HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER
MASS IN ST PETER'S SQUARE FOR THE CANONIZATION
Sunday, 30 April 2000
1. "Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus, quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius"; "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever" (Psalm 118: 1). So the Church sings on the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ's lips these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room: "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20: 21-23).
Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world: "The two rays", Jesus himself explained to her one day, "represent blood and water" (Diary, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, p. 132).
Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified: "My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified", Jesus will ask Sr Faustina (Diary, p. 374). Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love's "second name" (cf. Dives in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?
Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy.
Jesus told Sr Faustina: "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy" (Diary, p. 132). Through the work of the Polish religious, this message has become linked for ever to the 20th century, the last of the second millennium and the bridge to the third. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.
3. What will the years ahead bring us? What will man's future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina's charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.
However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats: Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father's love and of fraternal unity.
His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man. This is how Sr Faustina saw him and proclaimed him to people on all the continents when, hidden in her convent at Łagiewniki in Kraków, she made her life a hymn to mercy: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.
5. Sr Faustina's canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren.
In fact, love of God and love of one's brothers and sisters are inseparable, as the First Letter of John has reminded us: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments" (1 John 5: 2). Here the Apostle reminds us of the truth of love, showing us its measure and criterion in the observance of the commandments.
It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God's love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!
To the extent that humanity penetrates the mystery of this merciful gaze, it will seem possible to fulfil the ideal we heard in today's first reading: "The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. None of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common" (Acts 4: 32). Here mercy gave form to human relations and community life; it constituted the basis for the sharing of goods. This led to the spiritual and corporal "works of mercy". Here mercy became a concrete way of being "neighbour" to one's neediest brothers and sisters.
It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God's eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.
7. This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer "Jesus, I trust in you", which Providence intimated through Sr Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. Jezu, ufam tobie.
8. Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (Psalm 88 : 2). Let us too, the pilgrim Church, join our voice to the voice of Mary most holy, "Mother of Mercy", to the voice of this new saint who sings of mercy with all God's friends in the heavenly Jerusalem.
And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu, ufam tobie!
JOHN PAUL II
1. At the close of this celebration, in which our Easter joy is combined with that of Sr Faustina Kowalska's canonization, I affectionately greet and thank all of you who have come from various parts of the world. I ardently hope that each of you can experience what Our Lady one day assured St Faustina: "I am not only the Queen of Heaven, but also the Mother of Mercy and your Mother" (Diary, 141).
2. The message of Divine Mercy and the image of the merciful Christ of which Sr Faustina Kowalska speaks to us today are a vivid expression of the spirit of the Great Jubilee which the whole Church is celebrating with joy and fruitfulness. Many of you have come to honour the new saint. May her intercession bring abundant gifts of repentance, forgiveness and renewed spiritual vitality to the Church in your countries. May the thought of God's loving kindness stir up in your hearts new energies for works of faith and Christian solidarity.
I cordially greet the French-speaking pilgrims, especially those who have taken part in the canonization of Sr Faustina. Following her example, may you entrust yourselves totally to the Lord and praise him in the power of his mercy! May the renewing strength of the risen Christ fill your hearts!
At the same time my thoughts embrace all my compatriots and I entrust them to the intercession of the saintly Sr Faustina. In the new millennium may the message of the merciful love of God, who bends over all human poverty, be an endless source of hope for everyone and a call to show active love to one's brothers and sisters. I cordially bless you all.
Today we also join the Primate, Archbishop of Gniezno, and all our compatriots who have gathered in Gniezno for the solemnity of St Adalbert.
"Gaude Mater Poloniae...". Rejoice, Mother of Poland; rejoice, Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, because our Sr Faustina has been raised to the glory of the saints.
I cordially greet the pilgrims from Poland and all those devoted to the Divine Mercy who have gathered at the shrine in Kraków-Lagiewniki. I am happy that on this day - so special for our country - representatives of the Government of the Republic of Poland are here with the Prime Minister, as well as representatives of Solidarnosc.
Divine Providence has linked Sr Faustina's life with the cities of Warsaw, Plock, Vilnius and Kraków. Today I recall the names of these cities, of which the new saint is the patroness, entrusting to their residents a particular concern for the Divine Mercy apostolate.
3. And now let us pray to the merciful Queen of Heaven.
BEATIFICATION OF SIX NEW SERVANTS OF GOD
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
II Sunday of Easter, 27 April 2003
1. "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever (Psalm 117: 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.
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" (John 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. Blessed 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, Blessed 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. Blessed 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. Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani followed the same path. This praiseworthy daughter of the region of Verona, a disciple of Blessed 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 circumstances 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 Blessed Julia Salzano "to instil in many creatures the immense charity of Christ".
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!
JOHN PAUL II
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. From the Risen Christ, the Church received the mission to proclaim the Gospel to the very ends of the earth. In these recent Sundays I have had several opportunities to remind the Ecclesial Communities of Europe that they are called to this duty in a particular way. Yes, it is necessary that on this Continent, all believers come to rediscover the evangelical enthusiasm of proclamation and witness.
However, if certain regions and areas are actually awaiting a first proclamation of the Gospel, this proclamation is in need of revival everywhere. Often, in fact, the knowledge of Christianity is taken for granted while, in reality, the Bible is little read and studied, catechesis remains superficial and the Sacraments are widely disregarded. In this way, in place of authentic faith, a vague and non-committal religious sentiment is spreading and running the risk of becoming agnosticism and practical atheism.
2. The Europe of today requires "the presence of Catholics who are adult in their faith and for missionary Christian communities who testify to God's love before all mankind" (Ecclesia in Europa, n. 50).
Such a renewed proclamation of Christ requires that a deep unity and communion within the Church accompany it, along with a sincere effort in the ecumenical field and in dialogue with the followers of the other religions. The Gospel is light that illuminates the whole vast field of social life: from the family, to culture, from the school and the university, to youth, the mass media, the economy, to politics.... Christ goes to meet men and women wherever they live and work and gives full meaning to their lives.
3. "Church in Europe, enter the new millennium with the Book of the Gospels!" (n. 65). This is the appeal which sprung from the Synodal Assembly of 1999. May every ecclesial Community welcome it with joy thereby becoming, in each sector and as a unit, a believable sign of the message of salvation.
May Mary, the Most Holy Virgin, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles, obtain this for us.
The Holy Father then greeted the pilgrims in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. To the English-speaking faithful he said:
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors who have joined us this afternoon in praying the Angelus. Through the intercession of Mary, may you and your families grow ever closer to her Son, Jesus, who is Lord and Saviour of all mankind.
The Holy Father closed saying:
Lastly, I extend a heartfelt "thank you" to the Mayor and citizens of Castel Gandolfo for their traditional tribute during the Peach festival. I also greet those attending the "Regnum Christi" and wish everyone a pleasant Sunday and a good week.
After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father referred to the tragic situation in Liberia and asked all to pray for a positive resolution:
Today's encounter is also a favourable opportunity to demonstrate our solidarity with the brothers and sisters of Africa where, along with positive progress and initiatives for peace, there continue to be deadly troublespots. I especially refer to the tragic news coming from Liberia.
In front of the trials faced by these dear peoples, we can only ask that all those holding a weapon lay it down, to make way once again for the dialogue and concrete action directed by the international Community.
Saint Peter's Square
This Sunday the Gospel of John tells us that the Risen Jesus appeared to the disciples, enclosed in the Upper Room, on the evening of the "first day of the week" (John 20: 19), and that he showed himself to them once again in the same place "eight days later" (John 20: 26). From the beginning, therefore, the Christian community began to live a weekly rhythm, marked by the meeting with the Risen Lord.
This is something that the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council also emphasizes, saying: "By a tradition handed down from the Apostles, which took its origin from the very day of Christ's Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal Mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the Lord's Day" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 106).
The Evangelist further recalls that on the occasion of both his appearances - the day of the Resurrection and eight days later - the Lord Jesus showed the disciples the signs of the crucifixion, clearly visible and tangible even in his glorified Body (cf. John 20: 20, 27).
In consideration of this, the Servant of God John Paul II, highlighting the spiritual experience of a humble Sister, St Faustina Kowalska, desired that the Sunday after Easter be dedicated in a special way to Divine Mercy; and Providence disposed that he would die precisely on the eve of this day in the hands of Divine Mercy.
The mystery of God's merciful love was the centre of the Pontificate of my venerable Predecessor.
After the Regina Caeli:
My cordial thoughts now go to our brethren of the Eastern Churches who are celebrating Easter today. May the Risen Lord bring to all the gifts of his light and his peace. Christos anesti! Christos vaskries!
And in the joyful atmosphere of this day I cannot but recall that many of these peoples, in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria, are suffering from the floods of these past days. I am close to them in prayer and warmly hope that, thanks to the contribution of all, they will rapidly overcome these difficult moments.
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Regina Caeli. Today's Gospel portrays the Risen Christ as the bearer of peace, granting the Church the power to forgive sins. On this, the Second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, may God's Blessings of reconciliation and peace be with you all!
I wish everyone a good Sunday with this splendid sunshine! Thank you!
Courtyard of the Papal Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
To you present here and to all those who have joined us by means of radio and television, I warmly renew my fervent good wishes for Easter on this Sunday that concludes the Easter Octave. In the atmosphere of joy that stems from faith in the Risen Christ, I would like to express a most cordial "thank you" to all those and they are truly numerous who have wished to show me a sign of affection and spiritual closeness in these days, both for the Easter festivities and for my birthday 16 April as well as for the fourth anniversary of my election to the Chair of Peter, which is actually today. I thank the Lord for the harmony of so much affection. As I have had the opportunity to say recently, I never feel alone. Especially in this special week which for the liturgy constitutes a single day I have experienced the communion that surrounds and supports me: a spiritual solidarity, nourished essentially by prayer, which manifests itself in thousands of ways. Starting with my collaborators in the Roman Curia, to the geographically most remote parishes, we Catholics form and must feel we are one family, enlivened by the same sentiments as those of the first Christian community, of which the text of the Acts of the Apostles that is read this Sunday says: "The company of believers were of one heart and one mind" (Acts 4: 32).
The true centre of the communion of the first Christians was fundamentally the Risen Christ. Indeed, the Gospel recounts that at the moment of the Passion, when the divine Teacher was arrested and condemned to death, the disciples dispersed. Only Mary and the women, with the Apostle John, stayed together and followed him to Calvary. Risen, Jesus gave his disciples a new unity, stronger than before, invincible because it was founded not on human resources but on divine mercy, which made them all feel loved and forgiven by him. It is therefore God's merciful love that firmly unites the Church, today as in the past, and makes humanity a single family; divine love which through the Crucified and Risen Jesus forgives us our sins and renews us from within. Inspired by this deep conviction, my beloved Predecessor, John Paul II, desired to call this Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, and indicated to all the Risen Christ as the source of trust and hope, accepting the spiritual message transmitted by the Lord to St Faustina Kowalska, summed up in the invocation "Jesus, I trust in you!".
Just as it was for the first community, it is Mary who accompanies us in our everyday life. We call upon her as "Queen of Heaven", knowing that her regal character is like that of her Son: all love and merciful love. I ask you to entrust to her anew my service to the Church, while we trusting say to her: Mater misericordiae, ora pro nobis.
After the Angelus :
I now address a cordial greeting and fervent good wishes to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who, following the Julian Calendar, are celebrating Holy Easter today. May the Risen Lord renew the light of the faith in all and grant an abundance of joy and peace.
The Conference organized by the United Nations, the Review Conference of the Durban Declaration of 2001 Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance will begin tomorrow in Geneva. This is an important initiative because, despite the lessons of history, these deplorable phenomena are still being reported today. The Durban Declaration recognizes that: "All peoples and individuals constitute one human family, rich in diversity. They have contributed to the progress of civilizations and cultures that form the common heritage of humanity... [the] promotion of tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity can produce more inclusive societies". Based on these affirmations, firm and concrete action is required at a national and international level, to prevent and eliminate every form of discrimination and intolerance. Above all, an extensive educational effort is needed, which exalts the dignity of the person and safeguards his fundamental rights. The Church, for her part, reaffirms that only the acknowledgement of human dignity created in the image and likeness of God, can constitute a reliable reference point for such a task. From this common origin, in fact, stems a common destiny of humanity that should inspire in one and all a strong sense of solidarity and responsibility. I express my sincere wishes that the Delegates present at the Geneva Conference will work together, in a spirit of dialogue and mutual acceptance, to put an end to every form of racism, discrimination and intolerance, thereby marking a fundamental step toward the affirmation of the universal value of human dignity and rights, in a horizon of respect and justice for every person and nation.
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present for today's Regina Caeli prayer, including the group from Dulwich Preparatory School, Cranbrook in Kent. As we rejoice in the new life that the Risen Christ has won for us, let us renew our resolve to be faithful to our baptismal promises by rejecting Satan and living according to the example of the Lord. In our prayer we commend our perseverance to the intercession of Mary, Queen of Heaven. Upon all of you I invoke God's abundant blessings of peace and joy!
14 June 2015. 15:00 SGT