S. John Paul II Homil. 87


13 May 197

1. "Abide..."

The word that returns most often to the readings of the Fifth Sunday of Easter is precisely the word "Abide". With this word the Risen Christ, who had first been crucified, invites us to union with him. He presents this union to us, referring to a simile drawn from nature. The branches abide in the vine and for this reason they bear fruit. They cannot do so by themselves if this organic link with life is lacking. In this case, in fact, there remain only twigs and dry branches, which are gathered and thrown into the fire because they can be used as firewood. On the other hand, as long as the branches remain in the vine and draw vital sap from it, they continue to be real branches. They form one thing with the vine, and are even defined together with it with the same name "the vine". They also deserve careful attention on the part of the owner, the vine-dresser. He looks carefully at every vine and every branch.

If it bears fruit, "he prunes it" so that it may bear even more fruit. But if it does not bear fruit, be removes it so that it will not get in the way, and with its fruitless growth weigh down the vine.

Here is the simile.

88 Here is the image in which there is expressed everything that had to be said in order that listeners would understand—first: the mystery, of spiritual abiding in Christ; and then: the duty of producing spiritual fruits owing to the fact that they abide in him. For this reason the Master uses at the same time descriptive language, showing the branch that remains in the vine, and normative language, giving an order; he says, "abide in me".

2. In what does this "abiding" in Jesus Christ consist? St John himself, who included the allegory of the vine in his Gospel, offers an answer to this question as author of the first letter. "All who keep his commandments abide in him (God), and he (God) in them (
1Jn 3,24). This is the most evident proof. The Apostle almost seems to hesitate in answering the question whether it is possible to establish and ascertain, with the help of some criterion that is verifiable, such a mysterious reality as the abiding of God in man, and thanks to that of man in God. This reality is strictly spiritual in nature. Is it possible to ascertain, to check this reality? Can man have the certainty that his works are good, pleasing to God and that they serve His abiding in his soul? Can man be certain that he is in a state of grace?

The Apostle answers this question is if he were answering himself and us at the same time: "if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God" (1Jn 3,21), the confidence that we abide in him and he in us. And if, on the contrary, we have reasons for apprehension, it is from active love of God and of our brothers that we will be able to derive interior certainty and peace, we will be able to "reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" (cf. Jn Jn 3,20). Then, too, we do not cease to be in the range of his love, which can change the state of sin into the state of grace and make our heart once more the dwelling of the Living God. All that is necessary is our response to his love. Love is the principle of divine Life in our souls. Love is the law of our abiding in Christ: of the branch in the vine.

Let us love, therefore—St John writes—let us love "in deed and in truth" (1Jn 3,18). Let our love prove its interior truth by means of deeds. Let us defend ourselves from the appearances of love .... "let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our hearts before him" (1Jn 3,18-19). "And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us" (Jn 3,24).

3. We meet today, dear Brothers and Sisters, in St Stanislaus' church in Rome, to begin here the Jubilee of the ninth centenary of the martyrdom of the Patron Saint of Poland. It has started simultaneously in Krakow, in conformity with the very ancient Polish tradition: 8 May and the Sunday that immediately follows this day.

Every year this solemnity is the patronal feast of the Church in Poland, and it is closely connected with the solemnity of the White Mountain Queen of Poland, on 3 May, and the feast of St Wojciech (Adalbert) at Gniezno, on 23 April.

In the current year, which, in relation to the ninth centenary of St Stanislaus' death has been proclaimed a jubilee year, this annual feast of Krakow constitutes the beginning of the religious celebrations, the culminating point of which will occur on the Sunday of Pentecost and that of the Holy Trinity.

The usual gathering of Poles in the Roman church of St Stanislaus recalls the important initiative of the Servant of God, Cardinal Stanislaw Hozjusz, Bishop of Warmia and one of the Pope's legates at the Council of Trent, who founded St Stanislaus' hospice precisely at this church. The Cardinal, born at Krakow, and therefore spiritually sensitive to the cult of the Holy Bishop and Martyr, wished to designate this place in Rome with his name, as if to remind his fellow-countrymen in Poland that they had remained in union with St Peter's See for many centuries and must continue to remain in this union. In the year 1579 that great ecclesiastic, a close friend of St Charles Borromeo, died and was buried in St Mary's church in Trastevere, that is, in the church which is at present the titular church of the Cardinal Primate of Poland. The fourth centenary of Cardinal Hozjusz' death coincides with St Stanislaus' jubilee this year.

4. Dear Fellow-countrymen! The eloquence of the facts is such that it enables us to understand more adequately and deeper the Gospel of the vine and the branches this Sunday. We have abided in union with Christ since the time of the baptism of Poland and this spiritual union finds its visible expression in union with the Church. In the year of the anniversary of St Stanislaus' death we owe special gratitude to God who accepted the sacrifice of martyrdom and strengthened by this martyrdom our link with Christ living in the Church. And just as, during the millennium, we have sung the "Te Deum" of thanks for the gift of faith and baptism, so we should sing the "Te Deum" this year in thanksgiving for the strengthening of what started with baptism.

And at the same time, meditating on the allegory of the vine and the branches, let us look at the figure of that "Owner" who cultivates the vineyard, looks after every branch solicitously and, if need be, "prunes" it so that it may bear more fruit. Understanding the meaning of this allegory more deeply, let us pray ardently and humbly, each one for himself and everyone for everyone, that the branches will not wither and break away from Christ, who is the vine. Let us pray that the forces of irreligiousness, the forces of death, may not be more powerful than the forces of life, the lights of faith. We have lit up over Poland and over Poles all over the world the lights of the millennium. Let us all strive so that they will not be extinguished. May they shine in the same way as the cross of Stanislaus of Szczepanow shines in the hearts and consciences of Poles, indicating to them Christ who continues to be "the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14,6) of men and of nations.

And now I would like to add a word for the Italian-speaking faithful gathered here.

89 We meet in this Roman church of St Stanislaus to begin the jubilee of the ninth centenary of the martyrdom of the Patron Saint of Poland, as is happening simultaneously also in Krakow. While I thank you, I invite you, too, to participate with your thought, and above all with your prayer, in this great solemnity of the Poles. St Stanislaus' church, in which we are gathered, represents in itself a concrete link between the city of Rome and my land of origin, since it was founded by the Polish Cardinal Stanislaus Hozjusz, a native of Krakow and Bishop of Warmia, Papal Legate at the Council of Trent, who died in 1579.

Beloved, today we read at Mass the Gospel of the vine and the branches. Jesus' word is for us all a stimulus to remain united with the Lord, separated from whom we are, on the contrary, destined to wither and die. Poland, since the time of its baptism, has remained faithfully united with Christ and expresses this spiritual bond of faith and love by means of visible integration in the Church. Well, on the anniversary of St Stanislaus' martyrdom, we must thank the Lord particularly, who accepted the sacrificial offering of that life, by means of which our link with Christ living in the Church was strengthened.

Let us pray together, therefore, humbly and ardently, that we may never separate from the Lord, and that the forces of faith and life in the Lord may never succumb to those of disbelief and death. Amen.

Praised be Jesus Christ.


15 May 1979

Revered and Beloved Confreres of the Italian Episcopate!

1. "Let not your hearts be troubled" (Jn 14,1).

Christ utters these words when he has to leave this world, for he says: "I go... I will come again" (cf. Jn Jn 14,2-3). He utters them, aware that "the ruler of this world is coming" (Jn 14,30), while he himself will have to face the ordeal of the Cross. Far more than his disciples he is aware of what will happen to him, of the course events will take in the next few days, and of how the history of the Church and of the world will proceed. Yet he utters these words which contain an appeal for courage: "Let not your hearts be troubled". And almost in contrast with all of which he was deeply conscious, he precedes this appeal with a greeting of peace, with the assurance of peace: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." (Jn 14,27).

As can be seen, we are in this magnificent paschal setting, nearly always in the Upper Room: there where the Church, on Holy Thursday, received the Eucharist, and where, at Pentecost, she was to receive the Spirit of truth. We are at the beginnings of the Church.

2. At the same time, we already enter her history. As in a kaleidoscope, there pass before us the events which bear witness how the words uttered by Jesus Christ in the Upper Room are put into practice in the lives of the first generation of Christians, which is the apostolic generation. In today's liturgy, in fact, we find ourselves in the tracks of the first missionary journey of St Paul who, persecuted by the Jews and threatened with death, proclaims the Gospel. At Lystra, after stoning him, they dragged him out of the city and left him alone when they thought he was dead. But Paul gets up and returns to the city, later going to Iconium and Antioch. Everywhere he organizes the Church, "appointing elders for them in every church" (Ac 14,23). He considers the ordeals he has to face as a normal thing, since in no other way, but only through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (cf. Acts Ac 14,22). In these words we hear, as it were, an echo of the words that the Lord addressed to the disciples on the way to Emmaus: "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lc 24,26).

In this way the early Church grows from all these experiences: it grows by means of the faith that springs from the proclamation of the Gospel made by the Apostles and sustained by prayer and fasting; it grows through the power of God's own grace. And those who construct it bear witness to it.

90 3. The duty of all of us, who today are celebrating the Eucharist together here, in the Sistine Chapel, is to serve in order that the Church may grow in our age, grow in these difficult Times New Roman of ours; that it may grow also in the midst of adversities and threats; that it will be able to assume the fruit of the new experiences of this Italian land, of this People which, for two thousand years, has been so closely linked with the history of the Gospel, and St Peter's See; this People whose history is entirely imbued, in an exceptional way, with the spiritual influence of Christianity. It is not necessary, in fact, to explain what is the position of Rome and, therefore, of Italy in the context of the whole Catholic Church. It is a question of a privilege, not due to attributions of human origin, far less to usurpation of power, but corresponding to a mysterious plan of the Lord, for it was he who drove his apostles Peter and Paul towards the shores of Italy and along the way to Rome to bring the proclamation of the Gospel and to confirm it with the sacrifice of their lives.

For this reason, at the important moment of our common service, I meet you today, venerable and dear Brothers of the individual Churches of Italy, in an official way, after the numerous meetings I have had here and there with many of you in the last few months. I owe you in the first place a greeting, which is inspired both by sentiments of respect and friendship for each of you and by the far higher reasons of faith and charity. And—I beg you, beloved Brothers—kindly take this greeting of mine to the faithful of each of the Churches entrusted to you.

You are Bishops of the Church of God which is in Italy: or rather—because of the well-known geographical, historical, and theological reasons which, providentially intermingled, put Rome at the centre of Italy and at the same time of the Catholic world—it is necessary to say: We are the Bishops of this Church; together, you and I, are. And in me, called to Rome "nullis meis meritis, sed sola dignatione misericordiae Domini", that calls for a special consciousness of being the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church precisely because I am Peter's successor in this blessed Roman See; and I say, further, the consequent responsibility of having to think and operate—in line, certainly, with the "sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum" of which St Paul spoke (
2Co 11,28)—with very special attention and care for the increase of the spiritual and religious life of this holy City.

And from here, by natural connection or expansion, this special solicitude extends to the other Churches which are near the Church of Rome: the ancient suburbicarian sees, then the Churches of the Region of Latium, then those comprised in the ancient " Patrimonium S. Petri", and gradually to all those in the whole of Italy. It is precisely pastoral duty which obliges me to promote the cause of evangelization and to stimulate ecclesial life in the whole Peninsula, with the contribution of full dedication and constant and humble commitment.

4. A Bishop with you and like you of the Church in Italy, I cannot ignore the particular problems that arise in our days, in the concrete framework of the social, cultural, and civil circumstances in which the whole country lives. I will tell you, in this connection, that in March last I was able to read the well-thought-out "introduction", which your President, Cardinal Antonio Poma, delivered to the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) specifically in view of this Sixteenth General Assembly. It should be kept in mind, he said, that "the ministry of evangelization is carried out and reaches maturity at a given time and in a particular area, which we must know and evaluate". I have examined, too, the draft of the pastoral document on "Seminaries and Priestly Vocations" which you will discuss in these days. I am aware that this document constitutes the programme for the year 1979-80 and, pointing out that it bears the same date as my recent Letter to Priests, I emphasize with pleasure that it agrees with what is for me a motive for most devoted care.

Without wishing now to anticipate conclusions that should spring from the reflection of your Assembly, I am anxious to express, by way, as it were, of personal adherence, my sincere satisfaction at this work. This sentiment is prompted by a series of points contained in it: for example, the consistency of the theme of sacred vocations and Seminaries with the subjects dealt with in preceding years, which all hinged on evangelization, and the last of which was entitled precisely "evangelization and ministries"; furthermore, the topical interest of the theme and its correspondence with the requirements of the present time, in which the drop that has taken place in the last fifteen years or so is making more acute the problem of the service that is specifically assigned to the ministerial priesthood within the People of God.

Now, in the middle of our eucharistic assembly, we must look at the question of vocations in its exact ecclesiological and Christological dimension, and we must, above all, make it the object of more insistent invocation to "the Lord of the harvest." Every priestly vocation, as it springs from the voice of the Lord, is assigned to service of the Church, and it is therefore within the Church that the problem of the desired revival of sacred vocations must be inserted, studied, and solved. While keeping in mind socio-statistical investigations, we must convince ourselves that this problem is connected in the closest way with the whole of ordinary pastoral care. Vocation means a relationship, in the first place, with the life of the parish, the influence of which is of fundamental importance for it from the most different points of view: those of liturgical animation, the community spirit, the validity of Christian witness, the personal example of the parish priest and the priests who assist him. But there is a quite special relationship with family life: where there is an effective and enlightened family apostolate, just as it becomes normal to accept life as a gift from God so it is easier for God's voice to resound and to find a more generous hearing. There is another special relationship with the apostolate of youth, because there is no doubt that, if the young are followed, assisted, and educated in faith by priests who live their priesthood in a worthy way, it will not be difficult to pick out and discover those among them who are called, and to help them to walk along the way indicated by the Lord. You understand, beloved Brothers, how necessary a great mobilization of apostolic forces is in this connection, starting from the fundamental environments of Christian life: the parishes, families, youth associations and groups.

As for the Christological aspect, it is likewise essential, in order to discern clearly the fitness and quality of those called, to look to Christ the eternal Priest and take from him, from his ministry, from his priesthood, the exact measure and draw the genuine lines of priestly service. And, above all, prayer remains indispensable: we must pray tirelessly, we must pray even today, even now, in such a way that, thanks to this concelebration of ours, there will grow in us not only awareness of the problem of vocations but also the certainty of unfailing divine assistance. Once more we wish to and must, pray fervently "the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest" (Mt 9,38 Lc 10,2). It will be a prayer raised in Christ's name; it will, therefore, be granted and will help you greatly in the work of deep study and reflection which you are about to dedicate to such a serious and delicate subject.

5. I also know of other particular subjects to which, Venerable Brothers, you will give your attention in these days. For them, too, I must express to you my approval and appreciation. I am thinking of the fine text of the "Catechism of the Young", regarding which I repeat publicly what I have already written to His Eminence the President, who presented me with a copy of it in advance: it is a text which is to be recommended for its pastoral wisdom and pedagogical experience. And I know of the other volume which, with equal commitment, is being prepared for adults. But with regard to the predominant theme, I wish to point out the fundamental value of catechesis for the revival of vocations. If ordinary pastoral care finds in catechesis one of its highest forms and one of its most suitable means, it follows that catechesis, as well as meeting the general purpose of evangelization, can also be directed to the specific purpose of vocations. I must, therefore, repeat what I have already said of pastoral care: it is necessary to give great development to the catechesis of youth, as well as to the catechesis of the family. The latter subject is directly linked with the theme already chosen for the next Synod of Bishops. I know that the CEI is already looking to this assembly which will meet next year, and has started the necessary preliminary researches in order to be able to offer the work of the Synod the contribution, always precious, of the Church in Italy. This, too, gives me sincere pleasure, in the conviction that the subject of the family and its tasks in the modern world is really one of prime importance.

There is, further, the circumstance of the Twentieth National Eucharistic Congress; announcing it, I will say that it has been decided to celebrate it, in 1983, to place it at a suitable interval from the International Congress of the same name, which—as you know—will be held at Lourdes in 1981. To these and other, though minor, initiatives, there go immediately my interest, my approval and solidarity.

6. With these thoughts and with these problems, we enter, venerated and dear Brothers, upon the annual assembly of the Pastors of the Church which is in Italy from the Alps to Sicily. And we listen to what the Lord says to us, as he said to the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room. We recall that his were words of peace: "Let not your hearts be troubled..." (Jn 14,1); You heard what I said to you—I am going now and later I shall return (cf. Jn Jn 14,2-3).

91 The same affirmation will be repeated by him before the Ascension: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20). We accept these words with great faith. Christ is really with us and calls us to peace and fortitude. The human heart can be troubled in different ways. It can be troubled by fear which paralyses interior forces, but it can also be troubled by that fear which springs from concern for a great good, for a great cause; from creative fear, I would say, which is manifested as a deep sense of responsibility.

The Second Vatican Council which proposed to us such a true image of the modern world, at the same time called the whole Church to a deeper sense of responsibility for the Gospel, for the history of human salvation. This pastoral responsibility for brothers, for our fellow-countrymen, weighs on each of us. It weighs in a particular way on the successor of St Peter, to whom Christ said "strengthen your brethren" (Lc 22,32); and I take it up with regard to the beloved "Church which is in Italy", in the bond of collegial union with you, Venerable and dear Brothers!

Let us recall that the Church is a Community of the People of God. Our pastoral responsibility for the Church is carried out essentially through the fact that we make all those that God has entrusted to us aware of their own responsibility, and educate them to this responsibility for the Church, and take up this responsibility in fellowship with them. This is the task that confronts the Italian Episcopate, as it confronts, moreover, all the Episcopates in the world. It is necessary to make the whole People of God aware of their responsibility and to share it with everyone; it is necessary to drive home to each one his own rights and duties in all fields of Christian life, individual, family, social and civil; it is necessary to unearth, so to speak, all the great resources of energy that lie in the souls of modern Christians and, indirectly, in all men of good will.

The Latin word "confirma" (Lc 22,32) means "strengthen", "make stronger"; but it also means the following: help (brethren) to find again the sources of this energy, which are found in the two thousand years of Christianity on this earth: the energy, I say, that the whole modern world likewise needs. And this "confirma" rests for all of us, venerable and dear Brothers, on the evangelical confide and confidite (cf. Mt 9,2 Jn 16,33). It is necessary to have trust in Christ, it is necessary to trust Christ who conquered by means of the Cross. We must have trust! And let us pray to his Holy Mother, to teach us to have this trust always, without any limit. Amen.


Monte Cassino, Italy, Friday, 18 May 1979

1. "Come, let us go up to the mountain..." (Is 2,3 cf. Mic Mi 4,2).

Let us listen today to this invitation of the Prophet and let us re-read it as an interior imperative: the imperative of conscience and the imperative of the heart. The day of 18 May morally obliges us to come up to this mountain; to stop, with prayer on our lips, before the graves of the soldiers who fell here; to look at the walls of the monastery which was then—thirty-five years ago—reduced to rubble; to remember those events; and to try, once more, to draw a lesson from them for the future.

We are walking here on the traces of a great battle, one of those that struck the decisive blow at the last war in Europe, the second great World War. In the years 1939-1945, this war involved nearly all the nations and states of our continent. It drew into its orbit also the extra-European powers. It showed the peaks of heroism of the soldiers, but it also revealed the dangerous face of human cruelty. It left behind it the traces of extermination camps, it took the lives of millions of human beings, it destroyed the fruits of the labour of many generations. It is difficult to enumerate all the calamities that fell upon man, manifesting to him—at its end—also the possibility, through the means of the most modern technique of armaments, of a possible mass annihilation of the future, before which the destruction of the past pales.

2. Who waged this war? Who carried out the work of destruction? Men and nations. This was a war of the European nations, bound to one another though they were by the traditions of a great culture: science and art deeply rooted in the past of Christian Europe. Men and nations: this was their war; and, just as victory and defeat were theirs, so also the effects of this conflict belong to them.

Why did they fight against one another, men and nations? It was certainly not the truths of the Gospel and the traditions of the great Christian culture that drove them to this terrible fratricidal slaughter. They were involved in war by the force of a system which, contrary to the Gospel and to Christian traditions, had been imposed on some peoples with ruthless violence as a programme, forcing the others, at the same time, to put up a resistance with arms in hand. In gigantic struggles, that system was defeated definitively. The day of 18 May was one of the decisive stages in that defeat.

92 Finding ourselves at Monte Cassino on the thirty-fifth anniversary of that day, we wish, through the eloquent memory of that day, to understand before God and history, the meaning of all the terrible experience of the second World War. That is not easy; in fact, in a way it becomes impossible to express in a few words what has been, and will certainly continue to be for a long time to come, the object of so many researches, studies, and monographs. All of our generation are survivors of this war which weighed upon their maturation and development, but they continue to live still in the orbit of the consequences of such a conflict. It is not easy, therefore, to speak of a problem which has such a deep dimension in the lives of us all; a problem that is still alive and connected in a certain sense with the blood and grief of so many hearts and so many nations.

3. However, if we endeavour to understand this problem before God and history, then what is more important than any settlement of accounts with the past, are the lessons for the future. The latter force themselves upon us, since history is not only the great polygon of events, but also, and above all, an open book of those lessons themselves; it is the source of wisdom of life for men and nations.

What we re-read in this book, so painfully open before us, leads us to ardent prayer, to a fervent cry for reconciliation and peace. We have come here, above all, to pray for this, and to cry in this way to God and to men. But since peace on earth depends on the goodwill of men, it is difficult not to reflect; at least briefly, on what direction all the efforts of persons of goodwill—as all should be—must take if we wish to secure this great boon of peace and reconciliation for us and for future generations.

The Gospel of today contrasts two programmes: one based on the principle of hatred, vengeance, and struggle; another on the law of love. Christ says: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (
Mt 5,44). It is a great demand. Those who survived the war, like us, who came up against the occupation, cruelty, the most brutal violation of all human rights, know how serious and difficult this demand is. Yet after such terrible experiences as the last war; we become even more aware that it is not possible to construct peace and reconciliation among men and nations on the principle that says: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" (Mt 5,38); on the principle of hatred, vengeance and struggle; it can be constructed only on the principle of justice and mutual love. And this, therefore, was the conclusion drawn from the experiences of the second world war by the Organization of the United Nations, proclaiming "the Charter of human rights". Only on the basis of full respect for the rights of men and the rights of nations—full respect!—can the peace and reconciliation of Europe and the world in future be constructed

4. Let us pray, therefore, on this place of a great battle, for freedom and justice, in order that the words of today's liturgy may become incarnate in life.

Let us pray to God who is the Father of men and of peoples, just as the Prophet prays today: "that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths... He shall judge between the nations / and shall decide for many peoples / and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, / and their spears into pruning hooks; / nation shall not lift up sword against nation, / neither shall they learn war any more..." (Is 2,34).

Let us pray in this way, keeping in mind that it is no longer a question of swords or spears, but of nuclear arms; of means of destruction which are able to reduce to nothing the land inhabited by men.

— Let us also remember that at Monte Cassino, in 1964, during the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI proclaimed St Benedict Patron Saint of Europe, referring to the millenary Benedictine traditions of work, prayer and culture, the fruit of peace and reconciliation.

— Let us remember, finally, that the place on which we stand has been made fertile by the blood of so many heroes: in front of their death for the great cause of freedom and peace, we have come to bow, once more, our heads.

The Pope here continued in Polish:

5. Beloved Fellow-countrymen!

93 This is a special moment in which I can take part with you in the present great anniversary. Thirty-five years ago the battle for Monte Cassino ended—one of the decisive battles of the last war. For us who in that period had to bear the horrible oppression of the occupation, for Poland which found itself on the eve of the insurrection of Warsaw, that battle was a further confirmation of the inflexible will to live, of the Fatherland's aspiration to independence, virtues which never for a moment abandoned us. At Monte Cassino the Polish soldier fought, here he fell, here he shed his blood, thinking of his country, of that country which is for us a beloved Mother precisely because love for her demands sacrifice and hardship.

It is not for me to dwell on the significance of this battle itself, on what the Polish soldier achieved on these rocky slopes. The inhabitants of this lovely country of Italy remember that the Polish soldier brought liberation to their country. They remember it with esteem and love. We know that this soldier at the same time went by a long and tortuous route "from the land of Italy to Poland", as on a former occasion the legions of Dabrowski.

They were guided by the consciousness of a just cause, since a just cause was and shall never cease to be the right of a nation to existence and to independent existence, to social life in the spirit of its own national and religious convictions and traditions, and to the sovereignty of its own territory.

This right of the people, violated for more than a hundred years by partition, was again threatened in September 1939. And thus, for all that period from 1 September until Monte Cassino, the Polish soldier travelled by many roads, looking to Divine Providence and to the justice of the times with his eyes on the image of Our Lady of Jasna Gora. He went again to do battle like the previous generations for "our liberty and yours".

6. Here, at Monte Cassino today, I wish to be the servant and the mouthpiece of this order of the social and international life of man which is constructed on justice and on love, according to the evangelical counsels of Christ.

It is precisely for this that I relive with you, but especially with you who fought here, the moral value of this battle. I relive it with you, Beloved Fellow-countrymen, and at the same time with all those who rest here, your companions in arms—with all, beginning with the Commander-in-Chief and the Military Ordinary—with all, down to the youngest simple soldier.

Many times have I walked in this cemetery. I have read the inscriptions on the stones giving for each one the date and place of birth. These inscriptions brought before my mind's eye the features of my Fatherland, of the country in which I was born. These inscriptions from so many places of the land of Poland, from all parts from the East to the West, from the South to the North, do not cease to cry out here in the heart of Europe, at the foot of the monastery which recalls the times of St Benedict, they do not cease to cry out as did the hearts of the soldiers who fought here.

O God, who protected Poland for so many centuries...
We bow our heads before the heroes.
Let us recommend their souls to God.
Let us recommend to God the Fatherland, Poland, Europe, the World.

S. John Paul II Homil. 87