Speeches 1963 - Thursday, 17 October 1963
One of his lasting achievements was the foundation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Third Order, several of whom We note among you and greet with paternal affection.
Invoking the heavenly intercession of the new Beatus upon you all, to whose forefathers he ministered the Gospel and gave an outstanding exemple of holiness, We lovingly impart to you, to your families at home, especially the children, the suffering and the afflicted, to your Bishops and pastors, Our affectionate Apostolic Blessing.
Beloved sons and daughters,
We are happy to receive you on the very day of your departure for the Missions of Africa. We have Ourself visited that great Continent, and seen with Our own eyes the accomplishments and achievements of the missionaries there. As you leave your homes and families to join them, and to labour in that distant field of the Lord, We pray that He may prosper your work and, through you, bring many souls to Himself.
No matter what sorrows, suffering or disappointment you may meet in your missionary endeavours, remember always that the Vicar of Christ thinks constantly of you and prays for you. We assure you of Our paternal affection and of Our special benevolence towards those who leave all things and follow Our Lord, the Lord of the harvest. We ask Him to give strength to your hands, eloquence to your voices, zeal to your minds and true holiness to your souls, so that you may be other Chrism, attracting men to God by your example.
For Christ, then, you are acting as ambassadors, God, as it were, appealing through you (cfr. 2Co 20). Be always ready to show your credentials, that is, conduct yourselves in all circumstances as God’s ministers, in much patience... in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unaffected love; in the word of truth, in the power of God (ibid. 4-6).
Take with you, to the souls to whom you will minister, Our paternal apostolic Blessing. We bestow it upon you with all our heart, to accompany you on your way and to be a pledge of abundant divine graces in your apostolate.
The great rite we are celebrating speaks for itself. Its solemnity shows the importance of the reason which led Us to assign it this date - November 4, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo - and this seat, the Basilica of St. Peter, where the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is taking place, and to entrust its celebration to the venerable Cardinal Pizzardo, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities.
With this extraordinary thanksgiving to God and with this great imploring of grace from God, we intend to commemorate worthily the fourth centenary of the institution of diocesan schools known as seminaries, for the training of pupils who are preparing to receive sacred ordination and to exercise worthily the priestly ministry.
It is known that this institution (of seminaries) was made by virtue of Canon XVIII of the 23rd session of the Council of Trent, dated July 15, 1563. The implementation of this decree immediately found zealous promoters, among the first of them St. Charles, who had just been made Archbishop of Milan, readily applied to his diocese and his province the decisions of the Tridentine Council.
Convinced as he was of the decisive importance of the institution of seminaries, he at once founded several. Undoubtedly he was the first to provide for the largest of his seminaries, set in the heart of the city, a monumental seat which is still regarded as one of the classic buildings of the sumptuous Milanese Renaissance, and which is about to reopen after restoration, and resume its centuries-old and providential function.
My Lord Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski will speak on the historic origin and ecclesiastic significance of the institution of seminaries this afternoon, in this very same basilica which is now being used as a council hall. We are grateful to him for adding to the interest of such a theme the prestige of his experience and of his dignity.
How great the esteem which we must all give to the seminary and what reward that educators and especially students will draw from this centennial commemoration, will be mentioned in an apostolic letter, addressed to all the bishops of the Church, the publication of which is imminent. It opens with the words "Summi Dei Verbum" and has been drawn up with the expert collaboration of the Congregation of Seminaries and of Universities.
To this pondered and ample document, as is required by the gravity of the theme which is the first of this form and importance of Our pontificate, We have entrusted many, though not all, the matters which We thought We should mention on such a propitious occasion regarding such a vast and important subject.
Therefore, it is not necessary that We dwell on this at length during this ceremony. That apostolic letter of Ours will express to you Our thoughts and Our wishes. But We would not wish to miss saying a word to these most beloved seminarians whom We see here taking part in the sacred rite, and whom We now want to embrace with all Our fatherly affection, regarding them almost as the representatives of their co-disciples, of all the seminarians in the Church of God.
To you We open Our lips and We shall say to you, beloved students of Our seminaries, along with St. Paul:" Our heart is wide open to you."(1)
We regard you as the most authentic and generous representatives of youth, which among the supreme choices that must needs be made in the first lucid clear-sightedness of life and in the first revelation of true love, has discovered the best, the one choice above all others. Do you remember "...the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field; a man who finds it hides it, and in his joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."(2)
We speak of that youth which has discerned among all the gifts which life offers and of which youth is avid, that one gift that is worth all the others. Do you remember "...Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he finds a single pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."(3)
We speak of that youth which has distinguished one voice, among all those surrounding it and bewildering or enchanting it, a voice with a singular, mysterious but unmistakable tone, grave and gentle, mild and powerful, a soft and secret voice, sounding inside, as if tormenting, in the secret place of the conscience, and outside, as if pacifying, in the trust of serene and authoritative advice, of a call which, interpreting that inner life, says that it is divine and that it is indeed addressed to youth, who is not afraid of big things but fears, rather, evil and mediocre things. It is a voice which is at one and the same time an exhortation and a command, a voice as simple as a sigh and as profound as a drama, the voice of Christ, which again today, and today more than ever, says: "Come, follow me."(4)
You young people who are listening to us, did you hear that voice: "Come, follow me"? It goes on: "I am the light of the world. He who follows me does not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."(5)
You well know what this dialogue is called. It is a vocation, and each one of you guards it in his heart as the secret of his life, the direction of his future, the strength of his action: "Come, follow me."
Let Us here today, precisely as the Vicar of Christ, who first addressed (these words) to the Disciples who were to become His Apostles, repeat them to you, to your comrades and to any other young persons, of the present or of the future, who have the grace and the courage to listen to them: "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."(6)
This is tantamount to saying: the work of redemption is not accomplished in the world and in time without the ministry of dedicated men—men who, through an oblation of total human charity, implement the plan of salvation and of infinite divine charity.
Had God willed it, this divine charity could have spread itself and performed salvation directly. But the design is a different one. God will save men in Christ through a service rendered by men. God did not give the world only a revelation and a religion. He gave a Church, an organized society, a flexible community, in which brothers work for the salvation of other brothers.
He set up a hierarchy; He instituted a priesthood. Where the priesthood of Christ reaches, there reaches the message and the virtue of Christ's salvation. The Lord willed that the spreading of the Gospel should depend on the number and the zeal of the workers of the Gospel.
This is why the call to the service of the Gospel is of incalculable importance. It concerns the drama of the salvation of the world. The gift of a vocation is a secret of God, but let it not be cowardice, sloth, pusillanimity, deafness, or impurity—beloved sons—that deprive it of youthful souls whom the thought of God would have made pure and strong for the ministry of His Kingdom.
Blessed be you, sons, who know these truths and convert them into daring and humble experience. Blessed be you, who know what the attraction of the ecclesiastic vocation can be today. It is certainly not dynastic custom, nor the liking for a peaceful living in a good benefice, nor yet the prospect of clerical honors, nor the will of others replacing or prevailing over that of the candidate, and not even pessimistic disgust for an unbearable world, nor the disappointment of dashed hopes which trace the path that leads you to the seminary.
It is not even the more noble aspects of culture and art, which in themselves can harmonize, in a subordinate way, with the authentic attractions which today lead a young man to become a priest. The authentic attractions which make you students of the seminary are paradoxical ones of the follower of Christ, who said: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."(7)
Vocation today means renunciation. It means unpopularity, it means sacrifice. It means preferring the inner to the external life, it means choosing an austere and constant perfection instead of comfortable and insignificant mediocrity. It means the capacity to heed the imploring voices of the world of innocent souls, of those who suffer, who have no peace, no comfort, no guidance, no love; and to still the flattering, soft voices of pleasure and selfishness. It means to understand the hard but stupendous mission of the Church, now more than ever engaged in teaching man his true nature, his end, his fate and in revealing to faithful souls the immense, the ineffable riches of the charity of Christ.
It means, young men, to be young, to have a clear eye and a big heart. It means accepting the imitation of Christ as a program for life, His heroism, His sanctity, His mission of goodness and salvation. No other prospect of life offers an ideal more true, more generous, more human, more holy than the humble and faithful vocation to the priesthood of Christ.
This is not emphasis, beloved sons. It is not rhetoric. And above all, it is not suggestion or a lie that gives the Church the daring to speak thus. It is the knowledge that the Church has of your hearts, of the graces that the Lord has let flow into your souls. It is the esteem that she feels for you. It is the hope that she places in your youth and in your generous dreams.
And perhaps, sons, the Church would not dare to express, regarding you, such high and difficult prospects if she did not have the practical possibility of being near you in announcing them, to help you in heeding them and following them. Had the Church not developed her art as a teacher of souls, and did she lack the place and instruments for exercising it, she could not speak to you with such frankness.
But today, the Church has made herself capable and will be even more so in the future, of exercising her sublime mission as the educator of future priests, because the Church has instituted her seminaries for this purpose. The seminary is the school of inner silence, in which speaks the mysterious voice of God. It is the training unit for training in the difficult virtues. It is the house where Christ, the Master, lives.
Do you remember the two disciples of John, on hearing that he said of Jesus, who was passing on the bank of the Jordan: "Behold the Lamb of God!"? They followed Jesus, who "turned round, and seeing them following Him, said to them, `What is it you seek?' They said to Him, `Rabbi, (which interpreted means Master) where dwellest thou?' He said to them, `Come and see'."(8)
If ever, young men, the same question should rise from the uncertain and stirred up depths of your souls, who feel that Jesus is the only Savior and the One whom you are seeking and who is seeking you, and there should come to your lips (the question): "Master, where dwellest thou? Where can we meet you, unite with you and then take over your same mission?" Remember that through the Church, through your bishops, your superiors, your teachers, the answer is always the same: "Come and see." And the blessed door of the seminary will open before you. Amen.
1. 2Co 6,11.
2. Mt 13,44.
3. Mt 13,45.
4. Mt 19,21.
5. Jn 8,12.
6. Mc 1,17.
7. Mc 8,34.
8. Jn 1,38-39.
Tuesday, 19 November 1963
We thank you, and the illustrious personages who accompany you, for your visit to Us, and We bid you a heartfelt welcome to Our home, as heartfelt as the welcome extended to Us last year when We had the unforgettable experience of visiting the vast African continent.
We were impressed by the surging vitality of the African peoples, of the newly independent nations moving so rapidly forward towards prosperity and progress. In achieving their aspirations, the beloved people of Africa have no greater friends, We think, and no more generous collaborators than the Catholic Bishops and clergy; and no citizens will be more loyal and respectful to the lawful civil authorities than the African Catholics.
We pray, therefore, that Our children in your country, and in all of Africa, may prove themselves zealous observers of law and order, and that the various Governments may protect and safeguard that freedom which the Church needs to carry on her high mission of truth, charity and justice, for the good of Africa and for peace in the world.
With these sentiments, We renew the expression of Our warm appreciation of your visit, Mister President, and We gladly bestow upon you and your retinue Our Apostolic Blessing, while invoking upon the beloved Nation of Tanganyika the richest graces and favours of Almighty God.
*AAS 55 (1963), p.1045.
Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. I, p.340-341.
L' Osservatore Romano 20.11.1963 p.1.
Your Excellencies and Gentlemen,
While we welcome you here today, We cannot commence Our discourse without a reference to the tragic death of the President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We wish to reiterate here the sentiments to which We have already given public expression: of deploration of the criminal action; of admiration for the man and the statesman; of prayers for his eternal repose, for his country, and for the world, which recognized in him a great leader; and finally of prayerful wishes that his death may not hinder the cause of peace, but serve as a sacrifice and an example for the good of all mankind.
We take this occasion to send Our greetings to all the nations represented at this Audience, especially to those who have recently become members and associates of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
We pray that God may grant each country prosperity and peace, in international cooperation, and in well-organized modernized work-for work was not cursed by God, when He said: «In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread» (Gn 3,19); that is, the honest sweat of good labour, according to the example of Christ, Who was Himself a workman.
To solve the grave problem of the life of human kind, this, then, is the right road: to increase the supply of bread, of food; and not to mortify and destroy the fecundity of life, for the Creator ordered His first creatures to «Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth» (Gn 9,1).
We congratulate you on your notable accomplishments in this regard, We pray that your efforts to help the human race by incre-menting its food supply may be ever more successful, and to you, your collaborators and your families, We gladly impart a special Apostolic Blessing.
We are deeply shocked by the sad and tragic news of the killing of the President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and the serious wounding of Governor Connally; and We are profoundly saddened by so dastardly a crime, by the mourning which afflicts a great and civilized country in its head, by the suffering which strikes at Mrs Kennedy, the children and her family.
With all Our heart, We deplore this unhappy event. We express the heartfelt wish that the death of this great Statesman may not damage the cause of the American people, but rather reinforce its moral and civil sentiments, and strengthen its feeling of nobility and concord; and We pray to God that the sacrifice of John Kennedy may be made to favor the cause he promoted and to help defend the freedom of peoples and peace in the world.
He was the first Catholic President of the United States; We recall Our pleasure in receiving his visit and in having discerned in him great wisdom and high resolution for the good of humanity. Tomorrow, We shall offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that God may grant him eternal rest, that He may comfort and console all those who weep for him on his death, and in order that not hatred, but Christian love, should reign among all mankind.
Speeches 1963 - Thursday, 17 October 1963