Wednesday, 13 June 1979

1. "Pange, lingua, gloriosi / Corporis mysterium / Sanguinisque pretiosi..." (St Thom., Hymn at the I Vesp. of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ).

The day is now approaching, and has already practically begun, on which the Church will speak, through her solemn liturgy, in veneration of this mystery, by which she lives every day: the Eucharist. Gloriosi Corporis mysterium Sanguinisque pretiosi. The foundation and, at the same time, the summit (cf. Const. on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctuum Concilium, n.
SC 10) of the life of the Church. Her constant feast and, at the same time, her "holy everyday experience".

Every year Holy Thursday, the beginning of the Holy Triduum, gathers us in the Upper Room, where we celebrate the Memorial of the Last Supper. And this would be precisely the most suitable day to meditate with veneration, on all that the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord, constitutes for the Church. It has been seen, however, in the course of history, that this one day, the most suitable one, is not enough. It is, moreover, organically integrated in the paschal memory as a whole; the entire Passion, the Death and the Resurrection, occupy our thoughts and our hearts then. We cannot therefore say of the Eucharist everything that our hearts are full of. So since the Middle Ages, and exactly since 1264, the need of adoration, both liturgical and public, of the Blessed Sacrament has found expression in a separate solemnity, which the Church celebrates on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday, that is, tomorrow, beginning with the first vespers of the preceding day, that is, today. I wish this meditation to introduce us into the full atmosphere of the eucharistic feast.

2. "Non est alia natio tam grandis, quae habeat deos appropinguantes sibi, sicut Deus noster adest nobis". There is no other nation so great that has the Divinity so near as our God is present to us" (St Thomas, Officium SS. Corporis Christi, II Nocturn; cf. Opusc. 57).

It is possible to speak of the Eucharist in different ways. In the course of history people have already spoken of it in different ways. It is difficult to say something that has not been said already. And at the same time, whatever we may say, from whatever direction we approach this great Mystery of the faith and the life of the Church. we always discover something new. Not because our words reveal this new element. It lies in the Mystery itself. Any attempt to live with it in the spirit of faith, brings with it new light, new amazement and new joy.

"And marvelling at that, the son of thunder, and considering the sublimity of divine love..., exclaimed: `God so loved the world' (Jn 3,16).... Tell us, therefore, O blessed John, in what sense so? Tell us the measure, tell us the greatness, teach us the sublimity. God so loved the world..." (St John Chrysostom, In cap. Genes, VIII Homilia XXVII, 1; Opera omnia (Migne), 4, 241).

The Eucharist brings us closer to God in a stupendous way. And it is the Sacrament of his closeness to man. God in the Eucharist is precisely this God who wished to enter the history of man. He wished to accept humanity itself. He wished to become a man. The Sacrament of the Body and Blood reminds us continually of his Divine Humanity.

We sing "Ave, verum corpus, natum ex Maria Virgine". And living with the Eucharist, we find again all the simplicity and depth of the mystery of Incarnation.

It is the Sacrament of God's descent to man, of his approach to everything that is human. It is the Sacrament of Divine "condescension" (cf. St John Chrysostom, In Genes 3, 8: Homilia XXVII, 1; PG 53,134). The divine entrance into human reality reached its climax by means of the passion and death. By means of the passion and death on the Cross, the Son of God Incarnate became, in a particularly radical way, the Son of Man, who shared right to the end what is the condition of every man. The Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood, reminds us above all of this death, which Christ suffered on the cross; reality in a certain way, that is, without blood. This is testified by the words spoken in the Upper Room about the bread and the wine separately, the words which, by the institution of Christ, bring about the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood; the Sacrament of death, which was an expiatory sacrifice. The Sacrament of death, in which all the power of love was expressed. The Sacrament of death, which consisted in giving his life to win back fullness of life.

"Manduca vitam, bibe vitami: habebis vitam, et integra est vita ("Eat life, drink life: you will have life, and it is complete life") (St Augustine, Sermones ad populum, Series 1, Sermo CXXXI. I, 1).

By means of this Sacrament, the death that gives life is continually proclaimed, in the history of man (cf. 1Co 11,26).

It is continually realized in that very simple sign, which is the sign of the Bread and Wine. In it God is present and close to man with that penetrating closeness of his death. on the cross, from which there sprang the power of Resurrection. Man, by means of the Eucharist, becomes a participant in this power.

45 3. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Communion. Christ gives himself to each of us, who receive him under the eucharistic species. He gives himself to each of us, who eat the eucharistic Food and drink the eucharistic Drink. This eating is a sign of Communion. It is a sign of spiritual union, in which 'man receives Christ, is offered participation in his Spirit, finds in him again, particularly intimate, his relationship with the Father; feels access to him particularly close.

A great poet says (Mickiewocz. Evening Talks):

"I speak to you, who reign in heaven and at / the same time are a guest in the house of my spirit... / I speak to you! Words fail me for You; / Your thought listens to every thought of mine; / You reign far away and serve close at hand, / King in heaven and in my heart on the cross...".

In fact, we approach eucharistic Communion by first reciting "Our Father".

Communion is a bilateral tie. We should say, therefore, that not only do we receive Christ, not only does each of us receive him in this eucharistic sign, but that Christ too receives each of us. In this Sacrament he accepts man always, so to speak; he makes him his friend, as he said in the Upper Room: "You are my friends" (
Jn 15,14). This welcome and acceptance of man by Christ is an extraordinary favour. Man feels very deeply the desire to be accepted. All man's life turns in this direction, that he may be welcomed and accepted by God; and the Eucharist expresses that sacramentally. Yet man must, as St Paul says: "examine himself" (cf. 1Co 11,28), to see if he is worthy of being accepted by Christ. The Eucharist is, in a certain sense, a constant challenge to man to try to be accepted, to adapt his conscience to the demands of holy divine Friendship.

4. We wish to express, in the framework of today's solemnity, as well as on next Sunday and on the individual days, this particular, public veneration and love, with which we always surround the Blessed Sacrament. Allow my thoughts, at this moment, to go back once more to Poland, from which I returned a few days ago. Those were days of a special pilgrimage in the land in which I was born and brought up, among men to whom I do not cease to be bound with the deepest ties of faith, hope and charity. I wish, once more, to thank all my fellow countrymen heartily. I thank the State Authorities; I thank my Brothers in the Episcopate; I thank everyone.

Well it was exactly there, in my native land, that I learned fervent veneration and love for the Eucharist. I learned there the cult for the Body of the Lord. For centuries there have been held, on the feast of "Corpus Domini", eucharistic processions in which my fellow-countrymen tried to express publicly and as a community what the Eucharist represents for them. And they still do so today. So I unite with them spiritually, while for the first time I have the joy of celebrating the solemnity of the Body and the Blood of Christ here, in the Eternal City, in which Peter, from generation to generation. answers Christ in a certain way: "Lord, you know that I love you...

At the conclusion of the audience the Pope expressed solidarity with missionaries expelled from Burundi:

I cannot conceal from you, dearest Brothers and Sisters, the feeling of acute and profound sorrow which I experienced in my heart on learning the grave news of the expulsion of seventy missionaries from the Republic of Burundi last week while I was in Poland. They are priests, Sisters and laity of missionary institutes and enterprises, known and esteemed for their commitment to evangelization in the whole world. My solidarity is, above all, for the Catholic communities of the dioceses, and in the first place for their Pastors, suddenly deprived of valuable qualified help in various sectors of pastoral life, of the training of the clergy, of schools and works of charity and of human advancement. My affectionate thought goes out to those missionaries uprooted from the Lord's vineyard to which they were dedicated.

Likewise I am profoundly saddened by the thought that the Church, universal in her mission and in her concern for all peoples, and which, even in the midst of difficulties, can never cease "to feel herself at home" in any country of the world—Burundi, moreover, has a considerable Catholic population—has not had time to examine in what matter someone may have failed—if there has been a failure—in the loyalty and respect which our religious mission demands and which we observe everywhere in regard to civil Authorities and institutions. If it should happen that someone has not behaved well, I think that the Church Authority has reason to expect confidence on the part of the civil Authority, and all the more so if the Church has official relations with the latter. The Church has given proof of a spirit of collaboration and can, if necessary, intervene and correct, while on her part she cannot but rely on a spirit of understanding and of dialogue of the civil Authorities.

Dear Sons, pray with me that there may be preserved for the Church in Burundi the spiritual help of the missionaries, that the wound may be healed and dialogue resumed, and that it may develop to the advantage of the Catholic community and of the entire nation of Burundi which is so dear to me.

Wednesday, 20 June 1979

1. On the day after tomorrow, Friday next, the liturgy of the Church is concentrated with particular adoration and love around the mystery of the Heart of Christ. Today, therefore, anticipating this day and this feast, already, together with you, I wish to turn the eyes of our hearts to the Mystery of that Heart. It has spoken to me ever since my youth. Every year I return to this mystery in the liturgical rhythm of the time of the Church.

It is well-known that the month of June is dedicated particularly to the Divine Heart, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We express to it our love and our adoration by means of the litany which in the single invocations speaks with particular depth of its theological contents.

I wish, therefore, at least briefly, to stop together with you before this Heart, which the Church, as a community of human hearts, addresses. I wish, at least briefly, to speak of this mystery, such a human one, in which God revealed himself with such simplicity and, at the same time, depth and strength.

2. Today let the texts of the Friday liturgy speak for us, beginning with the reading of the Gospel according to John. The Evangelist reports a fact with the precision of an eye witness.

"Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water." (
Jn 19,31-34).

Not a word about his heart.

The Evangelist speaks only of the piercing of his side with a spear, and the coming out of blood and water. The language of the description is almost medical, anatomical. The soldier's spear certainly penetrated the heart, to make sure that the Condemned Man was already dead. This heart—this human heart—has stopped working. Jesus has ceased to live. At the same time, however, this anatomical opening of Christ's heart after his death—in spite of all the historical "severity" of the text—drives us to think also at the metaphorical level. The heart is not just an organ that conditions the biological vitality of man. The heart is a symbol. It speaks of the whole inner man. It speaks of the spiritual interior of man. And tradition at once re-read this meaning of John's description. In a certain sense, moreover, the Evangelist himself gave an inducement to do so when, referring to the attestation of the eye witness that was he himself, he referred, at the same time, to this sentence of Holy Scripture:

·"They shall look on him whom they have pierced." (Jn 19,37 Za 12,10).

So, actually, does the Church look; so does humanity look. And lo, in the One pierced by the soldier's spear all the generations of Christians have learned and learn to read the mystery of the Heart of the Crucified Man who was and is the Son of God.

3. Different is the measure of the knowledge that many disciples, men and women, of the Heart of Christ have acquired of this mystery in the course of the centuries. One of the leading figures in this field was certainly Paul of Tarsus, who, from being a persecutor, was converted and became an Apostle. He, too, speaks to us in the Friday liturgy with the words of the Letter to the Ephesians. He speaks as a man who has received a great grace, since it was granted to him "to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things" (Ep 3,8-9).

Those "riches of Christ" and at the same time that "eternal plan of salvation" of God are addressed by the Holy Spirit to the "inner man", "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ep 3,16-17). And when Christ, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, dwells through faith in our human hearts, then we will be able "to comprehend." with our human spirit (that is, precisely with this "heart") "what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge..." (Ep 3,18-19).

For such knowledge acquired with the heart, with every human heart, the Divine Heart of the One who was condemned and crucified on Calvary was opened at the end of his earthly life.

Different is the measure of this knowledge on the part of human hearts. Before the power of Paul's words, let each of us question himself on the measure of his own heart. "...(we shall) reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows every thing." (1Jn 3,19-20). The Heart of the God-Man does not judge human hearts. The Heart calls. The Heart "invites". That was the purpose for which it was opened with the soldier's spear.

47 4. The mystery of the heart opens up through the wounds of the body; the great mystery of piety opens up, the deep feelings of mercy of our God open up (St Bernard, Sermo LXI„ 4: PL 183, 1072).

Christ speaks in the Friday liturgy: "Learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (
Mt 11,29).

Only once, perhaps, did the Lord Jesus refer to his own heart, in his own words. And he stressed this sole feature: "gentleness and lowliness": as if he meant that it is only in this way that he wishes to conquer man; that by means of "gentleness and lowliness" he wishes to be the King of hearts. The whole mystery of his reign was expressed. in these words. Gentleness and lowliness cover, in a certain sense, all the "riches" of the Redeemer's heart, of which St Paul wrote to the Ephesians. But also that "gentleness and lowliness" reveal him fully; and enable us to get to know him and accept him; they make him the object of supreme admiration.

The beautiful litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is composed of many similar words—more, exclamations of admiration for the riches of the Heart of Christ. Let us meditate on them carefully on that day.

5. Thus, at the end of this fundamental liturgical cycle of the Church—which began with the first Sunday of Advent and passed through the time of Christmas, then of Lent and of the Resurrection up to Pentecost, the Sunday of Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi—the feast of the Divine Heart, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, presents itself discreetly. All this cycle is enclosed definitively in it; in the Heart of the Man-God. From it, too, the whole life of the Church irradiates every year.

This Heart is "A source of life and holiness".

At the conclusion of the audience the Pope spoke to the following groups:

To the diocesan ecclesiastical assistants of Catholic Action Youth:

I now address an affectionate thought to the Diocesan Ecclesiastical Assistants of Catholic Action Youth, who are gathered in Rome for their Meeting in these days. Dear friends, I thank you for your presence, but above all I thank you for your commitment in favour of the young, for their human maturity and for their Christian formation. May the Lord accompany you, enlighten you and sustain .you always. Imitate Jesus, Teacher and Friend, for the spiritual and moral salvation of your young people!

48 To the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and the Adoring Sisters of the Blood of Christ:

I then greet the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, with the Adoring Sisters of the Blood of Christ, who are accompanying a numerous pilgrimage organized on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Canonization of their Founder, San Gaspare del Bufalo.

In the glorious memory of their dedicated Founder, I exhort them to meditate always with generous commitment on the Mystery of the Blood of Christ, shed for the salvation of mankind.

To the young people:

Beloved children and young people! I wish to address a word of special affection to you, who are always numerous and lively.

You have started the summer holidays and you are certainly pleased about it! And I, too, am happy for you and with you!

Enjoy your holidays! But make them also a period of constant and courageous commitment to become better. Let your play, your stay in the mountains or by the seaside, your excursions, your carefree joyfulness, always be united with the resolution to be good, in friendship with Jesus in the Eucharist, as we meditated on the solemnity of "Corpus Christi".

May my prayer and my Blessing accompany you.

To the sick:

And now my greeting is addressed to the dear sick, present at this Audience.

Last Sunday, we celebrated the solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, of Emmanuel, which. means God with us, present under the appearances of the bread and the wine. Christ, immutable in his feelings of tenderness and mercy, as he once did along the roads of Palestine, still today, from the silent but most eloquent presence of the consecrated Host, addresses to the multitudes and in particular to the sick and suffering the consoling words:

"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (
Mt 11,28).

Make this invitation your own. Accept it in your heart, with my Blessing.

To the newlyweds:

My most fervent good wishes for the newly weds, gathered here to see the Pope and receive his Blessing on their newborn home.

To you, too, beloved sons and daughters, who have recently received, through the sacrament of marriage, a treasure of grace entrusted to a frail vessel of clay, I wish to address an encouraging thought, prompted by the :feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, recently celebrated.

Jesus in the Eucharist is at your disposal to help you with his presence, to strengthen you with his perennial and ever-renewed mystical sacrifice, to gladden you with his sweet communion. Let your love be pure, generous and faithful, in Jesus in the Eucharist. Let my Blessing accompany you in your generous resolutions.

To the board members of the Committee of Religion and Art of America:

I wish to extend a special welcome to the Board Members of the Committee of Religion and Art of America. I am happy to assure you that like my predecessor Paul VI I too wish to see continued the Church’s dialogue of salvation with the artists of the world, and to see faithfully expressed in art that transcendent humanism which reflects a total view of the human person. I am grateful for your generous collaboration in this cause, and I invoke upon you and your families the uplifting blessings of joy and peace.

Appeal for Indo-Chinese Refugees

Urged on by the love of Christ—"Caritas Christi urget nos"—this evening I wish to raise my voice to invite you to turn your minds and hearts to the drama that is taking place in the countries and on the distant seas of South East Asia—a drama that is involving hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters. These people are looking for a homeland, because the countries that at first received them have reached the limits of their capacities, while at the same time the offers to accept them permanently in other countries are so far proving insufficient.

For this reason, the plan, to hold an international conference of the countries concerned (and what country could feel uninvolved in this tragedy?) cannot fail to be strongly encouraged. May such a conference be held as quickly as possible! The Holy See hopes that such a meeting will lead the various Governments to make effective arrangements for accepting the refugees from Indo-China, for allowing them transit, and for their permanent settlement.

I express my admiration for the action already undertaken by some countries, as also by international organizations and many private initiatives. But the problem. is so great that the weight of it cannot be left for long upon the shoulders of only a few. I appeal to the conscience of humanity, that all should take their share of responsibility, both the peoples and those who govern them, in the name of a solidarity that goes beyond frontiers, races and ideologies.

The community of the Church has already performed a great work of charity and of mutual assistance, and I am very pleased about this. But it can do still more, and I am sure it wishes to. The Pastors in their dioceses will encourage the faithful, and will remind them, in the name of the Lord, that every man, every woman., every child in need, is our neighbour. Parishes, Catholic organizations, religious communities and also Christian families will find the means of expressing their love for the refugees. Let each one make a personal commitment to make a concrete gesture, as far as individual generosity and love-inspired creativity allows.

Wednesday, 27 June 1979 - The Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, Witnesses to the Love of Christ

"Pretiosa in conspectu Domini mors sanctorum eius."

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (
Ps 116,15).

With these words of Psalm 116 allow me to begin today's meditation, which I wish to dedicate to the memory of the Holy Founders and Patrons of the Roman Church. In fact the solemn day of 29 June is approaching, in which the whole Church, but especially Rome, will remember the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. This day has been consolidated in the memory of the Roman Church as the day of their death. The day that united them with the Lord, whose Coming they awaited, whose Law they observed, and from whom they received "the crown of life" (cf. 2Tm 4,7-8 Ga 1,12).

The day of death was for them the beginning of the New Life. The Lord himself revealed this beginning to them with his own resurrection, to which they became witnesses by means of their words and their works, and also by means of their death. Everything together: the words, the works, and the death of Simon of Bethsaida, whom the Lord called Peter, and of Saul of Tarsus, who after his conversion was called Paul, is, as it were, the complement of Christ's Gospel, its penetration into the history of mankind, into the history of the world, and also into the history of this City. And really there is matter for meditation in these days, which the Lord, by means of the death of his Apostles, permits us to fill with a special memory of their lives.

"Felix per omnes festum mundi cardines / apostolorum praepollet alacriter, / Petri beati, Pauli sacratissimi, Quos Christus almo consecravit sanguine, / ecclesiarum deputavit principes" (Hymnus ad officium lectionis).

"There shines forth in all places of the world / the happy solemnity of the Apostles, / of blessed Peter and holy Paul, / whom Christ consecrated with fruitful blood / and assigned as heads of the churches" (Hymn at the Office of Readings).

51 2. When, after the resurrection, Christ had with Peter that strange conversation described by the Evangelist John, Peter certainly did not know that the words he heard then and the ones he himself spoke would be fulfilled just here—in the Rome of Nero. Three times, Christ asked him "Do you love me?", and Peter gave an affirmative answer three times. Even if at the third time "Peter was grieved" (Jn 21,17), as the Evangelist notes. Some people, thinking of the possible cause of this grief, suppose that it lies in the triple denial, of which Peter is reminded by Christ's third question. In any case, after the third answer, in which Peter did not so much give assurances of his own love, as humbly refer to what Christ himself knew in this connection—"Yes, Lord you know that I love you" (Jn 21,15)—after this third answer, there follow the words which were to be fulfilled one day, precisely here, in Rome. The Lord says: "when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go" (Jn 21,18). These mysterious words can be understood in different ways. However the Evangelist suggests their precise meaning, when he adds that in them Christ indicated to Peter "by what death he was to glorify God" (Jn 21,19).

For this reason, the day of the Apostle's death, which we commemorate the day after tomorrow, reminds us also of the fulfilment of these words. All that took place first—all the apostolic teaching and service of the Church in Palestine, then in Antioch, and finally in Rome—all this constitutes the fulfilment of that triple answer: "Lord, you know that I love you" (Jn 21,15). Day after day, year after year, all this together with all the joys and exaltations of the Apostle's soul when he looked upon the growth of the cause of the Gospel in souls; but also all the worries, the persecutions, the threats—beginning already with the one in Jerusalem, when Peter was imprisoned by order of Herod, to the last one, in Rome when the same thing was repeated by order of Nero. However, on the first occasion he was set free by the Lord by means of His Angel, whereas no longer so this time. Probably the earthly measure of love promised to the Master has been fulfilled sufficiently with Peter's life and ministry. Also this further part of the words then spoken could be fulfilled: "... another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go" (Jn 21,18).

According to tradition. Peter like Christ, died on the cross, but being aware that he was not worthy to die like the Master he asked to be crucified upside down.

3. Paul came to Rome as a prisoner, after appealing to Caesar against the sentence of condemnation passed in Palestine (cf. Ac 25,11). He was a Roman citizen, and he had the right to appeal in this way. Therefore it is possible that he spent the last two years of his life in the Rome of Nero. He continued to teach by means of the spoken and written word (by means of the letters), but perhaps he was no longer able to leave the city. His missionary journeys, which had brought him to the main towns of the Mediterranean world, were over. In this way the announcement about the "chosen instrument to carry my name (the Lord's) before the Gentiles..." (Ac 9,15), was fulfilled.

In the course of just over thirty years from Christ's death, from his resurrection and ascension to the Father, the region of the Mediterranean Sea and therefore the area of the Empire had gradually been populated with the first Christians. All this was, to a considerable extent, the result of the missionary activity of the Apostle of the Gentiles. And if, among all these solicitudes, the desire "to depart and be with Christ" (Ph 1,23) did not abandon him, it was just here in Rome that this desire came true.

The Lord directed him to Rome at the end of his life, in order that he might be a witness to Peter's ministry not only among the Jews, but also among the pagans, and to bring there the living testimony of the development of the Church "to the end of the earth" (cf. Ac 1,8), so as to outline the first form of her universality. The Lord brought it about it about that he, Paul, the indefatigable Apostle and servant of this universality, should pass the last years of his life here, near Peter, who has taken root like a rock in this place, to be the support and the stable point of reference for this same universality.

"O Roma felix, quae tantorum principum / es purpurata pretioso sanguine, / non laude tua, sed ipsorum meritis / excellis omnem mundi pulchritudinem (Hymnus ad Vesperas).

"O happy Rome, red with the precious / blood of such great princes, / not because of your fame, but because of their merits / you excel all the beauty of the world" (Hymn at Vespers).

4. At the approach of 29 June, feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, many thoughts crowd into our minds and many feelings into our hearts. Above all, the need of prayer increases, in order that Peter's ministry may find new understanding in the Church of our times, and that the dimension may always increase of the missionary universality which St Paul, by staying here as a prisoner in the last years of his life, brought to such a great extent to the history of the Roman Church.

And the Lord, who promised Peter to build his Church "on the Rock" continues to be propitious to this Rock which has taken its place in the soil of the Eternal City, made fertile with the blood of its Founders.

52 To various groups:

At today's Audience I see a great many Religious present, and among them a group of Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception, gathered for their General Chapter, and the Superiors of the houses of the Confederation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri. To you beloved Religious, and also to all the sisters, I extend my sincere thanks for what you do in favour of the Church, while I express the wish that you will always be fervent in spirit and joyful and courageous witnesses of Christ in the world.

I then extend a welcome to participants in the study meeting organized by the Italian Association of Catholic Teachers! May the Divine Master always illumine your minds with his light, strengthen your wills and your hearts with his grace, and make your generous educational effort fruitful in good!

I am happy, furthermore, to greet, among the many pilgrimages, those of the dioceses of Caltanissetta, Parma, and Pavia, led by their respective Bishops. Let my grateful appreciation for this visit reach everyone. I address my fatherly exhortation to all to strengthen their Christian faith at the tomb of the Apostle Peter. I invoke abundant heavenly favours of joy and prosperity on all and willingly impart my Blessing as a token thereof.

To young people:

And now a hearty greeting to all the boys and girls present here. Beloved in Christ, the hope you represent for the Church and society will be fulfilled if you really understand that, "Jesus Christ being the truth of the whole man", faith in him must become the source of the criterion to deal with all the problems of existence. I exhort you, therefore, to let faith inspire your behaviour in every circumstance. May my blessing accompany you.

To the sick:

Beloved sick friends, I address particularly affectionate greeting to you and I recall to you the words of St Peter to the first Christians: "If when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God's approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (
1P 2,21-22). They are words that are always relevant and always valid for you and for everyone! May they give you light and comfort. I bless you all willingly.

To newlyweds:

Beloved newlyweds! Thank you for your presence!

To your who are beginning a new life in this society of ours, which is certainly not an easy one I wish to recall St Paul's words to his disciple Timothy: "God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control; Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord,... but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling" (2Tm 1,7-8).

Be courageous, you too, in bearing witness to your faith and your commitment of sanctification.

May my blessing sustain you in this effort.

To a group of pilgrims from Nigeria:

My special welcome goes to the pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of Onitsha. God bless you and all Nigeria.

To members of the United States military:

I offer a particular word of greeting also to the officers and men of the aircraft carrier "Eisenhower", and to the members of the United States military stationed in Germany, as well as to the directors of the USO, under the auspices of the American Catholic Club of Rome, celebrating its thirty-first anniversary. May the Lord assist you in your activities of service.

                                                                                  July 1979