Speeches 1981 - Araneta Coliseum, Manila


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)



Villa San Miguel (Manila)

Tuesday, 17 February 1981

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. Since my arrival on Philippine soil, I have already had the occasion to state that my first and principal reason for coming here is the Beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz, whose martyrdom shows forth the holiness of the Church. At the same time I consider my pastoral visit a pilgrimage to the living shrine of the people of God in this land. And today, in you, the Bishops, I greet every ecclesial community that makes up the Church in the Philippines.

My thoughts go likewise to the past generations who have received and passed on the Catholic faith. In the name of the universal Church I express praise and thanksgiving to God for this great gift that your people have received and preserved. I give thanks also for the special vocation that has been given to the Church in the Philippines. In coming to y?u it is my desire to fulfill my pastoral service to the faithful in your land and to all of you, their Bishops. And so we gather together to represent the scene of the Acts of the Apostles where Peter and the Eleven assemble to speak about Jesus and to reflect on the power of his Spirit. Just being with you is enough to draw strength and power from the One who is in our midst. And on my part I wish, in fidelity to Christ, to confirm you in the faith that you hold and proclaim.

2. My coming is linked to the conviction that the word of God is powerful and, when faithfully preached, is light and strength for our people. It is in truth the foundation of their faith. That is why we never cease to communicate to them the conviction of Saint Paul: "Your faith rests not on the wisdom of men but on the power of God"[1].

As pastors of God's people we have the role of announcing "God's design in its entirety"[2]. Through the full proclamation of Christ and his Gospel a gentle but invincible force is unleashed in the world. In this regard let me share with you two testimonies of particular interest for you as Bishops in the Philippines.

The first is that of Paul VI. It was the great testimony that he gave ten years ago in Quezon Circle. Speaking about Christ he said : "I feel the need to proclaim him, I cannot keep silent. 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel'[3]. I am sent by him, by Christ himself, to do this, I am an apostle, I am a witness ... I must bear witness to his name : Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God[4]. He reveals the invisible God, he is the firstborn of all creation, the foundation of everything created. He is the Teacher of mankind, and its Redeemer ... Jesus Christ is our constant preaching; it is his name that we proclaim to the ends of the earths[5] and throughout all ages"[6] (November 29, 1970). This was his mission ten years ago, and some of you were present then, together with the late Cardinal Santos and with the other Bishops of that time. And I am convinced that, sometime in the future, yet another Successor of Peter will gather with your successors in this same proclamation of the faith.

The second testimony that I wish to recall with you is likewise a very special one. Certainly a number of you were present to hear John Paul I speak the following words to the Philippine Bishops gathered in Rome for their ad limina visit : "On our part we hope to sustain you, support you, and encourage you in the great mission of the episcopate: to proclaim Jesus Christ and to evangelize his people ... A great challenge of our day is the full evangelization of all those who have been baptized. In this, the Bishops of the Church have a prime responsibility. Our message must be a clear proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ" (September 28, 1978). It was a memorable testimony for its contents and for the circumstances in which it was given. It was the last public act of John Paul I; it was the last hour of his public ministry. It was his legacy—and it was for you. And I wish to perpetuate his testimony and to make it my own today.

3. This proclamation of Jesus Christ and salvation in his name is the basis for all pastoral service. It is the content of all evangelization and catechesis. And it is a credit to you that y?u accomplish it in union with the Successor of Peter and with the whole Church. It must always be so.

Your unity with the universal Church is the authentication of all y?ur pastoral initiatives and the guarantee of their supernatural effectiveness. This unity was indeed the concern that motivated Saint Paul to take counsel so that the course he was pursuing and had pursued "would not prove useless"[7]. I thank God today for your Catholic unity and the strength it gives you.

4. Fortified by the word of Christ and strengthened in the unity of his Church, y?u are well able to pursue effectively your pastoral ministry in imitation of Jesus the Good Shepherd. The suggestion that Saint Paul received in his consultation I would repeat today : "The only stipulation was that we should be mindful of the poor—the one thing that I was making every effort to do"[8]. And may this be the special mark of your ministry too: concern for the poor, for those who are materially or spiritually in need. Renee your pastoral love will embrace those in want, those afflicted, those in sin.

And let us remember that the greatest good we can give them is the word of God. This does not mean that we do not assist them in their physical needs, but it does mean that they need something more, and that we have something more to give : the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With great pastoral insight and evangelical love, John Paul I also expressed this thought succinctly on that day he died : "From the days of the Gospel, and in imitation of the Lord, who 'went about doing good'[9], the Church is irrevocably committed to contributing to the relief of physical misery and need. But her pastoral charity would be incomplete if she did not point out even 'higher needs'. In the Philippines Paul VI did precisely this. At a moment when he chose to speak about the poor, about justice and peace, about human rights, about economic and social liberation—at a moment when he also effectively committed the Church to the alleviation of misery—he did not and could not remain silent about `higher good', the fullness of life in the Kingdom of heaven".

5. Another aspect of your ministry is the fraternal interest that you have for your brother priests. They need to be convinced of your love; they need your example of holiness and they have to see you as their spiritual leaders, as heralds of the Gospel, so that they too can concentrate all their energies on their proper priestly role in the building up of Christ's Kingdom of justice and peace.

In this regard it is important that the laity be given the full responsibility that is specifically theirs. Through their activity in the temporal order they have a special task to fulfill, in order to bring about the consecration of the world to God. It is a lofty task, and they need their Bishops and priests to support them through spiritual leadership.

At the same time it has to be apparent in the Body of Christ, where there is a diversity of functions, that the laity are worthy of trust, that they can accomplish what the Lord has assigned specifically to them. This will also make it possible for the clergy to pay full heed to the apostolic injunction to concentrate on "prayer and the ministry of the word"[10]. The Spirit of God continues to confirm these priorities of the priestly ministry for each generation in the Church.

6. In reflecting on the Church in the Philippines, the missionary aspect emerges in various ways. There is first of all your glorious missionary beginning, in which your ancestors embraced the message of salvation that was proclaimed to them. To reflect on this is to praise God in your history, in the generosity of the missionaries that continues into the present.

To reflect on your missionary past is to be challenged to g? forward with the same zeal. In order to understand your missionary destiny, it is enough to listen to the Prophet Isaiah who urges you: "Look to the rock from which you were hewn[11]. There are indeed many places where the name of Jesus is not yet known and where his Gospel is yet to be proclaimed among y?u. It will be your zeal and that of your priests, together with the commitment of the whole ecclesial community, that will devise means to pursue initial evangelization and subsequent catechesis in the face of a harvest that is immense.

At the same time y?u will hear other nations, especially your neighbors in Asia, calling to y?u : "Come over ... and help us"[12]. There is no doubt about it : the Philippines have a special missionary vocation to proclaim the Good News, to carry the light of Christ to the nations. It must be accomplished with personal sacrifice, and in spite of limited resources, but God will not be wanting with his grace and he will supply your needs.

Paul VI confirmed this missionary vocation of yours during his visit here, and repeatedly thereafter. From many points of view, dear Brothers, you are truly called to be a missionary Church.

7. As y?u endeavor to fulfill your pastoral charge, I kn?w that you will recall the words with which the Gospel records the calling of the Apostles: "And he appointed Twelve to be with him and to be sent out to preach"[13]. The tw? aspects of the apostolic vocation may seem mutually exclusive, but it is not so. Jesus wants us both to stay with him and to go out to preach. We are meant to be his companions and his friends, as well as his tireless apostles. In a word, we are called to holiness. There can be no successful episcopal ministry without holiness of life, because our ministry is modeled on that of the chief Pastor and the Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ[14].

My dear Brothers, in our intimate friendship with Jesus Christ we shall find strength for fraternal love, the power to touch hearts and to proclaim a convincing message. In the love of Jesus we shall discover the way to build community in Christ and to serve our people, giving them the word of God. By sharing in the holiness of Jesus we shall exercise an authentic prophetic role: announcing holiness and courageously practising it as an example to be followed in the ecclesial community. To be faithful to the tradition that is ours, let us remember the Apostle Peter exhorting us : "Be examples to the flock"[15].

8. To these important aspects of our pastoral ministry that I have mentioned—God's word, unity and holiness—I would add a final word of fraternal exhortation, and it is this: let us trust fully in the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ; let us trust in his power to renew, by the action of his Spirit, the face of the earth. Our mission and our destiny, linked with that of our people, are in the hands of God, who has given all power of redemption and sanctification to Jesus Christ. And it is Christ who tells us today that we are strong in him and sustained by his promise : "I am with y?u always until the end of the world"[16].

And finally, as Bishops we feel ourselves enveloped by the gentle and maternal love of Mary, Mother of Jesus and Queen of the Apostles. I am confident that by her intercession she will assist the Church in the Philippines—Jesus Christ the salvation of Asia and the eternal light of the world.

9. The joy of this meeting is increased by the presence of the other Asian Bishops—all of you united in this common mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ.

We are rightly gratified by the awareness that exists in the Church today—thanks to the action of God's Spirit in our times—of the need to bring the Gospel to bear upon all cultures, to make it incarnate in the lives of all peoples, to present the Christian message in a way that is ever more effective. The goal is a noble one, a delicate one; it is a goal to which the Church is firmly committed. Indeed, on the opening day of the Second Vatican Council, John XXIII announced that the Council's principal aim was to ensure "that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be more effectively guarded and taught" (October 11, 1962).

In all your efforts, my brother Bishops, to pursue this aim throughout the postconciliar period, be assured of the support of the universal Church, which embraces every nation under heaven and yet proclaims the same Christ to every people and to every generation. Be mindful above all of the sovereign action of the Holy Spirit, who alone can stir up the new creation. For this reason Paul VI could declare that "techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit ... It must be said that the holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: it is he who impels each individual to proclaim the Gospel and it is he who in the depths of consciences causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood"[17].

It is to the Holy Spirit that we turn humbly to ask that our mission as evangelizers be fruitful for the Kingdom of God and for the glory of the name of Jesus : Veni Sancte Spiritus! Veni Sancte Spiritus!

[1] 1 Cor 2:5.

[2] Acts 20:27.

[3] 1 Cor 9:16.

[4] Cf. Mt 16:16.

[5] Cf. Rom 10:18.

[6] Cf. Rom 9:5.

[7] Gal 2:2.

[8] Gal 2:10.

[9] Acts 10:38.

[10] Acts 6:4.

[11] Is 51:1.

[12] Acts 16:9.

[13] Mk 3:14.

[14] Cf. 1 Pt 5:4; 2:25.

[15] 1 Pt 5:3.

[16] Mt 28:20.

[17] Evangelii Nuntiandi, 75.


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)



Mr. President,

1. It gives me great joy to be in the Philippines, and your kind invitation to come to Malacañang honors me greatly. I take this opportunity to express to you my sincere gratitude for everything y?u have done to make this visit come about, as well as for your generous collaboration in making available to me the many services and facilities that enable me to travel to different parts of the country and to meet as many people as possible on these beautiful islands.

I look upon my stay among the Filipino people as a unique opportunity for learning more about the achievements and aspirations of this blessed nation, for bringing personally a fraternal greeting to the nations of Asia, and for offering support and encouragement to the local Churches of this continent. The enthusiastic welcome which your people have accorded me during this first day of my visit evokes from me the full measure of my pastoral love and concern for the people of the Philippines.

Once again, I thank you and, through you, all your fellow-citizens. Maraming salamat po! (Thank you very much, Sir !)

Dear People of the Philippines,

2. In my desire to know personally the peoples of Asia, I wanted my first papal visit to be to the Philippines. I come here retracing the steps of Paul Vl, whose memorable visit to this land is still recalled, I am sure, with love and gratitude, and whose inspiring presence still lives on in the hearts and the minds of the Filipino people. I come here because it is my heart's desire to celebrate with my brothers and sisters the common faith that unites the Catholic population of this land with the See of Peter in Rome. At the same time I mention with satisfaction and pleasure the friendly relations between the Philippines and the Holy See. These relations are indeed a worthy expression of the special affection of your people for the Bishop of Rome.

The Philippine nation is deserving of particular honor since, from the beginning of its Christianization, from the moment that Magellan planted the Cross in Cebu four hundred and sixty years ago, on April 15, 1521, all through the centuries, its people have remained true to the Christian faith. In an achievement that remains unparalleled in history, the message of Christ took root in the hearts of the people within a very brief span of time, and the Church was thus strongly implanted in this nation of seven thousand islands and numerous tribal and ethnic communities.

The rich geographical and human diversity, the various cultural traditions, and the people's spirit of joy and sharing, together with the fruits of the missionary efforts, have successfully blended and have shaped, through periods which were sometimes not devoid of shadows and weaknesses, a clear national identity that is unmistakably Filipino and truly Christian. The attachment to the Catholic faith has been tested under succeeding regimes of colonial control and foreign occupation, but fidelity to the faith and to the Church remained unshaken and grew even stronger and more mature.

3. Due homage must be paid to this achievement of the Filipino people, but what you are also creates an obligation and it confers upon the nation a specific mission. A country that has kept the Catholic faith strong and vibrant through the vicissitudes of its history, the sole nation in Asia that is approximately ninety percent Christian, assumes by this very fact the obligation not only to preserve its Christian heritage but to bear witness to the values of its Christian culture before the whole world.

Although small in size of land and population compared to some of its neighbors, the Philippine nation has undoubtedly a special role in the concert of nations, in order to consolidate peace and international understanding, and more particularly in maintaining stability in South East Asia, where it has a vital task.

4. The Filipino people will always draw the strength and inspiration that they need to carry out this task from their noble heritage—a heritage not only of Christian faith but also of the rich human and cultural values that are their own. Every man and woman, whatever his or her status or role, must strive in all earnestness to preserve, to deepen and to consolidate these values—these priceless gifts—against the many factors which seriously threaten them today.

Preserve, through your lucid and deliberate efforts, your sense of the divine, your prayerfulness and your deeply religious consciousness. Preserve and reinforce your respect for the role of women in the home, in education and in other challenges of life in society. Keep and strengthen your reverence for the aged, the disabled and the sick. Above all maintain your great esteem for the family.

Preserve the indissolubility of the marriage bond. Keep inviolate the right to life of the unborn child and uphold firmly the exalted dignity of motherhood. Proclaim vigorously the right of parents to be free from economic, social and political coercion, as they endeavor to follow the dictates of an upright conscience in determining the size of their family in accordance with the will of God.

Establish firmly the serious responsibility of parents to raise their children in accordance with their human dignity. Defend the children from corrupting influences and uphold the structures of family life. A nation goes the way that the family goes, and when the integrity and stability of family life is imperiled, so will be the stability of the nation and the tasks it must assume before the judgment of history.

5. The challenge that faces each nation, and more particularly a Christian nation, is a challenge to its own internal life. I am sure that the leaders and the people of the Philippines fully realize their responsibility to construct an exemplary society and that they are willing to work together to achieve this end in a spirit of mutual respect and civic responsibility. It is the joint effort of all the citizens that builds a truly sovereign nation, where not only the legitimate material interests of the citizens are promoted and protected, but also their spiritual aspirations and their culture.

Even in exceptional situations that may at times arise, one can never justify any violation of the fundamental dignity of the human person or of the basic rights that safeguard this dignity. Legitimate concern for the security of a nation, as demanded by the common good, could lead to the temptation of subjugating to the State the human being and his or her dignity and rights. Any apparent conflict between the exigencies of security and of the citizens' basic rights must be resolved according to the fundamental principle—upheld always by the Church—that social organization exists only f?r the service of man and for the protection of his dignity, and that it cannot claim to serve the common good when human rights are not safeguarded.

People will have faith in the safeguarding of their security and the promotion of their well-being only to the extent that they feel truly involved, and supported in their very humanity.

It is my hope and prayer that all the Filipino people and their leaders will never cease to honor their commitment to a development that is fully human and that overcomes situations and structures of inequality, injustice and poverty in the name of the sacredness of humanity. I pray that everyone will work together with generosity and courage, without hatred, class struggle or fratricidal strife, resist­ing all temptations to materialistic or violent ideologies.

The moral resources of the Philippines are dynamic, and they are strong enough to withstand the pressures that are exercised from the outside to force this nation to adopt models of development that are alien to its culture and sensitivities. Recent initiatives that are worthy of praise augur well for the future, since they manifest confidence in the capacity of the people to assume their rightful share of responsibility in building a society that strives for peace and justice and protects all human rights.

Mr. President, dear friends,

7. The presence of so many representatives of the constituted bodies of national and local government, of the judiciary and the military honors me greatly, and I wish to express to them the great esteem in which the Church holds those that are invested with responsibility for the common good and the service of their fellowmen.

??w exalted is the mission of those to whom the people have entrusted the leadership of the nation, and in whom they place their trust to see enacted those reforms and policies that aim at bringing about a truly human society, where all men, women and children receive what is due to them to live in dignity, where especially the poor and the underprivileged are made the priority concern of all. Those that are entrusted with the tasks of government do honor to Christianity when they uphold their credibility by placing the interests of the community above any other consideration, and by regarding themselves first and foremost as servants of the common good.

8. In closing these brief remarks, I wish to praise the special qualities of the Filipino people, steeped in a solid Christian tradition of faith and love for neighbor. Throughout your history, you have heeded the appeal of the Gospel, the invitation to goodness, to honesty, to respect for the human person, and to unselfish service.

Your commitment to the ideals of peace, justice and fraternal love holds the promise that the future of this land will match its past history. But the challenge is great and it faces each individual of this land. N? one is exempt from personal responsibility. Everybody's contribution is important. Now that we are approaching the end of this second millennium, you must be ready to continue on the road that faith in Christ and his message of love have charted for y?u.

May God's grace sustain you. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked under innumerable titles and honored in shrines and institutions all over the land, remain forever the loving and caring Mother of the Filipino people. And may her Son, Jesus Christ, the loving and merciful Saviour of mankind, give y?u the great gift of his peace—now and forever.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas ! (Long live the Philippines !)

From Manila, 17 February 1981.


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)





Tuesday, 17 February 1981

Dearly beloved Sisters,

I bless the providence of God that has brought me back to Manila, back to this Sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where I once celebrated Mass. I bless the providence of God that has brought me to you, and you to me. It always brings me happiness to be with Sisters during my apostolic journeys, but today there is the special joy of knowing that your country is one of those where vocations to the consecrated life are flourishing, and that this generous response to grace is itself a gift of God to you.

1. And as I thank the Lord for the many people whom he has called to the religious life, I wish to express to you my esteem and affection in Christ Jesus, and I wish to offer you my encouragement. In the first place, I would like to help you preserve and increase in your hearts the reverence and love for your sublime vocation. I pray that every day you will respond to that vocation more generously, so that you will grow steadily in the likeness of Christ your Ideal and your Teacher : for your religious consecration is essentially an act of love for Jesus Christ.

2. The more intensely you live this love and unite yourselves more closely to Jesus, the greater witness you will bear to the Gospel. It has often been noted that there is a close connection between the fervor of the religious life of a country and the condition of the Church in that country : fervent religious life means a living and apostolic Church; where that fervor grows cold, the vitality of the local Church is reduced. If, by a mischance, tepidity and mediocrity were to set in, they would soon be reflected among the Christian people. On the other hand, throughout the history of the Church, when she has been assailed by crises, it has always been the religious life that has given the signal for a reawakening and a renewed fidelity to the Gospel.

And your own responsibility in this regard is increased by the fact of the special situation prevailing in the Philippines. Yours is a land profoundly marked by Catholicism, in an immense part of the world that needs the witness of a fervent and vital Church, so that the Gospel may be more widely known and embraced.

3. You have perfectly understood this, and all your activity shows that your generous consecration to the love of God makes you particularly capable of loving all your brothers and sisters, ready to spend yourselves for them with no thought of self and without reserve. I know how hard you work for children, for the sick and the aged, for families, for the poor and for the many refugees who have come to this region. I know that you share in catechetical work, and I assure you that this work is deeply appreciated by the Bishops. You are truly witnesses to Christ's love, and your Pastors are thankful for your own loving presence and activity among those whom the Savior loves with a special love. In the name of Jesus and in the name of his Church I thank you all.

At the same time I would assure you that the transformation of the world and the building up of Christ's Kingdom of justice and peace can be effected only by grace and the power of God's love in us. Only love can trasform hearts, and without love there can be no adequate reform of structures in society. The only violence that leads to the building up of the Kingdom of Christ is the sacrifice and service that are born of love.

4. I als? express my gratitude to those of you who live the cloistered and contemplative life, so open to the presence of the living God, in the midst of a world that is s? often confused and is groping to find the light. You are so deeply needed. And through your daily life of prayer and sacrifice, united with the oblation of Christ, you powerfully aid your Sisters in the active apostolate. You are, moreover, of great assistance to the whole Church and its visible Head in the mission of proclaiming Christ, and I tell you that I count very much upon your collaboration and your supplications to the Lord.

5. The mission of Religious is thus a very important one. And in order to help you to respond to it ever more perfectly, I would like to mention three points of fundamental importance.

First, there is your task of being witnesses.By reason of your baptism, you must be a sign and instrument of union with God and of the salvation of the world. It is life in the Spirit that must come first, through listening to the word, through interior prayer, through the faithful accomplishment of the task given to you, through the gift of yourselves in service, and through the humility of repentance [1]. Through your religious consecration, y?u are a visible testimony to the w?rld of the deep mystery of Christ, for y?u represent him "in contemplation on the mountain, or proclaiming the kingdom of God to the multitudes, or healing the sick and maimed and converting sinners to a good life, or blessing children and doing good to all people, always in obedience to the will of the Father who sent him"[2].

Through your particular vocation, lived out in an Order or Congregation approved by the Church, you are a special sign of sanctification and apostolic work that gives y?u a specific role in the Church, a role with its own distinctive character. Always remain faithful to that vocation, in spite of temptations. Find your joy in preserving your interior identity and in being outwardly recognized for what you are.

The second point that I wish to mention is prayer. It is vital that everyone should appreciate the need for prayer and should actually pray, but Religious, as people called to be specialists in prayer, must seek God and l?ve him above all things; in all circumstances, they must strive to live a life hidden with Christ in God, a life from which love of neighbor springs and becomes a pressing need. You must therefore, through Christ and with Christ and in Christ, intensify your personal and communal familiarity with the principal source of apostolic and charitable activity, and in this way y?u will be sharing intimately in the mission which takes its origin from the Father.

As I said in my message to the Plenary Meeting of the Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, "your first duty is to be with Christ. A constant danger for those engaged in apostolic work is to become so engrossed in work for the Lord as to forget the Lord of the work". And so, in the taxing routine of your apostolic tasks, always make sure that y?u devote periods of each day to personal and community prayer. These times of prayer must be carefully guarded and suitably prolonged, and you must not hesitate to supplement them by periods of more intense recollection and prayer, at times especially set aside for this purpose.

You must always ensure that the natural center of your communities is the Eucharist: you will accomplish this by your fervent daily participation in the Mass, and by community prayer in an oratory where the Eucharistic presence of Christ expresses and realizes what must be the principal mission of every religious family[3].

The third point that I wish to mention is loving docility to the Church's Magisterium, which is an obvious consequence of the special ecclesial position which is yours. As you know, religious life has no meaning except in the Church and in faithfulness to her directives. "It would be a serious mistake to make the two realities—religious life and ecclesial structures—independent one of the other, or to oppose one to the other as if they could subsist as two distinct entities, one charismatic, the other institutional. Both elements, namely, the spiritual gifts and the ecclesial structures, form one, even though complex, reality"[4]. So I exhort you to be always ready to embrace the teaching of the Church, and, in fidelity to your charism, to collaborate in the pastoral activity of your local dioceses, under the direction of y?ur Bishops united to Peter and in union with Christ.

Your adherence to the word of God as it is proclaimed by the Church will be the measure of your effectiveness in communicating the truth and the freedom of Christ. The same Holy Spirit who makes us attentive to "the signs of the times" has endowed Christ's Church with the apostolic and pastoral charism of Magisterium, so that she may effectively transmit Christ's vivifying and liberating word of truth. Let us always remember the words of Jesus : "You will learn the truth and the truth will make y?u free"[5].

6. It is so appropriate that our meeting takes place today in this Sanctuary dedicated to Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, the title which reminds us that we are in constant need of her protection. As the Council teaches, the Mother of God is the Christian's model in faith, love and perfect union with Christ[6]; and in a special way she is the Mother and model of those who live the consecrated life.

You show your devotion to Mary by celebrating her feasts, by daily prayer in her honor and especially the Rosary, and by imitating her life. May that devotion gr?w stronger every day.

Your consecrated life should mirror Mary's life : the "yes" which she uttered at the Annunciation was nothing but a confirmation of her previous attitude, and the point of departure for a journey in the Lord's company that lasted all her life. In this way, Mary reminds Religious of the need to respond ever more generously to the Lord's plans for them. Each one will give this response in the first place by her openness to the Holy Spirit, by her continual conversion to Christ, by her chastity, poverty and obedience, in short by the unending discovery of her vocation and mission in the Church. And this constitutes that "continued formation" that for a number of years has been put forward as being so necessary.

7. The consecrated love of your religions life is lived in the context of an ecclesially approved Institute and for this reason has a community element. It concerns all Religious, whatever their place in their comunities. Each Institute has responsibility for the formation of its members according to its proper charism and in fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church. In this regard the union among sisters, devotion to others, interest in the world's problems, and the wholesome organization of daily life will sustain and foster the efforts of all concerned.

8. I would like to extend an earnest invitation to you to intensify your apostolic collaboration at the service of Christian families. This is in harmony with the conclusions reached by the recent Synod of Bishops. The links between families and the religious life are both profound and vital; the Christian family is the normal source of vocations to the religious life. Religious life will help families to become ever more Christian and to witness ever more clearly to the love of Christ, by assisting them in the Christian education of their children, in caring for the sick and in meeting the problems of life.

9. By your contact with families and through the example of holiness that you give in all your apostolates, you are able to be instruments of God's grace in regard to religious vocations. Indeed, you have been given this role to play: through prayer and your joyful lives of consecration to the Lord you are called to make the religious vocation in the Church something attractive to young girls and young women today. They must be able to perceive clearly—being convinced by the witness you give—that your lives are permeated with a personal love for your spouse Jesus Christ, a love that also embraces him in the whole of humanity.

In my first Encyclical I mentioned that we "cannot live without love". We remain incomprehensible to ourselves if we do not experience it and make it our own[7]. And it is when we do bear witness to a joyful and sacrificial love that our way of life becomes credible and the call of Christ, humanly speaking, becomes attractive and worth following. To be able to show the young that consecrated love for Jesus can itself fulfill the deepest aspirations of the human person is a great mission of faith, and, dear Sisters, it is yours.

Finally, I thank you once again for your help in making this pilgrimage possible through your prayers and your ready aid. I entrust all your intentions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and I ask her to assist y?u to live your vocation ever more generously, for the coming of the Kingdom of her beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. For in the words of Saint Peter : "Without having seen him, y?u love him; though y?u do not now see him, y?u believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy"[8].

Beloved Sisters : Praised be Jesus Christ !

[1] Cf. Mutuae Relationes, 4b.

[2] Lumen Gentium, 46.

[3] Cf. Evangelica Testificatio, 48.

[4] Mutuae Relationes, 34.

[5] Jn 8:31.

[6] Cf. Lumen Gentium, 63.

[7] Cf. Redemptor Hominis, 10.

[8] 1 Pt 1:8.

Speeches 1981 - Araneta Coliseum, Manila