S. John Paul II Homil. 1464
1465 Wednesday, 22 October 2003
1. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16,16).
How often have I repeated these words in the 25 years of my Pontificate! I have spoken them in the main languages of the world and in many corners of the earth. Indeed, the Successor of Peter can never forget the dialogue between the Teacher and the Apostle: "You are the Christ...". "You are Peter...".
This "you" [in former usage, "thou"] is preceded by [the plural form of] "you": "Who do you say that I am?" (Mt 16,15). Jesus' question is addressed to the group of disciples, and Simon Peter responds on behalf of them all. The first service that Peter and his Successors render to the community of believers is exactly this: the profession of faith in "Christ, the Son of the living God".
2. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!". Today let us renew the Apostle Peter's profession of faith in this Basilica that bears his name. In this Basilica the Bishops of Rome, who succeed one another down the centuries, convoke the believers of the City and of the World and strengthen them in the truth and unity of the faith. But at the same time, as Bernini's Colonnade in front of the Basilica beautifully expresses, this Basilica opens its arms wide to all humanity, as if to show that the Church is sent to proclaim the Good News to all men and women without exception.
Unity and openness, communion and mission: this is what the Church breathes. In particular, this is the twofold dimension of the Petrine ministry: a service of unity and of mission. The Bishop of Rome has the joy of sharing this service with the other successors of the Apostles, close to him in the one Episcopal College.
3. By ancient tradition, the Successor of Peter avails himself in particular of this service of collaboration on the part of the Cardinals. Their College reflects the universality of the Church, the one People of God rooted in the multiplicity of the nations (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 13).
On this occasion, I would like to express to you, dear and venerable Brother Cardinals, my gratitude for the effective help you guarantee to me. I would then like to greet the new members of the College of Cardinals. The ring I will shortly be giving to you, venerable Brothers, is a symbol of the renewed bond that binds you closely to the Church and to the Pope, her visible Head.
4. Let us listen together once again to the words of the Psalm that have just rung out: "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!" (Ps 34: 4).
It is an invitation to joy and praise which spreads in concentric circles to you, dearest Cardinals, Patriarchs, Bishops, priests, men and women religious and lay faithful. It then involves all of you, men and women of good will who look upon Christ's Church with approval. To one and all I repeat: celebrate the name of the Lord with me, for he is Father, love and mercy. For this Name, venerable Brother Cardinals, we are called to bear witness "usque ad sanguinis effusionem".
If at times fear or discouragement surface, may the comforting promise of the divine Teacher console us: "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world"! (Jn 16,33).
1466 Jesus clearly foretold that the persecution of the Apostles and their successors would not be an extraordinary event (cf. Mt Mt 10,16-18). The First Reading, in describing the capture and the miraculous release of Peter also reminded us of this.
5. The Acts of the Apostles stresses that while Peter was in prison, "earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church" (Ac 12,5). What great courage is imbued by the support of the unanimous prayer of the Christian people! I myself have been able to experience the comfort it brings.
This, dear friends, is our strength. And it is one of the reasons why I wanted the 25th year of my Pontificate to be dedicated to the holy Rosary: to emphasize the primacy of prayer, and especially of contemplative prayer, prayed in spiritual union with Mary, Mother of the Church.
Mary's presence - desired, invoked, accepted - also helps us to live this celebration as a moment in which the Church is renewed in the encounter with Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us draw close to Christ, to that living stone! as Peter told us in the Second Reading (cf. 1P 2,4-9). Let us start afresh from him, from Christ, to proclaim the miracles of his love to all, without fear or hesitation, for he assures us: "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!".
Yes, Lord, we trust in you, and with you let us continue on our way at the service of the Church and of humanity!
Mass was concelebrated in St Peter's Basilica by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, for the opening of the academic year of the ecclesiastical universities in Rome. The following is the Homily for the Mass written by the Holy Father.
1. "May the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we may understand the signs of the new times" (Gospel Acclamation; cf. Ep 1,17 Lc 21,29-31).
Today's liturgy invites us to ask God to illumine our hearts with the light of his grace. Light and wisdom of the heart! Here is the main road to the discovery of truth. Here is a precious good to implore for all the children of the Church, so that they may be able to face courageously the challenges of our times.
The invocation of light for our hearts acquires a very special meaning at our liturgical assembly. This evening, in fact, the community of the Roman ecclesiastical universities has gathered round the altar at the beginning of the academic year. A new year of study and research is opening before you, dear brothers and sisters, which you will dedicate with care to acquiring a deeper knowledge of theology and the other disciplines, in order to prepare yourselves for your future pastoral tasks and responsibilities at the service of the Christian people. Accompany application to your studies with prayer, meditation and the constant search for the will of the Lord. In this way you will find it easier to read "the signs of the new times". The great Doctor of the Church, St Augustine, expressed this same requirement in a uniquely effective formula: "Orent ut intelligant - may they pray to understand" (De Doctrina Christiana, III, 56; PL 34, 89).
1467 2. With these sentiments, I am pleased to address my cordial welcome to you all, dear brothers and sisters who are taking part in this solemn celebration. First of all, I greet Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. With him I greet the Grand Chancellors, the Rectors of the Universities, the Members of the Academic Staff and the Rectors of the Seminaries and Colleges.
I address an affectionate thought to each one of you, dear young people who are studying in Rome, with a word of special encouragement for all of you who are beginning your university training this year. May you be conscious of the greatness of the gift you have received: to be able to complete your cultural, human and spiritual training in the city and Diocese of Rome, which has the privilege of preserving the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, "pillars" of the Church. This gives you an opportunity to examine in depth and to have a closer view of the universal scope of the Church's mission, and also to be more perfectly in tune with her Magisterium.
3. "I do not the good I will to do, but the evil I do not intend" (Rm 7,19). In the First Reading from the Letter to the Romans (cf. Rom Rm 7,18-25) St Paul, painting a picture in strong and dramatic colours, points out the human inability to do good and avoid evil. But there is a way out: victory over evil comes to us from God's merciful goodness, manifested to the full in Christ. And as if with an impulse of joy, the Apostle exclaims: "All praise to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord!" (Rm 7,25).
Like Paul, the Church never ceases to proclaim this great "Good News", which is for everyone: Christ who died and rose has overcome evil and set us free from sin. He is our salvation.
This salvific proclamation rings out ceaselessly in our time too, and constitutes the heart of the ecclesial community's mission. Man today - as in the past - seeks satisfying answers to the questions on the meaning of his life and death. During the period of theological formation, dear young people, you prepare yourselves to be able to provide faith responses adapted to the language and mindset of our time. May everything, therefore, be directed to this exalted mission: the proclamation of Christ and the liberating power of his Gospel.
4. "You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?" (Lc 12,56). With these words, too, Jesus urges us to face the realities of our time. If, on the one hand, your hearts must never be detached from contemplation of the mystery of God, on the other, you must keep your gaze fixed on the events of the world and of history. The Second Vatican Council said in this regard that the Church has always had the duty "of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other" (Gaudium et Spes GS 4).
May this be the spirit in which you dedicate yourselves to study during these years of your theological and pastoral formation.
May the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, watch over your daily work at the Pontifical Universities of Rome. May she, the first evangelizer, accompany you and obtain that you are properly prepared to be authentic apostles of the Gospel of Christ. Amen!
Sunday, 9 November 2003
1. "The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple" (1Co 3,17). We listen once again to these words of the apostle Paul in today's solemn liturgy of the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Cathedral of Rome, Mother of all the churches.
1468 Every place set aside for divine worship is a sign of that spiritual temple, which is the Church, made up of living stones: of the faithful united by the one faith, of the participation in the Sacraments and of the bond of charity. The Saints, in particular, are precious stones of that spiritual temple.
Holiness, fruit of the unceasing work of God's Spirit, shines in the new Blesseds: Juan Nepomuceno Zegrí y Moreno, priest; Valentin Paquay, priest; Luigi Maria Monti, religious; Bonifacia Rodríguez Castro, virgin; Rosalie Rendu, virgin.
2. The vision of the Sanctuary presented to us in today's liturgy by the prophet Ezechiel describes a stream that flows from the temple carrying life, vigour and hope: "Everything will live where the river goes" (Ez 47,9). This image expresses God's infinite goodness and his design of salvation which scales the walls of the sacred enclosure and thus becomes the blessing of the entire earth.
Juan Nepomuceno Zegrí y Moreno, an upright priest of deep Eucharistic piety, understood well how the proclamation of the Gospel needed to become a dynamic reality, able to transform the apostle's life. As a parish priest, he was committed to "visibly providing for all those who, suffering from abandonment, must drink from the bitter chalice and receive nourishment from the bread of tears" (19 June 1859).
He developed his redemptive spirituality with this purpose, born from intimacy with Christ and directed towards charity for the neediest. He was inspired, through invocation to the Virgin of Mercy, Mother of the Redeemer, to found the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, with the aim of making God's love ever-present where there was "just one suffering to heal, one misfortune to console, one single hope to instil in hearts". Today this Institute, following in the footsteps of its Founder, continues its dedication to witness and promote redemptive charity.
3. Fr Valentin Paquay is truly a disciple of Christ and a priest according to the heart of God. As an apostle of mercy, he spent long hours in the confessional, with a special gift to place sinners anew on the right path, reminding men and women of the greatness of divine forgiveness. Placing the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery at the centre of his priestly life, he invited the faithful to come frequently to communion with the Bread of Life.
Like many saints, at a young age Fr Valentin was entrusted to the protection of Our Lady, who was invoked under the title of Cause of our Joy in the Church where he grew up, in Tongres. Following his example, may you be able to serve your brothers and sisters to give them the joy of meeting Christ in truth!
4. "I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple... everything will live where the water goes" (Ez 47,1). The image of water, which brings everything back to life, illuminates well the life of Bl. Luigi Maria Monti, entirely dedicated to healing the physical and spiritual wounds of the sick and the orphaned. He loved to call them "Christ's poor ones", and he served them, enlivened by a living faith and sustained by intense and continual prayer. In his evangelical commitment, he was constantly inspired by the example of the Holy Virgin and placed the Congregation he founded under the sign of Mary Immaculate.
How relevant is the message of this new Blessed! For his spiritual sons and for all believers, he is an example of faithfulness to God's call and to the proclamation of the Gospel of charity. He is a model of solidarity towards the needy and of affectionate entrustment to the Immaculate Virgin.
5. The words of Jesus proclaimed in today's Gospel: "Stop turning my Father's house into a marketplace" (Jn 2,16), question today's society, often tempted to turn everything into commodity and profit, putting aside values and dignity which do not have a price. Since the human person is the likeness and dwelling place of God, a purification is necessary, so as to protect the person beginning with his or her social condition or work.
Bl. Bonifacia Rodríguez Castro was dedicated entirely to this activity; she herself was a worker who understood the risks of the social condition of her age. In the simple and protected life of the Holy Family of Nazareth, she discovered a model of the spirituality of work that gives the human person dignity and makes every activity, however little it may seem, an offering to God and a means of sanctification.
1469 This is the spirit that she wished to instil in working women, starting with the Josephine Association and then with the foundation of the Servants of St Joseph, who continue their work in the world with simplicity, joy and renunciation.
6. In an era troubled by social conflicts, Rosalie Rendu joyfully became a servant to the poorest, restoring dignity to each one by means of material help, education and the teaching of the Christian mystery, inducing Frédéric Ozanam to place himself at the service of the poor.
Her charity was inventive. Where did she draw the strength to carry out so many things? From her intense prayer life and the continuous praying of the Rosary, which she never abandoned. Her secret was simple: to see the face of Christ in every man and woman, as a true daughter of St Vincent de Paul and like another Sister of her epoch, St Catherine Labouré. Let us give thanks for the witness of charity that the Vincentian family gives unceasingly to the world!
7. "He spoke of the temple of his body" (Jn 2,21). These works evoke the mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ. All of the Church's members must be conformed to Jesus crucified and risen.
Mary, Mother of Christ and our Mother, is our strength and guide in this commitment. May the new Blesseds, whom we contemplate today in the glory of Heaven, intercede for us. May it also be granted to us all that we one day find ourselves in Paradise, to experience together the joy of everlasting life. Amen!
1. "I give them eternal life" (Jn 10,28).
Christ's words fill with light and hope our celebration today, during which we are praying for the Cardinals and Bishops who died in the course of the past year.
The memory of the Cardinals who have left us was particularly present and vivid at the recent Consistory. I would also like to remember their names here: Hans Hermann Groër, Gerald Emmet Carter, Aurelio Sabattani, Francesco Colasuonno, Ignacio Antonio Velasco García, Corrado Ursi and Maurice Michael Otunga. With them, I also remember Patriarch Raphaël I Bidawid.
2. Let us also pray for the Bishops whom God has called to himself from this world in these past months. It is comforting to think that all these venerable Brothers, zealous servants of the Gospel during their earthly lives, are now in the provident "hands" of God who has welcomed them into the eternal embrace of his love.
In their pastoral solicitude, they taught the faithful by their preaching and example to aspire to the true and eternal values, seeking to make themselves models for the flock entrusted to their care (cf. 1P 5,2-3). We are therefore confident that the Lord will deign to grant the promised reward to his faithful servants.
1470 3. May Mary Most Holy welcome them and obtain for them eternal repose in the kingdom of the light and peace of the Risen One.
1. "Fear not, I will help you" (Is 41,13). God's promise, echoed by the Prophet, was entirely fulfilled in the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. In him, God became one of us! For this reason, we need not fear; the season we are living of Advent encourages us to hope.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, today's gathering is situated in this setting of confident expectation of Christ's coming. I greet you all with affection. I greet first of all the distinguished rectors, lecturers and students of the Roman Universities. I extend a special thought to Letizia Moratti, Minister for Education and for University and Research. I greet the University chaplains and the national delegations of the university apostolate.
I thank the President of the Conference of Rectors of the Italian Universities, and the student representatives who expressed the sentiments of all.
2. "I will make... the dry land into springs of water" (Is 41,18). This is God's great promise to the destitute and poor who, as the Prophet affirms, "seek water...", because "their tongue is parched with thirst" (Is 41,17). Their thirst refers to the ardent desire for truth, justice and peace present in the soul of every man and woman.
In reality, the human being's most intimate aspirations find their complete answer in God alone. For this reason I encourage you, dear students, to make your time of formation an unremitting quest for God. Do not be deterred by doubts and difficulties. God, the Prophet assures, holds you by the "right hand" (Is 41,13), he is next to you. His consoling presence will make you more aware of the mission that you are called to carry out in the university setting.
3. In these days, many of you have taken part in the meeting that focused on the process of European integration. You who are part of the university world must also make your contribution to this process. Social, political and economic structures certainly hold major importance for the unity of Europe, but the humanistic and spiritual aspects cannot possibly be neglected. It is essential that modern Europe safeguard its scale of values and recognize above all that Christianity was the force able to promote, counsel and consolidate them.
4. Christmas is the privileged occasion to highlight one of the most influential Christian values: with the birth of Jesus, in the simplicity and poverty of Bethlehem, God gave back dignity to every human being's existence. He offered to all people the possibility to participate in his same divine life. May this immeasurable gift always find hearts ready to receive it!
I entrust this wish of mine to the maternal intercession of Mary. May she protect each one of you, your families and the academic communities to which you belong. Happy Advent and a Happy Christmas!
1471 Monday, 16 December 2003
1. "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning" (Lc 12,35).
The season of Advent is the background to this funeral celebration in which we are offering the Eucharistic sacrifice for our beloved and venerable Brother, Cardinal Paulos Tzadua, Archbishop emeritus of Addis Ababa. The Lord summoned him in these very days when there is a pressing call to watch, wait and hope.
Luke the Evangelist has just warned us: "You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Lc 12,40). The Christian must always be ready to meet the passage of death. He or she looks toward the future - both personal and universal - in the perspective of the parousia and directs all things to this ultimate, fundamental reality. Indeed, the event that awaits us is important: the "face to face" encounter with God (cf. 1Co 13,12).
2. "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes" (Lc 12,37). We are pleased to consider this brother of ours, as we take leave as one of the "servants" the Gospel mentions whom the "Master" finds ready upon his return. A zealous priest and Bishop, he spent his life for Christ and for the Church. With a meaningful decision, he chose for his coat of arms the motto: "For Jesus Christ". In imitation of his Lord, he became the servant of his brethren, making available to them those choice qualities with which he was endowed, such as his vast knowledge acquired though study, especially in the field of law. However, over and above his pastoral work, more than anything he gave of himself, demonstrating everywhere holiness of life and constant apostolic longing. So it was that in the various places where he was called to carry out his priestly and episcopal ministry, he is remembered with true esteem and veneration.
3. We like to think of him as a generous and active Pastor of that chosen portion of the Church which is in Africa. He made himself her authoritive spokesman in the Synod of Bishops, in which he took part first as President of the Ethiopian Bishops' Conference and later, as the Cardinal Archbishop of Addis Ababa.
This aspect of his ministry culminated in the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa that was celebrated in Rome in 1994 in which, as the Third President Delegate, he played an important role. The People of God are indebted to him for his outstanding concern for lay people, to whose vocation, formation and mission he always showed himself particularly attentive, faithful to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.
4. "By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1P 1,3).
In moments of trial and grief such as this, recourse to the word of God is a source of comfort and hope to believers. In his Second Letter the Apostle Peter reminds us that Christ conquered death with his Resurrection.
Celebrating the memorial of his Pasch, we pray today for the power of the risen Lord for our venerable and dear Cardinal Paulos Tzadua. In heaven, "an inheritance which is imperishable" (1P 1,4) is in store for him, a faithful servant of the Church. The feast of life and joy awaits him (cf. Is Is 25,6).
May the Virgin Mary receive him and accompany him to Paradise, so that he may enjoy for eternity the blessedness of the righteous. Amen!
1472 Christmas, 24 December 2003
1. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Is 9,5).
The words of the Prophet Isaiah, proclaimed in the First Reading, contain the truth of Christmas, which together we re-live this night.
A Child is born. In appearance, just another of the world’s many children. A Child is born in a stable in Bethlehem. He is born in a condition of extreme deprivation: poor among the poor.
But the One who is born is "the Son" par excellence: Filius datus est nobis. This Child is the Son of God, of one being with the Father. Foretold by the Prophets, he was made man by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of a Virgin, Mary.
When, shortly, we shall sing in the Creed "... et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine et homo factus est," we shall all kneel. We shall meditate in silence on the mystery which is accomplished: "Et homo factus est!" The Son of God comes among us, and we receive him on our knees.
2. "The Word became flesh" (Jn 1,14). On this extraordinary night the Eternal Word, the "Prince of Peace" (Is 9,5), is born in the lowly and cold cave of Bethlehem.
"Be not afraid," says the angel to the shepherds, "for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lc 2,10-11). Like the unnamed and fortunate shepherds, let us too run to meet the One who has changed the course of history.
In the austere poverty of the crib we contemplate "a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Lc 2,12). In the vulnerable and weak newborn babe who cries in the arms of Mary, "the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men" (Tt 2,11). Let us pause in silence and worship!
3. O Child, who willed to have for your crib a manger; O Creator of the universe, who stripped yourself of divine glory; O Redeemer, who offered your vulnerable body in sacrifice for the salvation of humanity!
May the radiance of your birth light up the night of the world. May the power of your message of love thwart the proud snares of the evil one. May the gift of your life make us understand ever more clearly the worth of the life of each human being.
1473 Too much blood is still being shed on the earth! Too much violence and too many conflicts trouble the peaceful coexistence of nations!
You come to bring us peace. You are our peace! You alone can make of us "a people purified" and belonging to you for ever, a people "zealous for good deeds" (Tt 2,14).
4. For to us a Child is born, to us a son is given! What an unfathomable mystery is hidden in the humility of this Child! We would like to touch him; we would like to embrace him.
You, Mary, who keep watch over your all-powerful Son, grant us your eyes to contemplate him with faith; grant us your heart to worship him with love.
In his simplicity, the Child of Bethlehem teaches us to rediscover the real meaning of our existence; he teaches us "to live sober, upright and godly lives in this world" (Tt 2,12).
5. O Holy Night, so long awaited, which has united God and man for ever! You rekindle our hope. You fill us with ecstatic wonder. You assure us of the triumph of love over hatred, of life over death.
For this reason we remain absorbed in prayer.
In the luminous silence of your Nativity, you, Emmanuel, continue to speak to us. And we are ready to listen to you. Amen!
1. Te Deum laudamus! Thus does the Church sing her gratitude to God, while she is still rejoicing at the Lord's Birth. At this evocative evening celebration our attention is attracted by the ideal convergence of the solar year with the liturgical year, two temporal cycles that underlie two dimensions of time.
In the first dimension, the days, months and years succeed one another in a cosmic rhythm in which the human mind recognizes the imprint of the divine creative Wisdom. This is why the Church exclaims: Te Deum laudamus!
1474 2. The other dimension of time that this evening's celebration recalls is that of the history of salvation. At its centre and summit is the mystery of Christ. The Apostle Paul has just reminded us of it: "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son" (Ga 4,4). Christ is the centre of history and of the cosmos; he is the new Sun that dawned upon the world from "on high" (Lc 1,78), a Sun that directs all things to the ultimate goal of history.
In these days between Christmas and New Year's Day, these two dimensions of time intersect with special eloquence. It is as though the eternity of God had come to visit human time. The Eternal thus becomes a present "instant" so that the cyclical repetition of days and years does not end in a senseless void.
3. Te Deum laudamus! Yes, we praise you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth. We thank you, for you sent your Son as a tiny Child to give fullness to time according to your gracious will (cf. Mt Mt 11,25-26). In him, your Only-Begotten Son, you gave humanity access to eternal salvation.
We raise our solemn thanksgiving to you for the countless benefits you have bestowed upon us during the year. We praise you and thank you with Mary, "who gave to the world the author of life" (Antif. lit.).
4. Dear faithful of the Diocese of Rome, it is right that my words should now be more specifically addressed to you! You are here together with the Pope to offer praise and thanksgiving to God, Giver of all good things.
My cordial greeting goes to each one of you, and especially to the Cardinal Vicar, to Mons. Vicegerent, to the Auxiliary Bishops and to all who work actively at the service of the diocesan community. I greet the Italian Authorities and the Mayor of Rome, whom I thank for his appreciated presence.
We have with us here this evening the icon of Our Lady of Divine Love, a precious gift to the Pope from the community of Rome. I am deeply grateful to you for it. Twenty gems are set into the crown of the Virgin, which correspond to the 20 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, after I asked that the five Mysteries of Light be added to the 15 traditional Mysteries. I would like this icon to be venerated in the new Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love. In particular, I entrust to the Virgin the pastoral commitment that in recent years the Diocese has devoted to the family, youth and vocations of special consecration.
I repeat to you all what I wrote in 1981 in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio: "The future of humanity passes by way of the family!" (n. 86). To the Mother of God and to her spouse, St Joseph, I entrust my prayer to Jesus, so that it may inspire pastoral approaches in the Diocese of Rome that are fitting for our times, addressed to all the families of the City and to the young couples who are preparing for marriage. May the family correspond ever more fully to the project that God has always had for it!
5. Dear Brothers and Sisters, another year is rapidly drawing to a close. We are already looking to 2004, which is silhouetted on the horizon. Let us invoke on the year that is ending and on the one that will begin in a few hours the motherly protection of Mary Most Holy, asking her to continue to guide us on our way.
Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, obtain days of peace for the city of Rome, for Italy, for Europe and for the whole world. Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora pro nobis! Mother of the Redeemer, Our Lady of Divine Love, pray for us. Amen!
S. John Paul II Homil. 1464