Wednesday 21 October 1998


1. The Holy Spirit is “the Lord, the giver of life”. With these words of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Church continues to profess her faith in the Holy Spirit, whom St Paul proclaims as the “Spirit of life” (
Rm 8,2).

In the history of salvation, life always appears as linked to God’s Spirit. At the dawn of creation, through the divine breath, like a “breath of life”, “man became a living being” (Gn 2,7). In the history of the chosen people, the Spirit of the Lord repeatedly intervenes to save and guide Israel through the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets. Ezekiel vividly portrays the situation of the people brought low by the exile experience as an immense valley filled with bones to which God communicates new life (cf. Ez 37,1-14): “And the spirit came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet” (Ez 37,10).

It is particularly in Jesus' history that the Holy Spirit discloses his life-giving power: the fruit of Mary’s womb comes to life “through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1,18 cf. Lc 1,35). Jesus’ whole mission is enlivened and guided by the Holy Spirit; in a special way the Resurrection bears the seal of the “Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” (Rm 8,11).

2. The Holy Spirit, equal to the Father and the Son, is the principal agent of that “Gospel of life” which the Church never tires of proclaiming and bearing witness to in the world.

The Gospel of life, as I explained in the Encylical Letter Evangelium vitae, is not simply a reflection on human life, nor merely a commandment aimed at raising awareness; it is in fact “something concrete and personal, for it consists in the proclamation of the very person of Jesus” (EV 29). He makes himself known as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14,6). And to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, he says: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11,25).

3. “He who follows me”, he proclaims further, “will have the light of life” (Jn 8,12). The life that Jesus Christ gives us is a living water which satisfies man's deepest aspirations and brings him, as a son, into full communion with God. This living and life-giving water is the Holy Spirit.

In his conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus foretells this divine gift: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.... Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4,10 Jn 4,13-14). Later, on the feast of Tabernacles, Jesus foretells his Death and Resurrection, loudly exclaiming as if to be heard by people of all places and times: “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'.... He said this”, the Evangelist John notes, “about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive” (Jn 7,37-39).

In obtaining the gift of the Spirit for us by the sacrifice of his own life, Jesus fulfils the mission he received from the Father: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10,10). The Holy Spirit renews our hearts (cf. Ez 36,25-27 Jr 31,31-34) and conforms them to Christ’s. Thus the Christian can “appreciate and achieve the deepest and most authentic meaning of life: namely, that of being a gift which is fully realized in the giving of self” (Evangelium vitae, EV 49). This is the new law, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rm 8,2). Its essential expression, in imitation of the Lord who laid down his life for his friends (cf. Jn 15,13), is the loving gift of self: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” (1Jn 3,14).

4. The life of Christians, who through faith and the sacraments are inwardly united with Jesus Christ, is “life in the Spirit”. Indeed, the Holy Spirit, poured out in our hearts (cf. Ga 4,6), becomes in us and for us “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4,14).

We must therefore let ourselves be docilely guided by God’s Spirit, to become ever more fully what we already are through grace: sons of God in Christ (cf. Rm 8,14-16). “If we live by the Spirit”, St Paul urges us again, “let us also walk by the Spirit” (Ga 5,25).

This principle is the foundation of Christian spirituality, which consists in accepting all the life that the Spirit gives us. This concept of spirituality protects us from the misunderstandings that sometimes obscure its true nature.

Christian spirituality does not consist in an effort to perfect oneself, as if man could further his overall personal growth and achieve salvation by his own strength. The human heart, wounded by sin, is healed only by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and only if sustained by this grace can man live as a true son of God.

Nor does Christian spirituality consist in becoming “immaterial”, disembodied as it were, without responsible involvement in human affairs. Indeed, the Holy Spirit’s presence in us, far from urging us to seek an alienating “escape”, penetrates and moves our entire being: intellect, will, emotions and bodily nature, so that our “new nature” (Ep 4,24) will imbue space and time with the newness of the Gospel.

5. On the threshold of the third millennium, the Church is preparing to receive the ever new gift of that Spirit, the giver of life, which flows from the pierced side of Jesus Christ, in order to proclaim the Gospel of life with deep joy to all.

We ask the Holy Spirit to enable the Church of our time to echo faithfully the words of the Apostles: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1Jn 1,1-3).

To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:

I warmly welcome the Bishops of the United States, here for their ad limina visit, Cardinal Law of Boston and all the Bishops of the region. I warmly welcome the brothers and sisters from various congregations, and encourage them to make this pilgrimage an occasion for renewed fidelity to their vocation. I extend a special greeting to the pilgrims from the Diocese of Derry in Northern Ireland and I pray that God will bless that region with lasting peace. I welcome the Ecoforum for Peace Group from various countries, the Lutheran visitors from Norway and the Swedish Church Study Group. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Canada and the United States of America, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday 28 October 1998 - "Life in the Spirit transcends even death"


1. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (
Jn 3,16). In these words from the Gospel of John, the gift of “eternal life” represents the ultimate purpose of the Father’s loving plan. This gift gives us access through grace to the ineffable communion of love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17,3).

The “eternal life” that flows from the Father is communicated to us in its fullness by Jesus in his paschal mystery through the Holy Spirit. By receiving it we share in the risen Jesus’ definitive victory over death. “Death and life”, we proclaim in the liturgy, “have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal” (Sequence for Easter Sunday). In this decisive event of salvation, Jesus gives human beings “eternal life” in the Holy Spirit.

2. In the “fullness of time” Christ thus fulfils, beyond all expectation, that promise of “eternal life” which the Father has inscribed in the creation of man in his image and likeness since the beginning of the world (cf. Gn 1,26).

As we sing in Psalm 104, man experiences that life in the cosmos and, particularly, his own life have their beginning in the “breath” communicated by the Spirit of the Lord: “When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104,29-30).

Communion with God, the gift of his Spirit, more and more becomes for the chosen people the pledge of a life that is not limited to earthly existence but mysteriously transcends and prolongs it forever.

In the harsh period of the Babylonian exile, the Lord rekindles his people’s hope, proclaiming a new and definitive covenant that will be sealed with an abundant outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Ez 36,24-28): “Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live” (Ez 37,12-14).

With these words God announces the messanic renewal of Israel after the sufferings of the exile. The symbols used are well suited to suggesting the faith journey that Israel is slowly making, to the point of intuiting the truth of the resurrection of the flesh which the Spirit will accomplish at the end of time.

61 3. This truth becomes firmly established in the period shortly before the coming of Jesus Christ (cf. Da 12,2 2M 7,9-14 2M 7,23 2M 7,36 2M 12,43-45), who vigorously confirms it and rebukes those who deny it: “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mc 12,24). According to Jesus, belief in the resurrection is based on belief in God, who “is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Mc 12,27).

Moreover, Jesus links belief in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn 11,25). In him, through the mystery of his Death and Resurrection, the divine promise of the gift of “eternal life” is fulfilled. This life implies total victory over death: “The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear the voice [of the Son] and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life ...” (Jn 5,28-29). “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6,40).

4. Christ’s promise will thus be mysteriously fulfilled at the end of time, when he returns in glory “to judge the living and the dead” (2Tm 4,1 cf. Ac 10,42 1P 4,5). Then our mortal bodies will live again through the power of the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us as “the pledge of our inheritance, the first payment against the full redemption” (Ep 1,14 cf. 2Co 1,21-22).

However, there is no need to think that life after death begins only with the final resurrection. The latter is preceded by the special state in which every human being finds himself after physical death. There is an intermediate stage in which, as the body decomposes, “a spiritual element survives and subsists after death, an element endowed with consciousness and will, so that the 'human self' subsists”, although lacking the complement of its body (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on Certain Questions Concerning Eschatology, 17 May 1979: AAS 71 [1979], 941).

Believers also have the certitude that their life-giving relationship with Christ cannot be destroyed by death but continues in the hereafter. Christ in fact said: “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (Jn 11,25). The Church has always professed this belief and has particularly expressed it in the prayer of praise she offers to God in communion with all the saints and in her prayer for the dead who are not fully purified. On the other hand, the Church insists on respect for the mortal remains of every human being because of the dignity of the person to which they belonged and because of the honour which is owed the bodies of those who became temples of the Holy Spirit through Baptism. Particular evidence of this is the funeral liturgy and the veneration given to the relics of the saints, which has developed from the earliest centuries. The latter’s bones, St Paulinus of Nola says, “never lose the presence of the Holy Spirit, whence a living grace comes to the sacred tombs” (Carmen XXI, 632-633).

5. Thus we see the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of life not only in every stage of our earthly existence, but equally so in that state which, after death, precedes the full life that the Lord has promised even for our mortal bodies. All the more so, thanks to the Spirit, we will make in Christ our final “journey” to the Father. St Basil the Great notes: “If anyone reflects carefully, he will understand that, even as we await the Lord’s appearing from heaven, the Holy Spirit will not be absent, as some believe; no, he will also be present on the day of the Lord’s revelation, when he will judge the world in justice as its blessed and only sovereign” (De Spiritu Sancto, XVI, 40).

To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:

I extend a special greeting to the priests taking part in the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College, to the members of the Gregorian University Foundation, and to the Across Trust. I warmly welcome the Lutheran visitors from Sweden and the choir from Taiwan. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Malaysia, Belize, Taiwan, Canada and the United States of America, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now I would like to invite you to pray with me for several intentions that are particularly close to my heart:

1. The Mixed Commission of the Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches in Romania, established to promote mutual dialogue between the two communities, is beginning its work today. I commend this initiative to your prayer, that it may bear the desired fruits for the good of the Church and of all Roanian society.

2. Four months of armed conflict in Guinea-Bissau have caused enormous displacements of people. Many have taken refuge in mission stations, where the ecclesiastical and religious personnel — whom I strongly encourage — are doing everything possible to alleviate their suffering. Let us pray together that all the parties in conflict will put an end to this prolonged suffering.

3. War continues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, causing destruction and involving neighbouring countries. Let us beseech the Queen of Peace to calm hearts and to let the noble quest for honourable and peaceful solutions prevail over designs to intensify the conflict.

                                                                                November 1998

Wednesday 4 November 1998 - Our bodies will share in the Resurrection

1. “Our commonwealth”, the Apostle Paul teaches, “is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself” (
Ph 3,20-21).

Just as the Holy Spirit transformed the body of Jesus Christ when the Father raised him from the dead, so the same Spirit will clothe our bodies with Christ’s glory. St Paul writes: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rm 8,11).

2. From the start, Christian faith in the resurrection of the flesh has encountered misunderstanding and opposition. The Apostle experienced this firsthand when he was proclaiming the Gospel in the middle of the Areopagus in Athens: “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead”, the Acts of the Apostles recounts, “some mocked; but others said, 'We will hear you again about this'” (Ac 17,32).

This difficulty has been raised in our time as well. On the one hand, even those who believe in some form of survival after death react sceptically to the truth of faith that clarifies this ultimate question of human existence in the light of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. On the other, many have noted the fascination with a belief like reincarnation, which is rooted in the religious soil of certain Eastern cultures (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 9).

Christian revelation is not satisfied with a vague sense of survival, although it appreciates the intimation of immortality expressed in the teaching of some great God-seekers. We can also agree that the idea of reincarnation arose from an intense desire for immortality and from the perception that human life is the “test” in view of an ultimate end, as well as from the need for complete purification in order to attain communion with God. However, reincarnation does not ensure the unique, individual identity of each human creature as the object of God’s personal love, nor the integrity of human existence as “incarnate spirit”.

63 3. The witness of the New Testament emphasizes first of all the realism of the Resurrection, corporal as well, of Jesus Christ. The Apostles explicitly attest to this when referring to their experience of the risen Lord’s appearances: “God raised him on the third day and made him manifest ... to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Ac 10,40-41). The fourth Gospel also stresses this realism when, for example, it recounts the episode in which the Apostle Thomas is invited by Jesus to put his finger in the mark of the nails and his hand in the Lord’s pierced side (cf. Jn 20,24-29). And in the appearance at the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, the risen Jesus “took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish” (Jn 21,13).

The realism of these appearances testifies that Jesus rose with his body and lives with this body at the Father’s side. However, it is a glorious body that is no longer subject to the laws of space and time, transformed in the glory of the Father. In the risen Christ we see revealed that eschatological state which all those who accept his Redemption are one day called to reach, preceded by the Blessed Virgin who, “when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory” (Pius XII, Apost. Const. Munificentissimus Deus, 1 Nov. 1950, DS 3903 cf. Lumen gentium LG 59).

4. Referring to the account of creation in the book of Genesis and interpreting Jesus’ Resurrection as the “new creation”, the Apostle Paul can thus say: “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1Co 15,45). In a mysterious but real way, all who believe in Christ share in his glorified reality through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, in Christ “all will rise again with the bodies which they now bear” (Fourth Lateran Council, DS 801), but this body of ours will be changed into a glorious body (cf. Ph 3,21), into a “spiritual body” (1Co 15,44). When some ask Paul: “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”, he answers them in the First Letter to the Corinthians, using the image of the seed which dies in order to open into new life: “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.... So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown in a physical body; it is raised in a spiritual body.... For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality” (1Co 15,36-37 1Co 15,42-44 1Co 15,53).

Certainly, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “how” this will come about “exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our bodies” (CEC 1000).

Through the Eucharist Jesus gives us, under the appearances of bread and wine, his flesh which is enlivened by the Holy Spirit and gives life to our flesh, so that we can share in his Resurrection and state of glory with all our being, spirit and body. In this regard St Irenaeus of Lyons teaches: “Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God’s blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection” (Adversus Haereses, IV, 18, 4-5).

5. What we have said thus far, synthesizing the teaching of Sacred Scripture and the Church’s Tradition, explains why “the Christian Creed ... culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the body on the last day, and in life everlasting” (CEC 988). By the Incarnation the Word of God has taken on human flesh (cf. Jn 1,14), enabling it to share, through his Death and Resurrection, in his own glory as the Father’s Only-begotten Son. Through the gifts of the Spirit, the Father instils in all man’s being and, in a certain way, in the universe itself, a yearning for this destiny. As St Paul says: “The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God ... because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rm 8,19-21).

To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:

I warmly greet the consecrated members of the Mary Ward Institute present at this Audience. I extend a sincere welcome to the members of the American College of Trial Lawyers, as well as to the participants in the Congress of The European Law Students’ Association. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Denmark, the Philippines and the United States, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To the Spanish-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father appealed for aid to the peoples devastated by hurricane Mitch:

I am deeply saddened to receive the alarming news of the great number of victims from hurricane Mitch in Central America and the Caribbean, mostly in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. While praying for the deceased, I express all my spiritual closeness to the countless people afflicted by this disaster. At the same time, I ardently appeal particularly to public and private institutions, as well as to all people of goodwill, that they may be moved by sentiments of fraternal solidarity to offer every kind of aid to the communities affected and to provide the necessary assistance at this difficult time of destruction and death. As an expression of my concern and closeness to these beloved peoples, I give them my Apostolic Blessing.

The Holy Father concluded by thanking everyone for their prayers on his name-day.

I am deeply grateful for the best wishes and prayers I have received for my name-day. St Charles Borromeo was a great Pastor whose shining example has always guided and supported me. To his intercession I entrust my ministry and that of all the Bishops and priests of the Church.

Wednesday 11 November 1998


1. The Holy Spirit, poured out “without measure” by Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is “the One who builds the kingdom of God within the course of history and prepares its full manifestation in Jesus Christ ... which will come at the end of time” (Tertio millennio adveniente
TMA 45). In this eschatological perspective believers are called, during this year dedicated to the Holy Spirit, to a renewed appreciation of the theological virtue of hope, which “on the one hand encourages the Christian not to lose sight of the final goal which gives meaning and value to life, and on the other, offers solid and profound reasons for a daily commitment to transform reality in order to make it correspond to God’s plan” (ibid., TMA 46).

2. St Paul underlines the intimate and deep bond which exists between the gift of the Holy Spirit and the virtue of hope. “Hope”, he says in the Letter to the Romans, “does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rm 5,5). Yes, the very gift of the Holy Spirit, filling our hearts with God’s love and making us children of the Father in Jesus Christ (cf. Ga 4,6), instils in us the sure hope that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rm 8,39). For this reason, the God revealed in the “fullness of time” in Jesus Christ is truly “the God of hope”, who fills believers with joy and peace, so that “by the power of the Holy Spirit [they] may abound in hope” (Rm 15,13). Thus Christians are called to be witnesses to this joyful experience in the world, and to “always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls [them] to account for the hope” that is in them (1P 3,15).

3. Christian hope brings to fulfilment the hope inspired by God in the People of Israel, and finds its own origin and model in Abraham, who “believed against hope that he should become the father of many nations” (Rm 4,18). Ratified in the covenant made by the Lord with his people through Moses, the hope of Israel was constantly rekindled down the centuries by the preaching of the prophets. Lastly, it was centred on the promise of the eschatological outpouring of God’s Spirit on the Messiah and on all his people (cf. Is 11,2 Ez 36,27 Jl 3,1-2). This promise was fulfilled in Jesus. He is not only the witness to the hope which is open to anyone who becomes his disciple. He himself, in his person and in his work of salvation, is “our hope” (1Tm 1,1), since he proclaims and brings about God’s kingdom. The Beatitudes are the “Magna Charta” of this kingdom (cf. Mt 5,3-12). “The Beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus” (CEC 1820).

4. Made Christ and Lord through the paschal mystery (cf. Ac 2,36), Jesus becomes “a life-giving spirit” (1Co 15,45), and believers, baptized in him with water and the Spirit (cf. Jn 3,5), are “born anew to a living hope” (1P 1,3). Henceforth the gift of salvation, through the Holy Spirit, is the pledge and seal (cf. 2Co 1,21-22 Ep 1,13-14) of the full communion with God to which Christ leads us. The Holy Spirit, one reads in the Letter to Titus, was “poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life” (Tt 3,6-7).

5. Also according to the Fathers of the Church the Holy Spirit is “the gift which lavishes perfect hope upon us” (St Hilary of Poitiers, De Trinitate, II, 1). In fact, says St Paul, it is the Spirit “bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rm 8,16-17). Christian life grows and matures to its fullness from that “already” of salvation which is the life of God's children in Christ, in which we are made to share by the Holy Spirit. From the experience of this gift, it longs with trusting perseverance for the “not yet” and the “yet more”, which God has promised us and will give us at the end of time. Indeed as St Paul maintains, if one is really a son, then one is also heir to all that belongs to the Father with Christ, the “first-born among many brethren” (Rm 8,29). “All that the Father has is mine”, says Jesus (Jn 16,15). For this reason, in communicating his Spirit to us, he makes us share in the inheritance of the Father and gives us the pledge and firstfruits. This divine reality is the inexhaustible source of Christian hope.

6. The Church’s teaching sees hope as one of the three theological virtues, poured out by God into the heart of believers through the Holy Spirit. It is that virtue “by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CEC 1817). To the gift of hope “special attention should be given ... especially in our day in which many people, including quite a few Christians, are floundering in the illusion and myth of an unlimited capacity for self-redemption and self-fulfilment and the temptation to pessimism from the experience of frequent disappointment and defeat” (General Audience 3 July 1991; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 8 July 1991, p. 11). Many dangers seem to loom over the future of humanity, many uncertainties weigh on man’s personal destiny and he frequently feels incapable of dealing with them. In addition, the crisis of the meaning of life and the enigma of pain and death keep knocking relentlessly at the door of our contemporaries’ hearts. The message of hope which comes from Jesus Christ brightens this horizon darkened by uncertainty and pessimism. Hope sustains and protects us in the good fight of faith (cf. Rm 12,12). It is nourished by prayer, and most particularly by the “Our Father”, “the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire” (CEC 1820).

7. Today it is not enough to reawaken hope in individual consciences; it is necessary to cross the threshold of hope together. Hope, in fact, essentially has — as we will have the opportunity to examine — a community as well as a social dimension, so that what the Apostle says in the proper and direct sense for the Church can in a broader sense be applied to the vocation of all humanity: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call” (Ep 4,4).

To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:

I extend a special greeting to the students and staff of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey: I encourage you to persevere in the search for full unity among Christians. I welcome the Tendai Buddhist delegation from Japan. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from Canada, the United States and Japan, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

After greeting the different groups in their various languages, the Holy Father spoke in Polish about the 80th anniversary of Poland’s independence.

Today we are celebrating the 80th anniversary of independence — the beginning of the Second Republic. The armistice signed on 11 November brought our nation the long-awaited liberation from arbitrary partition. That act of historical justice was not only due to the favourable political situation then created in Europe, but was above all the fruit of the whole nation’s tenacious efforts to safeguard its own identity and spiritual freedom. Many of Poland’s sons and daughters contributed to this achievement by offering their talents, energy and hard work. Many of them had to face forced emigration. Finally, many paid the highest price for the freedom of their fatherland, shedding their blood and giving their life during the series of uprisings and on the fronts of the various wars. Our forebears made all these efforts by drawing on the hope that springs from deep faith in God, the Lord of human history and of nations. This faith also sustained them after they regained freedom, when despite differences, there was a need to seek unity and to rebuild the country and defend its borders together. The Second World War unfortunately interrupted the work which had begun well, but the seed of freedom was saved and by the will of divine Providence is bearing fruit in our day. Today, together with the entire Polish nation, I thank the good Lord for this ineffable gift of his mercy and commend to him the souls of the deceased and the fallen.

On this day in particular I ask God for the grace of faith, hope and charity for all my compatriots, so that they may be able to make good use of the precious gift of freedom in unity and in peace. May the protection of Mary, Our Lady of Jasna Góra, always accompany our homeland and all our compatriots. Praised be Jesus Christ!