S. John Paul II Homil. 1139

1139 Dear Brothers and Sisters united by faith in Jesus Christ! I am especially happy today to offer you my brotherly embrace of peace, as we commemorate together the witnesses to the faith in the twentieth century. I warmly greet the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of the other Orthodox Sister Churches, as well as those of the ancient Churches of the East. I likewise thank the representatives of the Anglican Communion, of the worldwide Christian Communities of the West and of the Ecumenical Organizations for their fraternal presence.

Gathered as we are at the Colosseum for this meaningful jubilee celebration, our coming together this evening is for all of us a source of great emotion. The monuments and ruins of ancient Rome speak to humanity of the sufferings and persecutions endured with fortitude by our forebears in the faith, the Christians of the first generations. These ancient remains remind us how true are the words of Tertullian who wrote: “sanguis martyrum semen christianorum” — the blood of the martyrs is the seed of new Christians (Apol., 50,13: CCL 1, 171).

2. The experience of the martyrs and the witnesses to the faith is not a characteristic only of the Church’s beginnings but marks every epoch of her history. In the twentieth century, and maybe even more than in the first period of Christianity, there has been a vast number of men and women who bore witness to the faith through sufferings that were often heroic. How many Christians in the course of the twentieth century, on every continent, showed their love of Christ by the shedding of blood! They underwent forms of persecution both old and new, they experienced hatred and exclusion, violence and murder. Many countries of ancient Christian tradition once more became lands where fidelity to the Gospel demanded a very high price. In our century “the witness to Christ borne even to the shedding of blood has become a common inheritance of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente
TMA 37).

The generation to which I belong experienced the horror of war, the concentration camps, persecution. In my homeland, during the Second World War, priests and Christians were deported to extermination camps. In Dachau alone some three thousand priests were interned. Their sacrifice was joined to that of many Christians from other European countries, some of whom belonged to other Churches and Ecclesial Communities.

I myself am a witness of much pain and many trials, having seen these in the years of my youth. My priesthood, from its very beginning, was marked “by the great sacrifice of countless men and women of my generation” (Gift and Mystery, p. 39). The experience of the Second World War and of the years following brought me to consider carefully and with gratitude the shining example of those who, from the beginning of the twentieth century to its end, met persecution, violence, death, because of their faith and because their behaviour was inspired by the truth of Christ.

3. And there are so many of them! They must not be forgotten, rather they must be remembered and their lives documented. The names of many are unknown; the names of some have been denigrated by their persecutors, who tried to add disgrace to martyrdom; the names of others have been concealed by their executioners. But Christians preserve the memory of a great number of them. This is shown by the numerous replies to the invitation not to forget, received by the “New Martyrs” Commission within the Committee for the Great Jubilee. The Commission has worked hard to enrich and update the Church’s memory with the witness of all those people, even those who are unknown, who “risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ac 15,26). Yes, as the Orthodox Metropolitan Benjamin of Saint Petersburg, martyred in 1922, wrote on the eve of his execution: “The times have changed and it has become possible to suffer much for love of Christ . . .”. With the same conviction, from his cell in Buchenwald, the Lutheran Pastor Paul Schneider asserted once more in the presence of his prison guards: “Thus says the Lord, ?I am the resurrection and the life!’”.

The presence of representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities gives today’s celebration particular significance and eloquence in this Jubilee Year 2000. It shows that the example of the heroic witnesses to the faith is truly precious for all Christians. In the twentieth century, almost all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities have known persecution, uniting Christians in their places of suffering and making their shared sacrifice a sign of hope for times still to come.

These brothers and sisters of ours in faith, to whom we turn today in gratitude and veneration, stand as a vast panorama of Christian humanity in the twentieth century, a panorama of the Gospel of the Beatitudes, lived even to the shedding of blood.

4. “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5,11-12). How well these words of Christ fit the countless witnesses to the faith in the last century, insulted and persecuted, but never broken by the power of evil!

Where hatred seemed to corrupt the whole of life leaving no escape from its logic, they proved that “love is stronger than death”. Within terrible systems of oppression which disfigured man, in places of pain, amid the hardest of privations, through senseless marches, exposed to cold and hunger, tortured, suffering in so many ways, they loudly proclaimed their loyalty to Christ crucified and risen. In a few moments we shall hear some of their striking testimonies.

Countless numbers refused to yield to the cult of the false gods of the twentieth century and were sacrificed by Communism, Nazism, by the idolatry of State or race. Many others fell in the course of ethnic or tribal wars, because they had rejected a way of thinking foreign to the Gospel of Christ. Some went to their death because, like the Good Shepherd, they decided to remain with their people, despite intimidation. On every continent and throughout the entire twentieth century, there have been those who preferred to die rather than betray the mission which was theirs. Men and women Religious lived their consecration to the shedding of blood. Men and women believers died offering their lives for love of their brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and the weakest. Many women lost their lives in order to defend their dignity and purity.

1140 5. “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12,25). A few minutes ago we listened to these words of Christ. They contain a truth which today’s world often scorns and rejects, making love of self the supreme criterion of life. But the witnesses to the faith, who also this evening speak to us by their example, did not consider their own advantage, their own well-being, their own survival as greater values than fidelity to the Gospel. Despite all their weakness, they vigorously resisted evil. In their fragility there shone forth the power of faith and of the Lord’s grace.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the precious heritage which these courageous witnesses have passed down to us is a patrimony shared by all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities. It is a heritage which speaks more powerfully than all the causes of division. The ecumenism of the martyrs and the witnesses to the faith is the most convincing of all; to the Christians of the twenty-first century it shows the path to unity. It is the heritage of the Cross lived in the light of Easter: a heritage which enriches and sustains Christians as they go forward into the new millennium.

If we glory in this heritage it is not because of any partisan spirit and still less because of any desire for vengeance upon the persecutors, but in order to make manifest the extraordinary power of God, who has not ceased to act in every time and place. We do this as we ourselves offer pardon, faithful to the example of the countless witnesses killed even as they prayed for their persecutors.

6. In the century and the millennium just begun may the memory of these brothers and sisters of ours remain always vivid. Indeed, may it grow still stronger! Let it be passed on from generation to generation, so that from it there may blossom a profound Christian renewal! Let it be guarded as a treasure of consummate value for the Christians of the new millennium, and let it become the leaven for bringing all Christ’s disciples into full communion!

It is with a heart filled with deep emotion that I express this hope. I pray to the Lord that the cloud of witnesses which surrounds us will help all of us who believe to express with no less courage our own love for Christ, for him who is ever alive in his Church: as he was yesterday, and is today, and will be tomorrow and for ever!



Tuesday, 9 May 2000

1. "The light has come into the world" (Jn 3,19).

The Great Jubilee was proclaimed precisely to celebrate this coming: the coming of the eternal Word, "God from God, Light from Light" into our history 2,000 years ago. Born of the Virgin Mary in our mortal flesh, he revealed the Father's love to the world: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16).

The light of God's love appeared in Bethlehem in the "fullness of time" and, after the "stupendous combat" with the darkness of sin, shone radiantly in the Easter Resurrection. The Great Jubilee, opened in the joy of Christmas, culminates in the glory of Easter.

With paschal faith the Church proclaims to the world that man is redeemed in Christ and healed of his mortal illness. With this faith the Successor of Peter has called the faithful to celebrate the Jubilee Year, so that in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, every person might find salvation (cf. Acts Ac 4,10). This is the original apostolic message which re-echoes through the same Spirit from generation to generation to reach all nations.

2. The Gospel of Christ makes the history of peoples fruitful and calls them to open themselves to the mystery of God's kingdom through the humble but necessary service of the holy apostolic Church, gathered round the Bishop of Rome, servant of the servants of God, and the Bishops in communion with him. It is with this knowledge, brothers and sisters of the beloved Romanian nation, that you have gathered here today in the Vatican Basilica to celebrate your Jubilee. I am pleased to extend my cordial welcome to you all.

1141 I affectionately greet, first of all, the Bishops of the Greek Catholic and Latin Churches, with particular gratitude to Archbishop Lucian Muresan of Fagaras and Alba Iulia, President of the Romanian Episcopal Conference. I also greet the priests, religious and lay people who have come in large numbers to take part in this national pilgrimage. My cordial wishes extend to all the brothers and sisters in the faith who have spiritually joined us in Romania for this important and almost historic celebration.

3. Three centuries have now passed since the Synod of the Romanian Church of Transylvania completed, on 7 May 1700 in Alba Iulia, the journey to union with the See of Peter begun a few years earlier. That act expressed the desire of the Bishops, priests and faithful, who thus saw union with Rome restored, while preserving and safeguarding the Eastern rite, the calendar, the Romanian liturgical language, customs and traditions. This act was the response allowed by those times to the tireless yearning for unity in the hearts of so many sincere disciples of Christ.

Today we give thanks to almighty God for all the good lavished in these 300 years of communion and, at the same time, we implore him for a peaceful, prosperous future in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To accomplish his great works, God uses human beings, whom he chooses with care and gives to his People. How can we forget here the praiseworthy Pastors of your Church, Bishops Athanasius Anghel, Innocent Micu-Klein and Peter Aron, through whose work the union not only overcame many difficulties but bore abundant good fruits for the entire population? To mention but a few: the rebirth of religious life, the growth of schools, attention to the living conditions and civil rights of the people and an effective contribution to the national culture and to science itself. The well-known writer Ion Eliade Radulescu was able to say that "the Romanian sun rose" in Blaj.

4. In faithfully following Christ, her Bridegroom, the Romanian Greek Catholic Church has known suffering and the cross, especially in the last century when the cruel atheistic regime decreed her suppression. An effort was made to reduce man to the earthly level, to make him forget the existence of heaven and of a love greater than any human misery. Thanks to God this plan did not succeed in being imposed forever. Christ is risen and with him all the Christian Communities in Romania.

On the occasion of my unforgettable visit to your land precisely at this time last year, I wanted to pray in Bucharest at the tombs of the martyrs for the faith in the Catholic cemetery of Belu, thus paying homage to the great sacrifice of so many Bishops, priests and faithful who accepted martyrdom as the supreme confirmation of their fidelity to Christ and to the Successors of Peter.

As we celebrate the Jubilee of the Union today, I would again like to express my gratitude and admiration for their witness. In particular I extend a grateful greeting to dear Cardinal Alexandru Todea who, despite his imprisonment and isolation, bravely continued to fulfil his duties as Pastor and led the Greek Catholic Church into the new situation created by the coming of democratic freedom.

Dear friends, preserve in your hearts the living memory of this martyrdom and pass it on to future generations so that it can continue to be a source of inspiration for a Christian witness that is always generous and authentic. Martyrdom is above all an intense spiritual experience: it flows from a heart that loves the Lord as the supreme truth and the greatest, indispensable good. May this treasure of your Church also bear abundant fruits in your regained freedom.

5. I would now like to extend a particularly affectionate greeting to the faithful of the Latin Church. They too, after being long deprived of freedom, were able to strengthen and expand their pastoral structures: religious life has flourished again; catechesis has been vigorously resumed; charitable works, often planned together and with the help of Catholics in other countries, make a significant contribution to the nation's rebirth and open people to a collaboration that expands horizons in the name of solidarity in Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, your primary commitment must be to enable others to know and meet the Lord Jesus, so that he can heal wounded hearts, form correct consciences concerned for the common good, open people to well-founded hopes, not fleeting consumerism or the quest for material wealth at all costs, but to the true values that alone can create a secure and happy future, because they are based on the Word which does not disappoint.

6. Dear Catholic faithful of Romania, you can be proud of the effective role you have played in your nation's history and a role you must continue to play enthusiastically by treasuring your rich traditions. You will thus help to foster the growth of all society.

1142 So that this can happen more quickly and effectively, however, it is necessary to restore full unity among Christ's disciples. The unity of the Church is a gift of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to whom we must ceaselessly pray. It is also a task entrusted to each of us, a path which we must never tire of traveling with perseverance, even if problems sometimes threaten to discourage us.

By fixing our gaze on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith (cf. Heb
He 12,2), make your commitment to unity ever deeper, and continually work so that one day, not too distant, it can become a consoling reality for everyone.

7. "He who does what is true comes to the light" (Jn 3,21).

At this celebration let us pray that the whole Catholic community in Romania, Greek Catholic, Latin and Armenian, can "speak the truth in love" (Ep 4,15), so that their face may fully reflect the light of Christ and thus, in turn, be light for the nations to which it is sent.

Bishops, priests, consecrated persons, families, young people and children: grow to full maturity in Christ, through whom the whole body builds itself up in love (cf. Eph Ep 4,16)!

In ancient writings your country is called the "Garden of the Virgin Mary". This beautiful image reminds us of the loving concern with which the Mother of God cares for her children. May she who heartened the first Christian community with her presence and prayer guide and support the life of the Greek Catholic and Latin Churches in their members so that they may shine out, through the Holy Year as well, without spot or wrinkle for the glory of God. Amen.



TO FÁTIMA (MAY, 12-13, 2000)




Saturday, 13 May 2000


1. "Father, ... to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children" (Mt 11,25).

With these words, dear brothers and sisters, Jesus praises the heavenly Father for his designs; he knows that no one can come to him unless he is drawn by the Father (cf. Jn Jn 6,44); therefore he praises him for his plan and embraces it as a son: "Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will" (Mt 11,26). You were pleased to reveal the kingdom to the merest children.

According to the divine plan, "a woman clothed with the sun" (Ap 12,1) came down from heaven to this earth to visit the privileged children of the Father. She speaks to them with a mother's voice and heart: she asks them to offer themselves as victims of reparation, saying that she was ready to lead them safely to God. And behold, they see a light shining from her maternal hands which penetrates them inwardly, so that they feel immersed in God just as - they explain - a person sees himself in a mirror.

1143 Later Francisco, one of the three privileged children, exclaimed: "We were burning in that light which is God and we were not consumed. What is God like? It is impossible to say. In fact we will never be able to tell people". God: a light that burns without consuming. Moses had the same experience when he saw God in the burning bush; he heard God say that he was concerned about the slavery of his people and had decided to deliver them through him: "I will be with you" (cf. Ex Ex 3,2-12). Those who welcome this presence become the dwelling-place and, consequently, a "burning bush" of the Most High.

2. What most impressed and entirely absorbed Bl. Francisco was God in that immense light which penetrated the inmost depths of the three children. But God told only Francisco "how sad" he was, as he said. One night his father heard him sobbing and asked him why he was crying; his son answered: "I was thinking of Jesus who is so sad because of the sins that are committed against him". He was motivated by one desire - so expressive of how children think - "to console Jesus and make him happy".

A transformation takes place in his life, one we could call radical: a transformation certainly uncommon for children of his age. He devotes himself to an intense spiritual life, expressed in assiduous and fervent prayer, and attains a true form of mystical union with the Lord. This spurs him to a progressive purification of the spirit through the renunciation of his own pleasures and even of innocent childhood games.

Francisco bore without complaining the great sufferings caused by the illness from which he died. It all seemed to him so little to console Jesus: he died with a smile on his lips. Little Francisco had a great desire to atone for the offences of sinners by striving to be good and by offering his sacrifices and prayers. The life of Jacinta, his younger sister by almost two years, was motivated by these same sentiments.

3. "Another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon" (Ap 12,3).
These words from the first reading of the Mass make us think of the great struggle between good and evil, showing how, when man puts God aside, he cannot achieve happiness, but ends up destroying himself.

How many victims there have been throughout the last century of the second millennium! We remember the horrors of the First and Second World Wars and the other wars in so many parts of the world, the concentration and extermination camps, the gulags, ethnic cleansings and persecutions, terrorism, kidnappings, drugs, the attacks on unborn life and the family.

The message of Fátima is a call to conversion, alerting humanity to have nothing to do with the "dragon" whose "tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth" (Ap 12,4). Man's final goal is heaven, his true home, where the heavenly Father awaits everyone with his merciful love.

God does not want anyone to be lost; that is why 2,000 years ago he sent his Son to earth, "to seek and to save the lost" (Lc 19,10). And he saved us by his death on the cross. Let no one empty that Cross of its power! Jesus died and rose from the dead to be "the first-born among many brethren" (Rm 8,29).

In her motherly concern, the Blessed Virgin came here to Fátima to ask men and women "to stop offending God, Our Lord, who is already very offended". It is a mother's sorrow that compels her to speak; the destiny of her children is at stake. For this reason she asks the little shepherds: "Pray, pray much and make sacrifices for sinners; many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them".

4. Little Jacinta felt and personally experienced Our Lady's anguish, offering herself heroically as a victim for sinners. One day, when she and Francisco had already contracted the illness that forced them to bed, the Virgin Mary came to visit them at home, as the little one recounts: "Our Lady came to see us and said that soon she would come and take Francisco to heaven. And she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I told her yes". And when the time came for Francisco to leave, the little girl tells him: "Give my greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners". Jacinta had been so deeply moved by the vision of hell during the apparition of 13 July that no mortification or penance seemed too great to save sinners.

1144 She could well exclaim with St Paul: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church" (Col 1,24). Last Sunday at the Colosseum in Rome, we commemorated the many witnesses to the faith in the 20th century, recalling the tribulations they suffered through the significant testimonies they left us. An innumerable cloud of courageous witnesses to the faith have left us a precious heritage which must live on in the third millennium. Here in Fátima, where these times of tribulation were foretold and Our Lady asked for prayer and penance to shorten them, I would like today to thank heaven for the powerful witness shown in all those lives. And once again I would like to celebrate the Lord's goodness to me when I was saved from death after being gravely wounded on 13 May 1981. I also express my gratitude to Bl. Jacinta for the sacrifices and prayers offered for the Holy Father, whom she saw suffering greatly.

5. "Father, to you I offer praise, for you have revealed these things to the merest children". Today Jesus' praise takes the solemn form of the beatification of the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta. With this rite the Church wishes to put on the candelabrum these two candles which God lit to illumine humanity in its dark and anxious hours. May they shine on the path of this immense multitude of pilgrims and of all who have accompanied us by radio and television. May Francisco and Jacinta be a friendly light that illumines all Portugal and, in special way, this Diocese of Leiria-Fátima.

I thank Bishop Serafim, of this illustrious particular Church, for his words of welcome, and with great joy I greet the entire Portuguese Episcopate and their Dioceses, which I deeply love and which I urge to imitate their saints. A fraternal greeting goes to the Cardinals and Bishops present, with a special word for the Pastors from the community of Portuguese-speaking countries: may the Virgin Mary obtain reconciliation for the Angolan people; may she bring comfort to the flood victims of Mozambique; may she watch over the steps of Timor Lorosae, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe; may she preserve her Brazilian sons and daughters in the unity of faith.

I extend a respectful greeting to the President of the Republic and to the authorities who have wished to take part in this celebration. I take this occasion to express, through them, my gratitude to everyone who helped make my pilgrimage possible. A cordial embrace and a particular blessing to the parish and city of Fátima, which today rejoices in her children who are raised to the honours of the altar.

6. My last words are for the children: dear boys and girls, I see so many of you dressed like Francisco and Jacinta. You look very nice! But in a little while or tomorrow you will take these chothes off and ... the little shepherds will disappear. They should not disappear, should they?! Our Lady needs you all to console Jesus, who is sad because of the bad things done to him; he needs your prayers and your sacrifices for sinners.

Ask your parents and teachers to enrol you in the "school" of Our Lady, so that she can teach you to be like the little shepherds, who tried to do whatever she asked them. I tell you that "one makes more progress in a short time of submission and dependence on Mary than during entire years of personal initiatives, relying on oneself alone" (St Louis de Montfort, The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, n. 155). This was how the little shepherds became saints so quickly. A woman who gave hospitality to Jacinta in Lisbon, on hearing the very beautiful and wise advice that the little girl gave, asked who taught it to her. "It was Our Lady", she replied. Devoting themselves with total generosity to the direction of such a good Teacher, Jacinta and Francisco soon reached the heights of perfection.

7."Father, to you I offer praise, for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children".

Father, to you I offer praise for all your children, from the Virgin Mary, your humble Servant, to the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta.

May the message of their lives live on for ever to light humanity's way!




Sunday, 14 May 2000

1. "I am the Good Shepherd" (Jn 10,11).

1145 Christ's words echo today throughout the Church. He, the Lord, is the Shepherd who lays down his life for his flock. He is the fulfilment of the promise made by the God of Israel through the mouth of the prophets: "Behold, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out" (Ez 34,11).

On this Sunday, commonly called "Good Shepherd Sunday", the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and on this day I am pleased to ordain 26 new priests for the Diocese of Rome. They are the priests of the Year 2000, chosen to proclaim the Gospel in our Diocese. Dear candidates, I offer you my most cordial welcome and extend it to all those relatives, teachers and friends who have gathered with you at this unforgettable moment in your life.

2. "The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (Jn 10,11). Christ shepherds the People of God with the power of his love, offering himself in sacrifice. He fulfils his mission as Shepherd by making himself the sacrificial Lamb. Sacerdos et hostia. No one however forces him to do this: it is he himself who offers his own life, in absolute freedom, to take it up again (cf. Jn Jn 10,17) and thus to triumph "for our sake" where we were condemned to defeat. "Agnus redemit oves".

He is "the stone which the builders rejected which has become the cornerstone" (cf. Ps Ps 117,22 Ac 4,11). This is the marvellous work of God, who exalted his Son, giving him "the name which is above every other name": the only name by which we can be saved (cf. Acts Ac 4,12).

In the name of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, today you, dear deacons, are being ordained priests.

3. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever!" (Ps 117,1).

Dear ordinands, you are becoming priests during the Great Jubilee, in the "year of the Lord's favour" (Is 61,2). The inexhaustible grace of the sacrament will transform you inwardly, so that your life, joined for ever to that of Christ the Priest, may become a hymn to God's love: "Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo" (Ps 88,2).

The mystery of divine, creative and redeeming love, revealed in the Incarnation of the Word and fulfilled in his paschal sacrifice, is so great that it will superabundantly fill every day and every moment of your ministry. Draw unceasingly from this mystery, especially in the celebration of Holy Mass, the spiritual energy to fulfil your mission faithfully. Through your hands the Good Shepherd will continue to offer his life sacramentally for the world's salvation, drawing everyone to himself and inviting everyone to welcome the embrace of the one Father. Be always conscious of and grateful for this gift which Providence generously gives you today.

In a little while the Church will advise each of you: "Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the Lord's Cross" (Rite). Model your life on the mystery of Christ's Cross!

It is Christ who saves and sanctifies, and you will share directly in his work to the extent of the intensity of your union with him. If you abide in him, you will bear abundant fruit; but without him you can do nothing (cf. Jn Jn 15,5). He has chosen you and today "appoints" you so that you will go and bear fruit, and your fruit will abide (cf. Jn Jn 15,16).

4. Dear deacons, you belong to the Diocese of Rome and have completed your formation in the seminaries of this Church: the Roman Major Seminary, the Almo Capranica College, the "Redemptoris Mater" Seminary and the Seminary of the Oblates of Divine Love. I would like to thank all those who have accompanied and guided you on the path that has led you here. I am thinking of your parents and of the priests who have helped you in your vocational decision by their example and advice. I am thinking of those responsible for your theological, spiritual and pastoral training, the superiors of the Roman seminaries, whom I cordially encourage to continue their service with generous commitment, so that the Church of Rome will be enriched by numerous and well-formed priests. The joy of seeing you as priests ever faithful to your mission will be the greatest reward for everyone.

1146 May your example also encourage other young men to follow Christ as willingly. We pray for this on this day dedicated to vocations: May the "Lord of the harvest" continue to call workers for the service of his kingdom because "the harvest is plentiful" (Mt 9,37).

5. Dear ordinands, may Blessed Mary, the model for every call of special consecration in the Church, watch over your vocation. At this moment Christ is again entrusting you to her, repeating to each of you what he said from the Cross to the Apostle John: "Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19,27).

I entrust you and your ministry to the Salus Populi Romani. She will know how to guide you, day after day, to become one with the Good Shepherd, especially in the daily celebration of the Eucharist.

And you, "Good Shepherd, true Bread, nourish and protect us" for an ever more generous service to your Church, which works in the world for the salvation of humanity. Amen.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1139