S. John Paul II Homil. 1495


Saturday, 29 May 2004

1. Veni, creator Spiritus!

On the Solemnity of Pentecost, this hymn rises from every part of the Church: Veni, creator Spiritus! The Mystical Body of Christ, scattered throughout the earth, invokes the Spirit from which she draws life, the vital Breath that enlivens her existence and action.

The Antiphons of the Psalms have just reminded us of the experience of the disciples in the Upper Room: "On the day of Pentecost they were all together in one place" (Antiphon 1). "There appeared to the Apostles what seemed like tongues of fire, and the Holy Spirit came upon each of them" (Antiphon 2).

We who are gathered in this Square, which has become a great Upper Room, are also reliving that same spiritual experience. And like us, countless diocesan and parish communities, associations, movements and groups in every part of the world are raising to Heaven our common invocation: Come, Holy Spirit!

1496 2. I greet the Cardinals and other Prelates and priests present. I greet you all, dear brothers and sisters who have wished to take part in this evocative Celebration.

I now extend my thoughts to the many young people in Lednica, Poland, who are united with us by radio and television.

I address my cordial greeting to you from St Peter's Square. I am praying with you, my dear friends, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. May the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, fill you with the love of Christ to whom you entrust your future. I cordially bless you all.

3. I greet in a special way the members of Renewal in the Spirit, one of the various branches of the great family of the Catholic Charismatic Movement. Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, a multitude of Christians, men and women, young people and adults have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives. I hope that the spirituality of Pentecost will spread in the Church as a renewed incentive to prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.

In this regard, I encourage the initiative known as "Burning Bush", promoted by Renewal in the Spirit. This involves perpetual adoration, day and night, before the Blessed Sacrament; it is an invitation to the faithful to "return to the Upper Room", so that, united in contemplation of the Eucharistic Mystery, they may intercede for full Christian unity and for the conversion of sinners. I warmly hope that this initiative will lead many to rediscover the gifts of the Spirit, whose original source is Pentecost.

4. Dear Brothers and Sisters! This evening's celebration reminds me of the memorable encounter with the ecclesial movements and new communities on the eve of Pentecost six years ago. It was an extraordinary epiphany of the Church's unity in the riches and variety of charisms that the Holy Spirit abundantly lavishes upon her. I forcefully repeat what I remarked on that occasion: the ecclesial movements and new communities are a "providential response", "given by the Holy Spirit" to today's demand for the new evangelization, for which "there is so much need today for mature Christian personalities" as well as for "living Christian communities" (cf. Homily at the Prayer Vigil on the Eve of Pentecost, St Peter's Square, 30 May 1998; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 3 June, p. 2).

5. Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Her hands raised, the Virgin Mother of Christ and of the Church prays among us.
With her, let us implore and welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit, the light of truth, the power of authentic peace. Let us do so with the words of the antiphon of the Magnificat that we will sing in a little while:

"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love; though the peoples spoke different tongues you united them in proclaiming the same faith, alleluia".

Sancte Spiritus, veni!





Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

Sunday, 6 June 2004

1. "Blessed be God the Father and his Only-Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit: for he has shown that he loves us" (Opening Prayer).

On this first Sunday after Pentecost, the Church invites us to celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity. We do so, dear brothers and sisters, in a superb setting of snowy peaks and green valleys covered with an abundance of flowers and fruits and numerous lakes and springs that make your Land beautiful. Our meditation is guided by the first reading which brings us to contemplate divine Wisdom: "When [God] established the heavens... when he made firm the skies above..., when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit... when he marked out the foundations of the earth..." (
Pr 8,27-29).

Yet, we should not only turn our gaze toward creation, "the work of God's hands" (Responsorial ); it should be especially attentive to the people around us. I greet you with affection, dear brothers and sisters of this marvellous region in the heart of Europe. I would like to shake hands with each one of you to greet you personally and say to you: "The Lord is with you and he loves you!".

I extend a fraternal greeting to the Bishops of Switzerland with their President, Bishop Amédée Grab of Coire, as well as Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel, whom I thank for his words on behalf of you all. I address my respectful greetings to the President of the Swiss Confederation as well as to the Authorities who have honoured us with their presence.

Lastly, I address a special greeting full of affection to all the young Catholics of Switzerland, whom I met yesterday evening at the Bern Expo Palace. There we heard together Jesus' demanding, stirring invitation: "Arise!". Dear young friends, may you know that the Pope loves you, that he accompanies you in his daily prayers, that he is counting on your collaboration to proclaim the Gospel and encourages you to advance confidently on the path of Christian life.

2. "We joyfully proclaim our faith... You have revealed your glory", we will say in the Preface. Our Eucharistic Assembly is a witness and proclamation of the glory of the Most High and of his active presence in history. Sustained by the Spirit, whom the Father sent to us through the Son, "we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" (Rm 5,3-4).

Dear friends, I ask the Lord to be a witness of hope among you, a witness of that hope that "does not disappoint" because it is founded on God's love, "poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rm 5,5). Today, the world is especially in need of this: a supplement of hope!

3. "You are one Lord, one God" (Preface). The three Persons, equal and separate, are one God. Their real distinction does not divide the unity of their divine nature.

Christ proposed this immensely deep communion to us, his disciples, as a model: "that they may all be one, even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17,21). The celebration of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is a strong appeal for the commitment to unity. It is an appeal that involves everyone, Pastors and faithful alike, and impels all to a renewed consciousness of their personal responsibility in the Church, the Bride of Christ. How is it possible, in the face of these words of Christ, not to feel the goad of ecumenism? I reaffirm also on this occasion the desire to advance on the path to full communion with all believers, albeit difficult, yet full of joy.

1498 It is certain, however, that a strong contribution to the ecumenical cause derives from the commitment of Catholics to living inner unity. In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, I stressed the need "to make the Church the home and the school of communion " (n. 43), keeping the eyes of the heart fixed "on the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us" (ibid.). In this way we foster that "spirituality of communion" which, departing from the places where people and Christians are formed, reaches the parishes, associations and movements. A local Church in which the spirituality of communion flourishes will be able to purify herself constantly from the "toxins" of selfishness that give rise to jealousy, diffidence, manias for self-affirmation and harmful contrasts.

4. May calling to mind these risks inspire in us a spontaneous prayer to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send to us: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (
Jn 16,13).

What is the truth? One day Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth and the life" (Jn 14,6). Thus, the correct formulation of the question is not "what is the truth?", but "who is the truth?".
It is this question too that men and women of the third millennium are asking themselves. Dear brothers and sisters, we cannot be silent with the answer because we know it! The truth is Jesus Christ, who came into the world to reveal to us and give to us the Father's love. We are called to witness to this truth with words and especially with life!

5. Dear friends, the Church is mission! Today she also needs "prophets" who can reawaken in the communities faith in the revealing Word of God, who is rich in mercy (cf. Eph Ep 2,4). The time has come for preparing young generations of apostles who are not afraid to proclaim the Gospel. It is essential for every baptized person to pass from a faith of habit to a mature faith that is expressed in clear, convinced and courageous personal choices.

Only such a faith, celebrated and shared in the liturgy and in fraternal charity, can nourish and fortify the community of the Lord's disciples and build it up into a missionary Church, free from false fears because she is certain of the Father's love.

6. "The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rm 5,5). It is not our merit; it is a free gift. Despite the burden of our sins, God has loved us and has redeemed us in the Blood of Christ. His grace has healed us in our inner depths.

Therefore, we can exclaim with the Psalmist: "How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!". How great it is in me, in others, in every human being!

This is the true source of the greatness of man, this is the root of his indestructible dignity. The image of God is mirrored in every human being. This is the deepest truth about man that can never be ignored or violated. In short, every violation by man turns out to be a violation against his Creator, who loves him with the love of a Father.

Switzerland has a great tradition concerning respect for the human being. It is a tradition under the banner of the Cross: the Red Cross!

Christians of this noble Country, may you always remember your exalted past! May you recognize and honour God's image in every human being! The glory of the Blessed Trinity is reflected in human beings, created by God.

1499 Let us say, therefore: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, the God who is, who was and who is to come (Gospel Acclamation). Amen!



Basilica of St John Lateran

Thursday, 10 June 2004

1. "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1Co 11,26).

With these words St Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth that the "Lord's Supper" is not only a convivial meeting but also, and above all, the memorial of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. Those who take part in it, the Apostle explains, are united with the mystery of the death of the Lord, and indeed, "proclaim" him.

Thus, there is a very close relationship between "building the Eucharist" and proclaiming Christ. At the same time, entering into communion with him in the memorial of Easter also means becoming missionaries of the event which that rite actualizes; in a certain sense, it means making it contemporary with every epoch, until the Lord comes again.

2. Dear brothers and sisters, we are reliving this wonderful reality in today's Solemnity of Corpus Christi, during which the Church does not only celebrate the Eucharist but solemnly bears it in procession, publicly proclaiming that the Sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world.

Grateful for this immense gift, her members gather round the Blessed Sacrament, for that is the source and summit of her being and action. Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit! The Church draws her life from the Eucharist and knows that this truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery in which she consists (cf. Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucaristia, n. 1).

3. Ever since Pentecost, when the Church, the People of the New Covenant, "began her pilgrim journey towards her heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark the passing of her days, filling them with confident hope" (ibid.). Thinking precisely of this, I wanted to dedicate the first Encyclical of the new millennium to the Eucharist and I am now pleased to announce a special Year of the Eucharist. It will begin with the World Eucharistic Congress, planned to take place from 10 to 17 October 2004 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and will end with the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, that will be held in the Vatican from 2 to 29 October 2005 and whose theme will be: "The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church".

Through the Eucharist, the Ecclesial Community is built up as a new Jerusalem, a principle of unity in Christ among different persons and peoples.

4. "You give them something to eat" (Lc 9,13).

1500 The Gospel passage we have just heard offers us a vivid image of the close bond that exists between the Eucharist and this universal mission of the Church. Christ, "the living bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6,51 cf. Gospel Acclamation ), is the only one who can appease the hunger of human beings of every time and in every corner of the earth.

However, he does not want to do this on his own, so he involves the disciples, as he did in the multiplication of the loaves: "Taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd" (Lc 9,16). This miraculous sign is the symbol of the greatest mystery of love which is renewed every day at Holy Mass: through the ordained ministers, Christ gives his Body and his Blood for the life of humanity. And all those who partake of his Banquet with dignity become living instruments of his presence of love, mercy and peace.

5. "Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem!... - Sion, praise the Saviour / your guide, your pastor / with hymns and canticles".

With untold emotion, we hear this invitation to praise and joy echoing in our hearts. At the end of Holy Mass we will carry the Divine Sacrament in procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major. Looking at Mary, we will understand better the transforming power that the Eucharist possesses. Listening to her, we will find in the Eucharistic mystery the courage and energy to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd, and to serve him in the brethren.




Tuesday, 29 June 2004

Introduction of the Holy Father to the Patriarch's Reflections:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospel passage we have just heard in Latin and in Greek invites us to think more deeply about the importance of today's Feast of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

I would now like to invite you to listen to the Reflections that the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, will offer to us, mindful that both our voices speak of unity.

Homily of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

Your Holiness,

1501 With sentiments of both joy and sorrow we come to you on this important feast day of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to express our love for you, Your Holiness, and for all the members of our Sister Church of Rome, which is celebrating her patronal feast day. We rejoice with you who are rejoicing, but we regret that what would have completed the joy of both of us is lacking, that is, the re-establishment of full communion between our Churches.

Today we are focusing our attention on the joyous 40th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem in 1964 of our Predecessors of venerable memory. It was an encounter that put an end to the process of our mutual separation and was the start of a new journey to draw our Churches closer together.

During this new journey, many steps have been taken towards a reciprocal rapprochement.

Dialogues have been initiated, meetings have taken place and letters have been exchanged; love has grown, but we have not yet attained the desired goal. In 40 years, it has not been possible to eliminate the differences that have accumulated in more than 900 years.

Hope, which proceeds with faith and with love that is ever hopeful, is one of God's important gifts. We too hope that what it has not been possible to achieve up to now will be attained in the future, and we hope in a near future. Perhaps it will be a distant future, but our expectation and our love are not constrained by temporal limits. Our presence here today very clearly expresses our sincere desire to remove all the ecclesial obstacles that are not dogmatic or essential, so that we may concentrate our concern on the study of the essential differences and dogmatic truths that have divided our Churches until now, as well as on the way of living the Christian truth of the united Church.

Far from wishing to associate our name with goals that only the Holy Spirit can obtain, we do not attribute to our actions a greater efficacy than that which God will deign to grant them. Yet, demonstrating all our longing, we work tirelessly with a view to what we pray for every day: "the union of one and all". Since we know from the priestly prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ how necessary our unity is, so that the world may believe that he comes from God, we collaborate with you in order to reach this unity, and we urge everyone to pray fervently for the success of our joint efforts.

Dear Christians,

The unity of the Churches of which we are speaking and for which we ask your prayers is not a worldly union like that of the unions of States, or of corporations of persons and structures, through which a higher level of organizational union is created. This is very easy to achieve, and all the Churches have already set up various organizations in which context they collaborate in various sectors.

The unity to which the Churches aspire is a spiritual quest whose aim is to live spiritual communion with Our Lord Jesus Christ in person. It will be possible when we have all acquired "the mind of Christ", "the love of Christ", "the faith of Christ", "the humility of Christ", "Christ's disposition to self-sacrifice" and, in general, when we live everything that pertains to Christ as he lived it, or at least when we sincerely desire to live as he wants us to.

In this very delicate spiritual endeavour, difficulties emerge that are due to the fact that most of us human beings all too often propose our own positions, opinions and assessments as if they were expressions of Christ's thought, of Christ's love and generally speaking, of Christ's spirit. Since these personal judgments and evaluations, and at times even personal experiences, neither coincide with one another, nor with the lived experience of Christ, disagreements arise. By means of inter-ecclesial dialogues, we seek in good faith to understand one another with a superabundance of love; just as we also seek to ascertain in what way and why our experiences expressed with different dogmatic formulas differ. We are not making abstract discourses on theoretical matters on which our position has no consequences for life. We are seeking among a multitude of lived experiences that are expressed in different ways, what correctly, or at least as fully as possible, expresses the spirit of Christ.

Remember the behaviour of the two disciples of Christ when the inhabitants of a certain region would not receive him. The disciples were indignant and asked Christ if he wanted them to bid God to send down fire from heaven to consume those who refused to welcome him. The Lord's answer was the same as the answer given to so many Christians down the centuries: "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives but to save them" (cf. Lk
Lc 9,55-56). In the course of the centuries, certain members of the faithful have asked Christ time and again to approve deeds that did not correspond with his mind. Rather, they attributed to Christ their own opinions and teachings, claiming that one or other was interpreting the spirit of Christ. From this stemmed disagreement among the faithful who, as a result, split into groups, assuming the form of the different Churches that we have today.

1502 Today our common efforts seek to live the spirit of Christ in a way he would have approved had he been asked. Such a lived experience implies purity of heart, disinterested aims, holy humility, in short, holiness of life. Differences that have accumulated and age-old concerns prevent us from seeing clearly and delay our common understanding of the spirit of Christ that will be followed by the ardently longed for unity of the Churches, namely, their union in Christ, in his same spirit, in his very Body and in his very Blood. Of course, from the spiritual point of view, the acceptance and realization of an external union makes no sense so long as diversity about his spirit continues.

Thus, it is understandable that it is not a levelling out of the traditions, customs and habits of all the faithful that is sought; all that is being sought is to live in common the person of the one, unique and unchanging Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, communion in the lived experience of the Incarnation of the Logos of God and of the coming down of the Holy Spirit in the Church, as well as of the common experience of the event of the Church as the Body of Christ recapitulating all things in himself. This sought spiritual experience constitutes the supreme experience of human beings, constitutes their union with Christ and, consequently, dialogue on this point is the most important of all. We have therefore asked and are asking Christians to pray fervently to Our Lord Jesus Christ that he will direct their hearts to reaching the goal of this aspiration, so that once it is obtained, please God, we will be able to celebrate every ecclesial celebration in full spiritual communion and joy. Amen.

Homily of the Holy Father:

1. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (
Mt 16,16). When the Lord questions him, Peter, also speaking on behalf of the other Apostles, makes his profession of faith.

In it is affirmed the solid foundation of our journey towards full communion. Indeed, if we want unity among the disciples of Christ, we must start out afresh from Christ. Like Peter, we too are asked to profess that he is the cornerstone, the Head of the Church. In my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint I wrote: "To believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father's plan from all eternity" (n. 9).

2. Ut unum sint! It is from these words that our commitment to communion stems, in response to Christ's ardent desire. It is not a matter of a vague neighbourly relationship but of the indissoluble bond of theological faith, which is why our future is not one of division but of communion.

Today we profoundly regret what in the evolution of history broke our bond of unity in Christ. In this perspective, our meeting today is not only a courteous gesture, but a response to the Lord's commandment. Christ is the Head of the Church, and we want to continue together to do all that is humanly possible to remedy what still divides us and prevents us from communicating in the same Body and Blood of the Lord.

3. With these sentiments, I would like to express my warm gratitude to you for coming here, Your Holiness, and for the reflections that you have desired to offer us. I am also delighted to celebrate together with you the day on which we commemorate Sts Peter and Paul; this year it coincides with the 40th anniversary of that blessed meeting in Jerusalem of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, on 5 and 6 January 1964.

Your Holiness, I would like to thank you with all my heart for having accepted my invitation to make visible with our meeting the spirit that inspired those two outstanding pilgrims who directed their steps towards each other and chose to embrace for the first time in the very place where the Church was born.

4. That meeting cannot be merely a memory. It is a challenge for us! It shows us the road to reciprocal rediscovery and reconciliation. The journey will certainly be far from easy, nor is it free from obstacles. In the moving gesture of our Predecessors in Jerusalem we can find the strength to overcome every misunderstanding and difficulty, in order to devote ourselves without interruption to this commitment to unity.

The Church of Rome has moved with firm determination and great sincerity on the path to full reconciliation, by means of initiatives that have proven on each occasion to be possible and appropriate. Today I would like to express the hope that all Christians, each in his or her own capacity, may redouble their efforts to hasten the day when the Lord's desire "that they may be one" (Jn 17,11) is completely fulfilled. May our conscience never reprove us for having omitted something, for having wasted opportunities or for not having tried every possible approach!

1503 5. We know very well that the unity we seek is first and foremost a gift of God. However, we are aware that hastening the time of its total achievement also depends on us, on our prayers and on our conversion to Christ.

Your Holiness, as far as I am concerned, I am eager to confess that I have always let myself be guided by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, as by a trustworthy compass. The Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, published just a few days before Your Holiness' memorable visit to Rome in 1995, reasserted exactly what the Council had declared in the Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, the 40th anniversary of whose promulgation occurs this year.
I reassert today what I have had several opportunities to emphasize in solemn circumstances, namely, that the commitment assumed by the Catholic Church with the Second Vatican Council is irrevocable. It cannot be renounced!

6. The rite of the conferral of the Palliums on the new Metropolitans helps to complete the solemnity and joy of today's celebration and to enrich its spiritual and ecclesial content.

Venerable Brothers, the Pallium that you will receive today in the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch, our Brother in Christ, is a sign of the communion that binds you in a special way to the apostolic witness of Peter and Paul. It links you to the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, called to carry out a special ecclesial service for the entire College of Bishops. I thank you for being here and offer you my best wishes for the ministry you carry out for the Metropolitan Churches present in the various nations. I willingly accompany you with affection and prayer.

7. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!". How often these words that constitute Peter's profession of faith recur in my daily prayers! The precious icon that Patriarch Athenagoras I gave to Pope Paul VI on 5 January 1964, shows the two Holy Apostles, Peter the "Corypheus" and Andrew the "Protokletos", embracing in an eloquent language of love, beneath Christ in glory. Andrew was the first to follow the Lord and Peter was called to strengthen his brethren in the faith.

Their embrace under Christ's gaze is an invitation to continue on the journey we have set out on, towards that goal of unity which we both want to reach.

Let no difficulty hinder us. Let us rather journey on with hope, sustained by the intercession of the Apostles and the maternal protection of Mary, Mother of Christ, Son of the living God.


Castel Gandolfo

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Friday, 6 August 2004

Dear Friends,

This day on which we are celebrating the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord brings back memories of our beloved and venerable Servant of God Pope Paul VI. On the evening of 6 August 1978 he concluded his life on earth here in this very house. A faithful imitator of his Lord, he received the light of Tabor in his heart and walked in that light to the end, carrying his cross with evangelical joy.

The 6th of August is not only the anniversary of his death, but also that of his first Encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, which bears the date of the Transfiguration 40 years ago. In that memorable Document, Paul VI outlined the programme of his Pontificate.

In celebrating the Eucharist, we thank God once again for having given the Church this unforgettable Pastor. Entrusting ourselves to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, let us ask the Lord to enable the Church, today and in the future, to treasure his example and teaching.






Prairie de la Ribère

Sunday, 15 August 2004

1. "Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou". The words which Mary spoke to Bernadette on 25 March 1858 have a particular resonance this year, as the Church celebrates the 150th anniversary of the solemn definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Blessed Pius IX in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus.

I have greatly wished to make this pilgrimage to Lourdes in order to celebrate an event which continues to give glory to the Triune God.Mary’s Immaculate Conception is the sign of the gracious love of the Father, the perfect expression of the redemption accomplished by the Son and the beginning of a life completely open to the working of the Spirit.

2. Beneath the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin I offer a heartfelt greeting to all of you, dear brothers and sisters, as we gather before the Grotto of Massabielle to sing the praises of her whom all generations call blessed (cf. Lk Lc 1,48).

In particular I greet the French pilgrims and their Bishops, especially the President of the Episcopal Conference [name?] and Monsignor Jacques Perrier, the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, whom I thank for his kind words at the start of this celebration.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1495