S. John Paul II Homil. 27





Santo Domingo, Independence Square

Thursday, 25 January 1979

Brothers in the Episcopate, Beloved Sons:

1. In this Eucharist in which we share the same faith in Christ, the Bishop of Rome and of the universal Church, present among you, gives you his greeting of peace: "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ga 1,3)

I come to these American lands as a pilgrim of peace and hope, to take part in an ecclesial event of evangelization, urged in my turn by the words of the Apostle Paul: "If I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1Co 9,16)

28 The present period of the history of humanity calls for a renewed transmission of faith, to communicate to modern man the perennial message of Christ, adapted to his concrete conditions of life.

This evangelization is a constant and an essential exigency of ecclesial dynamics. In his encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi, Paul VI affirmed: "Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize..." (n.
EN 14.)

And the same Pontiff states that "as an evangelizer, Christ first of all proclaims a kingdom, the kingdom of God". "As the kernel and centre of his Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift which is, above all, liberation from everything that oppresses man but which is, above all, liberation from sin and the Evil One." (n. EN 89.)

2. The Church, faithful to her mission, continues to present to the men of every age, with the help of the Holy Spirit and under the Pope's guidance, the message of salvation of her divine Founder.

This Dominican land was once the first to receive, and then to give impetus to a grand enterprise of evangelization which deserves great admiration and gratitude.

From the end of the fifteenth century, this beloved nation opens us to the faith of Jesus Christ; to this it has remained faithful up to the present. The Holy See, on its side, creates the first episcopal sees of America precisely in this island, and subsequently the archiepiscopal and primatial see of Santo Domingo.

In a comparatively short period, the paths of faith crossed the Dominican land and the continent in all directions, laying the foundations of the heritage, become life, that we contemplate today in what was called the New World.

From the first moments of the discovery, there appears the concern of the Church to make the kingdom of God present in the heart of the new peoples, races, and cultures; in the first place, among your ancestors.

If we wish to express our well-deserved thanks to those who transplanted the seeds of faith, this tribute must be paid in the first place to the religious orders which distinguished themselves, even at the cost of offering their martyrs, in the task of evangelization: above all, the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians, Mercedarians and then the Jesuits, who made the tender plant grow into a spreading tree. The fact is that the soil of America was prepared to receive the new Christian seeds by movements of spirituality of its own.

Nor is it a question, moreover, of a spreading of the faith detached from the life of those for whom it was intended; although it must always keep its essential reference to God. Therefore the Church in this island was the first to demand justice and to promote the defence of human rights in the lands that were opening to evangelization.

Lessons of humanism, spirituality and effort to raise man's dignity, are taught to us by Antonio Montesinos, Córdoba, Bartolomé de las Casas, echoed also in other parts by Juan de Zumárraga, Motolinia, Vasco de Quiroga, José de Anchieta, Toribio de Mogrovejo, Nóbrega and so many others. They are men in whom pulsates concern for the weak, for the defenceless, for the natives; subjects worthy of all respect as persons and as bearers of the image of God, destined for a transcendent vocation. The first International Law has its origin here with Francisco de Vitoria.

29 3. The fact is that the proclamation of the Gospel and human advancement cannot be dissociated— this is the great lesson, valid also today. But for the Church, the former cannot be confused or exhausted, as some people claim, in the latter. That would be to close to man infinite spaces that God has opened to him. And it would be to distort the deep and complete meaning of evangelization, which is above all the proclamation of the Good News of Christ the Saviour.

The Church, an expert in humanity, faithful to the signs of the times, and in obedience to the pressing call of the last Council, wishes to continue today her mission of faith and defence of human rights. She calls upon Christians to commit themselves to the construction of a more just, human, and habitable world, which is not shut up within itself, but opens to God.

To construct this more just world means, among other things, making every effort in order that there will be no children without sufficient food, without education, without instruction; that there will be no young people without a suitable preparation; that, in order to live and to develop in a worthy way, there will be no peasants without land; that there will be no workers ill-treated or deprived of their rights; that there will be no systems that permit the exploitation of man by man or by the State; that there will be no corruption; that there will be no persons living in superabundance, while others through no fault of their own lack everything; that there will not be so many families badly formed, broken, disunited, receiving insufficient care; that there will be no injustice and inequality in the administration of justice; that there will be no one without the protection of the law, and that law will protect all alike; that force will not prevail over truth and law, but truth and law over force; and that economic or political matters will never prevail over human matters.

4. But do not be content with this more human world. Make a world that is explicitly more divine, more in accordance with God, ruled by faith, and in which this latter inspires the moral, religious, and social progress of man. Do not lose sight of the vertical dimension of evangelization. It has strength to liberate man, since it is the revelation of love. The love of the Father for men, for one and all; a love revealed in Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (
Jn 3,16)

Jesus Christ manifested this love above all in his hidden life—"He has done all things well" (Mc 7,37)—and by proclaiming the Gospel; then, by his death and resurrection, the paschal mystery in which man meets with his definitive vocation to eternal life, to union with God. This is the eschatological dimension of love.

Beloved Sons: I conclude by exhorting you always to be worthy of the faith that you have received. Love Christ, love man through him, and live devotion to our beloved Mother in heaven, whom you invoke with the beautiful name of Our Lady de la Altagracia (of the High Grace) and to whom the Pope wishes to leave a diadem as a homage of devotion. May she help you to walk towards Christ, preserving and fully developing the seed planted by your first evangelizers. This is what the Pope hopes from all of you. From you, sons of Cuba, present here, from you sons of Jamaica, Curaçao and the Antilles, Haiti, Venezuela, and the United States. Above all, from you, sons of the Dominican land.



Cathedral of Santo Domingo, Friday, 26 January 1979

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

Blessed be the Lord who has brought me here, to this soil of the Dominican Republic, where fortunately, for the glory and praise of God in this new Continent, there also dawned the day of salvation. I have wished to come to this cathedral of Santo Domingo to be for a moment in your midst, beloved priests, deacons, men and women religious, and seminarians, to manifest to you my special affection for you all, in whom the Pope and the Church put their best hopes, in order that you may feel more joyful in faith, so that your pride in being what you are may overflow because of me (cf. Phil Ph 1,26).

30 Above all, however, I wish to join you in thanksgiving to God. Thanksgiving for the growth and zeal of this Church which has to its credit so many noble initiatives, and which shows such commitment in service of God and of men. I thank God with immense joy—to use the words of the Apostle Paul —"for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (ibid. 1:3 ff.)

I really wish I had time to stay with you, to learn your names, and to hear from your lips "that which overflows from the heart" (cf. Mt
Mt 12,34), the marvellous things you have experienced in your soul—"fecit mihi magna qui potens est" (Lc 1,49): for he who is mighty has done great things for me—having been faithful to the meeting with the Lord. A meeting of preference on his side!

It is precisely this, the paschal meeting with the Lord, which I wish to propose to your reflection, in order to renew your faith and your enthusiasm in this eucharistic celebration; a personal, living meeting—with eyes wide open and a heart beating fast—with the Risen Christ (cf. Lk Lc 24,30), the objective of your love and of your whole life.

It sometimes happens that our harmony of faith with Jesus remains weak or fades—which is at once noticed by the faithful people, who are infected with sadness by it—because, although we bear him within us, it is sometimes in a way that is mingled with our human inclinations and reasonings (cf. ibid. 15), without letting all the magnificent light that he contains for us shine forth. On some occasions we may perhaps speak of him from the stand-point of some changing premises or data of a sociological, political, psychological, linguistical character; instead of drawing the basic criteria of our life and our activity from a Gospel lived with integrity, joy, with that immense confidence and hope that the Cross of Christ contains.

One thing is clear, beloved brothers: faith in the Risen Christ is not the result of technical knowledge or the fruit of scientific qualifications (cf. 1Co 1,26). What is asked of us is to announce the death of Jesus and to proclaim his resurrection (cf. Liturgy). Jesus is alive. "God raised him up, having loosed the bonds of death" (Ac 2,24) What was at the beginning a trembling murmur among the first witnesses, soon changed into the joyful experience of real life of those who "ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead" (Ac 10,41 f.). Yes, Christ really lives in the Church; he is in us, bearers of hope and immortality.

So if you have met Christ, live Christ, live with Christ! Proclaim him in the first person, as real witnesses: "To me to live is Christ." (Ph 1,21) Here, too, is real liberation: to proclaim Jesus free of bonds, present in men, who are transformed, made new creatures. Why is our testimony sometimes vain? Because we present Jesus without the whole attractive power of his Person; without revealing the riches of the sublime ideal that following him involves; because we do not always succeed in showing a conviction, expressed in real life, with regard to the stupendous value of our dedication to the great ecclesial cause that we serve.

Brothers and Sisters: Men must see in us the dispensers of God's mysteries (cf. 1Co 4,1), the credible witnesses of his presence in the world. Let us think frequently that God, when he calls us, does not ask for just a part of our person, but he asks us for our whole person and all our vital energies in order to proclaim to men the joy and peace of the new life in Christ, in order to guide them to the meeting with him. Therefore, let our first care be to seek the Lord, and once we have met him, to ascertain where and how he lives, remaining with him the whole day (Jn 1,39). Remaining with him, particularly, in the Eucharist, where Christ gives himself to us; and in prayer, by means of which we give ourselves to him. The Eucharist must be completed and prolonged through prayer, in our everyday affairs as a "sacrifice of praise" (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer I). In prayer, in familiar intercourse with God our Father, we discern better where is our strength and where is our weakness, because the spirit comes to our help (cf. Rom Rm 8,26). The same Spirit speaks to us and gradually immerses us in the divine mysteries, in the plans of love for men which God carries out by means of our offer in his service.

Like St Paul, during a meeting at Troas to break bread, I, too, would continue to speak to you until midnight (cf. Acts Ac 20,6 ff.). I would have many more things to say but I cannot do so now. In the meantime time I urge you to read carefully what I said recently in Rome, to the clergy, to men and women religious, and to seminarians. That will widen this meeting, which will continue spiritually with other similar ones in the next few days. May the Lord and our sweet Mother, the Blessed Virgin, accompany you always and fill your lives with great enthusiasm in the service of your noble ecclesial vocation.

Let us continue with Mass, placing on the table of offerings our desire to live the new life, our necessities and our supplications, the necessities and supplications of the Dominican Church and nation. Let us also put there the work and the fruits of the Third General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate at Puebla.


The Cathedral of Mexico City, Friday, 26 January 1979

31 Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and Beloved Sons,

It is only a few hours since with deep emotion I set foot for the first time on this blessed land. And now I have the happiness of this meeting with you, with the Mexican Church and people, on this day of Mexico as it wishes to be.

It is a meeting which began with my arrival in this beautiful city; it was extended as I passed through the streets and squares; it was intensified on my entrance into this Cathedral. But it is here, in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, that it has its climax.

Let us put this meeting under the protection of the Mother of God, the Virgin of Guadalupe, whom the Mexican people loves with the deepest devotion.

To you bishops of this Church; to you priests, men and women religious, seminarians, members of Secular Institutes, laity of Catholic and apostolic movements; to you children, young people, adults, and the old; to all of you, Mexicans, who have a splendid past of love for Christ, even in the midst of trials; to you who bear in the depths of your heart devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Pope wishes to speak today about something which is, and must increasingly be an essential Christian and Marian feature of yours: faithfulness to the Church.

Among the many titles bestowed on the Virgin throughout the centuries by the filial love of Christians, there is one that has a very deep meaning: Virgo Fidelis, the faithful Virgin. What does this faithfulness of Mary's mean? What are the dimension of this faithfulness?

The first dimension is called search. Mary was faithful first of all when she began, lovingly, to seek the deep sense of God's plan in her and for the world. "Quomodo fiet?"—How shall this be?—she asked the Angel of the Annunciation. Already in the Old Testament the meaning of this search is portrayed in an expression of outstanding beauty and extraordinary spiritual content: "To seek the face of the Lord". There will not be faithfulness if it is not rooted in this ardent, patient, and generous search; if there is not in man's heart a question to which only God gives an answer, or rather, to which only God is the answer.

The second dimension of faithfulness is called reception, acceptance. The "quomodo fiet?" is changed, on Mary's lips, to a "fiat". Let it be done, I am ready, I accept: this is the crucial moment of faithfulness, the moment in which man perceives that he will never completely understand the "how"; that there are in God's plan more areas of mystery than of clarity; that, however he may try, he will never succeed in understanding it completely. It is then that man accepts the mystery, gives it a place in his heart, just as "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (
Lc 2,19 cf. Lk Lc 3,15). It is the moment when man abandons himself to the mystery, not with the resignation of one who capitulates before an enigma or an absurdity, but rather with the availability of one who opens up to be inhabited by something—by Someone!—greater than his own heart. This acceptance takes place, in short, through faith, which is the adherence of the whole being to the mystery that is revealed.

The third dimension of faithfulness is consistency. To live in accordance with what one believes. To adapt one's own life to the object of one's adherence. To accept misunderstandings, persecutions, rather than a break 'between what one practises and what one believes: this is consistency. Here is, perhaps, the deepest core of faithfulness.

But all faithfulness must pass the most exacting test: that of duration. Therefore the fourth dimension of faithfulness is constancy. It is easy to be consistent for a day or two. It is difficult and important to be consistent for one's whole life. It is easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm, it is difficult to be so in the hour of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole of life, can be called faithfulness. Mary's "fiat" in the Annunciation finds its fullness in the silent "fiat" that she repeats at the foot of the Cross. To be faithful means not betraying in the darkness what one has accepted in public.

Of all the teachings that the Virgin gives to her children in Mexico, the most beautiful and the most important one is perhaps this lesson of faithfulness. This faithfulness which the Pope delights in discovering and which he expects from the Mexican people.

32 It is said of my native country: "Polonia semper fidelis". I want to be able to say also: Mexico "semper fidelis", always faithful!

In fact, the religious history of this nation is a history of faithfulness; faithfulness to the seeds of faith sown by the first missionaries; faithfulness to a simple but deep-rooted religious outlook, sincere to the point of sacrifice; faithfulness to Marian devotion; exemplary faithfulness to the Pope. I did not have to come to Mexico to know this faithfulness to the Vicar of Christ, because I knew it long ago; but I thank the Lord for being able to experience it in the fervour of your welcome.

At this solemn hour I would like to call upon you to strengthen this faithfulness, to make it stauncher. I would like to call you to express it in an intelligent and strong faithfulness to the Church today. And what will be the dimensions of this faithfulness if not the same as those of Mary's faithfulness?

The Pope who visits you, expects from you a generous and noble effort to know the Church better and better. The Second Vatican Council wished to be, above all, a Council on the Church. Take in your hands the documents of the Council, especially "Lumen Gentium", study them with loving attention, with the spirit of prayer, to discover what the Spirit wished to say about the Church. In this way you will be able to realize that there is not—as some people claim—a "new church", different or opposed to the "old church", but that the Council wished to reveal more clearly the one Church of Jesus Christ, with new aspects, but still the same in its essence.

The Pope expects from you, moreover, loyal acceptance of the Church. To remain attached to incidental aspects of the Church, valid in the past but outdated today, would not be faithful in this sense. Nor would it be faithful to embark, in the name of an unenlightened prophetism, on the adventurous and utopian construction of a so-called Church of the future, disembodied from the present one. We must remain faithful to the Church which, born once and for all from God's plan, from the Cross, from the open sepulchre of the Risen Christ and from the grace of Pentecost, is born again every day, not from the people or from other rational categories, but from the same sources as those from which it was born originally. It is born today to construct with all the nations a people desirous of growing in faith, hope and brotherly love.

Likewise the Pope expects of you that your lives should be consistent with your membership of the Church. This consistency means being aware of one's identity as a Catholic and manifesting it, with complete respect, but also without wavering or fear. The Church today needs Christians ready to bear witness clearly to their condition, and who will play their part in the mission of the Church in the world, in all social environments, as a ferment of religiousness, justice, advancement of human dignity; trying to give the world an increase of spirit so that it may be a more human and brotherly world, looking towards God.

At the same time, the Pope hopes that your consistency will not be short-lived, but constant and persevering. To belong to the Church, to live in the Church, to be the Church, is something very demanding today. Sometimes it does not cost clear and direct persecution, but it may cost contempt, indifference, under-privilege. The danger of fear, weariness, and insecurity is, therefore, easy and frequent. Do not let yourselves be overcome by these temptations. Do not allow to vanish, as a result of any of these sentiments, the strength and the spiritual energy of your "being the Church". This is a grace which we must ask for, which we must be ready to receive with great inner poverty, and which we must begin to live every morning: and every day with greater fervour and intensity.

Dear Brothers and Sons: at this Eucharist which seals a meeting of the Servants of God with the soul and conscience of the Mexican people, the new Pope would like to gather from your lips, from your hands, and from your lives, a solemn commitment, in order to offer it to the Lord. The commitment of consecrated souls, of children, young people, adults, and the old; of cultured people and simple people, of men and women, of all: the commitment of faithfulness to Christ, to the Church of today. Let us put this intention and this commitment on the altar.

May the faithful Virgin, the Mother of Guadalupe, from whom we learn to know God's plan, his promise and his covenant, help us with her intercession to strengthen this commitment and to carry it out until the end of our lives, until the day when the voice of the Lord will say to us: "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your master." (
Mt 25,21-23)



Mexico, Basilica of Guadalupe, Saturday, 27 January 1979


Hail Mary!

1. Dear Brothers in the episcopate and dear sons and daughters, how deep is my joy that the first steps of my pilgrimage, as Successor of Paul VI and John Paul I, bring me precisely here. They bring me to you, Mary, in this shrine of the people of Mexico and of the whole of Latin America, the shrine in which for so many centuries your motherhood has been manifested.

Hail Mary!

It is with immense love and reverence that I utter these words, words so simple and at the same time so marvellous. No one will ever be able to greet you in a more wonderful way than the way in which the Archangel once greeted you at the moment of the Annunciation. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. I repeat these words, words that so many hearts ponder upon and so many lips utter throughout the world. We here present utter them together, and we are aware that these are the words with which God himself, through his messenger, greeted you, the woman promised in the Garden of Eden, chosen from eternity as the Mother of the Word, the Mother of Divine Wisdom, the Mother of the Son of God.

Hail, Mother of God!

2. Your Son Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Lord. He is our Teacher. All of us gathered here are his disciples. We are the Successors of the Apostles, of those to whom the Lord said: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (
Mt 28,19-20).

Gathered here together, the Successor of Peter and the successors of the Apostles, we ponder on how admirably these words have been fulfilled in this land.

In fact, scarcely twenty years after the work of evangelization was begun in the New World in 1492, the Faith reached Mexico. Soon afterwards, the first archiepiscopal see was established, presided over by Juan de Zumárraga, supported by other great evangelizers, who were to extend Christianity over very wide areas.

No less glorious religious epics were to be written in the Southern Hemisphere by men such as Saint Turibius of Mogroviejo and a long list of others who would deserve to be mentioned here at length. The paths of the Faith steadily stretched further, until at the end of the first century of evangelization the episcopal sees numbered more than seventy, with some four million Christians. This singular undertaking was to continue for a long time, until today, after five centuries of evangelization, it embraces almost a half of the entire Catholic church, which has struck root in the culture of the people of Latin America and forms part of their own identity.

And with the achievement in these lands of Christ's mandate, with the multiplication everywhere of the children of divine adoption through the grace of baptism, the Mother appeared too. In fact, the Son of God, and your Son, from the Cross indicated a man to you, Mary, and said: "Behold, your son" (Jn 19,26). And in that man he entrusted to you every person, he entrusted everyone to you. And you, who at the moment of the Annunciation, concentrated the whole programme of your life in those simple words: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Lc 1,38), embrace everyone, draw close to everyone, seek everyone out with motherly care.

34 Thus is accomplished what the last Council said about your presence in the mystery of Christ and the Church. In a wonderful way you are always found in the mystery of Christ, your only Son, because you are present wherever men and women, his brothers and sisters, are present, wherever the Church is present.

In fact, when the first missionaries who reached America from lands of eminent Marian tradition taught the rudiments of Christian faith, they also taught love for you, the Mother of Jesus and of all people. And ever since the time that the Indian Juan Diego spoke of the sweet Lady of Tepeyac, you, Mother of Guadalupe, have entered decisively into the Christian life of the people of Mexico. No less has been your presence in other places, where your children invoke you with tender names, as Our Lady of Altagracia, of the Aparecida, of Luján, and with many other no less affectionate names, not to give an unending list—names by which in each nation and even in each region the peoples of Latin America express their most profound devotion to you, and under which you protect them in their pilgrimage of faith.

The Pope—who comes from a country in which your images, especially one, that of Jasna Gora, are also a sign of your presence in the nation's life and its hazardous history—is particularly sensitive to this sign of your presence here, in the life of the People of God in Mexico, in its history, a history which has also been not easy, and at times even dramatic. But you are also equally present in the life of the many other peoples of Latin America, presiding over and guiding not only their past, whether remote or recent, but also the present moment, with its uncertainties and shadows. The Pope perceives in the depths of his heart the special bonds that link you with this people and this people with you. This people, that gives you the affectionate name of La Morenita. This people, and indirectly the whole of this vast continent, lives its spiritual unity thanks to the fact that you are its Mother. A Mother who, through her love, creates, preserves and increases closeness between her children.

Hail, Mother of Mexico!
Mother of Latin America!

3. We meet here at this exceptional and wonderful hour in the history of the world. We have come to this place, conscious that we are at a crucial moment. With this meeting of Bishops we wish to link ourselves with the previous Conference of the Latin-American Bishops that took place ten years ago at Medellín together with the Eucharistic Congress at Bogotá, which Pope Paul VI of indelible memory took part in. We have come here not so much to examine again, ten years later, the same problem, but rather to review it in a new way, at a new place, and at a new moment of history.

We wish to take as our point of departure what is contained in the documents and resolutions of that Conference. And at the same time we wish, on the basis of the experiences of the last ten years and of the development of thought and in the light of the experiences of the whole Church, to take a correct and necessary step forward.

The Medellín Conference took place shortly after the close of Vatican II, the Council of our century, and its objective was to take up again the Council's essential plans and content, in order to apply them and make them a directing force in the concrete situation of the Church in Latin America.

Without the Council the Medellín meeting would not have been possible; that meeting was meant to be an impulse of spiritual renewal, a new "spirit" in the face of the future in full ecclesial fidelity in interpreting the signs of the times in Latin America. The evangelizing intention was quite clear. It is obvious in the sixteen themes dealt with, grouped about three great mutually complementary topics, namely human advancement, evangelization and growth in faith, and the visible Church and her structures.

By opting for the man of Latin America seen in his entirety, by showing preferential yet not exclusive love for the poor, and by encouraging integral liberation of individuals and peoples, Medellín, the Church present in that place, was a call of hope towards more Christian and more human goals.

But more than ten years have passed. And interpretations have been given that have been at times contradictory, not always correct, not always beneficial for the Church. The Church is therefore looking for the ways that will enable her to understand more deeply and fulfil more zealously the mission she has been given by Christ Jesus.

35 Much importance in this regard is found in the sessions of the Synod of Bishops held in the years since then, especially the session of 1974, which concentrated on Evangelization; its conclusions were put together later, in a lively and encouraging manner, in Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi.

This is the theme that we are today placing before us for study by proposing to consider "Evangelization in Latin America's Present and Future."

As we meet in this sacred place to begin our work, we see before our eyes the upper room in Jerusalem, where the Eucharist was instituted. After the Lord's Ascension the Apostles returned to the same upper room in order to devote themselves to prayer, together with Mary, the Mother of Christ, and so prepare their hearts to receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of the Church's birth.

That is also why we have come here. We also are awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit, who will make us see the paths of evangelization by which the Church must continue and must be reborn in this great continent of ours. We also wish today and in the days ahead to devote ourselves to prayer with Mary, the Mother of our Lord and Master—with you, Mother of hope, Mother of Guadalupe.

4. Let me, John Paul II, Bishop of Rome and Pope, together with my Brothers in the Episcopate representing the Church in Mexico and the whole of Latin America, at this solemn moment entrust and offer to you, the handmaid of the Lord, the whole heritage of the Gospel, the Cross, and the Resurrection, of which we are all witnesses, apostles, teachers, and bishops.

O Mother, help us to be faithful stewards of the great mysteries of God. Help us to teach the truth proclaimed by your Son and to spread love, which is the chief commandment and the first fruit of the Holy Spirit. Help us to strengthen our brethren in faith, help us to awaken hope in eternal life. Help us to guard the great treasures stored in the souls of the People of God entrusted to us.

We offer you the whole of this People of God. We offer you the Church in Mexico and in the whole continent. We offer it to you as your own, You have entered so deeply into the hearts of the faithful through that sign of your presence constituted by your image in the Shrine of Guadalupe; be at home in these hearts, for the future also. Be at home in our families, our parishes, missions, dioceses, and in all the peoples.

Do this through the Holy Church, for she, in imitation of you, Mother, wishes in her turn to be a good mother and to care for souls in all their needs, by proclaiming the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, safeguarding family life with the sacrament of Matrimony, gathering all into the Eucharistic community by means of the Holy Sacrament of the altar, and by being lovingly with them from the cradle until they enter eternity.

O Mother, awaken in the younger generation readiness for the exclusive service of God. Implore for us abundant local vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.

O Mother, strengthen the faith of our brothers and sisters in the laity, so that in every field of social, professional, cultural and political life they may act in accordance with the truth and the law brought by your Son to mankind, in order to lead everyone to eternal salvation and, at the same time, to make life on earth more human, more worthy of man.

The Church that is carrying out her task among the American nations, the Church in Mexico, wishes to serve this sublime cause with all her strength and with renewed missionary spirit. Mother, enable us to serve the Church in truth and justice. Make us follow this way ourselves and lead others, without ever straying along twisted paths and dragging others with us.

36 We offer and entrust to you everybody and everything for which we have pastoral responsibility, confident that you will be with us and will help us to carry out what your Son has told us to do (cf. Jn Jn 2,5). We bring you this unlimited trust; with this trust I, John Paul II, with all my Brothers in the Episcopate of Mexico and Latin America, wish to bind you still more strongly to our ministry, to the Church and to the life of our nations. We wish to place in your hands the whole of our future, the future of evangelization in Latin America.

Queen of the Apostles, accept our readiness to serve unreservedly the cause of your Son, the cause of the Gospel and the cause of peace based on justice and love between individuals and peoples.

Queen of Peace, save the nations and peoples of the whole continent—they have so much trust in you—from wars, hatred and subversion.

Make everybody, whether they are rulers or subjects, learn to live in peace, educate themselves for peace, and do what is demanded by justice and respect for the rights of every person, so that peace may be firmly established.

Accept our trustful offering, O handmaid of the Lord. May your maternal presence in the mystery of Christ and of the Church become a source of joy and freedom for each and every one, source of that freedom through which "Christ has set us free" (Ga 5,1), and the end a source of that peace that the world cannot give but which is only given by him, by Christ (cf. Jn Jn 14,27).

Finally, O Mother, recalling and confirming the gesture of my Predecessors Benedict XIV and Pius X, who proclaimed you Patroness of Mexico and of the whole of Latin America, I present to you a diadem in the name of all your Mexican and Latin-American children, that you may keep them under your protection, preserve their harmony in faith and their fidelity to Christ, your Son. Amen

S. John Paul II Homil. 27