S. John Paul II Homil. 1182


Tuesday, 26 September 2000

1. "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake" (Da 12,2).

Daniel's words, which we heard in the first reading, go beyond the historical horizon and extend to the final age, announcing the resurrection of the dead with words that Christ himself will take up in the Gospel. Speaking of the last judgement, Jesus says: "The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgement" (Jn 5,28-29).

Your Eminences, venerable Brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood, dear faithful, in the light of faith in Christ, our life and resurrection (cf. Jn Jn 11,25), today we are celebrating the funeral rites of dear and venerable Cardinal Vincenzo Fagiolo, who last Friday, at the age of 82, ended his earthly pilgrimage. We believe that he belongs to the ranks of those who "did good" and we are therefore confident that he is now waiting to be called by the voice of Christ to "the resurrection of life".

2. "Those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever" (Da 12,3).

I am pleased, at this moment, to remember the late Cardinal as a "teacher of justice". The study and teaching of canon law were always a constant in his life. His priestly vocation and then his call to the episcopate transformed this interest according to the Gospel perspective. To teach true justice, the justice of Christ: this is the ministry that Cardinal Fagiolo carried out in the entire span of his life. In the different situations in which obedience placed him at one time or another, this was his constant aim: from the university lecture halls to the episcopal magisterium in the Archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto, from the offices of the Italian Episcopal Conference to those of the Roman Curia.

On the occasion of his episcopal appointment, Mons. Fagiolo chose the Pauline phrase, "Plenitudo legis dilectio" (Rm 13,10) as his motto. It sums up wonderfully the entire life of this "man of the Church", who knew how to recognize and seek the fulfilment of every law in the love of Christ, and spent his life testifying to this truth with his teaching and his works. In a recent interview, he had said: "Everything in the Church proceeds by love, everything must aim for the growth of love".

3. "God, who is rich in mercy ... made us alive together with Christ" (Ep 2,4-5).

With Paul, fixing our gaze on the mystery of the incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of Christ, we acknowledge that our authentic justice is a gift of divine mercy. In fact, the grace of God poured out on us in abundance through the blood of the crucified Christ frees us from sin and from the "second death" (cf. Rv Ap 20,14), and opens the door of eternal life for us. The Great Jubilee we are living invites believers to renew their faith in this mystery of love, proclaiming to everyone: "by grace you have been saved" (Ep 2,5).

Cardinal Vincenzo Fagiolo fell asleep in the Lord precisely during the Jubilee Year, after having been able to live a considerable part of it. This will have certainly been a comfort to him in the last stage of his journey to the encounter with Christ. He knew that he could appear before the tribunal of God bringing the freshest fruits, so to say, of the Jubilee indulgence.

1183 4. "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am" (Jn 17,24).

The saving will of Christ, a perfect reflection of that of the eternal Father, shines with its full brightness in the Gospel of John. The Father wants the Son to give eternal life to those who believe in him, that he may raise them up on the last day (cf. Jn Jn 6,39-40). In obedience to this merciful will, the Word became flesh; he came on earth and gave himself so that men might have life and have it in abundance (cf. Jn Jn 10,10).

May this shining evangelical truth comfort us every time that we give our final farewell to a deceased brother. Christ must certainly recognize Cardinal Vincenzo Fagiolo as one of those whom "the Father gave to him, that they might be with him". It consoles us to think that Christ, in whom the Cardinal believed and hoped, now wants him to be with him in heaven.

Truly our hope of peace without end is founded on this will of Christ, more solid than a rock.

5. Laetatus sum in eo quod dixerunt mihi: In domum Domini laetantes ibimus" (Responsorial ).

Dear friends, our venerable Brother is now at the gates of the holy Jerusalem. About 30 years ago, foreseeing this event, he had already written a spiritual testament, confirmed with a subsequent marginal note. In it we read: "If the thought of having to die disturbs me, I am consoled by the hope that the Lord Jesus Christ, through the merits of his passion and death, in his great mercy will kindly open the gates of his eternal and blessed home". And after giving thanks for the gifts of life, faith and priesthood, the Cardinal added: "My most heartfelt, deepest gratitude goes to the Blessed Virgin Mary, sweet Mother of Trust: ... to her, the last kiss of a life that is ebbing". In this perspective, he expressed the desire that the Marian antiphon Salve Regina should be sung at his funeral.

In this celebration imbued with hope, let us wholeheartedly entrust our dear brother Cardinal Vincenzo Fagiolo to the Mother of Jesus and our Mother. We are certain that she will receive him, to take him into the house of the Lord where he will be able to enjoy the fullness of peace forever.




Thursday, 28 September 2000

1. "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning" (Lc 12,35).

So often in the Gospel Christ invites the disciples to be vigilant. Indeed, this is a true command: Watch! Be ready! It resounds for us today, venerable Brothers, during this celebration which sees us gathered round the Lord's altar to offer his sacrifice for the chosen souls of the Supreme Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul I. And at this moment it is moving to think of them, and almost to see them both, "with their loins girded and their lamps burning", ready, thanks to their personal virtue and their ministry, for the definitive encounter with Christ the Lord.

1184 For Pope Luciani, in particular, the blessedness of those whom the master found watching "at midnight" (Lc 12,38) proved true to the letter. And that he was vigilant in his concern for the whole Church is attested by the deep impression he made on the hearts of the faithful, despite the brief days of his Pontificate.

2. This year, the traditional celebration offered in suffrage for my venerable Predecessors Paul VI and John Paul I receives a special significance and further spiritual effectiveness from the time of Jubilee grace.

This effectiveness, seen clearly, does not only redound for the benefit of the souls of these our deceased Brothers, but also for the benefit of all of us, gathered here in prayer. Indeed, if we are granted to offer prayers for their repose, from beyond the threshold of death they invite us to meditate on the ultimate goal of our earthly pilgrimage.

3. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Rm 8,35). It is the Apostle Paul who asks himself this question. We know the answer: sin separates man from God, but the mystery of Christ's incarnation, passion, death and resurrection has re-established the lost covenant. Nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from the love of God the Father, revealed and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Death itself, deprived of the poison of sin, is no longer frightening: for those who believe, it has become a dream which is the prelude to eternal repose in the promised land.

The Book of Wisdom has reminded us that "the righteous man, though he die early, will be at rest", because he "pleased God and was loved by him" (Sg 4,7). What great love the Father had for the venerable Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul I! He called them to the faith, to the priesthood, to the episcopate, to the Petrine ministry. He richly endowed them with countless gifts of wisdom and virtue. And while we pray God for them, confident that "grace and mercy are with his elect" (Sg 4,15), we thank him for having given them to the Church which was and continues to be edified by their witness and their service.

4. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Ps 42,36). This thirst, which Pope Montini and Pope Luciani felt intensely, will be quenched when "[we] come and behold the face of God" (cf. Ps Ps 42,3).

Two Roman Pontiffs have recently been enrolled among the blessed spirits who already contemplate the divine glory: Pius IX and John XXIII. Today let us entrust our prayers of suffrage to their special intercession so that, in the heavenly liturgy, Paul VI and John Paul I may advance "to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival" (Ps 42,4).

May they be welcomed at the throne of the Most High by the Blessed Virgin Mary, in whose immaculate beauty they will be able to admire, perfect at last, that of the Church which they loved and served on earth.


1. "Your word is truth; sanctify us in your love"(Gospel Acclamation, Italian Lectionary; cf. Jn
Jn 17,17). This invocation, an echo of Christ's prayer to the Father after the Last Supper, seems to rise from the host of saints and blesseds whom the Spirit of God continues to raise up in his Church from generation to generation.

Today, 2,000 years since the beginning of Redemption, we make these words our own, while we have before us as models of holiness Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions, martyrs in China, María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus Sancho de Guerra, Katharine Mary Drexel and Josephine Bakhita. God the Father "sanctified them in his love", granting the request of the Son, who opened his arms on the Cross, put an end to death and revealed the resurrection, in order to win for the Father a holy people (cf. Eucharistic Prayer II, Preface).

I extend my cordial greeting to you all, dear brothers and sisters, gathered here in great numbers to express your devotion to these shining witnesses of the Gospel.

2. "The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart" (Responsorial ). These words of the Responsorial Psalm clearly reflect the experience of Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions, martyrs in China. The testimonies which have come down to us allow us to glimpse in them a state of mind marked by deep serenity and joy.

Today the Church is grateful to her Lord, who blesses her and bathes her in light with the radiant holiness of these sons and daughters of China. Is not the Holy Year the most appropriate moment to make their heroic witness shine resplendently? Young Ann Wang, a 14-year-old, withstood the threats of the torturers who invited her to apostatize. Ready for her beheading, she declared with a radiant face: "The door of heaven is open to all", three times murmuring: "Jesus". And 18-year-old Chi Zhuzi, cried out fearlessly to those who had just cut off his right arm and were preparing to flay him alive: "Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian".

The other 85 Chinese men and women of every age and state, priests, religious and lay people, showed the same conviction and joy, sealing their unfailing fidelity to Christ and the Church with the gift of their lives. This occurred over the course of several centuries and in a complex and difficult era of China's history. Today's celebration is not the appropriate time to pass judgement on those historical periods: this can and should be done elsewhere. Today, with this solemn proclamation of holiness, the Church intends merely to recognize that those martyrs are an example of courage and consistency to us all, and that they honour the noble Chinese people.

Resplendent in this host of martyrs are also the 33 missionaries who left their land and sought to immerse themselves in the Chinese world, lovingly assimilating its features in the desire to proclaim Christ and to serve those people. Their tombs are there as if to signify their definitive belonging to China, which they deeply loved, although with their human limitations, and for which they spent all their energies. "We never wronged anyone", Bishop Francis Fogolla replied to the governor who was preparing to strike him with his sword. "On the contrary, we have done good to many". (In Chinese) God sends down happiness.

3. Both the first reading and the Gospel of today's liturgy show us that the Spirit blows where he wills, and that God, in every age, chooses individuals to show his love to mankind and raises up institutions called to be privileged instruments of his action. So it was with St María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus Sancho de Guerra, foundress of the Servants of Jesus of Charity.

In the life of the new saint, the first Basque to be canonized, the Spirit's action is remarkably visible. He led her to the service of the sick and prepared her to be the Mother of a new religious family.
St María Josefa lived her vocation as an authentic apostle in the field of health, since her style of care sought to combine motherly and spiritual attention, using every means to achieve the salvation of souls. Although she was ill for the last 12 years of her life, she spared no effort or suffering and was unstinting in her charitable service to the sick in a contemplative atmosphere, recalling that "care does not only consist in giving the sick medicine and food; there is another kind of care ... and it is that of the heart, which tries to adapt itself to the suffering person".

May María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus help the Basque people to banish violence for ever, and may Euskadi be a blessed land and a place of peaceful and fraternal coexistence, where the rights of every person are respected and innocent blood is no longer shed.

4. "See what you have stored up for yourselves against the last days!" (Jc 5,3).

In the second reading of today's liturgy, the Apostle James rebukes the rich who trust in their wealth and treat the poor unjustly. Mother Katharine Drexel was born into wealth in Philadelphia in the United States. But from her parents she learned that her family's possessions were not for them alone but were meant to be shared with the less fortunate. As a young woman, she was deeply distressed by the poverty and hopeless conditions endured by many Native Americans and Afro-Americans. She began to devote her fortune to missionary and educational work among the poorest members of society. Later, she understood that more was needed. With great courage and confidence in God's grace, she chose to give not just her fortune but her whole life totally to the Lord.

1186 To her religious community, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, she taught a spirituality based on prayerful union with the Eucharistic Lord and zealous service of the poor and the victims of racial discrimination. Her apostolate helped to bring about a growing awareness of the need to combat all forms of racism through education and social services. Katharine Drexel is an excellent example of that practical charity and generous solidarity with the less fortunate which has long been the distinguishing mark of American Catholics.

May her example help young people in particular to appreciate that no greater treasure can be found in this world than in following Christ with an undivided heart and in using generously the gifts we have received for the service of others and for the building of a more just and fraternal world.

5. "The law of the Lord is perfect, ... it gives wisdom to the simple" (
Ps 19,8).
These words from today's Responsorial Psalm resound powerfully in the life of Sr Josephine Bakhita. Abducted and sold into slavery at the tender age of seven, she suffered much at the hands of cruel masters. But she came to understand the profound truth that God, and not man, is the true Master of every human being, of every human life. This experience became a source of great wisdom for this humble daughter of Africa.

In today's world, countless women continue to be victimized, even in developed modern societies. In St Josephine Bakhita we find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation. The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence, and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.

My thoughts turn to the new saint's country, which has been torn by a cruel war for the past 17 years, with little sign of a solution in sight. In the name of suffering humanity I appeal once more to those with responsibility: open your hearts to the cries of millions of innocent victims and embrace the path of negotiation. I plead with the international community: do not continue to ignore this immense human tragedy. I invite the whole Church to invoke the intercession of St Bakhita upon all our persecuted and enslaved brothers and sisters, especially in Africa and in her native Sudan, that they may know reconciliation and peace.

Lastly, I address an affectionate greeting to the Canossian Daughters of Charity, who are rejoicing today because their sister has been raised to the glory of the altars. From the example of St Josephine Bakhita may they be able to draw renewed encouragement for generous dedication in the service of God and neighbour.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, encouraged by this time of Jubilee grace, let us renew our willingness to be deeply purified and sanctified by the Spirit. We are also drawn to this path by the saint whose memorial we celebrate today: Theresa of the Child Jesus. To her, patroness of the missions, and to the new saints we entrust the mission of the Church at the beginning of the third millennium.

May Mary, Queen of All Saints, support the steps of Christians and of all who are docile to the Spirit of God, so that the light of Christ the Saviour will spread to every part of the world.


Friday 6 October 2000

1. "Blessed are the poor in spirit.... Blessed are the meek.... Blessed are the peacemakers" (cf. Mt Mt 5,3-9). Christ's words, re-echoing at this sad celebration, once again propose the great message of the Beatitudes for our reflection and invite us to view in the light of faith the last farewell we are about to offer our venerable Brother, dear Cardinal Egano Righi-Lambertini. How often did he hear these words of the Gospel and meditate on their deep spiritual meaning! It was precisely to this spirit of the Beatitudes that he sought to conform his pastoral ministry and his long and appreciated diplomatic service to the Holy See.

1187 We know that God created us for happiness. By following Jesus' Word it is possible to transform even the trials and sufferings that are an inevitable part of our earthly life into a source of peace and greater joy. As we celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy for the late Cardinal's chosen soul, let us ask the Lord to welcome him into that eternal bliss whose first fruits he was already able to foretaste in ecclesial communion and in establishing bonds of peace and harmony between the peoples and nations to whom he was sent as a papal representative.

2. His very surname - Righi-Lambertini - indicated that he belonged to a distiguished Bolognese family which in various ages gave the Church great figures such as Pope Benedict XIV and Bl. Imelda Lambertini. After several years of pastoral ministry and studies in canon law at the Gregorian University, the young Righi-Lambertini entered the Secretariat of State and first served at the Nunciature in Italy and later in France with the then-Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli. He was later posted to the papal legations in Costa Rica, England and Korea.

Appointed titular Archbishop of Doclea in 1960, he carried out his mission as Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, Chile, Italy and France, working energetically for the growth of the Christian community and the progress of civil society, while everywhere receiving expressions of esteem, appreciation and gratitude.

The pastoral and diplomatic work of Cardinal Righi-Lambertini was usually performed in silence and without clamour, but for this reason it was all the more effective and fruitful, being constantly inspired by that trust in divine Providence, that optimism in viewing human affairs which he had learned from Bl. John XXIII.

3. Because of the wisdom of his ecclesial service and the great human and spiritual gifts that enriched his personality, our venerable Brother was called to the College of Cardinals. Having become more deeply and directly involved in the life of the Church of Rome, he continued to offer his useful collaboration to the Pope in various ways, helping him, in sincere harmony with the other members of the Sacred College, in his pastoral concern for the entire People of God throughout the world.

We thank the Lord for all the good that the Cardinal was able to accomplish with the help of God's grace in the various areas where he carried out his valuable pastoral and diplomatic activity. We trust that, because of the good our venerable Brother accomplished during his earthly life, he can now see face to face the Lord Jesus, whom he loved so much and served in his brothers and sisters (cf.
1Jn 3,2).

4. "The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God" (Sg 3,1). The words of Scripture rekindle in our spirit the light of faith and hope in the God of life. As we prepare to offer our last farewell to our venerable Brother, let us open our hearts to the hope which, as the first reading recalled, "is full of immortality" (cf. Wis Sg 3,4). That hope which illumined the priestly and apostolic life of Cardinal Righi-Lambertini now finds its complete and definitive fulfilment in the divine call to take part in the banquet of heaven.

With intense and trusting prayer, we now want to entrust his spirit to Mary Most Holy, Queen of Apostles and Mother of the Church, whom dear Cardinal Egano Righi-Lambertini so tenderly loved and called upon - how often was he seen walking in the Vatican Gardens reciting the Rosary! May Mary, the Virgin of listening and acceptance, receive him in her motherly arms and open the doors of heaven to him. Amen!


Sunday 8 October 2000

1. "Teach us, O God, wisdom of heart" (Responsorial Psalm; Italian Lectionary).

Today St Peter's Square is like a great Upper Room: for it is hosting Bishops from every part of the world, who have come to Rome to celebrate their Jubilee. The memory of the Apostle Peter, called to mind by his tomb beneath the altar of the great Vatican Basilica, invites us to return in spirit to the first site of the Apostolic College, to that Upper Room in Jerusalem where I recently had the joy of celebrating Mass during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

1188 Today a spiritual bridge spanning centuries and continents links the Upper Room with this square, where the successors of those first Apostles of Christ have gathered in the Holy Year 2000. I offer my cordial embrace to you all, dear and venerable Brothers, and I extend it with equal affection to all who have been unable to come but are spiritually united with us in their sees.

Together let us make our own the invocation of the Psalm: "Teach us, O God, wisdom of heart". In this "sapientia cordis", which is God's gift, we can sum up the fruit of our Jubilee gathering. It consists in our interior conformation to Christ, the Wisdom of the Father, through the action of the Holy Spirit. To receive this gift, indispensable if we are to govern the Church well, we, her Pastors, must first pass through him, "the door of the sheep" (
Jn 10,7). We must imitate him, the "Good Shepherd" (Jn 10,11), so that in listening to us the faithful will listen to him, and in following us they can follow him, the one Saviour, yesterday, today and forever.

2. God gives wisdom of heart through his Word, living, effective and capable of laying bare the depths of man - as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews told us (cf. Heb He 4,12) in the passage just proclaimed. The divine Word, after being spoken "of old in many and various ways to our fathers through the prophets" (He 1,1), has been sent in these last days to men and women in the very person of the Son (cf. Heb He 1,2).

We Pastors, by virtue of the munus docendi, are called to be qualified preachers of this Word. "He who hears you hears me" (Lc 10,16). An exhilarating task, but also a great responsibility! We have been entrusted with a living word: we must therefore proclaim it by our lives even before with our lips. It is a word that coincides with the person of Christ himself, the "Word made flesh" (): it is therefore the face of Christ that we must show men; his Cross that we must proclaim, doing so as vigorously as Paul: "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1Co 2,2).

3. "Lo, we have left everything and followed you" (Mc 10,28). Peter's statement expresses the radicalness of the choice requested of the apostle. A radicalness which becomes clear in the light of Jesus' demanding conversation with the rich young man. The Teacher indicated the observance of the commandments to him as a condition for eternal life. To his desire for greater perfection, he answered with a loving look and an unconditional proposal: "Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Mc 10,21). The sadness of refusal fell on these words of Christ like a sudden darkening of the sky. It was then that Jesus spoke one of his severest sayings: "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mc 10,24). A saying which he himself mitigated in the face of the Apostles' dismay: "all things are possible with God" (Mc 10,27).

Peter's statement became an expression of the grace by which God transforms man and makes him capable of a total gift. "We have left everything and followed you" (Mc 10,28). This is how we become apostles. And this is how we also experience the fulfilment of Christ's promise about the "hundredfold": the apostle who has left everything to follow Christ already lives a fulfilled and joyful life on this earth, despite the inevitable trials.

At this moment how can we not express, venerable Brothers, our gratitude to the Lord for the gift of our vocation, first to the priesthood and then to its fullness in the Episcopate? Looking back over the events of our lives, emotion fills our hearts at seeing the many ways in which the Lord has shown us his love and mercy. Truly, "misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo!" (Ps 89 [88]: 2).

4. The Bishop, a successor of the Apostles, is someone for whom Christ is everything: "For to me to live is Christ..." (Ph 1,21). He must bear witness to this in all his actions. The Second Vatican Council teaches: "Bishops should devote themselves to their apostolic office as witnesses of Christ to all men" (Decree Christus Dominus CD 11).

In speaking of the Bishops as witnesses, I cannot fail to recall at this solemn Jubilee celebration the many Bishops who, in the course of two millennia, have borne the supreme witness to Christ of martyrdom, following the apostolic model and making the Church fruitful by the shedding of their blood.

In a particular way, the 20th century has been richly blessed with such witnesses, some of whom I have had the joy of raising to the honours of the altar. A week ago, I enrolled among the saints four Bishops, martyrs in China: Gregory Grassi, Anthony Fantosati, Francis Fogolla and Louis Versiglia. Among the blesseds, we venerate Michal Kozal, Antoni Julian Nowowiejski, Leon Wetmanski and Wladyslaw Goral, who died in Nazi concentration camps. In addition to them are Diego Ventaja Milán, Manuel Medina Olmos, Anselmo Polanco and Florentino Asensio Barroso, killed during the Spanish Civil War. And in Eastern Europe the blessed martyrs Vilmos Apor, a Hungarian, Vincent Eugene Bossilkov, a Bulgarian, and Alojzije Stepinac, a Croatian, blossomed in the long winter of communist totalitarianism.

At the same time, it is beautiful and only right to thank God for all the wise and generous Pastors who, down the centuries, have brought honour to the Church by their teaching and example. How many holy and blessed confessors there are among the Bishops! I am thinking, for example, of shining figures such as Charles Borromeo and Francis de Sales; I am also thinking of Popes Pius IX and John XXIII, whom I recently had the joy of proclaiming blessed.

1189 Dear Brothers, "surounded by so great a cloud of witnesses" (He 12,1), let us renew our response to the gift of God received with episcopal ordination. "Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus" (He 12,1-2), the Shepherd of shepherds.

5. Reflecting on the mystery of the Church and her mission in the contemporary world, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council felt the need to devote special attention to the pastoral office of Bishops. Today, on the threshold of the third millennium, the challenge of the new evangelization further emphasizes the episcopal ministry: the Pastor is the first to take responsibility for and to encourage the ecclesial community, both in the requirement of communion and in missionary outreach. Regarding the relativism and subjectivism which mar so much of contemporary culture, Bishops are called to defend and promote the doctrinal unity of their faithful. Concerned for every situation in which the faith has been lost or is unknown, they work with all their strength for evangelization, preparing priests, religious and lay people for this task and making the necessary resources available (cf. Christus Dominus CD 6).

Mindful of the Council's teaching (cf. ibid., n. 7), today we would like to express from this square our fraternal solidarity with Bishops who have been persecuted, who are in prison or are prevented from exercising their ministry. And in the name of our sacramental bond, we affectionately extend our remembrance and prayer to our brother priests who are suffering the same trials. The Church is grateful to them for the inestimable good that they bring to the Mystical Body by their prayer and sacrifice.

6. "May the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours; prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands!" (Ps 90 [89]: 17).

During our Jubilee, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, the gracious care of the Lord has been given to us in abundance. The light and strength which come from it will not fail to prosper the "work of our hands", that is, the work entrusted to us in God's field which is the Church.

For our support and comfort, we have wished to emphasize during these Jubilee days the presence in our midst of Mary Most Holy, our Mother. We did so yesterday evening by reciting the Rosary as a community; we do so today with the Act of Entrustment, which we will make at the end of Mass. It is an act that we will make in a collegial spirit, while sensing the closeness of the many Bishops who, in their respective sees, are joining in our celebration and making this same Act together with their faithful. May the venerable image of Our Lady of Fátima, which we have the joy of hosting in our midst, help us to relive the experience of the first Apostolic College, gathered in prayer in the Upper Room with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Queen of Apostles, pray with us and for us, so that the Holy Spirit will descend in abundance upon the Church, and that she will shine thoughout the world ever more united, holy, catholic and apostolic. Amen.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1182