as having the first place which man occupies in the scale of values. Work, in fact, is for man, and not man for work. It must aim at serving man and not at subduing him: if that were not so, man again would become a slave and his stature would be measured—alas!—only with the yardstick of suffocating materialism.
It is necessary to reconsider the figure and the situation of the worker, so that he may be enabled to be more of a man and to regain his true greatness as collaborator in God's creative work when he imprints on matter the sign of his active mind.
It is up to you, dear priests, to make every effort in order that this wish may come true, so that the space between the Church and the Factory may be lessened and the smoke of incense mingle, in its ascent to heaven, with that of industries. In your pastoral action take care, in the first place, of those who are still suffering because of the heaviness and unhealthiness of their work, uncertainty about their employment, the insufficiency of their dwellings and of their wages. But take care also and above all in order that the workers may be able to rediscover and support the inborn tendency to the highest values of the spirit; faith, hope, and justice. Succeed, in a word, in projecting the light of the Gospel upon the difficult but attractive world of manual work.
And for you priests and those who help you in your work of human and Christian solidarity, I pray to the Heavenly Father, imploring from him, through the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the divine Workman, a special Apostolic Blessing.
1. Regina caeli laetare, alleluia / quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia / ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
I wish to dedicate today's General Audience particularly to the Mother of the Risen Christ. The Easter period permits us to address her with the words of pure joy with which the Church greets her. The month of May, which began yesterday, encourages us to think and speak particularly of her. This, in fact, is her month. In this way, therefore, the period of the liturgical year and the current month together call and invite our hearts to open in a special way to Mary.
2. The Church with her Easter antiphon "Regina Caeli" speaks to the Mother, to her who had the fortune to bear in her womb, under her heart, and later in her arms, the Son of God and our Saviour. She took him in her arms for the last time when he was taken down from the Cross, on Calvary. Before her eyes, he was wrapped in the shroud and taken to the tomb. Before his Mother's eyes! And lo, on the third day the tomb was found empty. But she was not the first to discover it. First there were the "three Marys" and among them particularly Mary Magdalen, the converted sinner. The apostles, informed by the women, ascertained it shortly afterwards. And even though the Gospels do not tell us anything about the visit of Christ's Mother to the place of his Resurrection, we all think, however, that she must somehow have been the first one present. She must have been the first to participate in the mystery of the Resurrection, because such was her right as Mother.
The liturgy of the Church respects this right of the Mother, when it addresses to her this particular invitation to the joy of the Resurrection: Laetare! Resurrexit sicut dixit! And the same antiphon at once adds the request for intercession: Ora pro nobis Deum. The revelation of the divine power of the Son by means of the Resurrection is at the same time the revelation of the "omnipotence of intercession" (omnipotentia supplex) of Mary with regard to this Son.
3. The Church of all times, beginning from the Upper Room at Pentecost, always surrounds Mary with particular veneration and addresses her with special trust.
33 The Church of our times, by means of the Second Vatican Council, has made a synthesis of all that had grown during the generations. The eighth chapter of the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium is in a certain sense a "Magna Charta" of Mariology for our times: Mary present in a special way in the mystery of Christ and in the mystery of the Church; Mary, "Mother of the Church", as Paul VI began to call her (in the Creed of the People of God), subsequently dedicating to her a separate document "Marialis Cultus").
This presence of Mary in the mystery of the Church, that is at the same time in the daily life of the People of God all over the world, is above all a motherly presence. Mary, so to speak, gives the salvific work of the Son and the mission of the Church a singular form: the motherly form. Everything that can be stated in the human language on the subject of the "genius" peculiar to the woman-mother—the genius of the heart—all this refers to her.
Mary is always the most complete fulfilment of the salvific mystery—from the Immaculate Conception to the Assumption—and she is continually a more efficacious announcement of this mystery. She reveals salvation, brings grace closer also to those who seem the most indifferent and the most distant. In the world, which together with progress manifests its "corruption" and its "aging", she is unceasingly "the beginning of the better world" (origo mundi melioris), as Paul VI put it. "To modern man,"—the late Pontiff wrote among other things—“the blessed Virgin Mary... offers a serene vision and a reassuring word: the victory of hope over anguish, of communion over solitude, of peace over agitation, of joy and beauty over boredom and nausea.., of life over death" (Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, 57).
4. I wish in particular to bring the youth of the whole world and of the whole Church closer to her, to Mary who is the Mother of fair Love. She bears within her an indestructible sign of youth and beauty which never pass. I wish and pray that the young will approach her, have confidence in her, and entrust to her the life that is before them; that they will love her with a simple and warm love of the heart. She alone is capable of responding to this love in the best way:
"Ipsam sequens non devias,
ipsam rogans non desperas,
ipsam cogitans non erras...
(St Bernard, Homilia II super Missus est. XVII: PL 183, 71).
To Mary who is the Mother of divine grace I entrust priestly and religious vocations. May the new spring of vocations, their new increase throughout the Church, become a particular proof of her motherly presence in the mystery of Christ, in our times, and in the mystery of his Church all over the earth. Mary alone is a living incarnation of that total and complete dedication to God, to Christ, to his salvific action, which must find its adequate expression in every priestly and religious vocation. Mary is the fullest expression of perfect faithfulness to the Holy Spirit and to his action in the soul; she is the expression of the faithfulness which means persevering cooperation in the grace of vocation.
Next Sunday is appointed in the whole Church to prayer for vocations to the priesthood and for vocations of men and women to the religious life. It is Vocation Sunday. Through the intercession of the Mother of divine grace, may it bring an abundant harvest.
5. To the Mother of Christ and of the Church I dedicate the whole world, all the nations on earth, all men, because she is the Mother of them all. In particular I dedicate to her those for whom life is more difficult, more severe, those who are suffering physically or spiritually, who are living in poverty, who are subjected to injustice or harm.
In a special way, however, concluding this May meditation, I wish to venerate, tomorrow, Mary in Jasna Gora (Bright Mountain) at Czestochowa and in the whole of my country. I used to go there on pilgrimage every year on 3 May, which is the feast of the Queen of Poland. Every year I celebrated a solemn mass there, during which Cardinal Wyszynski, the Primate of Poland, in the presence of the Episcopate and of the immense crowd of pilgrims, renewed the act of consecration of Poland to the "motherly bondage" of our Lady. This year, too, God willing, I will visit Jasna Gora on 4 and 5 June. Tomorrow, on the other hand, I will be there in spirit and in heart, to repeat together with the whole Church, together with all of you gathered here in this splendid St Peter's Square: "Regina caeli laetare, alleluia"!
GENERAL AUDIENCE 1979 25