Speeches 2005-13 25056

Mr President,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
My Brother Cardinals and Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am happy to stand in your midst today on the soil of the Republic of Poland. I have very much wanted to make this visit to the native land and people of my beloved Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II. I have come to follow in the footsteps of his life, from his boyhood until his departure for the memorable conclave of 1978. Along this journey I would like to meet and come to know the generations of believers who offered him to the service of God and the Church, as well as those who were born and matured for the Lord under his pastoral guidance as priest, Bishop and Pope. Our journey together will be inspired by the motto: "Stand firm in your faith". I mention this from the outset, in order to stress that this is no mere sentimental journey, although it is certainly that too, but rather a journey of faith, a part of the mission entrusted to me by the Lord in the person of the Apostle Peter, who was called to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith (cf.
Lc 22,32). I too wish to draw from the abundant fountain of your faith, which has flowed continuously for over a millennium.

I greet His Excellency the President, and I thank him heartily for his words of welcome on behalf of the Authorities of the Republic and the Nation. I greet my Brother Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops. I also greet His Excellency the Prime Minister and the members of the Government, the representatives of the Diet and the Senate, the members of the Diplomatic Corps with their Dean, the Apostolic Nuncio in Poland. I am pleased that the Regional Authorities are present, along with the Mayor of Warsaw. I also wish to greet the representatives of the Orthodox Church, the Augsburg Evangelical Church and the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. My greeting likewise goes to the members of the Jewish community and the followers of Islam. Lastly I offer a heartfelt greeting to the whole Church in Poland: to the priests, the consecrated persons, the seminarians and all the faithful, especially the sick, the young and the little children. I ask you to accompany me in your thoughts and prayers, so that this journey will prove fruitful for all of us, leading us to a deeper and stronger faith.

I said that in this visit to Poland my route would be inspired by the life and pastoral ministry of Karol Wojtyla and by his own itinerary as a pilgrim Pope in this, his native land. Consequently, I have chosen to stay mainly in two cities dear to John Paul II: Warsaw, the capital of Poland, and Kraków, his archiepiscopal see. In Warsaw I shall meet the priests, the different non-Catholic Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and the State Authorities. I trust that these meetings will bear abundant fruit for our shared faith in Christ and for the social and political life of today’s men and women. A brief visit to Czestochowa is planned, as well as a meeting with representatives of men and women religious, seminarians and members of ecclesial movements. The loving gaze of Mary will accompany us as we join in seeking a deep and faithful relationship with Christ her Son. Then I shall travel to Kraków, and from there to Wadowice, Kalwaria, Lagiewniki and Wawel Cathedral. I am very much aware that these are the places that John Paul II most loved, for they were associated with his growth in faith and his pastoral ministry. There will also be a meeting with the sick and the suffering in what is perhaps the most fitting place for such an event - the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki. I shall certainly be present when the young people assemble for the prayer vigil. I shall gladly join them and I look forward to rejoicing in their witness of a young and lively faith. On Sunday we will gather at Blonie Park to celebrate a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving for the Pontificate of my Predecessor and for the faith in which he always confirmed us by his words and by the example of his life. Finally, I shall go to Auschwitz. There I hope especially to meet the survivors of the Nazi terror who come from different countries, all of whom suffered under that tragic tyranny. Together we will pray that the wounds of the past century will heal, thanks to the remedy that God in his goodness has prescribed for us by calling us to forgive one another, and which he offers to us in the mystery of his mercy.

"Stand firm in your faith" - this is the motto of my Apostolic Visit. I would hope that these days will serve to strengthen all of us in faith - the members of the Church in Poland and myself as well. And for those who do not have the gift of faith, but whose hearts are full of good will, may my visit be a time of fraternity, goodness and hope. May these enduring values of humanity lay a firm foundation for building a better world, one in which everyone can enjoy material prosperity and spiritual joy. This is my prayer for all the Polish people. Once again I thank His Excellency the President and the Bishops of Poland for their invitation. I cordially embrace Polish people everywhere and I ask them to accompany me in prayer along this journey of faith.

MEETING WITH THE CLERGY Warsaw Cathedral, 25 May 2006

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you ... For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine" (
Rm 1,8-12).

Dear priests, I address to you these words of the Apostle Paul, because they perfectly reflect my feelings and thoughts today, my wishes and my prayers. I greet in particular Cardinal Józef Glemp, Archbishop of Warsaw and Primate of Poland, to whom I extend my most cordial congratulations on his fiftieth anniversary of priestly ordination this very day. I have come to Poland, the beloved homeland of my great Predecessor Pope John Paul II, in order to inhale, as he used to do, this atmosphere of faith in which you live, and to "convey to you some spiritual gift so that you may be strengthened by it." I am confident that my pilgrimage during these days will "encourage the faith that we share, both yours and mine."

I am meeting you today in the great Cathedral of Warsaw, every stone of which speaks of the tragic history of your capital and your country. How many trials you have endured in the recent past! We call to mind heroic witnesses to the faith, who gave their lives to God and to their fellow human beings, both canonized saints and ordinary people who persevered in rectitude, authenticity and goodness, never giving way to despair. In this Cathedral I recall particularly the Servant of God Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, whom you call "the Primate of the Millennium." Abandoning himself to Christ and to his Mother, he knew how to serve the Church faithfully, despite the tragic and prolonged trials that surrounded him. Let us remember with appreciation and gratitude those who did not let themselves be overwhelmed by the forces of darkness, and let us learn from them the courage to be consistent and constant in our adherence to the Gospel of Christ.

Today I am meeting you, priests called by Christ to serve him in the new millennium. You have been chosen from among the people, appointed to act in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Believe in the power of your priesthood! By virtue of the sacrament, you have received all that you are. When you utter the words "I" and "my" ("I absolve you ... This is my body ..."), you do it not in your own name, but in the name of Christ, "in persona Christi", who wants to use your lips and your hands, your spirit of sacrifice and your talent. At the moment of your ordination, through the liturgical sign of the imposition of hands, Christ took you under his special protection; you are concealed under his hands and in his Heart. Immerse yourselves in his love, and give him your love! When your hands were anointed with oil, the sign of the Holy Spirit, they were destined to serve the Lord as his own hands in today’s world. They can no longer serve selfish purposes, but must continue in the world the witness of his love.

The greatness of Christ’s priesthood can make us tremble. We can be tempted to cry out with Peter: "Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man" (Lc 5,8), because we find it hard to believe that Christ called us specifically. Could he not have chosen someone else, more capable, more holy? But Jesus has looked lovingly upon each one of us, and in this gaze of his we may have confidence. Let us not be consumed with haste, as if time dedicated to Christ in silent prayer were time wasted. On the contrary, it is precisely then that the most wonderful fruits of pastoral service come to birth. There is no need to be discouraged on account of the fact that prayer requires effort, or because of the impression that Jesus remains silent. He is indeed silent, but he is at work. In this regard, I am pleased to recall my experience last year in Cologne. I witnessed then a deep, unforgettable silence of a million young people at the moment of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament! That prayerful silence united us, it gave us great consolation. In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering.

The faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life. With this end in view, when a young priest takes his first steps, he needs to be able to refer to an experienced teacher who will help him not to lose his way among the many ideas put forward by the culture of the moment. In the face of the temptations of relativism or the permissive society, there is absolutely no need for the priest to know all the latest, changing currents of thought; what the faithful expect from him is that he be a witness to the eternal wisdom contained in the revealed word. Solicitude for the quality of personal prayer and for good theological formation bear fruit in life. Living under the influence of totalitarianism may have given rise to an unconscious tendency to hide under an external mask, and in consequence to become somewhat hypocritical. Clearly this does not promote authentic fraternal relations and may lead to an exaggerated concentration on oneself. In reality, we grow in affective maturity when our hearts adhere to God. Christ needs priests who are mature, virile, capable of cultivating an authentic spiritual paternity. For this to happen, priests need to be honest with themselves, open with their spiritual director and trusting in divine mercy.

On the occasion of the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II frequently exhorted Christians to do penance for infidelities of the past. We believe that the Church is holy, but that there are sinners among her members. We need to reject the desire to identify only with those who are sinless. How could the Church have excluded sinners from her ranks? It is for their salvation that Jesus took flesh, died and rose again. We must therefore learn to live Christian penance with sincerity. By practising it, we confess individual sins in union with others, before them and before God. Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in facile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time. Moreover, the confessio peccati, to use an expression of Saint Augustine, must always be accompanied by the confessio laudis – the confession of praise. As we ask pardon for the wrong that was done in the past, we must also remember the good accomplished with the help of divine grace which, even if contained in earthenware vessels, has borne fruit that is often excellent.

Today the Church in Poland faces an enormous pastoral challenge: how to care for the faithful who have left the country. The scourge of unemployment obliges many people to go abroad. It is a widespread and large-scale phenomenon. When families are divided in this way, when social links are broken, the Church cannot remain indifferent. Those who leave must be cared for by priests who, in partnership with the local Churches, take on a pastoral ministry among the emigrants. The Church in Poland has already given many priests and religious sisters who serve not only the Polish diaspora but also, and sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances, the missions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions. Do not forget these missionaries, my dear priests. The gift of many vocations, with which God has blessed your Church, must be received in a truly Catholic perspective. Polish priests, do not be afraid to leave your secure and familiar world, to go and serve in places where priests are lacking and where your generosity can bear abundant fruit.

Stand firm in your faith! To you too I entrust this motto of my pilgrimage. Be authentic in your life and your ministry. Gazing upon Christ, live a modest life, in solidarity with the faithful to whom you have been sent. Serve everyone; be accessible in the parishes and in the confessionals, accompany the new movements and associations, support families, do not forget the link with young people, remember the poor and the abandoned. If you live by faith, the Holy Spirit will suggest to you what you must say and how you must serve. You will always be able to count on the help of her who goes before the Church in faith. I exhort you to call upon her always in words that you know well: "We are close to you, we remember you, we watch."

My Blessing upon all of you!


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth” (
Ap 1,4-5). In these words with which Saint John greets the seven Churches of Asia in the Book of the Apocalypse, I wish to address my own warm greetings to all who are present here, especially to the representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities affiliated to the Polish Council for Ecumenism. To Archbishop Jeremiasz of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the President of the Council, I express my thanks for his greetings and his words of spiritual union addressed to me just now. And I greet Archbishop Alfons Nossol, President of the Council for Ecumenism of the Polish Episcopal Conference.

What unites us here today is our desire to meet one another, and to give glory and honour to our Lord Jesus Christ in our common prayer: “to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (Ap 1,5-6). We are grateful to our Lord, because he gathers us together, he grants us his Spirit and he enables us – over and above what still separates us – to cry out “Abba, Father”. We are convinced that it is he himself who intercedes unceasingly in our favour, pleading for us: “May they become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (Jn 17,23). Together with you I give thanks for the gift of this encounter of common prayer. I see it as a stage in the implementation of the firm purpose that I made at the beginning of my Pontificate, to consider a priority in my ministry the restoration of full visible unity among Christians. My beloved Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, stated clearly when he visited this Church of the Most Holy Trinity in 1991: “However much we dedicate ourselves to work for unity, it always remains a gift of the Holy Spirit. We will be available to receive this gift to the extent that we open our minds and hearts to him through the Christian life and above all through prayer.” In fact, it is impossible for us to “make” unity through our own powers alone. As I recalled during last year’s ecumenical encounter in Cologne: “We can only obtain unity as a gift of the Holy Spirit.” For this reason, our ecumenical aspirations must be steeped in prayer, in mutual forgiveness and in the holiness of life of each of us. I express my satisfaction at the fact that here in Poland, the Polish Council for Ecumenism and the Roman Catholic Church have launched numerous initiatives in this area.

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him” (Ap 1,7). The words of the Apocalypse remind us that we are all on a journey towards the definitive encounter with Christ, when he will reveal before our eyes the meaning of human history, whose centre is the Cross of his saving sacrifice. As a community of disciples, we are directed towards that encounter, filled with hope and trust that it will be for us the day of salvation, the day when all our longings are fulfilled, thanks to our readiness to let ourselves be guided by the mutual charity which his Spirit calls forth within us. Let us build this trust not on our own merits, but on the prayer with which Christ reveals the meaning of his coming on earth and of his redeeming death: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world” (Jn 17,24). On our journey towards the encounter with Christ who “is coming with the clouds”, through our lives we announce his death, we proclaim his resurrection, as we wait for him to come again. We feel the weight of the responsibility which all this entails; the message of Christ, in fact, must reach everyone on earth, thanks to the commitment of those who believe in him and who are called to bear witness that he is truly sent by the Father (cf. Jn 17,23). As we proclaim the Gospel, then, we must be moved by the aspiration to cultivate mutual relations of sincere charity, in such a way that, in the light of these, all may know that the Father sent the Son and that he loves the Church and each one of us just as he loved the Son (cf. Jn 17,23). The task of Christ’s disciples, the task of each of us, is therefore to tend towards that unity, in such a way that we become, as Christians, the visible sign of his saving message, addressed to every human being.

Allow me to recall once more the ecumenical encounter that took place in this church with the participation of your great compatriot John Paul II, and his address, in which he outlined as follows his vision of the efforts directed towards the full unity of Christians: “The challenge that we face is to overcome the obstacles step by step ... and to grow together in that unity of Christ which is one only, the unity with which he endowed the Church from the beginning. The seriousness of the task prohibits all haste or impatience, but the duty to respond to Christ’s will demands that we remain firm on the path towards peace and unity among all Christians. We know very well that it is not we who will heal the wounds of division and re-establish unity; we are simple instruments that God will be able to employ. Unity among Christians will be a gift of God, in his time of grace. Let us humbly tend towards that day, growing in love, in mutual forgiveness and in mutual trust.”

Since that encounter, much has changed. God has granted us to take many steps towards mutual understanding and rapprochement. Allow me to recall to your attention some ecumenical events which have taken place in the world during that time: the publication of the Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint; the Christological agreements with the pre-Chalcedonian Churches; the signing at Augsburg of the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification”; the meeting on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and the ecumenical memorial of twentieth-century witnesses of faith; the resumption of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue at world level, the funeral of Pope John Paul II with the participation of almost all Churches and Ecclesial Communities. I am aware of the fact that here too, in Poland, this fraternal aspiration towards unity can boast concrete successes. I would like to mention at this time: the signing in the year 2000 in this very church, on the part of the Roman Catholic Church and the Churches affiliated to the Polish Council for Ecumenism, of the declaration of the mutual recognition of the validity of Baptism; the institution of the Commission for Dialogue of the Polish Episcopal Conference and the Polish Council for Ecumenism, to which the Catholic Bishops and the heads of other Churches belong; the institution of the bilateral commissions for theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, Lutherans, members of the Polish National Church, Mariavites and Adventists; the publication of the ecumenical translation of the New Testament and the Book of Psalms; the initiative called “Aid for Children at Christmas”, in which the charitable organizations of the Churches work together: Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical.

We note much progress in the field of ecumenism and yet we always await something more. Allow me to draw attention to two questions for today, in somewhat greater detail. The first concerns the charitable service of the Churches. There are many brothers and sisters who expect from us the gift of love, of trust, of witness, of spiritual and concrete material help. I referred to this problem in my first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, in which I said: “Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practise love” (no. 20). We cannot forget the essential idea that from the outset constituted the very firm foundation for the disciples’ unity: “within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life” (ibid.). This idea is always current, even if in the course of the centuries the forms of fraternal aid have changed; accepting contemporary charitable challenges depends in large measure on our mutual co-operation. I rejoice that this problem finds a vast resonance in the world in the form of numerous ecumenical initiatives. I note with appreciation that in the community of the Catholic Church and in other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, various new forms of charitable activity have spread and old ones have reappeared with renewed vigour. They are forms which often combine evangelization and works of charity (cf. ibid., 30b). It seems that, despite all the differences that need to be overcome in the sphere of interdenominational dialogue, it is legitimate to attribute charitable engagement to the ecumenical community of Christ’s disciples in search of full unity. We can all enter into co-operation in favour of the needy, exploiting this network of reciprocal relations, the fruit of dialogue between ourselves and of joint action. In the spirit of the gospel commandment we must assume this devoted solicitude towards those in need, whoever they may be. In this regard, I wrote in my Encyclical that: “the building of a better world requires Christians to speak with a united voice in working to inculcate ‘respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly and the defenceless’” (no. 30b). To all those who are taking part in our encounter today I express the wish that the practice of fraternal caritas will bring us ever closer to one another and will render our witness in favour of Christ more credible before the world.

The second question to which I want to refer concerns married life and family life. We know that among Christian communities, called to witness to love, the family occupies a special place. In today’s world, in which international and intercultural relations are multiplying, it happens increasingly often that young people from different traditions, different religions, or different Christian denominations, decide to start a family. For the young people themselves and for those dear to them, it is often a difficult decision that brings with it various dangers concerning both perseverance in the faith and the future structuring of the family, the creation of an atmosphere of unity in the family and of suitable conditions for the spiritual growth of the children. Nevertheless, thanks to the spread of ecumenical dialogue on a larger scale, the decision can lead to the formation of a practical laboratory of unity. For this to happen there is a need for mutual good will, understanding and maturity in faith of both parties, and also of the communities from which they come. I would like to express my appreciation for the Bilateral Commission of the Council for Ecumenical Issues of the Polish Episcopal Conference and of the Polish Council for Ecumenism, which have begun to draft a document presenting common Christian teaching on marriage and family life and establishing principles acceptable to all for contracting interdenominational marriages, indicating a common programme of pastoral care for such marriages. To all of you I express the wish that in this delicate area reciprocal trust and co-operation between the Churches may grow, fully respecting the rights and responsibility of the spouses for the faith formation of their own family and the education of their children.

“I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17,26). Brothers and Sisters, placing all our trust in Christ, who makes his name known to us, let us walk every day towards the fulness of fraternal reconciliation. May his prayer cause the community of his disciples on earth, in its mystery and in its visible unity, to become ever more a community of love reflecting the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Dear men and women religious, consecrated persons,
who moved by the voice of Jesus, have followed him out of love!

Dear seminarians,
who are preparing yourselves for the priestly ministry!

Dear representatives of ecclesial movements,
who bring the power of the Gospel to your families, to your workplaces, to universities, to the world of the media and culture, to your parishes!

Just as the Apostles together with Mary “went to the upper room” and there “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer” (
Ac 1,12), so we too have come together today at Jasna Góra, which for us at this hour is the “upper room” where Mary, the Mother of the Lord, is among us. Today it is she who leads our meditation; she teaches us how to pray. Mary shows us how to open our minds and our hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit, who comes to us so as to be brought to the whole world. I would like to offer cordial greetings to the Archdiocese of Czestochowa together with its Pastor, Archbishop Stanislaw, and Bishops Antoni and Jan. I thank all of you for coming together to pray.

My dear friends, we need a moment of silence and recollection to place ourselves in her school, so that she may teach us how to live from faith, how to grow in faith, how to remain in contact with the mystery of God in the ordinary, everyday events of our lives. With feminine tact and with “the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater RMA 46), Mary sustained the faith of Peter and the Apostles in the Upper Room, and today she sustains my faith and your faith.

“Faith is contact with the mystery of God”, to quote Pope John Paul II (Redemptoris Mater RMA 17), because “to believe means ‘to abandon oneself’ to the truth of the word of the living God, knowing and humbly recognizing ‘how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways’” (ibid., 14). Faith is the gift, given to us in Baptism, which makes our encounter with God possible. God is hidden in mystery; to claim to understand him would mean to want to confine him within our thinking and knowing and consequently to lose him irremediably. With faith, however, we can open up a way through concepts, even theological concepts, and can “touch” the living God. And God, once touched, immediately gives us his power. When we abandon ourselves to the living God, when in humility of mind we have recourse to him, a kind of hidden stream of divine life pervades us. How important it is to believe in the power of faith, in its capacity to establish a close bond with the living God! We must give great attention to the development of our faith, so that it truly pervades all our attitudes, thoughts, actions and intentions. Faith has a place, not only in our state of soul and religious experiences, but above all in thought and action, in everyday work, in the struggle against ourselves, in community life and in the apostolate, because it ensures that our life is pervaded by the power of God himself. Faith can always bring us back to God even when our sin leads us astray.

In the Upper Room the Apostles did not know what awaited them. They were afraid and worried about their own future. They continued to marvel at the death and resurrection of Jesus and were in anguish at being left on their own after his ascension into Heaven. Mary, “she who believed in the fulfilment of the Lord’s words” (cf. Lc 1,45), assiduous in prayer alongside the Apostles, taught perseverance in the faith. By her own attitude she convinced them that the Holy Spirit, in his wisdom, knew well the path on which he was leading them, and that consequently they could place their confidence in God, giving themselves to him unreservedly, with their talents, their limitations and their future.

Many of you here present have experienced this secret call of the Holy Spirit and have responded with complete generosity of heart. The love of Jesus “poured into your hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to you” (cf. Rom Rm 5,5), has shown you the way of the consecrated life. It was not you who looked for it. It was Jesus who called you, inviting you to a more profound union with him. In the sacrament of Holy Baptism you renounced Satan and his works and received the necessary graces for a Christian life and for holiness. From that moment the grace of faith has blossomed within you and has enabled you to be united with God. At the moment of your religious profession or promises, faith led you to a total adherence to the mystery of the Heart of Jesus, whose treasures you have discovered. You then renounced such good things as disposing freely of your life, having a family, acquiring possessions, so as to be free to give yourselves without reserve to Christ and to his Kingdom. Do you remember your enthusiasm when you began the pilgrimage of the consecrated life, trusting in the grace of God? Try not to lose this first fervour, and let Mary lead you to an ever fuller adherence. Dear men and women religious, dear consecrated persons! Whatever the mission entrusted to you, whatever cloistered or apostolic service you are engaged in, maintain in your hearts the primacy of your consecrated life. Let it renew your faith. The consecrated life, lived in faith, unites you closely to God, calls forth charisms and confers an extraordinary fruitfulness to your service.

Dear candidates to the priesthood! So much can be gained by reflecting on the way Mary learned from Jesus! From her very first “fiat”, through the long, ordinary years of the hidden life, as she brought up Jesus, or when at Cana in Galilee she asked for the first sign, or when finally on Calvary, by the Cross, she looked on Jesus, she “learned” him moment by moment. Firstly in faith and then in her womb, she received the Body of Jesus and then gave birth to him. Day after day, enraptured, she adored him. She served him with solicitous love, singing the Magnificat in her heart. On your journey of preparation, and in your future priestly ministry, let Mary guide you as you “learn” Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on him. Let him form you, so that in your ministry you will be able to show him to all who approach you. When you take into your hands the Eucharistic Body of Jesus so as to nourish his People, and when you assume responsibility for that part of the Mystical Body which will be entrusted to you, remember the attitude of wonder and adoration which characterized Mary’s faith. As she in her solicitous, maternal love for Jesus, preserved her virginal love filled with wonder, so also you, as you genuflect at the moment of consecration, preserve in your soul the ability to wonder and to adore. Know how to recognize in the People of God entrusted to you the signs of Christ’s presence. Be mindful and attentive to the signs of holiness which God will show you among the faithful. Do not fear future duties or the unknown! Do not fear that words will fail you or that you will encounter rejection! The world and the Church need priests, holy priests.

Dear representatives of the new Movements in the Church, the vitality of your communities is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s active presence! It is from the faith of the Church and from the richness of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that your mission has been born. My prayer is that you will grow ever more numerous so as to serve the cause of the Kingdom of God in today’s world. Believe in the grace of God which accompanies you and bring it into the living fabric of the Church, especially in places the priest or religious cannot reach. The movements you belong to are many. You are nourished by different schools of spirituality recognized by the Church. Draw upon the wisdom of the saints, have recourse to the heritage they have left us. Form your minds and your hearts on the works of the great masters and witnesses of the faith, knowing that the schools of spirituality must not be a treasure locked up in monastic libraries. The Gospel wisdom, contained in the writings of the great saints and attested to in their lives, must be brought in a mature way, not childishly or aggressively, to the world of culture and work, to the world of the media and politics, to the world of family and social life. The authenticity of your faith and mission, which does not draw attention to itself but truly radiates faith and love, can be tested by measuring it against Mary’s faith. Mirror yourselves in her heart. Remain in her school!

When the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, went out to the whole world proclaiming the Gospel, one of them, John, the Apostle of love, took Mary into his home (cf. Jn 19,27). It was precisely because of his profound bond with Jesus and with Mary, that he could so effectively insist on the truth that “God is love” (1Jn 4,8). These were the words that I placed at the beginning of the first Encyclical of my Pontificate: Deus caritas est! This is the most important, most central truth about God. To all for whom it is difficult to believe in God, I say again today: “God is love”. Dear friends, be witnesses to this truth. You will surely be so if you place yourselves in the school of Mary. Beside her you will experience for yourselves that God is love, and you will transmit this message to the world with the richness and the variety that the Holy Spirit will know how to enkindle.

Praised be Jesus Christ.

Speeches 2005-13 25056