GENERAL AUDIENCE 1997 41
1. Popular devotion invokes Mary as Queen. The Council, after recalling the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in "‘body and soul into heavenly glory’", explains that she was "exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Ap 19,16) and conqueror of sin and death" (Lumen gentium LG 59).
In fact, starting from the fifth century, almost in the same period in which the Council of Ephesus proclaims her "Mother of God", the title of Queen begins to be attributed to her. With this further recognition of her sublime dignity, the Christian people want to place her above all creatures, exalting her role and importance in the life of every person and of the whole world.
But already a fragment of a homily, attributed to Origen, contains this comment on the words Elizabeth spoke at the Visitation "It is I who should have come to visit you, because you are blessed above all women, you are the Mother of my Lord, you are my Lady" (Fragment, PG 13,1902 D). The text passes spontaneously from the expression "the Mother of my Lord" to the title, "my Lady", anticipating what St John Damascene was later to say, attributing to Mary the title of "Sovereign": "When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became queen of all creatures" (De fide orthodoxa, 4, 14, PG 94,1157).
2. My venerable Predecessor Pius XII, in his Encyclical Ad coeli Reginam to which the text of the Constitution Lumen gentium refers, indicates as the basis for Mary’s queenship in addition to her motherhood, her co-operation in the work of the Redemption. The Encyclical recalls the liturgical text: "There was St Mary, Queen of heaven and Sovereign of the world, sorrowing near the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (AAS 46  634). It then establishes an analogy between Mary and Christ, which helps us understand the significance of the Blessed Virgin’s royal status. Christ is King not only because he is Son of God, but also because he is the Redeemer; Mary is Queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, associated as the new Eve with the new Adam, she co-operated in the work of the redemption of the human race (AAS 46  635).
In Mark’s Gospel, we read that on the day of the Ascension the Lord Jesus "was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mc 16,19). In biblical language "to sit at the right hand of God" means sharing his sovereign power. Sitting "at the right hand of the Father", he establishes his kingdom, God’s kingdom. Taken up into heaven, Mary is associated with the power of her Son and is dedicated to the extension of the Kingdom, sharing in the diffusion of divine grace in the world.
In looking at the analogy between Christ’s Ascension and Mary’s Assumption, we can conclude that Mary, in dependence on Christ, is the Queen who possesses and exercises over the universe a sovereignty granted to her by her Son.
3. The title of Queen does not of course replace that of Mother: her queenship remains a corollary of her particular maternal mission and simply expresses the power conferred on her to carry out that mission.
Citing Pius IX’s Bull Ineffabilis Deus, the Supreme Pontiff highlights this maternal dimension of the Blessed Virgin’s queenship: "Having a motherly affection for us and being concerned for our salvation, she extends her care to the whole human race. Appointed by the Lord as Queen of heaven and earth, raised above all the choirs of angels and the whole celestial hierarchy of saints, sitting at the right hand of her only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, she obtains with great certainty what she asks with her motherly prayers; she obtains what she seeks and it cannot be denied her" (cf. AAS 46  636-637).
4. Therefore Christians look with trust to Mary Queen and this not only does not diminish but indeed exalts their filial abandonment to her, who is mother in the order of grace.
Indeed, the concern Mary Queen has for mankind can be fully effective precisely by virtue of her glorious state which derives from the Assumption. St Germanus I of Constantinople, highlights this very well. He holds that this state guarantees Mary’s intimate relationship with her Son and enables her to intercede in our favour. Addressing Mary he says: Christ wanted "to have, so to speak, the closeness of your lips and your heart; thus he assents to all the desires you express to him, when you suffer for your children, with his divine power he does all that you ask of him" (Hom. 1 PG 98, 348).
5. One can conclude that the Assumption favours Mary’s full communion not only with Christ, but with each one of us: she is beside us, because her glorious state enables her to follow us in our daily earthly journey. As we read again in St Germanus: "You dwell spiritually with us and the greatness of your vigilance over us makes your communion of life with us stand out" (Hom. 1, PG 98, 344).
Thus far from creating distance between her and us, Mary’s glorious state brings about a continuous and caring closeness. She knows everything that happens in our life and supports us with maternal love in life’s trials.
Taken up into heavenly glory, Mary dedicates herself totally to the work of salvation in order to communicate to every living person the happiness granted to her. She is a Queen who gives all that she possesses, participating above all in the life and love of Christ.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I am pleased to greet the pilgrimage of young people from the Diocese of Knoxville, accompanied by Bishop Anthony Joseph O’Connell. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, especially the groups from Scotland, Indonesia, Japan and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Mary’s exceptional role in the work of salvation invites us to deepen the relationship that exists between her and the Church.
According to some people Mary cannot be considered a member of the Church, since the privileges conferred on her, the Immaculate Conception, her divine motherhood and her unique cooperation in the work of salvation, place her in a condition of superiority with respect to the community of believers.
The Second Vatican Council, however, does not hesitate to present Mary as a member of the Church, nevertheless specifying that she is "pre-eminent and ... wholly unique" (Lumen gentium LG 53): Mary is the type of the Church, her model and mother. Differing from all the other faithful, because of the exceptional gifts she received from the Lord, the Blessed Virgin nonetheless belongs to the Church and is fully entitled to be a member.
2. Conciliar teaching finds a significant basis in Sacred Scripture. The Acts of the Apostles show Mary present from the beginning of the primitive community (cf. Ac 1,14), while she shares with the disciples and some women believers the prayerful expectation of the Holy Spirit, who will descend on them.
After Pentecost, the Blessed Virgin continues to live in fraternal communion with the community and takes part in the prayers, in listening to the Apostles' teaching, and in the "breaking of bread", that is, in the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Ac 2,42).
She who had lived in close union with Jesus in the house of Nazareth, now lives in the Church in intimate communion with her Son, present in the Eucharist.
3. Mother of the only begotten Son of God, Mary is Mother of the community which constitutes Christ’s mystical Body and guides its first steps.
In accepting this mission, she is committed to encouraging ecclesial life with her maternal and exemplary presence. This solidarity derives from her belonging to the community of the redeemed. In fact, unlike her Son, she had need of redemption since "being of the race of Adam, she is at the same time also united to all those who are to be saved" (Lumen gentium LG 53). The privilege of the Immaculate Conception preserved her from the stain of sin, because of the Redeemer’s special saving influence.
As "pre-eminent and as a wholly unique member of the Church", Mary uses the gifts God has granted her to achieve fuller solidarity with the brothers and sisters of her Son, now her children too.
44 4. As a member of the Church, Mary places her personal holiness, the fruit of God’s grace and of her faithful collaboration, at the service of her brothers and sisters. The Immaculate Virgin is an unfailing support for all Christians in their fight against sin and a constant encouragement to live as those redeemed by Christ, sanctified by the Spirit, and children of the Father.
As a member of the first community, "Mary the Mother of Jesus" (Ac 1,14) is respected and venerated by all. Each one understands the pre-eminence of her who brought forth the Son of God, the one universal Saviour. Furthermore, the virginal character of her motherhood allows her to witness to the extraordinary contribution to the Church’s good offered by the one who, giving up human fruitfulness through docility to the Holy Spirit, puts herself completely at the service of God’s kingdom.
Called to collaborate intimately in her Son’s sacrifice and the gift of the divine life to humanity, Mary continues her motherly work after Pentecost. The mystery of love contained in the Cross inspires her apostolic zeal and commits her, as a member of the Church, to spreading the Good News.
The words of the crucified Christ on Golgotha: "Woman, behold, your Son" (Jn 19,26), with which her role as the universal mother of believers is recognized, unfold before her motherhood with new and limitless horizons. The gift of the Holy Spirit, received at Pentecost through the exercise of this mission, induces her to offer the help of her motherly heart to all who are on their way towards the total fulfilment of God’s kingdom.
5. A pre-eminent member of the Church, Mary lives a unique relationship with the divine persons of the Most Holy Trinity: with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Council, in calling her "Mother of the Son of God", and therefore "beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit" (Lumen gentium LG 53), recalls the primary effect of the Father’s love which is the divine motherhood.
Aware of the gift she has received, Mary shares with believers the attitudes of filial obedience and heartfelt gratitude, encouraging each one to recognize the signs of divine benevolence in his own life.
The Council uses the expression "temple" (sacrarium) of the Holy Spirit, intending to emphasize the link of presence, love and collaboration that exists between the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Virgin, who is already invoked by Francis of Assisi as the "Bride of the Holy Spirit" (Antiphon "Santa Maria Vergine" in: Fonti Francescane, 281), by her example encourages the other members of the Church to entrust themselves generously to the mysterious action of the Paraclete, and to live with him in constant communion of love.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I am pleased to greet the visitors from St John’s University in New York, including the recent graduates of the University’s Rome Center. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Scotland, Japan, the Philippines and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
1. The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium of the Second Vatican Council, after presenting Mary as "pre-eminent and as a wholly unique member of the Church", declares her to be the Church's "type and outstanding model in faith and charity" (Lumen gentium LG 53).
The Council Fathers attribute to Mary the function of "type", that is, figure, "of the Church", borrowing the term from St Ambrose who expresses himself thus in his commentary on the Annunciation: "Yes, she [Mary] is betrothed, but she is a virgin because she is a type of the Church which is immaculate but a bride: a virgin, she conceived us by the Spirit; a virgin, she gave birth to us without pain" (In Ev. sec. Luc., II, 7, CCL, 14, 33, 102-106). Thus Mary is a type of the Church because of her immaculate holiness, her virginity, her betrothal and her motherhood.
St Paul uses the word "type", to give tangible form to a spiritual reality. In fact, he sees in the crossing of the Red Sea by the People of Israel a "type" or image of Christian Baptism, and in the manna and in the water which gushed from the rock, a "type" or image of the Eucharistic food and drink (cf. 1Co 10,1-11).
By defining Mary as a type of the Church, the Council invites us to see in her the visible figure of the Church’s spiritual reality, and in her spotless motherhood, the announcement of the Church’s virginal motherhood.
2. It is necessary to explain that, unlike the Old Testament images or types, which are only prefigurations of future realities, in Mary the spiritual reality signified is already eminently present.
The Red Sea crossing described in the Book of Exodus is a saving event of liberation, but it was certainly not a baptism capable of remitting sins and giving new life. Likewise, the manna, a precious gift from Yahweh to his people wandering in the desert, contained nothing of the future reality of the Eucharist, the Body of the Lord, nor did the water which gushed from the rock already contain Christ’s Blood, shed for the multitude.
The Exodus is the great work accomplished by Yahweh for his people, but it does not constitute the definitive spiritual redemption which Christ would achieve in the paschal mystery.
Moreover, referring to Jewish practices, Paul recalls: "These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ" (Col 2,17). This is echoed in the Letter to the Hebrews which, systematically developing this interpretation, presents the worship of the Old Covenant as "a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary" (He 8,5).
3. However, in affirming that Mary is a type of the Church, the Council does not intend to equate her with the figures or types of the Old Testament, but instead to affirm that in her the spiritual reality proclaimed and represented is completely fulfilled.
In fact, the Blessed Virgin is a type of the Church, not as an imperfect prefiguration, but as the spiritual fullness which will be found in various ways in the Church's life. The particular relationship that exists here between the image and the reality represented is based on the divine plan, which establishes a close bond between Mary and the Church. The plan of salvation which orders the prefigurations of the Old Testament to fulfilment in the New Covenant likewise determines that Mary would live in a perfect way what was later to be fulfilled in the Church.
The perfection God conferred upon Mary, therefore, acquires its most authentic meaning if it is interpreted as a prelude to divine life in the Church.
46 4. After saying that Mary is a "type of the Church", the Council adds that she is her "outstanding model", an example of perfection to be followed and imitated. Indeed, Mary is an "outstanding model" because her perfection surpasses that of all the other members of the Church.
Significantly, the Council adds that she carries out this role "in faith and in charity". Without forgetting that Christ is the first model, the Council suggests in this way that there are interior dispositions proper to the model realized in Mary, which help the Christian to establish an authentic relationship with Christ. In fact, by looking at Mary, the believer learns to live in deeper communion with Christ, to adhere to him with a living faith and to place his trust and his hope in him, loving him with his whole being.
The functions of "type and model of the Church" refer in particular to Mary’s virginal motherhood and shed light on her particular place in the work of salvation. This basic structure of Mary’s being is reflected in the motherhood and virginity of the Church.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, the Holy Father said:
I am pleased to welcome the members of the Lourdes pilgrimage organized by the Maltese Association for the Transport of the Infirm. My greeting also goes to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, especially the groups from Indonesia, Taiwan and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
1. It is precisely in the divine motherhood that the Council perceives the basis of the special relationship between Mary and the Church. We read in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium: "By reason of the gift and role of her divine motherhood, by which she is united with her Son, the Redeemer, and with her unique graces and functions, the Blessed Virgin is also intimately united to the Church" (LG 63). The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church constantly refers to this same presupposition to illustrate the prerogatives of "type" and "model" which the Blessed Virgin enjoys in relation to the Mystical Body of Christ: "In the mystery of the Church, which is herself rightly called mother and virgin, the Blessed Virgin stands out in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar both of virgin and mother" (ibid. LG 63).
Mary’s motherhood is defined as "eminent and singular", since it represents a unique and unrepeatable fact: Mary, before carrying out her motherly role for humanity, is the Mother of the only-begotten Son of God made man. On the other hand, the Church is a mother because she gives spiritual birth to Christ in the faithful, thus carrying out her maternal role for the members of the Mystical Body.
In this way the Blessed Virgin is a superior model for the Church, precisely because of the uniqueness of her prerogative as Mother of God.
2. Lumen gentium, in reflecting on Mary’s motherhood, recalls that it is also expressed in the eminent dispositions of her soul: "Through her faith and obedience she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, not through the knowledge of man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, in the manner of a new Eve who placed her faith not in the serpent of old, but in God’s messenger without wavering in doubt" (Lumen gentium LG 63).
From these words it can be clearly seen that Mary’s faith and obedience at the Annunciation are virtues for the Church to imitate and, in a certain sense, they begin her motherly journey in service to men called to salvation.
The divine motherhood cannot be isolated from the universal dimension given to it in God’s saving plan, which the Council does not hesitate to recognize: "The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren (Rm 8,29), that is, the faithful, in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother’s love" (ibid. LG 63).
3. The Church becomes a mother, taking Mary as her model. In this regard the Council says: "The Church indeed, contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, by receiving the Word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life" (ibid. LG 64).
Analyzing this description of the Church’s maternal work, we can note how the Christian’s birth is linked here in a certain way to the birth of Jesus, as though a reflection of it: Christians are "conceived by the Holy Spirit", and therefore their birth, the fruit of preaching and Baptism, resembles the Saviour’s.
Moreover, in contemplating Mary, the Church imitates her charity, her faithful acceptance of the Word of God and her docility in fulfilling the Father’s will. By following the Blessed Virgin’s example, she achieves a fruitful spiritual motherhood.
4. But the Church’s motherhood does not make Mary’s superfluous: continuing to exercise her influence on the life of Christians, Mary helps to give the Church a maternal face. In the light of Mary the motherhood of the ecclesial community, which might seem somewhat general, is called to be expressed in a more concrete and personal way towards every person redeemed by Christ.
By showing herself to be the Mother of all believers, Mary fosters in them relations of authentic spiritual brotherhood and constant dialogue.
The daily experience of faith, in every age and place, highlights the need many feel to entrust their daily necessities to Mary and they trustfully open their hearts to implore her motherly intercession and obtain her reassuring protection.
The prayers addressed to Mary by people in every age, the many forms and expressions of Marian devotion, the pilgrimages to shrines and places which commemorate the miracles worked by God the Father through the Mother of his Son show Mary’s extraordinary influence on the Church’s life. The love of the People of God for the Blessed Virgin points to the need for close personal relations with their heavenly Mother. At the same time Mary’s spiritual motherhood supports and increases the Church’s concrete practice of her own motherhood.
5. The two mothers, the Church and Mary, are both essential to Christian life. It could be said that the one is a more objective motherhood and the other more interior.
The Church becomes a mother in preaching God’s Word and administering the sacraments, particularly Baptism, in celebrating the Eucharist and in forgiving sins.
Mary’s motherhood is expressed in all the areas where grace is distributed, particularly within the framework of personal relations.
They are two inseparable forms of motherhood: indeed both enable us to recognize the same divine love which seeks to share itself with mankind.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I cordially greet the groups of young people from around the world who will join me in Paris for the World Youth Day. Dear young friends, how much the world needs your witness to the love of Christ! In the days ahead, may you appreciate ever more fully the beauty of God’s gift of faith and joyfully share that gift with others in building a world of justice, love and solidarity. Upon you and upon all the English-speaking visitors, especially the pilgrims from Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Canada and the United States, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The Church is a mother and virgin. After affirming that she is a mother, modeled on Mary, the Council gives her the title of virgin, explaining its significance: "She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse. Imitating the Mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she preserves with virginal purity an integral faith, firm hope and sincere charity" (Lumen gentium LG 64).
Thus Mary is also a model of the Church’s virginity. In this regard, it is necessary to explain that virginity does not belong to the Church in the strict sense, since it does not represent the state of life of the vast majority of the faithful. Indeed, by virtue of God’s providential plan, marriage is the most widespread and, we could say, common state for those called to the faith. The gift of virginity is reserved to a limited number of the faithful, who are called to a particular mission within the ecclesial community.
Nevertheless, in mentioning St Augustine’s teaching, the Council maintains that the Church is virginal in the spiritual sense of integrity in faith, hope and charity. Therefore, the Church is not a virgin in the body of all her members, but possesses a virginity of the spirit (virginitas mentis), that is, "integral faith, firm hope and sincere charity" (In Io. Tr., 13, 12; PL 35, 1499).
2. The Constitution Lumen gentium therefore takes pains to recall that Mary’s virginity, a model for that of the Church, also includes the physical dimension, by which she virginally conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit without man’s intervention.
Mary is a virgin in body and a virgin in heart, as appears from her intention to live in deep intimacy with the Lord, decisively manifested at the time of the Annunciation. Thus she who is invoked as "Virgin of virgins" is without doubt for everyone a very lofty example of purity and of total self-giving to the Lord. But she is a special source of inspiration for Christian virgins and for those who are radically and exclusively dedicated to the Lord in the various forms of consecrated life.
Thus after its important role in the work of salvation, Mary’s virginity continues to have a beneficial influence on the Church’s life.
49 3. Let us not forget that Christ is certainly the first and highest example for every chaste life. However Mary is a special model of chastity lived for love of the Lord Jesus.
She encourages all Christians to live chastity with particular commitment according to their own state, and to entrust themselves to the Lord in the different circumstances of life. She who is the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit par excellence helps believers rediscover their own body as the temple of God (cf. 1Co 6,19) and to respect its nobility and holiness.
Young people seeking genuine love look to the Blessed Virgin and invoke her motherly help to persevere in purity.
Mary reminds married couples of the fundamental values of marriage by helping them overcome the temptation to discouragement and to subdue the passions that try to sway their hearts. Her total dedication to God is a strong encouragement to them to live in mutual fidelity, so that they will never give in to the difficulties that beset conjugal communion.
4. The Council urges the faithful to look to Mary so that they may imitate her "virginally integral" faith, hope and charity.
To preserve the integrity of the faith is a demanding task for the Church, which is called to constant vigilance even at the cost of sacrifice and struggle. In fact, the Church’s faith is not only threatened by those who reject the Gospel message, but especially by those who, in accepting only part of the revealed truth, refuse to share fully in the entire patrimony of the faith of Christ’s Bride.
Unfortunately, this temptation, which we find from the Church’s very beginning, continues to be present in her life, urging her to accept Revelation only in part, or to give the Word of God a limited, personal interpretation in conformity with the prevailing mentality and individual desires. Having fully adhered to the Word of the Lord, Mary represents for the Church an unsurpassable model of "virginally integral" faith, for with docility and perseverence she accepts the revealed Truth whole and entire. And by her constant intercession, she obtains for the Church the light of hope and the flame of charity, virtues of which, in her earthly life, she was an incomparable example for everyone.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I am pleased to extend special greetings to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, the United Arab Emirates, India, Pakistan, Japan and the United States. As I prepare to leave tomorrow for the World Youth Day in Paris, I ask your prayers for this important event. Upon all of you I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. With great joy I was able to take part in the 12th World Youth Day in Paris a few days ago. I am deeply grateful to the Lord who granted me this extraordinary experience of faith and hope.
I willingly express my gratitude to the President of the French Republic and to all the authorities for the kind welcome they gave me. I likewise thank all those who at various levels effectively contributed to the orderly and peaceful course of the whole event.
My gratitude is extended with fraternal warmth to Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, to Archbishop Michel Dubost, President of the Organizing Committee, and to the entire French Bishops’ Conference for the great care with which the various phases of the world meeting were prepared and executed. Lastly, I address a cordial thought to all the volunteers, as well as to the families who with their generous hospitality enabled so many people to take part in such an important ecclesial event.
2. The 12th World Youth Day saw the gathering, far beyond all expectation, of young people from about 160 countries across the world. They met in the French capital to express the joy of their faith in Christ and to experience the beauty of being together as members of the one Church of Christ. On their arrival in France they encountered the generous hospitability of their French peers, who gave them a fraternal and cordial welcome, first throughout the country, then in the Île-de-France.
It was a particularly happy opportunity for them to discover the cultural and spiritual patrimony of France, whose place in the Church’s history is well known. Thus they could meet a living Church and a dynamic and open society.
The memory of the wonderful liturgies that marked the most significant moments of the "Triduum", culminating in the solemn celebration on Sunday, 24 August, will certainly remain impressed on everyone’s mind. Whether in the evocative setting of Notre-Dame, where the beatification of Frédéric Ozanam took place, or in the cathedral of lights created at Longchamp for the baptismal vigil, the rites were carried out in a religious atmosphere of intense devotion, aided by the music and songs inspired by different cultures and performed in the appropriate style.
3. The central theme, which guided their reflection during the various stages of the meeting, was the question the two disciples asked Jesus one day: "Teacher, where are you staying?", receiving the answer: "Come and see" (Jn 1,38f.). With these words, the Lord invited them to enter into a direct relationship with him in order to share his journey ("come") and to know him deeply ("see").
The message was clear: to understand Christ it is not enough to listen to his teaching: we must share his life and somehow experience his living presence. Therefore the World Youth Day theme fitted into the preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which is meant to represent to contemporary man Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of the world, yesterday, today and for ever.
This World Youth Day intended to offer the answer to young people, who are seeking the ultimate meaning of their life: the discovery of Christ, the Word made flesh for man’s salvation, in addition to shedding light on the human mystery beyond death, makes it possible in time to build a society where human dignity is respected and brotherhood is real.
4. The recurring theme that inspired their reflection and prayer and linked the great meetings was the reference to the Church’s celebration of the paschal mystery in the Sacred Triduum.
51 My first meeting with the young people took place in the grandiose setting of the Champ-de-Mars, dominated by the massive structure of the Eiffel Tower: we listened again to the great lesson of service to our neighbour, which Jesus offered with the washing of the feet. At the various evening vigils the young people were invited to mediate on the sacrament of the Eucharist, the inexhaustible source of all genuine love.
Richly significant in this context was the beatification of Frédéric Ozanam, apostle of charity and founder of the St Vincent de Paul Conferences, as well as the distinguished figure of a profound Catholic intellectual. The topic on love was further developed in the "Via Crucis" on Friday, in which attention was focused on the supreme gift which Christ the Servant made of himself for the world’s salvation.
The baptismal vigil on Saturday, which took place at the Longchamp Racecourse, made it possible to pause and reflect on the Christian's new birth and on his call to live a relationship of personal communion with the Redeemer.
Lastly, on Sunday the 24th, the great Eucharistic celebration took place, during which we returned to the central theme: it is necessary to go to Christ ("come"), to discover ever more deeply his true identity ("see"). In him, the believer, through the "folly" of the Cross, reaches the supreme wisdom of love, and, round the Eucharistic table, discovers the profound unity that makes persons from every corner of the earth a single Mystical Body.
The spectacle offered by the young people on the immense esplanade of Longchamp was an eloquent confirmation of this truth: despite the diversity of language, culture, nationality and skin colour, young men and women from the five continents shook one another’s hand, exchanged smiles and greetings, and prayed and sang together. It was obvious that they felt at home as members of one great family. To a world fraught with divisions of every kind, frozen in mutual indifference, exposed to the anguish of global alienation, the young people proclaimed a message from Paris: faith in the crucified and risen Christ can establish a new brotherhood in which we accept one another because we love one another.
5. During the Angelus prayer at the end of the great concelebration, I had the joy of announcing that St Theresa of Lisieux would soon be proclaimed a doctor of the Church. Young herself, like the participants in the World Day, Theresa had a marvellous understanding of the overwhelming message of God’s love, received as a gift and lived with the humble trust and simplicity of children who in Jesus Christ totally entrust themselves to the Father. And she has become its authoritative teacher for the present and future of the Church.
What we experienced together in Paris in the past few days was an extraordinary event of hope, a hope that re-echoed in the world from the hearts of young people. Let us pray that the zeal of these many young men and women from the four corners of the earth may continue to bear abundant fruit in the ever-young Church of the new millennium.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I am pleased to extend a special greeting to the Koyasan Shingon Buddhist delegation from Japan on their way to Rimini for the "Meeting for Friendship among People": I express the hope that your visit will serve to increase understanding and respect among the followers of different religious traditions. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, expecially those from England, Cyprus, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Canada and the United States, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
GENERAL AUDIENCE 1997 41