S. John Paul II Homil. 1514



Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Wednesday, 8 December 2004

1. "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Lc 1,28).

1515 We address the Virgin Mary several times a day with these words of the Archangel Gabriel. Let us repeat them with fervent joy today, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, remembering 8 December 1854 when Blessed Pius IX proclaimed this wonderful Dogma of the Catholic faith in this very same Vatican Basilica.

I cordially greet those who are gathered here today, especially the representatives of the National Mariological Societies who have taken part in the International Mariological Congress, organized by the Pontifical Marian Academy.

I then greet all of you present here, dear brothers and sisters, who have come to pay filial homage to the Immaculate Virgin. I offer a special greeting to Cardinal Camillo Ruini. I renew to him my warmest wishes for the jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood and express to him my deep gratitude for the service that with generous dedication he has and continues to render to the Church as my Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome and President of the Italian Bishops' Conference.

2. How great is the mystery of the Immaculate Conception that the Liturgy presents to us today! A mystery that never ceases to invite the contemplation of believers and inspires the reflection of theologians. The theme of the Congress that has just been mentioned: "Mary of Nazareth welcomes the Son of God into history", has fostered a deep examination of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a presupposition for receiving in her virginal womb the Word of God Incarnate, the Saviour of the human race.

"Full of grace", "6gP"D4JTX<0": in the original Greek of Luke's Gospel, the Angel greets Mary with this title. It is the name that God, through his messenger, chose to use to describe the Virgin. This is how he had always seen and thought of her, ab aeterno (from all eternity).

3. In the hymn of the Letter to the Ephesians just now proclaimed, the Apostle praises God the Father "who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (1: 3). What a special blessing God addressed to Mary from the beginning of time! Mary was truly blessed among women (cf. Lk
Lc 1,42)!

The Father chose her in Christ before the creation of the world, so that she might be holy and immaculate before him in love, preordaining her as the first fruits of filial adoption through the work of Jesus Christ (cf. Eph Ep 1,4-5).

4. The predestination of Mary, like that of each one of us, is linked to the predestination of the Son. Christ is that "seed" that was "to bruise the head" of the ancient serpent, according to the Book of Genesis (cf. Gn Gn 3,15); he is the Lamb "without blemish" (cf. Ex Ex 12,5 1P 1,19), immolated to redeem humanity from sin.

With a view to the saving death of the Son, Mary, his Mother, was preserved free from original sin and from every other sin. The victory of the new Adam also includes that of the new Eve, Mother of the redeemed. The Immaculate Virgin is thus a sign of hope for all the living who have triumphed over Satan by the blood of the Lamb (cf. Ap 12,11).

5. Today let us contemplate the humble young girl of Nazareth, holy and blameless before God in love (cf. Eph Ep 1,4), in that "love" whose original source is God himself, one and triune.

How sublime an act of the Most Holy Trinity is the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of the Redeemer! Pius IX, in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, recalls that the Almighty "by one and the same decree had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of divine Wisdom" (Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta, Pars prima, p. 559).

1516 The Virgin's "yes" to the announcement of the Angel fits into the reality of our earthly condition, with humble respect for the divine will to save humanity not from history but in history. Indeed, ever preserved free from all taint of original sin, the "new Eve" benefited uniquely from the work of Christ as the most perfect Mediator and Redeemer. The first to be redeemed by her Son, she shares to the full in his holiness; she is already what the entire Church desires and hopes to be. She is the eschatological icon of the Church.

6. Consequently the Immaculate Virgin, who marks "the very beginning of the Church, Bride of Christ, without spot or wrinkle, shining with beauty" (Preface), always precedes the People of God in the pilgrimage of faith, bound for the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Lumen Gentium
LG 58 Redemptoris Mater RMA 2).

In Mary's Immaculate Conception the Church sees projected and anticipated in her most noble member, the saving grace of Easter.

In the event of the Incarnation the Church encounters Christ and Mary indissolubly united: "he who is the Church's Lord and Head and she who, uttering the first fiat of the New Covenant, prefigures the Church's condition as spouse and mother" (Redemptoris Mater RMA 1).

7. To you, Virgin Immaculate, predestined by God above every other creature to be the advocate of grace and model of holiness for his people, today in a special way I renew the entrustment of the whole Church.

May you guide your children on their pilgrimage of faith, making them ever more obedient and faithful to the Word of God.

May you accompany every Christian on the path of conversion and holiness, in the fight against sin and in the search for true beauty that is always an impression and a reflection of divine Beauty.

May you obtain peace and salvation for all the peoples. May the eternal Father, who desired you to be the immaculate Mother of the Redeemer, also renew in our time through you, the miracles of his merciful love. Amen!



St Peter's Basilica

Tuesday, 14 December 2004

1. "Come, O Lord, the earth awaits you!".

1517 The invocation we have just repeated ushers us appropriately into the atmosphere of Advent, a season of expectation and hope in which this annual liturgical celebration is taking place with you, dear university students.

I am grateful to you for desiring to share with me every year the anxious waiting for the Lord in the mystery of the night of Bethlehem. Thank you, for as "dawn watchmen" you are prepared to be on the alert - today, in these weeks and throughout your life - to be ready to welcome the Lord who comes.

I greet you all with affection: the academic community of the Roman universities and the university delegations from other European cities; the Vice Minister for Education, Universities and Research, as well as the other Authorities present; I greet the university chaplains and members of the university orchestra and choirs of Rome and Lazio.

I thank in particular Prof. Ornaghi and the student who on your behalf have expressed cordial sentiments and fervent good wishes to me for Holy Christmas.

2. Dear university students, we are in the Year of the Eucharist and, in preparation for the World Youth Day, you are reflecting on the theme: "The Eucharist and the truth about man". The topic is a demanding one. Indeed, as we stand before the Eucharistic Mystery, we are impelled to ascertain the truth about our faith, our hope and our charity.

It is impossible to go on being indifferent when Christ says: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven" (
Jn 6,51). His question immediately springs to mind: "Do you believe that it is I? Do you truly believe?". In the light of his words: "If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever" (ibid.), we cannot but question ourselves on the meaning and value of our daily lives.

And then what can be said of the question about true love when we meditate on the Lord's words: "the bread which I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world" (ibid.)? Yes. This bread, the Eucharistic bread, contains the saving offering of the life that Christ sacrificed for the life of the world. Do we not then spontaneously wonder: "And is my "flesh', that is, my humanity, my life, for someone? Is it full of love for God and charity for my neighbour? Or does it instead remain locked into the oppressive circle of selfishness?".

3. Dear university students, you are continuously seeking the truth. But it is impossible to succeed in finding out the truth about man by using merely the means that the various scientific disciplines offer. You know well that only through Christ's gaze can we discover the ultimate truth about the human person, the truth about ourselves. And he, the Lord, comes to meet us in the Mystery of the Eucharist. Never cease to seek him, therefore, and in his eyes you will discover an attractive reflection of the goodness and beauty that he himself has poured into your hearts with the gift of his Spirit. May this mysterious reflection of his love be the light that always guides you on your way!

This is the wish that as Holy Christmas approaches I offer to each one of you, dear Brothers and Sisters. May the Son of God who became man for our salvation give you the courage to seek the truth about yourselves in the light of his infinite love! Our Redeemer is now close: go forth to meet him! Amen.


Friday, 24 December 2004

1. "Adoro te devote, latens Deitas."

1518 "Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore." On this Night, the opening words of this celebrated Eucharistic hymn echo in my heart. These words accompany me daily in this year dedicated to the Eucharist.

In the Son of the Virgin, "wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (
Lc 2,12), we acknowledge and adore "the Bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6,41), the Redeemer who came among us in order to bring life to the world.

2. Bethlehem! The city where Jesus was born in fulfilment of the Scriptures, in Hebrew means "house of bread." It was there that the Messiah was to be born, the One who would say of himself: "I am the bread of life" (Jn 6,35).

In Bethehem was born the One who, under the sign of broken bread, would leave us the memorial of his Pasch. On this Holy Night, adoration of the Child Jesus becomes Eucharistic adoration.

3. We adore you, Lord, truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar, the living Bread which gives life to humanity. We acknowledge you as our one God, a little Child lying helpless in the manger! "In the fullness of time, you became a man among men, to unite the end to the beginning, that is, man to God" (cf. Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, IV, 20, 4).

You are born on this Night, our divine Redeemer, and, in our journey along the paths of time, you become for us the food of eternal life.

Look upon us, eternal Son of God, who took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary! All humanity, with its burden of trials and troubles, stands in need of you.

Stay with us, living Bread which came down from heaven for our salvation! Stay with us forever! Amen!



Friday, 31 December 2004

1. Another year is coming to an end. With deep awareness of the fleetingness of time, we are gathered this evening to give thanks to God for all the gifts he has lavished upon us in 2004.

Let us do so with the traditional song of the Te Deum.

1519 2. Te Deum laudamus! When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son (cf. Gal Ga 4,4) not to condemn the world but to save it with his immense love (cf. Jn Jn 3,17).

We give you thanks, Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, because you desired to take on our human nature from Mary, the ever-Virgin Mother. In this Year of the Eucharist, we would like to thank you even more intensely for the gift of your Body and your Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.

We praise you and give you thanks, Holy Spirit, Paraclete, for you make us aware of our adoption as sons and daughters (cf. Rom Rm 8,16) and teach us to turn to God calling him Father, "Abba!" (cf. Jn Jn 4,23-24 Ga 4,6).

3. Dear brothers and sisters of the Diocesan Community of Rome! I now offer you a cordial greeting at our end-of-the-year meeting. I first greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishops, the priests, consecrated persons and every member of the Christian people. I greet respectfully the President of the Region, the Mayor of Rome, the President of the Province and the other civil Authorities who are here.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God together for the manifestations of kindness and mercy with which he has accompanied our City on its way in recent months. May he bring to completion every apostolic project and initiative for good.

4. "Salvum fac populum tuum, domine", "Save your people, Lord". We ask you this through Mary as this evening we celebrate the First Vespers of the feast of her divine Motherhood.

Holy Mother of the Redeemer, guide us as we cross the threshold into the New Year! Obtain the gift of peace for Rome and for the whole world! Mother of God, pray for us!



38th World Day of Peace

Saturday, 1 January 2005

1. "Hail, holy Mother! The child to whom you gave birth is the King of heaven and earth for ever" (Entrance Antiphon).

1520 On the first day of the year, the Church gathers in prayer before the image of the Mother of God, honouring with joy the one who gave to the world the fruit of her womb, Jesus, the "Prince of peace" (Is 9,5).

2. It is already a consolidated tradition to celebrate on this same day the World Day of Peace. On this occasion I am pleased to express best wishes to the Ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corps to the Holy See. I address a special greeting to the Ambassadors of the countries particularly hard hit in these days by the tremendous cataclysm that befell them.

My thought is also directed with gratitude to the members of the Secretariat of State, guided by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, as well as to the members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and especially its President, Cardinal Renato Martino.

3. The World Day of Peace serves as an invitation to Christians and to all people of good will to renew their decided commitment to build peace. This presupposes the welcoming of a fundamental moral demand, well expressed in the words of St Paul: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rm 12,21).

In the face of the many manifestations of evil which unfortunately injure the human family, the critical need is to promote peace using consistent means, giving importance to dialogue, to works of justice and to educating in forgiveness (cf. Message for World Day of Peace 2005, n. 1; L'Osservatore Romano English Edition, 22/29 December 2004, p. 6).

4. Overcoming evil with weapons of love becomes the way in which each person can contribute to the peace of all. Christians and believers of different religions are called to walk this path, together with those who accept the universal moral law.

Dear brothers and sisters, promoting peace in the world is our common mission!

May the Virgin Mary help us to fulfil the words of the Lord: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Mt 5,9).

Happy New Year to everyone! Praised be Jesus Christ!



Friday, 14 Januray 2005

1. "Blessed are the peacemakers..." (Mt 5,9). Christ's words enlighten and comfort us at this solemn liturgy with which we take our leave of our venerable Brother, dear Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte.

1521 He was a man of peace! He made the value of peace one of the qualities of his long and busy service to the universal Church, and especially to the Holy See. He was so profoundly convinced that Christians must witness to peace that he chose as his episcopal motto: "Parare viam Domino pacis" (Prepare the way for the Lord of peace). We can recognize in his motto the reference to St John the Baptist, Patron of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to which he belonged. The task of the Baptist, in fact, was to "prepare the way for the Lord" (cf. Lk Lc 1,76). Cardinal Schotte chose to add the explicit mention of peace, juxtaposing it with the name "Lord" - "Parare viam Domino pacis" - almost as if to underline that only by accepting Christ and his Gospel is it possible to attain true peace (cf. Sg 3,3).

2. After holding important offices in his religious Family, ever generous and untiring, the late Cardinal made his many endowments of intelligence, humanity and spirituality available to the Roman Curia for more than 30 years in various capacities. I am thinking first of all of his work at the Secretariat of State, then at the Pontifical Commission "Iustitia et Pax", from which I subsequently summoned him to take on the role of General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. Nor can I ever forget all he did as President of the Labour Office of the Apostolic See. As a tireless artisan of communion, he collaborated actively in the universal pastoral concern of the Successor of Peter.

3. Let us remember our dear and venerable Brother as a witness of the love that comes from God and constitutes the foundation of the Church's unity (cf. 1Jn 3,14-16). May we be comforted by the hope that he is now contemplating face to face the "Lord of peace" whom he so deeply loved and generously served throughout his life.

May the Merciful Lord welcome him into his Kingdom of peace. May the Immaculate Virgin accompany him as he goes to receive the prize promised to good and faithful servants of the Gospel. Amen!

S. John Paul II Homil. 1514