S. John Paul II Homil. 961


Sunday, 14 February 1999

1. "Blessed are those who walk in the law of the Lord" (Responsorial Psalm).

On this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, which precedes the beginning of Lent by a few days, the liturgy speaks of the fulfilment of the law brought about by Christ. He declares that he has not come to abolish the old law but to fulfil it. By sending the Holy Spirit, he will write the law in the hearts of believers, that is, in the place where personal and responsible decisions are made. Here is that "something more" which will enable people to accept the law not as an external command, but rather as an inner choice. Thus the law promulgated by Christ is a law of "holiness" (cf. Mt Mt 5,18); it is the supreme law of love (cf. Jn Jn 15,9-12).

The passage we have just heard from the Book of Sirach also refers to the personal responsibility rooted in man's heart. It emphasizes the person's freedom regarding good and evil: "He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish" (Si 15,16). This is how we are shown the way to true happiness: by docilely listening to the law of the Lord and promptly putting it into practice.

2. Dear brothers and sisters of St Fulgentius Parish: I greet you with the words of the liturgy: "Blessed are those who walk in the law of the Lord!". I have come to visit you and to share the joys and hopes, commitments and expectations of your parish community.

First, I greet the Cardinal Vicar with the Auxiliary Bishop of this area; I greet your dear parish priest, Fr Giorgio Alessandrini, the priests who work with him, and the men and women religious who work in the neighbourhood. I would like to extend a word of special appreciation to the Sisters of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle and to the Dominican Sisters, who have made their private chapels available to the faithful for the celebration of Mass on feast-days, since the parish church cannot meet the needs of the whole community. I greet those who in various ways are involved in the associations, movements and apostolic groups, as well as in the participatory structures; they are more and more dedicated to making the parish a genuine family of believers. My thoughts also turn with affection to the children and young people, to the families, the sick and the elderly. I extend my cordial greetings to all the inhabitants of this neighbourhood.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, in our daily apostolic efforts we must not, as the Apostle Paul makes clear in the second reading, be conformed to the logic of the "wisdom of this world", but to another "secret and hidden wisdom", revealed by God in Christ and through the Spirit (cf. 1Co 2,6-10). These words spur and comfort every believer, especially the pastoral workers who wish to give deep spiritual vitality to their work, not seeking human success, but God's kingdom and his righteousness (cf. Mt Mt 6,33).

I know that you are devoting yourselves with great zeal to making your parish dynamic and open, so that it can respond to the spiritual challenges of the neighbourhood. Continue courageously on this path, giving priority to those aspects of evangelization which seek to give everyone a mature Christian formation. In the first place, foster the spiritual growth of individuals with doctrinal instruction that is firmly rooted in the tradition of the Church. To transmit zealously the patrimony of the faith demands care and methods adapted to the various age groups, without neglecting anyone: from children to young people, from families to the elderly.

962 A privileged place should also be given to family ministry and the preparation of young people and engaged couples for marriage. In this regard, I am pleased with your concern to promote their active participation in the liturgy and the way you encourage families to have a personal encounter with the Word of God. You must also give concrete witness to your solidarity with the poor and the suffering, and so reveal the heavenly Father's merciful love to all. Doctrinal soundness and an efficient pastoral organization will thus be combined with a generous openness to your brothers and sisters, especially those in trouble, by highlighting the missionary dimension which is part of every Christian community.

4. "Grant that the Christian people ... may fulfil the demands of the Gospel and become a sign of reconciliation and peace for every human being" (Collect, Messale Romano, p. 985).

This is how we prayed at the beginning of our celebration. May the Lord help us to be faithful to him and fearless in bearing witness to his message of salvation. May he help your community grow in missionary zeal, so that in the context of the City Mission it will spread the Gospel of hope in every home, wherever people live and work. The residents of this neighbourhood are waiting for it, many of whom are inclined, by their upbringing, social role or profession to consider the protection of their privacy as one of the most important values, sometimes, unfortunately, to the detriment of greater involvement in community life.

I think that the City Mission itself can be a fitting occasion for overcoming these problems. By carefully and enthusiastically inviting every resident of the neighbourhood to share in the parish the liberating experience of encountering Christ, you will help them grow together in mutual trust and in the sharing of faith.

Is this not the goal of the City Mission? I sincerely hope that your parish, like all the others in the Diocese, will follow this path of seeking out people where they live and work. As we near the historic event of the Jubilee, we are called to spread the Gospel, the leaven of authentic spiritual, social and cultural renewal, with ever greater zeal.

5. Such a great missionary task involves the whole ecclesial community and asks each member for a generous contribution. Special attention should be given to the young, called to be the evangelizers of their peers. With regard to the young, my thoughts already turn to World Youth Day of the Year 2000. Rome is preparing to welcome and intensely live that moment, which we hope will be an occasion of deep vocational enrichment for all the young men and women who take part, as they personally ask themselves: "Teacher, what good deed must I do?" (cf. Mt 19:16ff.). Let us entrust the youth of Rome, and especially of this parish, to Mary's motherly heart, so that they can respond generously to the call to holiness, fulfilling what the Lord asks of each of them.

For all of the parish community, let us ask the Blessed Virgin for the gift of accepting God's will and faithfully carrying it out in everyday life.

6. Blessed are you, Father, ... you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Gospel Acclamation).

It is to little ones that God manifests his wisdom and reveals his plans of salvation. How many times in our daily work do we experience this! How many times does the Lord choose seemingly ineffective ways to carry out his providential designs of salvation!

Blessed are you, Father, because you have revealed a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which you decreed before the ages for our glorification (cf.
1Co 2,7)!

Help us to seek always and only your wise will. Make us instruments of your love, so that we may walk in your law without halting. Open our eyes, so that we can see the wonders of this law; give us understanding, so that we may wholeheartedly obey and keep it.




Ash Wednesday, 17 March 1999

1. "Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful..." (
Jl 2,13).

With this exhortation taken from the book of the prophet Joel, the Church begins her Lenten pilgrimage, the acceptable time for returning: for returning to God from whom we have turned away. This, in fact, is the meaning of the penitential journey which starts today, Ash Wednesday: to return to the Father's house, bearing in our hearts the confession of our own guilt. The psalmist invites us to say over and over: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions" (Ps 50 [51]:1). With these sentiments, each of us sets out on the Lenten path, in the conviction that God the Father, who "sees in secret" (Mt 6,4, 6, 18), goes out to meet the repentant sinner as he returns. As in the parable of the prodigal son, he embraces him and lets him understand that, by returning home, he has regained his dignity as a son: "he was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (Lc 15,24).

In this year particularly dedicated to God the Father, Lent becomes even more important as an acceptable time for making an authentic journey of conversion, so that we may return with repentant hearts to the Father of all, who is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love" (Jl 2,13).

2. The very ancient and moving rite of ashes today opens this penitential journey. While putting ashes on the heads of the faithful, the celebrant warns each of them: "Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return!" (cf. Gn Gn 3,19).

These words also refer to a "return": the return to dust. They allude to the necessity of death and invite us not to forget that we are merely passing through this world.

At the same time, however, the expressive image of dust calls to mind the truth about creation with an allusion to the richness of the cosmic dimension of which the human creature forms a part. Lent recalls the work of salvation, to make man aware of the fact that death, a reality he must constantly face, is nevertheless not a primordial truth. Actually, it did not exist at the beginning, but, as the sad consequence of sin, it "entered the world through the devil's envy" (Sg 2,24), becoming the common inheritance of human beings.

More than to other creatures, the words: "Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return!" are addressed to man, created by God in his own image and placed at the centre of the universe. In reminding him that he must die, God does not abandon the initial plan, but rather confirms it and re-establishes it in an extraordinary way after the rupture caused by original sin. This confirmation came to pass in Christ, who freely assumed the burden of sin and willingly submitted to death. The world thus became the scene of his saving passion and death. This is the paschal mystery, to which the season of Lent directs us in a most special way.

3. "Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return!".

Human death was defeated by the death of Christ. If, then, the Lenten season directs us to relive the tragic events on Golgotha, it does so always and exclusively to prepare us to be later immersed in the fulfilment of the paschal event, that is, in the bright joy of the resurrection.

This is how we should understand the other exhortation that the Church addresses to the faithful during the distribution of ashes: "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" (Mc 1,15). What does it really mean to "be faithful to the Gospel", if not to accept the truth of the resurrection with all it entails? From the very first day of Lent, therefore, we enter into this saving horizon, exclaiming with the psalmist: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.... O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth your praise" (Ps 50 [51]:10, 15).

964 4. Lent is a time of intense prayer and extended praise; it is a time of penance and fasting. But along with prayer and fasting, the liturgy invites us to fill our day with works of charity. This is the worship pleasing to God! As I had occasion to recall in my Lenten Message, this is a fitting time for us to think of the too many who, like Lazarus, wait to collect a few crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich (cf. n. 4). The image before us is one of a banquet, the symbol of the heavenly Father's gracious providence towards all men and women (cf. n. 1). Everyone must be able to partake of it. For this reason, the Lenten practices of fasting and almsgiving not only express personsal asceticism, but also have an important social and community function: they recall the need to "convert" the model of development to a more just distribution of goods, so that everyone can live in dignity and, at the same time, creation itself may be protected.

All this, however, begins with a profound change of mentality and, more radically, with a conversion of heart. How urgent and timely, then, is this prayer: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me". Yes, O Father, create in us a clean heart; put a new and right spirit within us; "protect us in our struggle against evil ... make this day holy by our self-denial" (Opening Prayer).



Sunday, 21 February 2003

1. "Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (cf. Mt Mt 4,1).

At the beginning of the Lenten season, the liturgy shows us Jesus grappling with the tempter in the wilderness. The Son of God, severely tested by the devil, triumphs over the three basic temptations that beset every human life: concupiscence, exploitation of God and idolatry.

Satan's three deceitful suggestions: "If you are the Son of God ..." contrast with the solemn proclamation of the heavenly Father at the time of the baptism in the Jordan: "This is my beloved Son" (Mt 3,17). They are a test, then, which deeply affects the Saviour's mission. The victory won by Christ at the beginning of his public life foretells his definitive triumph over sin and death which will be achieved in the paschal mystery.

By his Death and Resurrection, Jesus will not only remove the sin of our first parents but will impart to each man and woman the superabundance of God's grace. This is what the Apostle Paul recalls in the second reading we have just heard: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous" (Rm 5,19).

2. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt 4,4).

At the beginning of Lent, an important liturgical season which invites us to conversion, Jesus' words re-echo for each of us. Let us allow "the word that proceeds from the mouth of God" to challenge us and to nourish our spirit, since "man does not live by bread alone". Above all, our hearts need God.

Dear brothers and sisters of St Raymond Nonnatus Parish, I am pleased to be among you today. I cordially greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent, your parish priest, Fr Eraclio Contu of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy, the Mercedarians, and all his confrères who share his pastoral responsibility for the parish community. I greet the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea and the residents of their institute. I greet you all, dear parishioners, and everyone living in this neighbourhood. I extend a special greeting to the members of the équipes and parish groups, the catechists, the members of the Mercedarian Youth Movement, the young people, the families and all who in various ways are actively involved in the life of the community.

965 3. Although the territory of your parish is not very large, it is made up of two very different human and social milieus. In fact, the older residences are close to the church, while further off, in the recently urbanized areas, are the newly arrived families who are still tied to their original communities. Perhaps because of their different composition, these two neighbourhoods have some difficulty in communicating and being integrated, with results that are not always positive for complete harmony in liturgical and pastoral activities.

I know that you are working to overcome these difficulties and I urge you to continue to know one another better so that you can grow together. I sincerely hope that you will strengthen the unity of the parish, making it a genuine "family of families". In this regard, the project "New Images of Parish", which you have chosen as your pastoral plan, will be a great help. I am especially pleased with the strong commitment to participation in the City Mission. For this reason too, I hope that the spirit and style of the Mission will become a permanent style of apostolic action for your community, as for all the others.

If individuals and families tend to be self-contained and find it difficult to come together in the parish - as sometimes happens in a city like Rome - the parish itself must become "missionary". That is, Christians must feel compelled to take the initiative and to reach out to their brothers and sisters in their homes, in the neighbourhood and in the places where they live and work: wherever it is possible to listen together to the one word of salvation - the Word of God - which is more indispensable than bread for everyone's life.

4. "Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned" (Responsorial ).

Lent, as we know so well, is an important time of penance and grace. This year it is an even more significant call to repentance and conversion because of the Jubilee of the Year 2000. Conversion, as you know, "includes both a "negative" aspect, that of liberation from sin, and a "positive" aspect, that of choosing good, accepting the ethical values expressed in the natural law, which is confirmed and deepened by the Gospel" (Tertio millennio adveniente
TMA 50).

Dear friends, let us live Lent in this spirit! Pay special attention to the sacrament of Penance. In the frequent reception of this sacrament, the Christian experiences divine mercy and in turn is able to forgive and to love. May the approach of the Jubilee reawaken in every believer an active interest in this sacrament; may priests be readily available to administer this indispensable sacrament with care and dedication; may places for the sacramental rite of Penance be increased in the city, with confessors available at different hours of the day, ready to dispense God's inexhaustible mercy in abundance.

5. "Have mercy on me according to your steadfast love ... wash me thoroughly from my iniquity ... create in me a clean heart ... restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit ... O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth your praise" (Responsorial ).

The prayer of David, after he was shaken by the words of the prophet Nathan, reverberate in our spirit. It is the psalm "Miserere", frequently used in the liturgy and dear to popular piety. Lent is the appropriate time to make this prayer our own and to awaken in our souls the right dispositions for meeting the God of reconciliation and peace with "a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart".

"Have mercy on me according to your steadfast love": thus as today's liturgy suggests, we will undertake our Lenten journey, O Lord, in the strength of your word, "to overcome the temptations of the Evil One and to arrive at Easter in the joy of the Spirit".




Second Sunday of Lent, 28 February 1999

966 1. "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Mt 17,5).

The Father's invitation to the disciples who where privileged witnesses of the extraordinary event of the Transfiguration still echoes today for us and for all the Church. Like Peter, James and John, we too are invited to climb Mount Tabor with Jesus and to let ourselves be awed by the splendour of his glory. On this Second Sunday of Lent, we contemplate Christ enveloped in light, in the company of Moses and Elijah, authoritative spokesmen of the Old Testament. To him we renew our personal adherence: he is the Father's "beloved Son".

Listen to him! This pressing appeal spurs us to intensify our Lenten journey. It is an invitation to let the light of Christ illumine our life and give us the strength to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to our brothers and sisters. It is a task, as we know well, which sometimes means hardship and suffering. This is also stressed by St Paul, who says to his faithful disciple Timothy: "Take your share of suffering for the Gospel" (2Tm 1,8).

The experience of Jesus' Transfiguration prepares the Apostles to face the tragic events of Calvary by showing them in advance what will be the full and definitive revelation of the Master's glory in the paschal mystery. Meditating on this Gospel passage, we too are preparing to relive the decisive events of the Lord's Death and Resurrection, following him on the way of the Cross to attain light and glory. Indeed, we must first "suffer and so come to the glory of his Resurrection" (Preface).

2. Dear brothers and sisters of St Mary Star of the Sea Parish! I am delighted to be the guest of your beautiful community; although it is geographically very far from where the Bishop of Rome lives, it is nevertheless very close to his Pastor's heart and always present in his prayers, as are all the other Roman parishes.

I affectionately greet the Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishop of this area. We cannot forget that for many years this task was carried out by Bishop Riva, who is now ill. Let us pray for his health. I also greet your dear parish priest, Fr Francesco Dell'Uomo, the priests who work with him, and everyone present. I extend a special greeting to all the residents of Ostia.

I also greet the groups who meet in the parish and participate in the formation and catechetical programmes that have the essential objective of learning how to live the Gospel ever more deeply in everyday life. It is in the places where we study, live, work and suffer that we especially feel the need to bear witness by concrete acts to the Good News of salvation.

3. Dear young people, I offer you my heartfelt encouragement to continue on your spiritual journey personally and as a group, so that you can grow in your awareness of belonging to the Church. My presence today is meant as an invitation to all but especially to you, dear young people, to be Christ's apostles in this area, so that the Gospel message can be a leaven of authentic progress and fraternal solidarity.

Dear young people! The Pope has confidence in you and invites you to bring the Gospel into the new millennium, now ever closer, with your characteristic energy and sincerity. May the World Youth Day of the Year 2000, which will be held in Rome in August of the Holy Year, also find you, young people of this parish, ready to welcome your peers who will come from various countries. In everyday life at school, or wherever you gather or enjoy healthy recreation, be ready to share the one faith in Christ, Redeemer of man, and the joy of being united in the embrace of the same Church, founded on the testimony of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Be "missionaries" of fidelity and hope in this Church which belongs to you and in which each person has his own mission to fulfil.

4. Dear parishioners of St Mary Star of the Sea, I know that in your community special care is given to the sacrament of Penance or Confession. I am pleased with this and thank the Lord. In this important season of Lent, intensified by its coincidence with the year dedicated to reflection on God the Father, I once again urge you to approach with trust this sacrament of spiritual healing. It makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion and the path that leads us back to the Father, from whom man distances himself through sin. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls, this sacrament consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of penance and conversion (cf. n. 1423).

For the sacrament of Penance to be truly celebrated, it is necessary that the confession of sins arise from serious and careful reflection on the Word of God and living contact with the person of Christ. For this purpose, an appropriate catechesis is needed, as the Catechism recalls, which aims at putting people in communion with Jesus, for only he can lead us to the love of the Father in the Holy Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity (cf. n. 426).

967 5. O God, "who gave us the joy of walking in the light of the Gospel, open our hearts to hear your Son" (Collect, Messale Romano, p. 969). This is how we prayed at the beginning of our Eucharistic celebration. Pastoral work is entirely aimed at this openness of spirit, so that the believer can listen to the word of the Lord and docilely accept his will. Truly listening to God means obeying him. From this flows the apostolic zeal indispensable for evangelizing: only those who deeply know the Lord and are converted to his love can become his courageous heralds and witnesses in every circumstance.

Is it not precisely from knowing Christ, his person, his love and his truth that those who experience him personally feel an irresistible desire to proclaim him to everyone, to evangelize and to lead others to the discovery of the faith? I sincerely hope that each of you will be more and more inspired by this longing for Christ, the source of genuine missionary spirit.

6. "Abram went, as the Lord had told him" (
Gn 12,4).

An exemplary and model believer, Abraham trusts in God. Called by Yahweh, he leaves his land with all its security, sustained only by his faith and trusting obedience in his Lord. God calls him to take the "risk" of faith, he obeys, and thus becomes the father in faith of all believers.

Like Abraham, we too would like to continue our Lenten journey, renouncing our security and abandoning ourselves to God's will. Let us take heart in the certainty that the Lord is faithful to his promises, despite our weakness and our sins.

With a truly repentant spirit, let us make our own the words of the Responsorial Psalm: "Our soul waits for the Lord... Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you".

Blessed Virgin, Star of evangelization, help us to understand your Son's words and to proclaim them generously and consistently to our brethren. Mary, Star of the Sea, protect this parish community, the residents of Ostia and the whole Diocese of Rome!



Third Sunday of Lent, 7 March 1999

1. "Whoever drinks of this water that I shall give him will never thirst" (Jn 4,14).

Today, on the Third Sunday of Lent, Jesus' meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well is an extraordinary catechesis on faith. To catechumens preparing to receive Baptism and to all believers on their way to Easter, today the Gospel shows us the "living water" of the Holy Spirit, who regenerates man from within, causing him to be reborn to new life "from on high".

968 Human life is an "exodus" from slavery to the promised land, from death to life. In this journey we sometimes experience the aridity and fatigue of life: poverty, loneliness, the loss of meaning and hope, to the point that we can even wonder, as the Jews did on their journey: "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Ex 17,7).

That Samaritan woman, so tried by life, must have frequently thought: "Where is the Lord?". Until one day she meets a man who reveals the whole truth to her, a woman and even more a Samaritan, in other words, doubly despised. In a simple conversation he offers her the gift of God: the Holy Spirit, a spring of living water welling up to eternal life. He reveals himself to her as the awaited Messiah and tells her of the Father who wants to be worshiped in spirit and truth.

2. The saints are "true worshipers of the Father": men and women who, like the Samaritan woman, have met Christ and through him discovered the meaning of life. They have experienced firsthand what the Apostle Paul says in the second reading: "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rm 5,5).

The grace of Baptism also came to fruition in the new blesseds. They drank from the fountain of Christ's love to the point that they were deeply transformed and in turn became overflowing springs to quench the thirst of the many brothers and sisters they met on life's path.

3. "Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God ... and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God" (Rm 5,1-2). Today, in beatifying the martyrs of Motril, the Church puts these words of St Paul on her lips. In fact, Vicente Soler, his six Augustinian Recollect companions and the diocesan priest, Manuel Martín, obtained access to "the glory of the sons of God" by the heroic witness of their faith. They did not die for an ideology but freely gave their lives for the One who had first died for them. They offered Christ the gift they had received from him.

By faith these simple men of peace, who had nothing to do with the political debate, worked for years in mission territories, suffered a multitude of hardships in the Philippines, soaked the fields of Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela with their sweat, and started social and educational programmes in Motril and other parts of Spain. When the supreme moment of martyrdom came, by faith they could face death serenely, comforting the other condemned men and forgiving their executioners. "How can this be?", we ask ourselves, and St Augustine answers: "Because he who reigns in heaven governs the mind and tongue of his martyrs, and through them he has triumphed on earth" (Sermon 329, 1-2).

Blessed are you, martyrs of Christ! May everyone rejoice over the honour paid to these witnesses of the faith. God helped them in their tribulations and gave them the crown of victory. May they help those who are working today for reconciliation and peace in Spain and in the world!

4. The people who camped in the desert were thirsty, as we are reminded by the first reading from the Book of Exodus (cf. 17:3). The sight of people spiritually thirsting was also before the eyes of Nicolas Barré, of the Order of Minims. His ministry brought him constantly into contact with people who, living in the desert of religious ignorance, were in danger of quenching their thirst at the polluted spring of certain contemporary ideas. That is why he felt it his duty to become a spiritual director and teacher for those he met in his pastoral work. To broaden his range of action, he founded a new religious family, the Sisters of the Child Jesus, whose duty was to evangelize and educate abandoned youth, to show them God's love, to communicate the fullness of divine life to them and to contribute to their growth as persons.

The new blessed never ceased to root his mission in contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation, for God quenches the thirst of those who live in intimacy with him. He showed that an action performed for God can only unite a person with God and that sanctification also comes through the apostolate. Nicolas Barré invites everyone to trust in the Holy Spirit, who guides his people on the way of abandonment to God, in selflessness, humility and perseverance even in the harshest trials. Such an attitude leads to the joy of steadily experiencing the powerful action of the living God.

5. Lastly, if we turn our gaze to Bl. Anna Schäffer, we can see her life as a living commentary on what St Paul wrote to the Romans: "Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rm 5,5).

The more her life's journey became a journey of suffering the more clearly she recognized that illness and frailty can be the lines on which God writes his Gospel. She called her sickroom a "workshop of suffering", to resemble the Cross of Christ ever more closely. She spoke of three keys to heaven: "The largest, which is made of crude iron and heavier than all the others, is my suffering. The second is the needle, and the third the pen. I want to work hard with all these keys every day, so that I can unlock the door of heaven".

969 Precisely in the most intense pain Anna Schäffer realized that every Christian is responsible for his neighbour's salvation. For this purpose she used the pen. Her sickbed was the cradle of an extensive letter-writing apostolate. She used what was left of her strength to do embroidery work and in this way give joy to others. In her letters and in her handiwork her favourite motif was the heart of Jesus as the symbol of God's love. She did not depict the flames of Jesus' heart as tongues of fire, but as ears of wheat. The reference to the Eucharist, which Anna Schäffer received from her parish priest every day, is unmistakable. The heart of Jesus, as she portrayed it, will thus be the symbol of this new blessed.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God for the gift of these new blesseds! Despite the trials of life, they did not harden their hearts, but listened to the voice of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit filled them with the love of God. Thus they could experience that "hope does not disappoint" (
Rm 5,5). They were like trees planted by streams of water, which yielded abundant fruit in due season (cf. Ps Ps 1,3).

For this reason, the whole Church today marvels at their witness and acclaims: Lord, you are truly the Saviour of the world; you are the rock from which flows living water for humanity's thirst!

Lord, give us this water always, so that we may know the Father and adore him in Spirit and Truth. Amen!

S. John Paul II Homil. 961