S. John Paul II Homil. 1422


Holy Thursday, 17 April 2003

1. "By your Holy Spirit you annointed your only Son High Priest of the new and eternal covenant".

These words that we will shortly hear in the Preface are an appropriate catechesis on the Priesthood of Christ. He is the Supreme Pontiff of future benefits, who desired to perpetuate his Priesthood in the Church through the service of ordained ministers, to whom he entrusted the task of preaching the Gospel and of celebrating the Sacraments of salvation.

This evocative celebration on Holy Thursday morning, which sees Priests gathered around the altar with their Bishop, constitutes in a certain sense an "introduction" to the holy Triduum of Easter.

1423 During it, the Oils and Chrism are blessed which will be used for the anointing of catechumens, for the comfort of the sick and for the conferral of Confirmation and holy Orders.

The Oils and Chrism, closely linked to the Paschal Mystery, effectively contribute to the renewal of the life of the Church through the Sacraments. The Holy Spirit, through these sacramental signs, never ceases to sanctify the Christian people.

2. "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (
Lc 4,21). The Gospel passage just proclaimed in our assembly takes us back to the synagogue of Nazareth where Jesus, opening the scroll of Isaiah, began to read: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me" (Lc 4,18). He applies the Prophet's oracle to himself, concluding: "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled" (v. 21).

Every time the liturgical assembly gathers to celebrate the Eucharist, this "today" is actualized. The mystery of Christ, the single and supreme High Priest of the new and eternal Covenant, is made present and efficacious.

In this light, we understand better the value of our priestly ministry. The Apostle invites us to revive ceaselessly the gift of God received through the imposition of hands (cf. II Tim 1: 6), sustained by the comforting certainty that the One who has begun this work in us will bring it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (cf. Phil Ph 1,6).

Your Eminences, venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, dear Priests, I greet you with affection. Today, with the Holy Chrism Mass, we commemorate this great truth that directly concerns us. Christ has called us, in a special way, to share in his Priesthood. Every vocation to the priestly ministry is an extraordinary gift of God's love and, at the same time, a profound mystery which concerns the inscrutable divine designs and the depths of the human conscience.

3. "Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord" (Responsorial Psalm). With hearts filled with gratitude, we will shortly be renewing our priestly promises. This rite takes our minds and hearts back to the unforgettable day on which we made the commitment to be closely united to Christ, the model of our priesthood, and to be faithful stewards of God's mysteries, not allowing human interest to guide us, but only love for God and our neighbour.

Dear Brothers in the priesthood, have we remained faithful to these promises? Never let the spiritual enthusiasm of priestly Ordination be extinguished within us. And you, beloved faithful, pray for priests so that they may be attentive stewards of the gifts of divine grace, especially of God's mercy in the sacrament of Confession and of the Bread of life in the Eucharist, the living memorial of the death and Resurrection of Christ.

4. "From generation to generation I will announce his truth" (Communion Antiphon). Every time the Eucharistic Sacrifice is celebrated in the liturgical assembly, the "truth" of Christ's death and Resurrection is renewed. It is what we will do with special emotion this evening as we relive the Last Supper of the Lord. To emphasize the timeliness of the great commemoration of redemption, during the Mass of the Lord's Supper I will sign the Encyclical entitled: Ecclesia de Eucharistia, which I especially wanted to address to you, dear Priests, instead of my usual Letter for Holy Thursday. Accept it as a special gift on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of my Petrine ministry and share it with the souls entrusted to your pastoral care.

May the Virgin Mary, the Woman of the "Eucharist" who carried the incarnate Word in her womb and made herself a ceaseless offering to the Lord, lead us all to an ever deeper understanding of the immense gift and mystery which the Priesthood is. May she make us worthy of her Son Jesus, the Eternal High Priest. Amen!


Holy Thursday, 17 April 2003

1424 1. "He loved them to the end" (Jn 13,1).

On the eve of his passion and death, the Lord Jesus wanted to gather his Apostles around him once again to entrust his last instructions to them and to give them the supreme witness of his love.

Let us also enter the "large upper room furnished and ready" (Mc 14,15), and dispose ourselves to listen to the most intimate thoughts that he wants to confide to us; in particular, let us be ready to receive the act and the gift that he has prepared in view of this final meeting.

2. So, while they are eating, Jesus rises from the table and begins to wash the disciples' feet. At first Peter resists, then he understands and accepts. We too are asked to understand: the first thing the disciple must do is to prepare himself to listen to the Lord, opening his heart to accept the initiative of his love. Only then will he be invited, in turn, to do what the Teacher did. He too must be committed to "washing the feet" of his brothers and sisters, expressing in gestures of mutual service that love which is the synthesis of the whole Gospel (cf. Jn Jn 13,1-20).

Also during the Supper, knowing that his "hour" had now come, Jesus blesses and breaks the bread, then gives it to the Apostles saying: "This is my body"; he does the same with the cup: "This is my blood". And he commands them: "Do this in remembrance of me" (1Co 11,24 1Co 25). Truly this is the witness of love taken "to the end" (Jn 13,1). Jesus gives himself as food to his disciples to become one with them. Once again the "lesson" emerges that we must learn: the first thing to do is to open our hearts to welcoming the love of Christ. It is his initiative: it is his love that enables us, in turn, to love our brethren.

Therefore, the washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, "as I have done... so also must you do" (Jn 13,15).

3. "Do this in remembrance of me" (1Co 11,24) The "remembrance" the Lord left us that evening encompasses the crowning moment of his earthly existence, the moment of his sacrifical offering to the Father out of love for humanity. It is the "remembrance" that is placed in the context of a supper, the paschal meal, in which Jesus gives himself to his Apostles under the appearances of bread and wine, as their nourishment on the journey to the heavenly homeland.

Mysterium fidei! This is what the celebrant proclaims after saying the words of the consecration. And the liturgical assembly responds, joyfully expressing its faith and adherence filled with hope. The Eucharist is a truly great mystery! A mystery "incomprehensible" to the human mind, but so full of light to the eyes of faith! The Table of the Lord in the simplicity of the Eucharistic symbols - the shared bread and wine - are also revealed as the table of concrete brotherhood. The message that radiates from them is too clear to be missed: those who take part in the Eucharistic Celebration cannot remain impervious to the expectations of the poor and needy.

4. It is precisely in this prospective that I would like the collection taken during this Celebration to go to alleviate the urgent needs of all those in Iraq who are suffering the consequences of the war. A heart that has known the love of the Lord opens spontaneously to charity for his brethren.
"O sacrum convivium, in quo Christus sumitur".

We are all invited this evening, until well on into the night, to celebrate and adore the Lord who made himself food for us pilgrims in time, offering to us his flesh and his blood.

1425 The Eucharist is a great gift for the Church and for the world. To ensure that ever deeper attention be paid to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, I wanted to offer the entire Community of believers an Encyclical, whose central theme is the Eucharistic Mystery: Ecclesia de Eucharistia. I will shortly have the joy of signing it during this Celebration that commemorates the Last Supper, when Jesus gave himself to us as the supreme testimony of love. From this moment I entrust it in the first place to priests, so that, in turn, they may disseminate it for the benefit of the entire Christian people.

5. Adoro te devote, latens Deitas! We adore you, O wonderful Sacrament of the presence of the One who loved his own "to the end". We thank you, O Lord, who edifies, gathers together and gives life to the Church.

O divine Eucharist, flame of Christ's love that burns on the altar of the world, make the Church, comforted by you, ever more caring in wiping away the tears of the suffering and in sustaining the efforts of all who yearn for justice and peace.

And you, Mary, "Eucharistic" Woman who offered your virginal womb for the incarnation of the Word of God, help us to live the Eucharistic Mystery in the spirit of the "Magnificat". May our lives be a never-ending praise of the Almighty who concealed himself beneath the humility of the Eucharistic signs.

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas...
Adoro te... adiuva me!


Holy Saturday, 19 April 2003

1. "Do not be afraid; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here" (Mc 16,6).

At sunrise of the first day after the Sabbath, as recounted in the Gospel, some women go the sepulchre to honour the body of Jesus, who, having been crucified on Friday, was quickly wrapped in linen and placed in the tomb. They look for him, but they do not find him: he is no longer in the place where he was laid. All that remains of him are the signs of the burial: the empty tomb, the bindings, the linen shroud. The women, however, are disturbed by the sight of "a young man, dressed in a white robe", who proclaims to them: "He is risen, he is not here".

This upsetting news, destined to change the course of history, from that moment on continues to resound from generation to generation: an ancient proclamation, yet always new. It resonates once again during this Easter Vigil, mother of all vigils, and it is spreading at this very moment throughout all the earth.

2. O sublime mystery of this Holy Night! The night in which we relive the extraordinary event of the Resurrection. If Christ were to have remained a prisoner of the tomb, humanity and all of creation, in a certain way, would have lost their meaning. But you, Christ, are truly risen.

1426 The Scriptures we have just heard in the Liturgy of the Word find their fulfilment and run through every stage of the entire salvific plan. At the beginning of Creation, "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gn 1,31). To Abraham he had promised: "by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves" ( Gn Gn 22,18). Here is again proposed one of the most ancient themes of the Hebrew tradition which reveals the meaning of the Exodus when "the Lord saved Israel from the hand of the Egyptians" (Ex 14,30). The promises of the Prophets continue to be fulfilled in our time: "I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes..." (Ez 36,27).

3. On this night of Resurrection everything begins anew; creation regains its authentic meaning in the plan of salvation. It is like a new beginning of history and of the cosmos, because Christ is risen, "the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1Co 15,20). Christ, the "last Adam", has become "a life-giving spirit" (1Co 15,45).

The same sin of our forefathers is sung in the Easter Proclamation as "felix culpa", "O happy fault, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!". Where sin abounded, grace now abounds all the more, and "the stone which the builder rejected has become the corner stone" (Psalm Response) of an indestructible spiritual edifice.

On this Holy Night a new people is born with whom God has sealed an eternal covenant in the blood of the Word made flesh, crucified and risen.

4. One becomes a member of the people of the redeemed through Baptism. As the Apostle Paul has reminded us in Epistle to the Romans: " We are buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (6:4). This exhortation is especially for you, dearest catechumens, to whom, in just a few moments, Mother Church will administer the great gift of divine life. From different countries divine providence has led you here, to the tomb of Saint Peter, to receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. Entering in this way into the house of the Lord, you will be consecrated with the oil of happiness and can feed yourselves with the Bread of Heaven.

Sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will persevere in your faith in Christ, and courageously proclaim his Gospel.

5. Dearest Brothers and Sisters gathered here! In just a few moments we too will be united with the catechumens in renewing our Baptismal promises. We will again renounce Satan and all his works clinging firmly to God and his work of salvation. In this manner, we will make an even firmer commitment to an evangelical life.

Mary, joyful witness of the Resurrection, help us all to live "a new life"; make each of us conscious that, having crucified our "old self" with Christ, we must consider and conduct ourselves as new men, people "alive to God, in Christ Jesus" (cf. Rm Rm 6,4).

Amen, Alleluia!


II Sunday of Easter, 27 April 2003

1. "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever (Ps 117[118]: 1). This is what the Church sings today on this Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. In the Paschal Mystery, the comforting design of salvation, God's merciful love whose privileged witnesses are the saints and blesseds in Heaven, is fully revealed.

1427 By a providential coincidence, I have the joy of raising six new Blesseds to the honours of the altars on this very Sunday on which we celebrate the "Divine Mercy". Each one of them, in a different way, expressed the Lord's tender and wonderful mercy: James Alberione, a priest, Founder of the Pauline Family; Mark of Aviano, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin; Maria Christina Brando, virgin, Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters, Expiatory Victims of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; Eugenia Ravasco, virgin, Foundress of the Congregations of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary; Maria Domenica Mantovani, virgin, Co-Foundress of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family; Julia Salzano, virgin, Foundress of the Congregation of the Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

2. "These (signs) are written... that believing you may have life in his Name" (
Jn 20,31). The Good News is a universal message destined for the people of all times. It is personally addressed to each one and asks to be expressed in his life style. When Christians become "living Gospels", they are transformed into eloquent "signs" of the Lord's mercy and their witness touches others' hearts more easily. As docile instruments in the hands of divine Providence, they have a profound effect on history. This is how it was with these six new Blesseds, who come from beloved Italy, a land rich in saints.

3. Bl. James Alberione felt the need to make Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, known "to all people of our time with the means of our time", as he liked to say. He was inspired by the Apostle Paul, whom he described as a "theologian and architect of the Church", remaining ever docile and faithful to the Magisterium of the Successor of Peter, a "beacon" of truth in a world that is so often devoid of sound spiritual references. "May there be a group of saints to use these means", this apostle of the new times was in the habit of repeating.

What a formidable heritage he left his religious family! May his spiritual sons and daughters keep intact the spirit of their origins, to respond adequately to the needs of evangelization in the contemporary world.

4. In a different time and context, Bl. Mark of Aviano shone with holiness as his soul burned with a longing for prayer, silence and adoration of God's mystery. This contemplative who journeyed along the highways of Europe was the centre of a wide-reaching spiritual renewal, thanks to his courageous preaching that was accompanied by numerous miracles. An unarmed prophet of divine mercy, he was impelled by circumstances to be actively committed to defending the freedom and unity of Christian Europe. Bl. Mark of Aviano reminds the European continent, opening up in these years to new prospects of cooperation, that its unity will be sounder if it is based on its common Christian roots.

5. All that God worked through Maria Christina Brando is astonishing. Her Eucharistic and expiatory spirituality is expressed in two lines, like "two branches that stem from the same trunk": love of God and love of neighbour. Her desire to take part in Christ's passion, as it were, "overflowed" into educational works, for the purpose of making people aware of their dignity and open to the Lord's merciful love.

6. Bl. Eugenia Ravasco was wholly concerned with spreading love for the Hearts of Christ and Mary. Contemplating these two Hearts, she was passionately devoted to serving her neighbour and joyfully devoted her whole life to young people and the poor. With foresight, she was able to open herself to the pressing needs of the mission, with special concern for those who had "fallen away" from the Church.

The words "doing good for love of the Heart of Jesus", and "burning with desire for the good of others, especially young people" neatly sum up the charism she bestowed on her institute.

7. Bl. Maria Domenica Mantovani followed the same path. This praiseworthy daughter of the region of Verona, a disciple of Bl. Giuseppe Nascimbeni, was inspired by the Holy Family of Nazareth to make herself "all things to all people", ever attentive to the needs of the "poor people". She was extraordinarily faithful, in all circmstances and to her last breath, to the will of God, by whom she felt loved and called. What a fine example of holiness for every believer!

8. Then, what can I say about Blessed Julia Salzano? In advance of her time, she was an apostle of the new evangelization in which she combined apostolic activity with prayer, offered ceaselessly, especially for the conversion of the "indifferent".

This new Blessed encourages us to persevere in faith and never to lose our confidence in God who does all things. Called to be the apostles of modern times, may believers also be inspired by Bl. Julia Salzano "to instil in many creatures the immense charity of Christ".

1428 9. "Eternal is God's mercy" which shines in each one of the new Blesseds. Through them God has worked great marvels! Truly eternal, O Lord, is your mercy! You never abandon those who turn to you. With these new blesseds let us repeat to you with filial confidence:

"Jesus, I trust in you! Iezu, ufam Tobie!", the words of St Faustina Kowalska.

Help us, Mary, Mother of Mercy, to proclaim with our lives that "God's love endures for ever".

Now and forever. Amen! Alleluia!




Plaza de Colón, Madrid

Third Sunday of Easter, 4 May 2003

1. "You are witnesses of these things" (cf. Lk Lc 24,46-48), Jesus said to his Apostles in the Gospel account just proclaimed. This was a difficult and demanding mission, entrusted to men who did not dare to show themselves in public for fear of being recognized as disciples of the Nazarene. Nevertheless, the first reading presented to us Peter who, once he received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, has the courage to proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus to the people and urge them to repent and convert.

Since then the Church, with the power of the Holy Spirit, continues to announce this extraordinary news to all people of all times. And the Successor of Peter, a pilgrim on Spanish soil, repeats to you: Spain, following a past of courageous evangelization, continue today to be witnesses of the risen Christ!

2. I greet with affection all the people of God who have come from the different regions of the Country and have gathered here to participate in this solemn celebration. I offer a respectful greeting to Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain and to the Royal Family. I cordially thank Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid, for his kind words. I greet the Spanish Cardinals and Bishops, priests and consecrated persons; I also greet with affection the members of the Institutes associated with the new Saints.

I am particularly grateful for the presence here of the President of the Government and the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities and of the civil authorities who have offered their precious collaboration so that the various events of this Visit could be accomplished.

3. The new Saints are presented to us today as true disciples of the Lord and witnesses of his Resurrection.

1429 St Peter Poveda, grasping the importance of the role of education in society, undertook an important humanitarian and educational task among the marginalized and the needy. He was a master of prayer, a teacher of the Christian life and of the relationship between faith and knowledge, convinced that Christians must bring essential values and commitment to building a world that is more just and mutually supportive. His life ended with the crown of martyrdom.

St José María Rubio lived his priesthood first as a diocesan priest and then as a Jesuit, giving himself totally to the apostolate of the Word and of the Sacraments, dedicating long hours to the confessional and directing numerous spiritual retreats in which he formed many Christians who would later die as martyrs in the religious persecution in Spain. "Do what God wants and want what God does!" was his motto.

4. St Genoveva Torres was an instrument of God's tender love for lonely people in need of love, comfort and physical and spiritual care. The characteristic note that fuelled her spirituality was adoration of the Eucharist for the expiation of sins, which formed the basis of an apostolate full of humility and simplicity, of self-denial and charity.

Love and sensitivity to the poor likewise prompted St Angela of the Cross to found her "Company of the Cross" for the most deprived with a charitable and social dimension that made an enormous impact on the Church and society of Seville in her day. Her distinctive traits were naturalness and simplicity, seeking holiness with a spirit of mortification and at the service of God in her brothers and sisters.

St Maravillas of Jesus was motivated by a heroic faith that shaped her response to an austere vocation, in which she made God the centre of her life. Having overcome the painful circumstances of the Spanish Civil War, she established new foundations for the Order of Carmel, imbued with the characteristic spirit of the Teresian reform. Her life of contemplation and monastic enclosure did not prevent her from responding to the needs of the persons she dealt with and promoting social and charitable works around her.

5. The new Saints have very concrete faces and their history is well known. What is their message? Their works, which we admire and for which we thank God, are not due to their own efforts nor to human wisdom but to the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit who inspired in them an unshakeable adherence to the risen and crucified Christ and the decision to imitate him. Dear Catholic faithful of Spain: let yourselves be influenced by these marvellous examples!

In giving thanks to the Lord for the many gifts he has poured out upon Spain, I invite you to pray with me that new saints continue to flourish in this land. Other fruits of holiness will be produced if the ecclesial communities remain faithful to the Gospel which, in accordance with a venerable tradition, has been preached since the earliest times of Christianity and has been preserved down the ages.

New fruits of holiness will be produced if the family remains united as a true shrine of love and life. "Christian and Catholic faith constitute the identity of the Spanish people", I said on the occasion of my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Address at Santiago, 9 November 1982).

To know and to deepen a people's past means to strengthen and enrich their very identity. Do not abandon your Christian roots! Only in this way will you be able to bring the cultural riches of your history to the world and to Europe.

6. "Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (
Lc 24,45). The risen Christ enlightens the Apostles so that their proclamation can be understood and transmitted intact to all the generations, so that man, in hearing may believe, in believing, hope, and in hoping, love (cf. St Augustine, De Catechizandis Rudibus, 4, 8). In proclaiming the risen Jesus Christ, the Church desires to announce a way of hope to all men and women, and to accompany them to the encounter with Christ.

In celebrating this Mass, I invoke upon you all the great gift of fidelity to your Christian commitments. May God the Father grant it to you through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin, who is venerated in Spain under many titles, and of the Saints.


Fourth Sunday of Easter, 11 May 2003

1. "I am the good shepherd" (
Jn 10,11).

In the Gospel passage that today's liturgy presents to us, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

The hireling, who does not regard the sheep as his own, deserts them in the face of difficulty and danger and flees. The shepherd, on the other hand, who knows each one of his sheep, creates a close bond with them, so deep that he is ready to give up his life for them.

With this sublime example of loving dedication, Jesus invites his disciples, particularly priests, to follow in his footsteps. He calls every priest to be a good shepherd of the flock that Providence entrusts to him.

2. Today, dear candidates for ordination to the priesthood, you too are configured to the Good Shepherd, becoming collaborators of the successors of the Apostles.

I greet you all with affection. I greet first of all Cardinal Ruini, Vicar of Rome, the Vicegerent and the Auxiliary Bishops. I greet the Rectors and Superiors of the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary and of the diocesan Seminary Redemptoris Mater, who have been in charge of your formation. I greet Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur and the formation teachers of the "Sons of the Cross"; the formation teachers in charge of those among you from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity and the Society of the Catholic Apostolate.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to your parish communities, to the associations, movements and groups to which you belong. I thank all those who have helped you to recognize and welcome the Lord's call, and especially your families who have raised you in the faith and are rejoicing with you today.

3. Dear Ordinandi, this will be an unforgettable day for you all. Today you are "promoted to the service of Christ, teacher, priest and king", and given a share in his ministry "through which the Church here on earth is being ceaselessly built up into the People of God, Christ's Body and the temple of the Holy Spirit" (Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 1).

I would like simply to call your attention to some points that clarify who the priest is in God's saving plan, and what the Church and the world expect of him. The priest is the man of the Word whose task it is to take the proclamation of the Gospel to the men and women of his time. He must do so with a keen sense of responsiblity, constantly striving to be always in full harmony with the Magisterium of the Church. He is also the man of the Eucharist, through which he penetrates the heart of the Pascal Mystery. Especially in Holy Mass, he feels the need for an ever more intimate configuration to Jesus the Good Shepherd, supreme and eternal Priest.

Nourish yourselves, therefore, on the word of God; converse each day with Christ, truly present in the sacrament of the Altar. Allow yourselves to be touched by the infinite love of his Heart and spend more time in Eucharistic adoration in the important moments of your life, such as difficult personal and pastoral decisions, at the beginning and end of your day. I can assure you that "I have experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 25).

1431 4. Configured to Christ the Good Shepherd, dear candidates for ordination, you will be ministers of divine mercy. You will administer the sacrament of Reconciliation, thereby fulfilling the mandate passed on by the Lord to the Apostles after the Resurrection: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20,22-23). How many miracles and wonders worked by God's mercy will you witness in the confessional!

But to fulfil worthily the mission that is entrusted to you today demands that you be constantly united with God through prayer and experience his merciful love yourselves by regularly going to Confession, letting expert spiritual counsellors guide you, especially in life's demanding moments.

5. Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Diocese of Rome and you who are gathered round these Ordinandi! The priest, called in a special way to tend toward holiness, is the witness of the love and joy of Christ for the entire Christian people. After the example of the Good Shepherd, he helps believers to follow Christ, in return for his love. Be close to your priests; accompany them constantly through prayer and ask the Lord insistently for a constant supply of workers for his harvest.

And you, Mary, "Woman of the Eucharist", Mother and model of every priest, be close to these sons of yours today and thoughout the years of their pastoral ministry. Like the Apostle John, they too welcome you "into their home". Help them to conform their lives to the divine Teacher who has chosen them as his ministers. May their "present", just spoken by each one with youthful enthusiasm, be expressed every day in generous adherence to the tasks of the ministry and blossom in the joy of the "magnificat" for the "great things" that God's mercy wills to work through their hands. Amen.


Fifth Sunday of Easter, 18 May 2003

1. "He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit" (Jn 15,5 cf. Gospel Acclamation ).The words Jesus addressed to the Apostles at the end of the Last Supper are also a moving invitation to us, his disciples in the third millennium. Only those who are intimately united to him - grafted to him like the branch of the vine - receive the vital nourishment of his grace. Only those who live in communion with God produce abundant fruits of justice and holiness.

Witnesses of this fundamental Gospel truth are the Saints whom I have the joy of canonizing on this Fifth Sunday of Easter. Two of them come from Poland: Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, Bishop of Przemysl, Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; Ursula Ledóchowska, virgin, Foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony. The other two Saints are Italian: Maria De Mattias, virgin, Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ; Virginia Centurione Bracelli, a lay woman, Foundress of the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge on Mount Calvary and of the Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary.

2. "Perfection is like that city in the Apocalypse (Ap 21) with 12 gates that open toward every part of the world, as a sign that the men of every nation, every State and every age may pass through them.... No condition, no age is an obstacle to a perfect life. Indeed, God is not concerned with external things... but the soul... and demands no more than what we are able to give". With these words, our new Saint, Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, expressed his faith in the universal call to holiness. He lived out this conviction as priest, teacher and Bishop. He himself strove for holiness and he led others towards it. He was zealous in all things, but in such a way that in his service Christ himself was the Master.

His motto in life was: "All for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the immaculate hands of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary". This motto shaped his spiritual life, which consisted in the entrustment of himself, his life and his ministry to Christ through Mary.

His gift to Christ was intended above all as a response to His love, contained and revealed in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He would say: "Every person must be struck with amazement at the thought that the Lord Jesus, destined to go to the Father on a throne of glory, lived on earth with men. It was His love that invented this miracle of miracles, instituting the Most Holy Sacrament". He ceaselessly inspired in himself and in others this wonderment of faith. It was this that led him also to Mary. As an expert theologian, he could not but see in Mary the One who "in the mystery of the Incarnation also anticipated the Eucharistic faith of the Church"; the One who, bearing in her womb the Word who became flesh, was in a certain sense the "tabernacle" - the first "tabernacle" in history (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 55).

Therefore, he turned to her with filial devotion, the love he had learned in his family, and he encouraged this love in others. He wrote to the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which he founded: "One of the most ardent desires of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is that his Most Holy Mother be venerated and loved by all: firstly, because the Lord himself has ineffable love for her, and then because he made her the mother of all men, so that with her sweetness she might attract to herself even those who flee the Holy Cross, and bring them to the Divine Heart".

S. John Paul II Homil. 1422