S. John Paul II Homil. 1484


St John of the Cross

St Felicity and the Child Martyrs

Sts Chrysanthus and Daria

Paul VI Audience Hall

Saturday, 27 March 2004

1. "Behold, I am doing a new thing" (Is 43,19).

The Prophet Isaiah invites us to look at the new thing God wants to bring about in the history of salvation. For the people of Israel it was to be liberation from slavery in Babylon and the return to their homeland. For the people of the New Covenant, on the other hand, it was liberation from the slavery of sin, brought about by Christ in his Passover of death and Resurrection.

Aware of this, let us set out on the last stretch of our Lenten journey, encouraged by the liturgy to reject evil with determination and to accept the purifying, renewing grace of God. The Gospel passage just proclaimed urges us to do this. In it, Christ manifests his merciful love, ready to forgive the sinful woman who has repented and to give her the hope of a new life (cf. Jn Jn 8,1-11).

2. Dear brothers and sisters of the Parishes of St John of the Cross, St Felicity and the Child Martyrs and St Chrysanthus and Daria, I am pleased to welcome you this evening for the Eucharistic Celebration and I cordially greet you all.

I address a grateful greeting to the Cardinal Vicar who has given me a brief outline of your communities. With him, I am pleased to greet the Auxiliary Bishop of the Northern Sector, your beloved Parish Priests: Fr Enrico Gemma, Fr Eusebio Mosca of the Vocationist Fathers and Fr Albino Marin, the parochial vicars and the priests who work with them.

I greet the women religious who live and work in your parishes as well as the associations, the groups, the movements and the faithful involved in spreading the Gospel. Next, I do not want to leave out those who were unable to come here, and especially the lonely, the elderly and the sick. I reach out to one and all with an affectionate greeting.

3. I know that you prepared yourselves for this meeting by reflecting on the most important and urgent pastoral priorities and apostolic challenges for you at this time. You have very rightly identified the promotion of fraternal communion among all parishioners as an indispensable condition for effective Christian witness in the contemporary world. A united parish, in which the diversity of the ministries and charisms is respected, shows a welcoming family face, motivated solely by the desire to proclaim and witness to the Gospel. Dear brothers and sisters, continue on this path!

To you too, I would also like to repeat the invitation "Duc in altum!" (put out into the deep) that I addressed to the whole Church at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 with my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte. Put out into the deep, show concern not only for so-called "neighbours", but also for those who live on the fringes of the faith.

4. Have at heart first and foremost families and young people. May a priority goal of your evangelizing action be the pastoral care of youth, making the most of the after-school centres as places for the human, spiritual and ecclesial formation of children and young people. In these centres the different generations can meet to encourage the transmission of the faith to the youngest who need to identify with exemplary figures.

Nor should you slacken your efforts to inspire vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life by your prayers and example: the Church of Rome needs holy priests and men and women religious, men and women who are totally and joyfully consecrated to God for the good of his People.

1486 Lastly, pay attention to the spiritual and material needs of your brethren, both near and far. In this regard, I thank you for the commitment that each community has honoured me with today by its adoption of an oversees orphan.

5. The words of the Apostle Paul spring to mind: "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus" (
Ph 3,8). This is how St Paul expresses the radical change that occurred in his life: from being a persecutor, he became the Apostle to the Gentiles because Christ Jesus has made me "his own" (cf. Phil Ph 3,12).

Dear brothers and sisters, let yourselves also be "won" by Christ! May his words of salvation and merciful love penetrate your consciences and guide you in your daily decisions.

May Mary, faithful to the end to the mission entrusted to her, help you to be true to Christ without faltering, to be his credible witnesses among the people in your neighbourhood. The Gospel also needs you to reach the many who, perhaps unconsciously, are waiting for it. Christ is counting on you. Do not disappoint him!


Sunday, 4 April 2004

19th World Youth Day

"We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21)

1. "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord" (Lc 19,38).

With these words, the population of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus at his entry into the holy city, acclaiming him as King of Israel. Yet a few days later, the same crowd was to reject him with hostile cries: "Crucify him! Crucify him!" (Lc 23,21). The Palm Sunday liturgy helps us relive these two moments of the last week in Jesus' earthly life. It plunges us into that fickle crowd which in a few days veered from joyful enthusiasm to murderous contempt.

2. In the climate of joy veiled in sadness that is a feature of Palm Sunday, we are celebrating the 19th World Youth Day. Its theme this year is "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21), the request made to the Apostles by "some Greeks" (Jn 12,20) who had come to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.

Before the multitudes who had gathered to listen to him, Christ proclaimed: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12,32). Here, then, is his answer: all who seek the Son of man will see him in the Feast of Easter as a true Lamb, sacrificed for the world's salvation.

1487 On the Cross, Jesus died for each one of us. The Cross, therefore, is the greatest and most eloquent sign of his merciful love, the one sign of salvation for every generation and for all humanity.

3. Twenty years ago at the end of the Holy Year of the Redemption, I presented the large wooden Cross of that Jubilee to the young people. On that occasion I urged them to be faithful disciples of Christ, the crucified King, whom we see "as the one who brings man freedom based on truth, frees man from what curtails, diminishes and as it were breaks off this freedom at its root, in man's soul, his heart and his conscience" (Redemptor Hominis
RH 12).

From that time the Cross continues travelling to many countries in preparation for the World Days of Youth. During its pilgrimages it has crossed continents: as a torch passed hand to hand, it was transported from country to country; it has become a luminous sign of the trust that animates the young generations of the third millennium. Today it is in Berlin!

4. Dear young people! As you celebrate the 20th anniversary of the beginning of this extraordinary spiritual adventure, may I renew for you the same recommendation I gave you back then: "I entrust the Cross of Christ to you! Take it through the world as a sign of Our Lord Jesus' love for humanity, and proclaim to one and all that only in the dead and risen Christ is there salvation and redemption" (Insegnamenti, VII, [1984], 1105).

Of course, the message that the Cross communicates is not easy to understand in our day and age in which material well-being and conveniences are offered and sought as priority values. But you, dear young people, do not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel of the Cross in every circumstance. Do not be afraid to swim against the tide!

5. "Christ Jesus... humbled himself and became obedient unto death... on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him..." (Ph 2,6). The wonderful hymn in the Letter of St Paul to the Philippians has just reminded us that the Cross has two inseparable dimensions: it is at the same time both sorrowful and glorious. The suffering and humiliation of Jesus' death are closely connected with the exaltation and glory of his Resurrection.

Dear brothers and sisters! Dear young people! May you always be conscious of this consoling truth! The passion and Resurrection of Christ constitute the core of our faith and our support in the inevitable daily trials.

May Mary, the Sorrowful Virgin and silent witness of the joy of the Resurrection, help you to follow the crucified Christ and to discover in the mystery of the Cross the full meaning of life.

Praised be Jesus Christ!


Vatican Basilica

Holy Thursday, 8 April 2004

1488 1. "The supreme High Priest of the new and eternal covenant". This is how Jesus appears to us in a most special way at today's holy Chrism Mass which reveals the deep bond that exists between the Eucharist and the ministerial Priesthood. Christ is the High Priest of that New Covenant, already prefigured by the Prophet of the Babylonian exile (cf. Is Is 61,1-3). In him the ancient prophecy is fulfilled, as he himself proclaims in the Synagogue of Nazareth at the very beginning of his public life (cf. Lk Lc 4,21). The promised Messiah, the "Anointed One of the Lord", was to bring to completion on the Cross the definitive liberation of men and women from the ancient slavery of the Evil One. And by rising on the third day, he was to usher in the life that no longer recognizes death.

2. "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Lc 4,21). The "today" of the Gospel is renewed in a very special way during this Chrism Mass which is a true prelude to the Easter Triduum. If the Mass of the Lord's Supper accentuates the mystery of the Eucharist and the presentation of the new commandment of love, this Mass that we are celebrating, known as the "Chrism Mass", gives prominence to the gift of the ministerial priesthood.

I wanted to stress this close unity that exists between the Eucharist and the Priesthood in my Letter to Priests, which I addressed to them precisely for Holy Thursday. The Eucharist and the Priesthood are "two sacraments... born together and their destiny is indissolubly linked until the end of the world" (n. 3).

3. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, I greet you all with affection and I thank you for coming in such large numbers and for your devout participation. In a little while we will renew our priestly promises, thanking God for the gift of our Priesthood. We will also reassert our firm determination always to be a more and more faithful image of Christ, the High Priest. He, the Good Shepherd, calls us to follow his example and day after day to offer our life for the salvation of the flock he has entrusted to our care.

How is it not possible to think back, full of emotion, to the enthusiasm of the first "I am" that we spoke on the day of our priestly Ordination? We replied to the one who asked, "Are you resolved" to work for his Kingdom: "I am". We must repeat it every day, in the knowledge that we are sent to serve the community of the saved in a special capacity in persona Christi.

The "gift and mystery" that we have received is truly extraordinary. Our daily experience teaches us that it should be preserved through a steadfast attachment to Christ, fostered by constant prayer. The Christian people want to see us first and foremost as "men of prayer". What we say and the way we act must enable those who meet us to experience God's faithful and merciful love.

4. Dear Brothers and Sisters, today's Chrism Mass sees the Christian people in every diocese gathered around their Bishop and the entire presbyterate. It is a solemn, intensely meaningful celebration during which the sacred Chrism and the oils of the sick and of the catechumens are blessed. This rite invites us to contemplate Christ, who put on our human frailty and made himself the instrument of universal salvation. In his image, every believer, filled with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, is "consecrated" to become an offering pleasing to God.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ the High Priest, who closely cooperated in the work of the redemption, help us priests portray ever more faithfully in our lives and in our ecclesial service the image of her Son Jesus. May she make all Christians more and more aware of the vocation to which each one is called, so that the Church, nourished by the Word and made holy by the sacraments, may continue carrying out to the full her mission in the world.


Holy Thursday, 8 April 2004

1. "He loved them to the end" (Jn 13,1).

Before celebrating the last Passover with his disciples, Jesus washed their feet. With an act that was normally done by a servant, he wanted to impress upon the Apostles' minds a sense of what was about to take place.

1489 Indeed, his passion and death constitute the fundamental loving service through which the Son of God set humanity free from sin. At the same time, Christ's passion and death reveal the profound meaning of the new commandment that he entrusted to the Apostles: "even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (Jn 13,34).

2. "Do this in remembrance of me" (1Co 11,24), he said twice as he distributed the bread that had become his Body and the wine that had become his Blood. "I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you (Jn 13,15), he had said a little earlier after washing the Apostles' feet. Christians, therefore, know that they must "remember" their Teacher by the reciprocal charitable service of "washing one another's feet". In particular, they know that they should remember Jesus by reliving the "memorial" of the Supper with the bread and wine consecrated by the minister who repeats over them the words which Christ spoke on that occasion.

This is what began to shape the Christian community from the outset, as we have heard Paul testify: "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1Co 11,26).

3. The Eucharist is therefore the memorial in the full sense: the bread and the wine, through the action of the Holy Spirit, truly become the Body and Blood of Christ, who gives himself to be the food of men and women on their earthly pilgrimage.

The same logic of love presides at the Incarnation of the Word in Mary's womb, and at his becoming present in the Eucharist. It is "agape", charity, love in its beautiful, pure sense. Jesus insistently asked his disciples to abide in this love of his (cf. Jn Jn 15,9).

To stay faithful to this mandate, to abide in him like branches joined to the vine and to love as he loved, it is necessary to be nourished with his Body and his Blood. In telling the Apostles: "Do this in memory of me", the Lord bound the Church to the living memorial of his Passover. Although he was the only Priest of the New Covenant, he wanted and needed to have human beings who, consecrated by the Holy Spirit, would act in intimate union with him by distributing the food of life.

4. Therefore, while we fix our gaze on Christ who institutes the Eucharist, we become newly aware of the importance of priests in the Church and of their bond with the sacrament of the Eucharist. In the Letter I wrote to Priests for this Holy Thursday, I wanted to repeat that the gift and mystery is the Sacrament of the Altar, the gift and mystery is the Priesthood, and that both sprang from the Heart of Christ during the Last Supper.

Only a Church in love with the Eucharist brings forth, in turn, many holy priestly vocations. And she does so through prayer and the witness of holiness, offered especially for the new generations.

5. At the school of Mary, "the woman of the Eucharist", let us adore Jesus truly present in the humble signs of the bread and the wine. Let us implore him never to cease calling priests after his own Heart to the service of the Altar.

Let us ask the Lord never to let the People of God lack the Bread that sustains them throughout the earthly pilgrimage. May the Blessed Virgin help us rediscover with wonder that the whole of Christian life is linked to the mysterium fidei which we are celebrating solemnly this evening.


Holy Saturday, 10 April 2004

1490 1. "This same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord . . . throughout every generation" (cf. Ex Ex 12,42).

On this holy night we celebrate the Easter Vigil, the first - indeed the "mother" - of all vigils of the liturgical year. On this night, as is sung over and over again in the Preconio, we walk once more the path of humanity from creation to the culminating event of salvation, the death and resurrection of Christ.

The light of him who "has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1Co 15,20) makes this memorable night, which is rightly considered the "heart" of the liturgical year, "bright as the day" (Ps 139,12). On this night the entire Church keeps watch and recalls, in meditation, the significant stages of God's saving intervention in the universe.

2. "A night of watching kept to the Lord". There is a twofold significance to this solemn Easter Vigil, so rich with symbols accompanied by an extraordinary abundance of biblical texts. On the one hand, it is the prayerful memory of the mirabilia Dei, in the re-presentation of key texts from the Sacred Scriptures, from creation to the sacrifice of Isaac, to the passage through the Red Sea, to the promise of the New Covenant.

On the other hand, this evocative vigil is the trusting expectation of the complete fulfilment of the ancient promises. The memory of God's work reaches its climax in the resurrection of Christ and is projected onto the eschatological event of the parusia.We thus catch a glimpse, on this night of Passover, of the dawning of that day that never ends, the day of the Risen Christ, which inaugurates the new life, the "new heavens and a new earth" (2P 3,13 cf. Is Is 65,17 Is 66,22 Ap 21,1).

3. From its very beginnings, the Christian community placed the celebration of Baptism within the context of the Easter Vigil. Here too, on this night, some catechumens will be immersed with Jesus into his death to rise with him to immortal life. Thus the wonder of the mysterious spiritual rebirth, wrought by the Holy Spirit, is renewed; the rebirth that incorporates the newly baptized into the people of the new and final Covenant, sealed by the death and resurrection of Christ.

To each of you, dear Brothers and Sisters who will soon receive the sacraments of Christian initiation, I affectionately offer a special greeting. You come from Italy, Togo and Japan: your origins manifest the universality of the call to salvation and the gratuitousness of the gift of faith. Together with you I greet your relatives, friends and all who have seen to your preparation.

Thanks to the sacrament of Baptism you will come to be a part of the Church, which is an immense people on pilgrimage, without limits of race, language or culture; a people called to the faith starting with Abraham, and destined to become a blessing in the midst of all the nations of the earth (cf. Gen Gn 12,1-3). Be faithful to him who has chosen you, and to him entrust your entire lives with generous commitment.

4. Together with those who will shortly receive Baptism, the liturgy invites all of us here present to renew the promises of our own Baptism. The Lord asks us to renew the expression of our full obedience to him and of our total dedication to the service of his Gospel.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters! If this mission may sometimes seem difficult, call to mind the words of the Risen Lord: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20). Certain of his presence, you shall fear no difficulty and no obstacle. His word will enlighten you; his Body and his Blood will nourish you and sustain you on your daily journey to eternity.

At the side of each of you there will always be Mary, as she was present among the Apostles, frightened and confused at the time of trial. And with her faith she will show you, beyond the night of the world, the glorious dawn of the resurrection. Amen.


St Peter's Square

Third Sunday of Easter, 25 April 2004

1. "They knew it was the Lord" (
Jn 21,12): this is how the evangelist John expresses the reaction of the disciples' joy in recognizing the Risen Lord. Jesus manifests himself to them after a night of hard and unprofitable work on the Sea of Tiberias. Trusting in his word, they cast their nets into the water and haul to the shore a "[large] quantity of fish" (Jn 21,6).

Like the Apostles, we too remain in amazement before the wealth of wonder that God accomplishes in the heart of those who confide in him. In today's Eucharistic Celebration, we contemplate what he has achieved in six new Blesseds: in the priest Augusto Czartoryski; in four women religious: Laura Montoya, María Guadalupe García Zavala, Nemesia Valle, Eusebia Palomino Yenes; and in a laywoman, Alexandrina Maria da Costa. These are eloquent examples of how the Lord transforms the existence of believers when they trust in him.

2. "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, God of hosts. My soul is longing and yearning, is yearning for the courts of the Lord.... One day within your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere" (Ps 84[83]: 2, 11).

Blessed Augusto Czartoryski wrote these words of the Psalm, his motto of life, on the holy card of his first Mass. In them is contained the rapture of a man who, following the voice of the call, discovers the beauty of the ministerial priesthood. In them resounds the echo of the different choices that the person who is discerning God's will and wishes to fulfil it must make. Augusto Czartoryski, a young prince, carefully prepared an effective method to discern the divine plan. In prayer, he presented to God all questions and deep perplexities, and then in the spirit of obedience he followed the counsel given by his spiritual guides. In this way he came to understand his vocation and to take up the life of poverty to serve the "least". The same method enabled him throughout the course of his life to make decisions, so that today we can say that he accomplished the designs of Divine Providence in a heroic way.

I would like to leave this example of holiness especially to young people, who today search out the way to decipher God's will relating to their own lives and desire to faithfully forge ahead each day according to the divine word. My dear young friends, learn from Blessed Augusto to ask ardently in prayer for the light of the Holy Spirit and wise guides, so that you may understand the divine plan in your lives and are able to walk constantly on the path of holiness.

3. "Just after daybreak Jesus was standing on the shore, though none of the disciples knew it was Jesus" (Jn 21,4).

It is possible for a person not to know the Lord, notwithstanding his numerous manifestations in the course of history. Mother Laura Montoya, seeing how many indigenous persons far away from urban centres lived without knowing God, decided to found the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and St Catherine of Siena, with the aim of bringing the light of the Gospel to the inhabitants of the forests.

This Blessed Colombian considered herself as mother to the Indians, to whom she wanted to show God's love. Her times were not easy ones, since the social tensions bloodied even then her noble Country. Taking inspiration from her message of peace, let us ask today that the beloved Nation of Colombia may soon enjoy peace, justice and holistic progress.

4. In the Gospel reading we heard the threefold question of Jesus to Peter: "Do you love me?". Christ addresses this same question to men and women of all times. Christians must decisively and readily respond to the projects that he has for each one of us. Such was the life of the Mexican Blessed Guadalupe García Zavala, who, by giving up matrimony, dedicated herself to serving the poorest, the sick and the needy; she founded for this the Congregation of the Handmaids of St Margaret Mary and the Poor.

1492 With deep faith, unlimited hope and great love for Christ, Mother "Lupita" sought her own sanctification beginning with love for the Heart of Christ and fidelity to the Church. In this way she lived the motto which she left to her daughters: "Charity to the point of sacrifice and perseverance until death".

5. "Manifest God's love to the little, to the poor, to every person in every corner of the earth": this was the undertaking of Blessed Nemesia Valle throughout her entire life. She left this teaching especially to her Sisters, the Sisters of Charity of St Joan Antida Thouret, and to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Turin. It is the example of a shining holiness directed towards the high summits of evangelical perfection, which can be translated in the simple gestures of daily living, completely spent in God's service.

The new Blessed continues to repeat to all of us: "Holiness does not consist in doing many things or great things.... Those who entirely spend themselves each day, wherever they are, for the Lord, are holy".

6. The Lord says to Peter in a decisive and penetrating way: "Follow me". Sr Eusebia Palomino, of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, also heard God's call one day and answered by way of an intense spirituality and a profound humility in daily life. As a good Salesian, she was enlivened by love for the Eucharist and for the Blessed Virgin. Loving and serving were important for her; the rest did not matter, faithful to the Salesian maxim: "da mihi animas, caetera tolle".

With the radicalness and constancy of her choices, Sr Eusebia Palomino Yenes traced out an attractive and demanding path of holiness for us all, especially for the young people of our time.

7. "Do you love me?", Jesus asks Simon Peter, who replies: "Yes Lord, you know that I love you". The life of Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa can be summarized in this dialogue of love. Permeated and burning with this anxiety of love, she wished to deny nothing to her Saviour. With a strong will, she accepted everything to demonstrate her love for him. A "spouse of blood", she relived mystically Christ's passion and offered herself as a victim for sinners, receiving strength from the Eucharist: this became her only source of nourishment for the final 13 years of her life.

With the example of Blessed Alexandrina, expressed in the trilogy "suffer, love, make reparation", Christians are able to discover the stimulus and motivation to make "noble" all that is painful and sad in life through the greatest evidence of love: sacrificing one's life for the beloved.
Secret of holiness: love for Christ

8. "Yes Lord, you know that I love you" (
Jn 21,15). Like Peter, like the Apostles on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, these new Blesseds also made their own this simple profession of faith and love, living it to the extreme. Love for Christ is the secret of holiness!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us follow the example of these Blesseds, offering as they did a coherent witness of faith and love in the living and working presence of the Risen One!


41st World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Fourth Sunday of Easter, 2 May 2004

1. "The Good Shepherd is risen! He who laid down his life for his sheep... Alleluia"(Communion Antiphon).

The liturgy today invites us to fix our gaze on Christ the Good Shepherd. Agnus redemit oves, the Easter Sequence sings. "The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb". The Only-Begotten Son of the Father, the Good Shepherd of humanity, died on the Cross and, on the third day, rose from the dead.

This is the Good News that the Apostles, clothed with power by the Holy Spirit, brought to all the peoples, starting with Jerusalem (cf. Lk
Lc 24,47-49). This is the Good News that continues to ring out at the beginning of the third millennium. The compassionate gaze of Christ, the risen Good Shepherd, is the origin of the gift and mystery of the vocation to pastoral ministry in the Church.

2. Dear Deacons who will shortly be ordained priests, your call to the priesthood was born from this same loving gaze. I welcome you with affection and greet you, one by one. I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Bishop Vicegerent, the Members of the Diocesan Bishops' Council. I greet the Rectors and Superiors of the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, of the Diocesan Seminary Redemptoris Mater, of the Almo Collegio Capranica and of the Oblates Sons of Our Lady of Divine Love, who have supervised your formation. I greet Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur and the formation staff of the "Priestly Fraternity of the Sons of the Cross", and I greet and thank the Superior and formation staff of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to your families, to the priests who have supervised your formation and the growth of your faith, and to all those who, together with your parish communities and the ecclesial situations to which you belong, have helped you to discover the "gift and mystery" of your vocation and to say "yes" to the Lord's call.

3. You are becoming priests at a time when even here in Rome strong cultural trends seem to want to make people forget God, especially young people and families. But do not be afraid: God will always be with you! With his help you will be able to find the paths that lead to the heart of every person, and proclaim to all that the Good Shepherd laid down his life for them and wants them to share in his mystery of love and salvation. However, to accomplish this very necessary task Jesus must always be the centre of your life, and you must maintain deep union with him through prayer, daily personal meditation, fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours and, above all, the devout daily celebration of the Eucharist. If you are filled with God, you will be true apostles of the new evangelization, for no one can give what he does not have in his heart.

May Mary, the sweet Mother of the Good Shepherd for whom I invite you all to constantly foster deep filial devotion, accompany you and watch over you always.



Sixth Sunday of Easter, 16 May 2004

1. "Peace I leave with you" (Jn 14,27). During the Easter season, we frequently hear this promise of Jesus to his disciples. True peace is the fruit of Christ's victory over the power of evil, sin and death. Those who follow him faithfully become witnesses and builders of his peace.

1494 It is in this light that I wish to contemplate the six new Saints, offered to us today by the Church for universal veneration: Luigi Orione, Hannibal Mary Di Francia, José Manyanet y Vives, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Paola Elisabetta Cerioli, Gianna Beretta Molla.

2. "Men who have risked their lives for the sake of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (
Ac 15,26). These words taken from the Acts of the Apostles can be well-applied to St Luigi Orione, a man who gave himself entirely for the cause of Christ and his Kingdom. Physical and moral sufferings, fatigue, difficulty, misunderstandings and all kinds of obstacles characterized his apostolic ministry. "Christ, the Church, souls", he would say, "are loved and served on the cross and through crucifixion or they are not loved and served at all" (Writings, 68, 81).

The heart of this strategy of charity was "without limits because it was opened wide by the charity of Christ" (ibid., 102, 32). Passion for Christ was the soul of his bold life, the interior thrust of an altruism without reservations, the always fresh source of an indestructible hope.

This humble son of a man who repaired roads proclaimed that "only charity will save the world" (ibid., 62, 13), and to everyone he would often say that "perfect joy can only be found in perfect dedication of oneself to God and man, and to all mankind" (ibid.).

3. "Whoever loves me will keep my word" (Jn 14,23). In these words of the Gospel we see illustrated the spiritual profile of Hannibal Mary Di Francia, whose love for the Lord moved him to dedicate his entire life to the spiritual well-being of others. In this perspective, he felt above all the urgency to carry out the Gospel command: "Rogate ergo... Pray then to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest!" (Mt 9,38).

He left to the Rogationist Fathers and the Daughters of Divine Zeal the task to do their utmost with all their strength so that prayer for vocations would be "unceasing and universal". This same call of Fr Hannibal Mary Di Francia is directed to the young people of our times, summed up in his usual exhortation: "Fall in love with Jesus Christ".

From this providential intuition, a great movement of prayer for vocations rose up within the Church. I hope with all my heart that the example of Fr Hannibal Mary Di Francia will guide and sustain such pastoral work even in our times.

4. "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you" (Jn 14,26). From the beginning, the Holy Spirit has brought forth men and women who have remembered and spread the truth revealed by Jesus. One of these was St José Manyanet, a true apostle of the family. Inspired by the school of Nazareth, he carried out his plan of personal sanctity and heroically devoted himself to the mission that the Spirit entrusted to him. He founded two religious congregations. A visible symbol of his apostolic zeal is also the temple of the Holy Family of Barcelona.

May St José Manyanet bless all families and help them follow the example of the Holy Family in their homes!

5. A man of prayer, in love with the Eucharist which he adored for long periods, St Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini is an example for the monks of the Order of Lebanese Maronites as he is for his Lebanese brothers and sisters and all Christians of the world. He gave himself completely to the Lord in a life full of great sacrifices, showing that God's love is the only true source of joy and happiness for man. He committed himself to searching for and following Christ, his Master and Lord.

Welcoming his brothers, he reassured and healed many wounds in the hearts of his contemporaries, witnessing to God's mercy. May his example enlighten our journey and bring forth, especially in young people, a true desire for God and for holiness to proclaim to our world the light of the Gospel!

1495 6. "The Angel... showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven" (Ap 21,10). This marvellous image in the Apocalypse of John exalts the beauty and spiritual fruitfulness of the Church, the new Jerusalem. A unique witness to this spiritual fruitfulness is Paola Elisabetta Cerioli, whose life was full of good fruits.

Contemplating the Holy Family, Paola Elisabetta understood that families remain strong when the bonds among their members are sustained and kept together by sharing the values of faith and a Christian way of life. To spread these values, the new Saint founded the Institute of the Holy Family. She was convinced that in order for children to grow up sure of themselves and strong, they needed a family that was healthy and united, generous and stable. May God help Christian families to welcome and witness in every situation to the love of the merciful God.

7. Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love. In a letter to her future husband a few days before their marriage, she wrote: "Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women".

Following the example of Christ, who "having loved his own... loved them to the end" (Jn 13,1), this holy mother of a family remained heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfil themselves.

Through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, may our age rediscover the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call!

8. "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (Jn 14,28). The earthly events of these six new Saints spur us to persevere on our own journey, confiding in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From Heaven, may they now watch over us and support us with their powerful intercession.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1484