S. John Paul II Homil. 1351


Holy Thursday, 28 March 2002

1. "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (Jn 13,1).

These words from the Gospel text just proclaimed clearly underline the climate of Holy Thursday. They give us an insight into what Christ felt "on the night when he was betrayed" (1Co 11,23), and they inspire us to take part with intense and personal gratitude in the solemn rite we are celebrating.

This evening we begin Christ’s Passover, constituting the tragic and concluding moment, long prepared and awaited, of the earthly existence of the Word of God. Jesus came among us not to be served but to serve, and he took upon himself the vicissitudes and hopes of the people of all time. Mystically anticipating the sacrifice of the Cross, in the Upper Room it was his wish to stay with us under the appearances of bread and wine, and he entrusted to the Apostles and their successors the mission and power to perpetuate the living and efficacious memory of that event in the Eucharist.

This celebration thus mystically involves all of us and introduces us into the Sacred Triduum, during which we too shall learn from the one "Master and Lord" to "stretch out our hands" and go to wherever we are called to fulfil the will of our heavenly Father.

2. "Do this in memory of me" (1Co 11,24). With this command, which commits us to repeating his gesture, Jesus concludes the institution of the Sacrament of the Altar. As he finishes the washing of the feet, he again invites us to imitate him: "For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you" (Jn 13,15). In this way he establishes an intimate connection between the Eucharist, the sacrament of his sacrificial gift, and the commandment of love which commits us to welcoming and serving our brothers and sisters.

Partaking of the Lord’s table cannot be separated from the duty of loving our neighbour. Each time we partake in the Eucharist, we too say our "Amen" before the Body and Blood of the Lord. In doing so we commit ourselves to doing what Christ has done, to "washing the feet" of our brothers and sisters, becoming a real and visible image of the One who "emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Ph 2,7).

Love is the most precious legacy which Christ leaves to those whom he calls to follow him. It is his love, shared by his disciples, which this evening is offered to all humanity.

1352 3. "Any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself" (1Co 11,29). The Eucharist is a great gift, but also a great responsibility for those who receive it. Before Peter, who is reluctant to have his feet washed, Jesus insists on the need to be unsullied in order to take part in the sacrificial banquet of the Eucharist.

The Church’s tradition has always stressed the link between the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I too have wished to reaffirm this in my Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday this year, by inviting priests above all to consider with renewed wonder the beauty of the Sacrament of forgiveness. Only in this way will they be able to help the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care to rediscover the Sacrament.

The Sacrament of Penance restores to the baptized the divine grace lost by mortal sin, and disposes them to receive the Eucharist worthily. Furthermore, in the direct conversation which its ordinary celebration involves, the Sacrament can meet the need for personal communication, which has become more and more difficult nowadays as a result of the frenetic pace of our technological society. Through his enlightened and patient action, the confessor can bring the penitent into that profound communion with Christ which the Sacrament restores and which the Eucharist brings to full fruition.

May the rediscovery of the Sacrament of Reconciliation help all the faithful to draw near with respect and devotion to the Table of the Lord’s Body and Blood.

4. "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (Jn 13,1).

Let us return in spirit to the Upper Room! Here we recollect ourselves in faith around the Altar of the Lord, as we commemorate the Last Supper. Repeat the gestures of Christ, we proclaim that his death has redeemed humanity from sin and continues to reveal the hope of a future of salvation for the men and women of every time and place.

Priests are called to perpetuate the rite which, under the appearances of bread and wine, makes present the sacrifice of Christ, truly, really and substantially, until the end of time. All Christians are called to become humble and attentive servants of their brothers and sisters, in order to cooperate in their salvation. It is the task of every believer to proclaim through his or her life that the Son of God loved his own "to the end". This evening, in a silence charged with mystery, our faith is nourished.

In union with the whole Church, we proclaim your death, O Lord. Filled with gratitude, we taste already the joy of your resurrection. Full of trust, we commit ourselves to living in expectation of your return in glory. Today and for ever, O Christ, our Redeemer. Amen!


Holy Saturday, 30 March 2002

1. "God said: ‘Let there be light’; and there was light" (Gn 1,3).

An explosion of light, which God’s word brought forth from nothing, rent asunder the first night, the night of Creation.

1353 The Apostle John will write:"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1Jn 1,5). God did not create darkness but light! And the Book of Wisdom, clearly revealing that God’s work has always had a positive purpose, puts it thus: "He created all things that they might exist; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them; and the dominion of Hades is not on earth" (Sg 1,14).

In that first night, the night of Creation, is rooted the Paschal Mystery which, following the tragedy of sin, represents the restoration and the crowning of that first beginning. The divine Word called into existence all things and, in Jesus, became flesh for our salvation. And if the destiny of the first Adam was to return to the earth from which he had been made (cf. Gen Gn 3,19), the last Adam has come down from heaven in order to return there in victory, the first-fruits of the new humanity (cf. Jn Jn 3,13 1Co 15,47).

2. Another night constitutes the fundamental event of the history of Israel: it is the wondrous Exodus from Egypt, the story of which is read each year at the solemn Easter Vigil.

"The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. The people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left" (Ex 14,21-22). The People of God was born from this "baptism" in the Red Sea, when it experienced the powerful hand of the Lord who snatched it from slavery in order to lead it to the yearned-for land of freedom, justice and peace.

This is the second night, the night of the Exodus.

The prophecy of the Book of Exodus is fulfilled today also for us, who are Israelites according to the Spirit, descendants of Abraham because of faith (cf. Rom Rm 4,16). In his Passover, as the new Moses, Christ has made us pass from the slavery of sin to the freedom of the children of God. Having died with Jesus, with him we rise to new life, thanks to the power of his Spirit. His Baptism has become our baptism.

3. You too will receive this Baptism, which brings us into a new life, dear catechumens from different countries: from Albania, China, Japan, Italy, Poland, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two of you, a Japanese mother and a Chinese mother, have each brought their child, so that, in the same celebration, the mothers and the children will be baptized together.

"On this most holy night", when Christ rose from the dead, you too will experience a spiritual "exodus": leave behind your former life and enter the "land of the living". This is the third night, the night of the Resurrection.

4. "Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!". We sang these words in the Easter Proclamation at the beginning of this solemn Vigil, the Mother of all Vigils.

After the tragic night of Good Friday, when "the power of darkness" (Lc 22,53) seemed to have prevailed over the One who is "the light of the world" (Jn 8,12), after the great silence of Holy Saturday, in which Christ, having completed his work on earth, found rest in the mystery of the Father and took his message of life into the pit of death, behold at last the night which precedes "the third day", on which, in accordance with the Scriptures, the Messiah would rise, as he himself had often foretold to his disciples.

"Night truly blessed, when heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled to God!" (Easter Proclamation).

1354 5. This is the night of nights, the night of faith and of hope. While all is shrouded in darkness, God – the Light – keeps watch. With him there keep watch all who hope and trust in him.

O Mary, this is truly your night! As the last lights of the Sabbath are extinguished, and the fruit of your womb rests in the earth, your heart too keeps watch! Your faith and your hope look ahead. Behind the heavy stone, they already detect the empty tomb; behind the thick veil of darkness, they glimpse the dawn of the Resurrection.

Grant, O Mother, that we too may keep watch in the silence of the night, believing and hoping in the Lord’s word. Thus shall we meet, in the fullness of light and life, Christ, the first-fruits of the risen, who reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Alleluia!


Sunday 14 April 2002

1. "Jesus himself drew near and went with them" (Lc 24,15). As we have just heard in the Gospel, Jesus becomes a traveller joining the two disciples who were on their way to the village of Emmaus. He explained the meaning of the Scriptures to them and then, when they reached their destination, he broke the bread with them as he had done with the Apostles on the evening before his death on the cross. In that moment the disciples' eyes opened and they recognized him (cf. v. 31).

The experience of the Risen Lord at Emmaus is continually renewed in the Church. We can admire a wonderful example of the fact in the lives of those whom we have the joy of raising to the glory of the altars: the priests, Gaetano Errico, Lodovico Pavoni and Luigi Variara; the virgin María del Tránsito Cabanillas de Jesús Sacramentado; the religious brother, Artemide Zatti; the virgin, María Romero Meneses.

As did the disciples of Emmaus, the new Blesseds knew how to recognize the living presence of the Lord in the Church and, overcoming difficulties and fears, became his enthusiastic and courageous witnesses before the world.

2. "You were ransomed, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ" (1P 1,18-19). These words, taken from the second reading, make us think of Blessed Gaetano Errico, priest and founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

In an age defined by profound political and social change, in opposition to the spiritual rigorism of the Jansenists, Gaetano Errico proclaimed the greatness of the mercy of God, who always calls to conversion those who live under the dominion of evil and sin. True martyr of the confessional, the new Blessed spent entire days giving his best energies to welcoming and listening to penitents. By his example, he urges us to rediscover the value and importance of the Sacrament of Penance, where God distributes his pardon so generously and shows the gentleness of the Father towards his weaker children.

"This Jesus God has raised him up and of that we are all witnesses" (Ac 2,32). The interior consciousness, that became a burning and invincible faith, guided the spiritual and priestly experience of Lodovico Pavoni, priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Sons of Mary Immaculate.

Gifted with a particularly sensitive spirit, he was totally given over to the care of poor and abandoned youngsters and even deaf-mutes. His activity branched out in many directions, from that of education to the publishing sector, with original apostolic intuitions and courageous innovations. At the basis of everything, there was a solid spirituality. By his example, he exhorts us to place our confidence in Jesus and to be ever more immersed in the mystery of his love.

1355 3. "And beginning with Moses and the prophets he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lc 24,27). With these words of the Gospel, Jesus manifested himself as companion on the road of life and our patient Master, who knows how to warm the heart and enlighten the mind so that it can understand God's plan. After the supper with Him, the disciples of Emmaus, leaving behind their sadness and confusion, ran back to the newly born Christian community to proclaim the joyful news of their having seen the Risen Lord.

This spirituality is common to the three new Blesseds who pursued sanctity under the inspiration of Don Bosco and the Salesian tradition. The raising to the altars of Don Luigi Variara, of Bro. Artemide Zatti, and of Sr María Romero is a great joy for this religious Family.

4. From Italy, and from the diocese of Asti, the Salesian Fr Luis Variara, went to Colombia, faithful follower of the merciful Jesus and close to the suffering. From the first moment of his arrival, he dedicated his youthful energy and his many gifts to the service of the lepers. The first Salesian priest to be ordained in Colombia, he succeeded in bringing together around him a group of consecrated women, some of whom were themselves lepers or the daughters of lepers and for this reason, not welcome in other religious orders. In time, this group became the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a flourishing order that has houses in several countries.

Artemide Zatti, Salesian religious brother, left the diocese of Reggio Emilia with his family to seek a better life in Argentina, the land dreamt of by Don Bosco. There he discovered his Salesian vocation, which took the form of a passionate, competent and loving service to the sick. His almost fifty years in Viedma represent the history of an exemplary religious, careful to accomplish his duties in his community and totally devoted to the service of those in need. May his example help us to be conscious of the presence of the Lord and bring us to welcome him in all our needy brothers and sisters.

Sister María Romero Meneses, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, knew how to reflect the face of Christ which he made her recognize in the sharing of the bread. Born in Nicaragua, she received her religious formation in El Salvador and passed the greatest part of her life in Costa Rica. Those beloved Central American peoples, united in the joy of her beatification, can find in the new Blessed who loved them so much, an abundance of example and teaching to renew and confirm their Christian life, deeply rooted in their countries.

With a passionate love for God and an unlimited confidence in the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sr María Romero was an exemplary religious, apostle and mother of the poor people, who were her real favourites. May her memory be a blessing for all and may the works she founded, among which the "House of the Virgin" in San José, continue in fidelity to the ideal that led to their being started.

5. "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Lc 24,32). This surprising confession of the disciples who first walked to Emmaus is what happened with the vocation of Mother María del Tránsito Cabanillas de Jesús Sacramentado, foundress of the Third Order Franciscan Missionaries and the first Argentinian woman to be beatified.

The flame that burned in her heart brought María del Tránsito to seek intimacy with Christ in the contemplative life. She was not deterred when on account of bad health she had to abandon the monasteries where she was living, but continued with a confidence and abandonment to the divine will which she followed on her constant quest. The Franciscan ideal then appeared as the true way that God wanted for her and, aided by wise directors, she undertook a life of poverty, humility, patience and charity, giving rise to a new religious family.

6. "Show us Lord the path of life" (response for the Responsorial ). Let us make our own the invocation of the Responsorial Psalm, that we just sang. We need the Risen Redeemer to show us the road, to go with us on the road, and to guide us to full communion with the heavenly Father.
Show us the path of life. Only you, Lord, can show us the true path of life, the only one who leads us to the goal, as you did for these Blessed persons who today are resplendent in the glory of Heaven.


Sunday, 21 April 2002

1356 1. "Imitate the mystery you celebrate" [The Italian version says: "Live the mystery that is placed in your hands"] (Rite for the Ordination of Priests).

Dear Deacons, when I present to you the paten and chalice for the Eucharistic sacrifice, I will address these words to each of you. You, who are going to be ordained priests, know that the congregation here present with you in St Peter's Basilica looks upon you with great affection. The entire Diocese of Rome is praying with you and for you as do the communites you belong to.

I, too, greet you warmly as I thank God for the gift of your priesthood. At the same time, I express deep gratitude to those who have guided your formation, to your families and to all who have helped you to respond generously to the Lord's call. I am sure they will continue to be close to you, so that you may persevere in the priestly ministry and be able to bring to completion the mission that the Lord entrusts to you.

2. "Imitate the mystery you celebrate". What else is this mystery but the Holy Eucharist? For "in it is contained all the spiritual wealth of the Church" (Presbyterorum ordinis
PO 5). The mystery is Christ, Bread of life, who gave himself "for the life of the world" (Jn 6,51). The mystery is Christ, the shepherd and the door of the sheep, "who came that they [human beings] may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10).

"Good Shepherd, true Bread of life!", the Christian people sing before the Blessed Sacrament, recognizing and adoring the real presence of Jesus, their guide and their nourishment on the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Dear friends! You are already ordained ministers of the mystery that is Christ, Bread of life and Good Shepherd, as deacons of the holy Church of God. But today, through the grace of the sacrament that you are going to receive, you will be ordained ministers in a new and excellent way.

The special character that the Holy Spirit will imprint upon you will configure you to Christ the Priest, so that in the most important actions of your ministry you will act in the name and in the person of Christ the Head: "in persona Christi Capitis" (Presbyterorum ordinis PO 2). Great is the gift that you receive, and great is the mystery placed in your hands!

3. Jesus not only makes you sharers in the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but he expects an even higher fidelity consistent with the apostolic ministry that is entrusted to you. He calls you to remain with him (cf. Mk Mc 3,14) in privileged intimacy. He demands a stricter poverty of you (cf. Mt Mt 19,22-23) and the humility of the servant who makes himself the last of all (cf. Mt Mt 20,25-27). He asks you to be perfect, "as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5,48). In a word, the Lord wants you to be holy. Holiness is the perspective in which the Church's entire pastoral life must be placed (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 30).

"The vocation to holiness" is the theme for the Day of Prayer for Vocations that is being observed today throughout the world. "Every vocation in the Church is at the service of holiness", I wrote in the Message for today's observance. "Some however, such as the vocations to the ordained ministry and consecrated life, are at the service of holiness in a thoroughly unique manner" (n. 2, L'Osservatore Romano, 5 December 2001, p. 3).

4. "Imitate the mystery you celebrate". Another important aspect of the mystery whose ministers you are about to become is the sacrament of Reconciliation, closely connected with the Eucharist. In my Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, which today I consign to you spiritually, I dwelt upon this sacrament.

Dear candidates to the priesthood, be holy ministers of the divine mercy. Experience for yourselves the wonderful grace of reconciliation as a profound necessity and a longed-for gift. Thus, you will restore vigour and enthusiasm to your journey of holiness and to your ministry. God counts on the faithful availability of each of you to work extraordinary miracles of love in the hearts of the faithful. At the fount of reconciliation, of which you must be generous and faithful dispensers, the baptized will be able to have the living and consoling experience of Christ the Good Shepherd, who rejoices over every sheep that is lost and found.

1357 Prepare carefully for this ministry! It requires adequate and constant spiritual, theological, liturgical and pastoral formation. The wisdom and example of the saints will be of great help to you.

5. "Behold, your mother!" (
Jn 19,27). At this crucial moment of your life, I wish to entrust each of you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd, Mother of priests. Before he died, Christ entrusted her, as his most precious treasure, to all his disciples in the person of the Apostle John. The Apostle took her into his own home.

Dear candidates to the priesthood, accept her as a sure and consoling pledge of Christ's love. Look to her constantly as the image and model of the Church, whom you will serve with all your energy.

Your priesthood, offered daily to Mary, will become a genuine path of holiness and your whole life will be joyfully consecrated to the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

So may it be for each of you, with God's help! Amen!


Sunday, 5 May 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. "In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1P 3,15).

With these words of the Apostle Peter, I would like to greet you, dear brothers and sisters of Ischia. Thank you for your very warm welcome!

I first greet your beloved Pastor, Bishop Filippo Strofaldi, and thank him for his welcome in your name. I also greet cordially the Cardinal of Naples, the Bishops of Campania and the other Bishops present, the priests, the men and women religious and all those who make up the diocesan family.

I greet respectfully the representatives of the Italian Government, as well as the representatives of the Municipality, of the Province of Naples and of the Region of Campania. I also greet the other political and military authorities who have wished to honour our meeting with their presence. I thank everyone who generously helped to prepare for my visit.

1358 Lastly, inhabitants of the island, I embrace you all with a special word for the elderly, the sick, your babies, families and last but not least, those who for various reasons were unable to be with us today.

2. Dear brothers and sisters, may I address to your beloved community three important words from the biblical readings just proclaimed.

The first is "listen!". We find it in the moving account of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles where it is told how "the multitudes with one accord listened to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which he did" (
Ac 8,6). Listening to this witness of Jesus, who speaks of him with love and enthusiasm, produces the immediate fruit, joy. St Luke notes: "There was great rejoicing in that city" (Ac 8,8).

Christian community of Ischia, if you too want to experience this joy, listen to the Word of God! Thus you will fulfill your mission, guided by the action of the Holy Spirit. You will spread the Gospel of joy and peace, remaining united with your Bishop and the priests who are his first collaborators.

As happened for the communities of Samaria, spoken of in the first reading, the abundant outpouring of the Consoler will come down on you, he who, as the Vatican Council recalls, "moves the heart and converts it to God, opens the eyes of the mind and "makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth'" (Constitution Dei Verbum DV 5).

3. Dear brothers and sisters, the second word I would like to address to you is "welcome! ". Your splendid island, the goal of great numbers of visitors and tourists, knows well the value of hospitality. So Ischia can also become a privileged laboratory of that kind of hospitality that Christ's disciples are called to offer to all, whatever their country or culture. Only those who have opened their hearts to Christ can offer a hospitality that is never formal or superficial, but identified by "gentleness" and "reverence" (cf. 1P 3,15).

Faith accompanied by good works is contagious and spreads light, for it makes visible and communicates God's love. Strive to make this lifestyle your own, listening to the Apostle Peter's words just proclaimed in the second reading (cf. 1P 3,15). He urges believers always to answer with great readiness "to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you", and adds "it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil" (1P 3,17).

4. What human wisdom and what spiritual riches in these simple but fundamental ascetical and pastoral counsels. They lead to the third word that I would like to entrust to you: "love!".

Listening and welcoming open the heart to love. The Gospel passage from John which has just been read out will help us better to understand this mysterious reality. It shows us how love is the complete fulfilment of the person's vocation, according to the plan of God. This love is the great gift of Jesus that makes us truly and fully human. "He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him" (Jn 14,21).

When we feel loved, we ourselves are more disposed to love. When we experience God's love, we are readier to follow the One who loved his disciples "to the end" (Jn 13,1), that is, to the point of the total gift of himself.

It is this love that humanity needs, today perhaps more than ever, because love alone is credible. It is the unshakeable faith in this love that in every age inspires thoughts of peace and opens broad horizons of forgiveness and harmony. Of course, it is impossible according to the logic of this world, but everything is possible to those who let themselves be transformed by the grace of Christ's Spirit, poured into our hearts with Baptism (cf. Rom Rm 5,5).

1359 5. Dear Church who live in Ischia: be docile and obedient to God's word, and you will be a laboratory of peace and of genuine love. You will become an ever more hospitable Church, where everyone feels at home. Those who come to visit you will leave refreshed in body, but also re-invigorated in spirit.

Under your Pastor's wise and enlightened guidance, may you be a community that knows how "to listen" and a land willing to "welcome", a family that makes its best effort to "love" everyone in Christ.

I entrust you to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Fair Love, so that she may help you make visible your identity as Christ's Church, a Church of Love.

May your holy Patrons, in whom divine love is made visibly and credibly concrete, always be an example and a help to you!

Dear Church who dwells in Ischia! May the breath of Christ's Spirit urge you forward to the infinite horizons of holiness. Do not be afraid, but put out into the deep with confidence. Advance with confidence. Always. Praised be Jesus Christ.


Solemnity of Pentecost

Sunday, 19 May 2002

1. "We hear them announcing in our own tongues the mighty works of God" (Ac 2,11).

On the day of Pentecost, this is what the crowd of pilgrims "from every nation under heaven" exclaimed when they listened to the preaching of the Apostles.

On this day of Pentecost, we are filled with the same wonder, while we contemplate the great miracles worked by God in the lives of the five new saints raised to the glory of the altars: Alphonsus of Orozco, a priest of the Order of St Augustine; Ignatius of Santhiá, a priest of the Order of the Capuchin Franciscans; Umile of Bisignano, a religious of the Order of Friars Minor; Pauline of the Suffering Heart of Jesus, virgin foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello, religious, foundress of the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence.

They travelled the highways of the world announcing and witnessing to Christ with their words and their lives. This is why they have become an eloquent sign of the perennial Pentecost of the Church.

1360 2. "Receive the Holy Spirit: whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven" (Jn 20,22-23).

With these words, the Risen One bestows on the Apostles the gift of the Spirit and with it the divine power to forgive sins. The Capuchin priest Ignatius of Santhiá lived uniquely the mission of forgiving sins and of guiding men and women on the paths of evangelical perfection. For the love of Christ and to advance more quickly in evangelical perfection he walked in the footsteps of the Poverello of Assisi.

In the Piedmont of his time, Ignatius of Santhiá was father, confessor, counsellor and teacher of many - priests, religious and lay people - who sought his wise and enlightened guidance. Even today he continues to remind everyone of the values of poverty, simplicity and authentic Christian life.

3. "Peace be with you" (Jn 20,19 Jn 20,21), Jesus said on appearing to the Apostles in the Upper Room. Peace was the first gift of the Risen Christ to the Apostles. The worthy son of the noble region of Calabria, Umile of Bisignano, became the constant bearer of the peace of Christ which is also the principle that has to inspire social peace. He shared with Ignatius of Santhiá the same dedication to holiness in the spiritual school of St Francis of Assisi and, in his turn, offered a special witness of charity toward his neighbour.

In our society, in which all too often the traces of God seem to have vanished, Fra Umile is a joyful and encouraging invitation to meekness, kindness, simplicity, and a healthy detachment from the transient goods of this world.

4. "To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1Co 12,7).

This is what happened in the life of St Alphonsus of Orozco of the Order of St Augustine. Born in the town of Oropesa, Toledo, religious obedience led him to pass through many Spanish cities and towns until he ended his days in Madrid. His pastoral dedication to serving the poorest in the hospitals and prisons makes him a model for all who, under the guidance of the Spirit, base their entire life on the love of God and of their neighbour, following the great commandment of Jesus.

5. The action of the Holy Spirit is revealed in a special way in the life and mission of Mother Pauline. He inspired her to build a home, with a group of young women friends, that was later called by the people the "Little Hospital of St Virgilius" and destined to provide material and spiritual assistance to the suffering and the marginalized. Thus in response to the plans of Providence, is born the first religious community in Southern Brazil: named the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. It was in this hospital that "being-for-others" became the guiding motive for Mother Pauline. In service to the poor and the suffering, she became a manifestation of the Holy Spirit who is "the best comforter; the soul's most welcome guest, sweet refreshment here below" (Sequence).

6. "O most blessed Light, fill the interior of the hearts of your faithful ". The words of the Sequence are a beautiful summary of the life of Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello and explain its extraordinary spiritual richness.

Guided by divine grace, the new saint was concerned to accomplish God's will with fidelity and coherence. With boundless confidence in the Lord's goodness, she abandoned herself to his "loving Providence", deeply convinced, as she liked to repeat, that one must "do everything for love of God and to please him". This is the precious inheritance that St Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello left to her spiritual daughters that today is offered to the entire Christian community.

7. "Come, Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love" (Gospel Acclamation).

1361 Let us make our own this invocation of today's liturgy. The Holy Spirit radically transformed the Apostles who out of fear had locked themselves into the Upper Room, making them fervent heralds of the Gospel. Down through the ages, the Spirit continues to support the Church in her evangelizing mission, raising up in every age courageous witnesses to the faith.

With the Apostles, the Blessed Virgin Mary received the gift of the Spirit (cf. Acts
Ac 1,14). With her, and in communion with the new saints, let us also implore the miracle of a new Pentecost for the Church. For the humanity of our time let us ask an abundance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit, enkindle the hearts of your faithful! Help us to spread the fire of your love in the world. Amen!

S. John Paul II Homil. 1351