Monday, October 12, 2020

Reflections on the Twenty-Ninth Sunday of
Ordinary Time by Pope Benedict XVI

Entry 0303: Reflections on the Twehty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary 

Time by Pope Benedict XVI 

On eight occasions during his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI delivered reflections on the Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 16 October 2005, 22 October 2006, 21 October 2007, 19 October 2008, 18 October 2009, 17 October 2010, 16 October 2011, and 21 October 2012. Here are the texts of eight brief reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus and five homilies delivered on these occasions.



St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 16 October 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Exactly 27 years ago today, the Lord called Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, Archbishop of Krakow, to succeed John Paul I who had died a little more than a month after his election. With John Paul II began one of the longest Pontificates in the Church’s history, during which a Pope “from a far-away country” was also recognized as a moral authority by many non-Christians and non-believers. This was demonstrated by the moving expressions of affection on the occasion of his illness, and the touching condolences after his death.

The pilgrimage of so many of the faithful to his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes constantly continues, and this is an eloquent sign of how the beloved John Paul II had a place in people’s hearts, particularly because of the witness of his love and dedication amid suffering. In him, we were able to admire the power of faith and prayer and a complete entrustment to Mary Most Holy, who never failed to accompany and protect him, especially in the most difficult and dramatic moments of his life.

We could describe John Paul II as a Pope totally consecrated to Jesus through Mary, as his motto highlighted clearly: “Totus tuus”. He was elected in the middle of the month of the Rosary, and the pair of Rosary beads he often held in his hands became one of the symbols of his Pontificate, over which the Immaculate Virgin watched with motherly care.

On radio and television, the faithful of the entire world were frequently able to join him in this Marian prayer and, thanks to his example and teachings, rediscover its authentic, contemplative and Christological meaning (see Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, nos. 9-17).

Actually, the Rosary is not an obstacle to meditation on the Word of God and liturgical prayer; indeed, it represents a natural and ideal complement to it, especially as a preparation and thanksgiving for the Eucharistic celebration.

With Mary, we contemplate Christ encountered in the Gospel and in the Sacrament in the various moments of his life through the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. We thus learn at the school of the Mother to conform ourselves to her Divine Son and to proclaim him with our own lives. If the Eucharist for Christians is the centre of the day, the Rosary contributes in a privileged way to deepening communion with Christ and teaches us to live by keeping the heart’s gaze fixed on him, to make his merciful love shine upon everyone and everything.

A contemplative and a missionary: this is what beloved Pope John Paul II was. He was this way because of his intimate union with God, nourished each day by the Eucharist and by extended periods of prayer.

In the hour of the Angelus that was so dear to him, it is pleasant and a duty to remember him on this anniversary, renewing our gratitude to God for having given the Church and the world such a worthy Successor of the Apostle Peter. May the Virgin Mary help us cherish his precious legacy.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 22 October 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, we celebrate the 80th World Mission Sunday. It was established by Pope Pius XI, who gave a strong impulse to the missions ad gentes, and in the Jubilee of 1925 promoted a grandiose exhibition which later became the current Ethnological-Missionary Collection of the Vatican Museums.

This year, in the customary Message for the occasion, I have proposed the theme, “Charity, soul of the mission”. In effect, if the mission is not inspired by love, it is reduced to a philanthropic and social activity.

For Christians, however, the words of St Paul are valid: “The love of Christ impels us” (II Cor. 5: 14). The charity that moved the Father to send his Son into the world, and moved the Son to offer himself for us even to death on the Cross, that same charity has been poured out by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers.

Every baptized person, as a vine united to the branch, can therefore cooperate in the mission of Jesus, which can be summarized thus: to bring to every person the good news that “God is love” and, precisely for this reason, wants to save the world.

The mission arises from the heart: when one stops to pray before a Crucifix with his glance fixed on that pierced side, he cannot but experience within himself the joy of knowing that he is loved and the desire to love and to make himself an instrument of mercy and reconciliation.

This is what happened about 800 years ago to the young Francis of Assisi in the little church of San Damiano, which was then dilapidated. From the height of the Cross, now preserved in the Basilica of St Clare, Francis heard Jesus tell him: ”Go, repair my house which, as you see, is all in ruins”.

That “house” was first of all his own life, which needed repair through authentic conversion; it was the Church, not the one made of stones but living persons, always needing purification; it was all of humanity, in whom God loves to dwell.

The mission always initiates from a heart transformed by the love of God, as the countless stories of saints and martyrs witness, who in different ways have spent their life at the service of the Gospel.

The mission, therefore, is a workshop where there is room for all: for those who commit themselves to bringing the Kingdom of God into their own family; for those who live their professional life with a Christian spirit; for those who are totally consecrated to the Lord; for those who follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in the ordained ministry to the People of God; for those who in a specific way go to announce Christ to those who still do not know him.

May Mary Most Holy help us to live with renewed ardor, each one in the situation in which Providence has placed him, the joy and courage of the mission.



Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples, Sunday, 21 October 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this solemn celebration, I want to renew to all of you, dear friends of Naples, my greeting and thanks for your cordial welcome, even with the conditions that are a bit difficult.

I wish to address a special greeting to the delegations that have come from different parts of the world to participate in the International Meeting for Peace organized by the Sant’Egidio Community on the theme:  “For a world without violence - Religions and cultures in dialogue”. May this important cultural and religious initiative also contribute to consolidating world peace. Let us pray for this.

But let us also pray today particularly for missionaries. Indeed, today we are celebrating World Mission Sunday, which has a very significant motto: ”All the Churches for all the world”. Each particular Church is co-responsible for the evangelization of the whole of humanity, and this inter-Church cooperation was increased 50 years ago by Pope Pius XII with his Encyclical Fidei Donum. We should not allow those who work on the mission front to lack our spiritual and material support:  priests, men and women religious and lay people who in their work often meet with serious difficulties and even persecution.

Let us entrust these prayer intentions to Mary Most Holy, whom in the month of October we like to invoke by the title with which she is venerated at the nearby Sanctuary of Pompei:  Queen of the Holy Rosary. Let us entrust to her especially the many migrants who have gathered here on a pilgrimage from Caserta. May the Blessed Virgin likewise protect those who commit themselves in various ways to the common good for a just order in society, as was well emphasized during the 45th Social Week for Italian Catholics promoted in particular by Giuseppe Toniolo, an illustrious Christian economist. Many problems and challenges face us today. A strong commitment is required of all, especially the lay faithful who work in the social and political arena, in order to guarantee each person, especially youth, the indispensable conditions to develop their own natural talents and generous life choices in the service of their own families and of the whole community, and for this we would like everyone’s collaboration.

And now let us turn to Our Lady with the customary prayer of the Angelus.




Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples, Sunday, 21 October 2007

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Distinguished Authorities,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I accepted with great joy the invitation to visit the Christian community that lives in this historical city of Naples. I first offer Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, your Archbishop, a fraternal embrace and my special thanks for his words on your behalf at the beginning of this solemn Eucharistic Celebration. I sent him to your Community knowing of his apostolic zeal and I am happy to see that you appreciate him for his gifts of mind and heart. I greet with affection the Auxiliary Bishops and diocesan priests, as well as the men and women religious and other consecrated persons, the catechists and the lay people, especially the youth actively involved in various pastoral, apostolic and social initiatives. I greet the distinguished civil and military Authorities who honor us with their presence, starting with the Prime Minister, the Mayor of Naples and the Presidents of the Province and Region. To you all, gathered in this Square in front of the monumental Basilica dedicated to St Francis of Paola, the fifth centenary of whose death is being celebrated this year, I address my cordial thoughts, which I willingly extend to all those who have joined us via radio and television, especially the cloistered communities, the elderly, those in the hospital or prison and those whom I will be unable to meet in this short Visit to Naples. In a word, I greet the entire family of believers and all citizens of Naples: I am among you, dear friends, to break with you the Word and the Bread of Life, and the bad weather does not discourage us because Naples is always beautiful!

In meditating on the biblical Readings for this Sunday and thinking of the situation of Naples, I was struck by the fact that today the main theme of the Word of God is prayer; indeed, we “ought always to pray and not lose heart”, as the Gospel says (see Lk 18: 1). At first sight, this might seem a message not particularly relevant, unrealistic, not very incisive with regard to a social reality with so many problems such as yours. But, if we think about it, we understand that this Word contains a message that certainly goes against the tide and yet is destined to illuminate in depth the conscience of this Church and city of yours. I would sum it up like this: the power that changes the world and transforms it into the Kingdom of God, in silence and without fanfare, is faith - and prayer is the expression of faith. When faith is filled with love for God, recognized as a good and just Father, prayer becomes persevering, insistent, it becomes a groan of the spirit, a cry of the soul that penetrates God’s Heart. Thus, prayer becomes the greatest transforming power in the world. In the face of a difficult and complex social reality, as yours certainly is, it is essential to strengthen hope which is based on faith and expressed in unflagging prayer. It is prayer that keeps the torch of faith alight. Jesus asks, as we heard at the end of the Gospel: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18: 8). It is a question that makes us think. What will be our answer to this disturbing question? Today, let us repeat together with humble courage: Lord, in coming among us at this Sunday celebration you find us gathered together with the lamp of faith lit. We believe and trust in you! Increase our faith!

The biblical Readings we have heard present several models to inspire us in our profession of faith, which is also always a profession of hope because faith and hope open the earth to divine power, to the power for good. They are the figures of the widow, whom we encounter in the Gospel parable, and of Moses, of whom the Book of Exodus speaks. The widow of the Gospel (see Lk 18: 1-8) makes us think of the “little”, the lowliest, but also of so many simple, upright people who suffer because of abuse, who feel powerless in the face of the perduring social malaise and are tempted to despair. To them Jesus repeats: look at this poor widow, with what tenacity does she insist and in the end succeeds in being heard by a dishonest judge! How could you imagine that your Heavenly Father, who is good and faithful and powerful, who desires only his children’s good, would not do justice to you in his own time? Faith assures us that God hears our prayers and grants them at the appropriate moment, although our daily experience seems to deny this certainty. In fact, in the face of certain events in the news or of life’s numerous daily hardships which the press does not even mention, the supplication of the ancient Prophet: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you, “Violence!’ and you will not save?” (Heb 1: 2) wells up in the heart spontaneously. There is one answer to this heartfelt invocation: God cannot change things without our conversion, and our true conversion begins with the “cry” of the soul imploring forgiveness and salvation. Christian prayer is not, therefore, an expression of fatalism or inertia; on the contrary, it is the opposite of evasion from reality, from consoling intimism. It is the force of hope, the maximum expression of faith in the power of God who is Love and does not abandon us. The prayer Jesus taught us which culminated in Gethsemane has the character of “competitiveness”, that is, of a struggle because we line up with determination at the Lord’s side to fight injustice and conquer evil with good; it is the weapon of the lowly and the poor in spirit, who reject every type of violence. Indeed, they respond to it with evangelical non-violence, thereby testifying that the truth of Love is stronger than hatred and death.

This also emerges in the First Reading, the famous account of the battle between the Israelites and Amalek’s men (see Ex 17: 8-13a). It was precisely prayer, addressed with faith to the true God, that determined the fate of that harsh conflict. While Joshua and his men were tackling their adversaries on the battlefield, Moses was standing on the hilltop, his hands uplifted in the position of a person praying. These raised hands of the great leader guaranteed Israel’s victory. God was with his people; he wanted them to win but made Moses’ uplifted hands the condition for his intervention.

It seems incredible, but that is how it is: God needs the raised hands of his servant! Moses’ raised arms are reminiscent of the arms of Jesus on the Cross: the outspread, nailed arms with which the Redeemer won the crucial battle against the infernal enemy. His fight, his arms raised to the Father and wide open for the world, ask for other arms, other hearts that continue to offer themselves with his same love until the end of the world. I am addressing you in particular, dear Pastors of the Church in Naples, making my own the words that St Paul address to Timothy and that we heard in the Second Reading: remain firm in what you have learned and have believed. Preach the word, persevere on every occasion, in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching (see II Tim 3: 14, 16; 4: 2). And like Moses on the mountain, persevere in prayer for and with the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, so that every day they may be able to face together the good fight of the Gospel.

And now, inwardly enlightened by the Word of God, let us return to look at the reality of your city, where there is no lack of healthy energy, good people, cultured and with a keen sense of family.

For many, however, life is far from simple. There are so many situations of poverty, housing shortages, unemployment or under-employment, the lack of any future prospects. Then there is the sad phenomenon of violence. It is not only a question of the deplorable crimes of the Camorra but also of the fact that violence unfortunately tends to breed a widespread mentality, creeping into the recesses of social life in the historical districts of the centre and in the new and anonymous suburbs, with the risk of attracting especially young people who grow up in contexts where unlawfulness, the “black economy” and the culture of “fending for oneself” thrive. How important it is, therefore, to redouble our efforts for a serious strategy of prevention that focuses on school, work and helping youth to manage their leisure time - an intervention which involves everyone in the fight against every form of violence, which begins with the formation of consciences and the transformation of everyday mindsets, attitudes and behavior. I address this invitation to every man and woman of good will while the meeting for peace by religious leaders is being held here in Naples on the theme: “For a world without violence - Religions and cultures in dialogue”.

Dear brothers and sisters, beloved Pope John Paul II visited Naples for the first time in 1979: it was, like today, on Sunday, 21 October! He came a second time in November 1990: a Visit that encouraged the rebirth of hope. The Church’s mission is always nourished by the faith and hope of the Christian people. This is also what your Archbishop is doing. He recently wrote a Pastoral Letter with the significant title: “Blood and hope”. Yes, true hope is only born from the Blood of Christ and blood poured out for him. There is blood which is the sign of death, but there is also blood that expresses love and life. The Blood of Jesus and the blood of the Martyrs, like that of your own beloved Patron St Januarius, is a source of new life. I would like to conclude by making my own a saying from your Archbishop’s Pastoral Letter that sounds like this: “The seed of hope may be the tiniest but can give life to a flourishing tree and bear abundant fruit”. This seed exists and is active in Naples, despite the problems and difficulties. Let us pray to the Lord that he will cause an authentic faith and firm hope to grow in the Christian community that can effectively oppose discouragement and violence. Naples certainly needs appropriate political interventions, but first it needs a profound spiritual renewal; it needs believers who put their full trust back in God and with his help work hard to spread Gospel values in society. Let us ask Mary’s help with this, as well as that of your holy Protectors, especially St Januarius. Amen!




Square outside the Pontifical Shrine of Pompeii, Sunday, 19 October 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After the solemn Eucharistic celebration and the traditional prayer to Our Lady of Pompeii, let us turn our gaze once again to Mary with the recitation of the Angelus, as we do every Sunday, and entrust to her the important intentions of the Church and of humanity. Let us pray especially for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops currently taking place in Rome and whose theme is: “The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church”, so that it may bear the fruits of authentic renewal in every Christian community. A special prayer intention is offered to us by World Mission Day which proposes for our meditation during this Pauline Year a celebrated saying of the Apostle to the Gentiles: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9: 16). In this month of October, the month of missions and of the Rosary, how many faithful and how many communities offer the holy Rosary for missionaries and for evangelization! I am therefore pleased to be here in Pompeii on this very day, in the most important Shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. In fact, it gives me the opportunity to emphasize increasingly that the first missionary commitment of each one of us is prayer. It is first and foremost in praying that the way is prepared for the Gospel; it is in praying that hearts are opened to the mystery of God and souls disposed to welcome his Word of Salvation.

Then there is another happy coincidence today: on this very day Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin, the parents of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus whom Pius xi declared Patroness of Missions, are being beatified at Lisieux. These new Blesseds, accompanied and shared, with their prayers and their Gospel witness, the journey of their daughter, called by the Lord to consecrate herself to him without reserve within the walls of Carmel. It was there, in the concealment of the cloister, that the little St Thérèse fulfilled her vocation: “In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love” (Manuscripts autobiographiques, Lisieux, 1957, p. 229). In thinking of the beatification of the Martin couple, I am keen to recall another intention very dear to my heart: the family, whose role in teaching children a universal outlook that is both responsible and open to the world and its problems is fundamental, as it also is in the formation of vocations to missionary life. And then, so as to follow in spirit on the pilgrimage that so many families made a month ago to this Shrine, let us invoke the motherly protection of Our Lady of Pompeii upon all the families in the world, thinking already of the Fourth World Meeting of Families, scheduled to take place in Mexico City in January 2009.

On this World Mission Sunday, let us join in particular the pilgrims who have gathered at Lisieux for the beatification of Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Patroness of Missions. With their life as an exemplary couple they proclaimed Christ’s Gospel. They lived their faith ardently and passed it on to their family and those around them. May their common prayer be a source of joy and hope for all parents and all families.



Square outside the Pontifical Shrine of Pompeii, Sunday, 19 October 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Following in the footsteps of the Servant of God John Paul II, today I have come on pilgrimage to Pompeii to venerate the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary, together with you. I have come in particular to entrust to the Mother of God, in whose womb the Word was made flesh, the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which is under way at the Vatican on the theme of the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. My Visit also coincides with World Mission Sunday; contemplating in Mary she who accepted within her the Word of God and gave him to the world, we shall pray at this Mass for all those in the Church who spend their energy in the service of proclaiming the Gospel to all the nations. Thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for your welcome! I embrace you all with fatherly affection, and I am grateful to you for the prayers you raise ceaselessly to Heaven for the Successor of Peter and for the needs of the universal Church.

I address a cordial greeting in the first place to Archbishop Carlo Liberati, Prelate of Pompeii and Pontifical Delegate for this Shrine, and I thank him for his words expressing your sentiments. I extend my greeting to the civil and military Authorities present here, and in a special way to the government Representative, the Minister for Cultural Assets and Activities and the Mayor of Pompeii, who, on my arrival, addressed words of reverent welcome to me on behalf of all the townspeople. I greet the priests of the Prelature, the men and women religious who offer their daily service at the Shrine, among whom I am pleased to mention the Dominican Sisters Daughters of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii and the Brothers of the Christian Schools. I greet the volunteers involved in various services and the zealous apostles of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii. And how can I forget at this moment the people who are suffering, the sick, the elderly alone, young people in difficulty, prisoners, and all those in burdensome conditions of poverty and social and financial hardship? I would like to assure each and every one of my spiritual closeness and convey a testimony of my affection. I entrust you all to Mary, each one of you, dear faithful and inhabitants of this region, and you too, who are united in spirit with this celebration via radio and television, I entrust you all to Mary and invite you to trust always in her maternal support.

Let us now allow her, our mother and teacher, to guide us in reflecting on the Word of God that we have just heard. The First Reading and the Responsorial Psalm express the joy of the People of Israel at the salvation given by God, salvation that is liberation from evil and the hope of a new life. The oracle of Zephaniah is addressed to Israel who is designated with such names as “daughter of Zion” and “daughter of Jerusalem”, and is invited to rejoice:  “Sing aloud... rejoice and exult!” (Zep 3: 14). It is the same appeal that the Angel Gabriel addresses to Mary at Nazareth “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1: 28). “Do not fear, O Zion” (Zep 3: 16), the Prophet says; “Do not be afraid, Mary” (Lk 1: 30), the Angel says. And the reason for trust is the same: “The Lord your God is in your midst; a warrior who gives victory” (Zep 3: 17), the Prophet says; “The Lord is with you” (Lk 1: 28), the Angel assures the Virgin. The Canticle of Isaiah also ends: ”Shout and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Is 12: 6). The Lord’s presence is a source of joy, for wherever he is, evil is overcome and life and peace triumph. I would like in particular to emphasize Zephaniah’s wonderful expression, which in addressing Jerusalem says: the Lord “will renew you in his love” (3: 17). Yes, God’s love has this power:  to renew all things, starting from the human heart which is his masterpiece and in which the Holy Spirit best brings about his transforming action. With his grace, God renews man’s heart, forgiving him his sins, reconciling him and instilling in him an impetus for good. All of this is expressed in the lives of the Saints and we see it here in particular in the apostolic work of Bl. Bartolo Longo, Founder of the new Pompeii. And so, in this hour, we open our hearts to this love, renewer of man and of all things.

From its beginnings, the Christian community has seen the personification of Israel and Jerusalem in a female figure as an important and prophetic approach to the Virgin Mary, who is recognized precisely as a “daughter of Zion” and the archetype of the people who “found grace” in the eyes of the Lord. This is an interpretation we find again in the Gospel account of the wedding feast at Cana (Jn 2: 1-11). The Evangelist John sheds symbolic light on the fact that Jesus is the Bridegroom of Israel, the new Israel that all of us are in faith, the spouse who has come to bring the grace of the new Covenant, represented by the “good wine”. At the same time the Gospel emphasizes Mary’s role, who at the beginning is called “the Mother of Jesus” but the Son himself later addresses her as “woman” and this has a very profound meaning:  indeed, it implies that Jesus, to our wonder, before kinship places the spiritual bond according to which Mary herself impersonates the beloved Bride of the Lord, that is, the People he has chosen to shower his blessings upon the whole human family. The symbol of the wine, together with that of the banquet, reproposes the theme of joy and of the feast. In addition, the wine, like the other biblical images of the vineyard and the vine, alludes metaphorically to love:  God is the owner of the vineyard, Israel is the vineyard, a vineyard that will find its perfect fulfilment in Christ, of whom we are the branches; and the wine is the fruit, that is, love, because it is exactly love that God expects of his children. And we pray to the Lord, who has given Bartolo Longo the grace to bring love in this land, so that also our life and our heart bears this fruit of love and thus renews the earth.

The Apostle Paul also urges us to love in the Second Reading from the Letter to the Romans. We find outlined in this passage the itinerary of life of a Christian community, whose members are renewed by love and strive to renew themselves ceaselessly, to discern God’s will always and not to relapse into conformity with a worldly mindset (see 12: 1-2). The new Pompeii, even with the limitations proper to any human reality, is an example of this new civilization, which emerged and developed under Mary’s motherly gaze. And the characteristic of Christian civilization, as my venerable Predecessors so often affirmed, is love:  God’s love that is expressed in love of neighbor. I also wished to dedicate my first Encyclical, Deus caritas est, to this fundamental reality of the Church. Now when St Paul writes to the Christians of Rome:  “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord (12: 11), we are reminded of Bartolo Longo and the many charitable initiatives he implemented for his neediest brethren. Impelled by love, he was able to plan a new city which then sprung up around the Marian Shrine, as if to be the radiation of the light of her faith and hope. It became a citadel of Mary and of charity, but not one that was isolated from the world not, as people say “a cathedral in the desert” but rather integrated into the territory of this valley to redeem and advance it. The Church’s history, thanks be to God, is rich in experiences of this kind and also today a great number can be counted in every part of the world. These are experiences of fraternity, that show the face of a different society, placed as leaven within the civil context. The power of love, in fact, is irresistible:  it is love that truly drives the world onwards!

Who could have thought that a Marian Shrine of world-wide importance would have come into being here, beside the ruins of ancient Pompeii; as well as so many social practices aimed to express the Gospel in concrete service to those most in difficulty? Wherever God arrives, the desert blooms! Bl. Bartolo Longo, with his personal conversion, also bore witness to this spiritual power that transforms the human being from within and makes him capable of doing great things in accordance with God’s plan. Remembering the early times after his arrival in Pompeii, Bartolo Longo thanked the Lord with these words:  “The first fruit of your grace inspired within me an irrepressible, insatiable desire for you, truth, light, food, the peace of man, your creature” (Bartolo Longo, Storia del Santuario di Pompei, 1990, p. 58). The episode of Bartolo Longo’s spiritual crisis and conversion appears very relevant today. In fact, in the period of his university studies in Naples, influenced by immanentist and positivist philosophers, he had drifted from the Christian faith. He had become a militant anti-clerical, and even indulged in spiritualistic and superstitious practices. His conversion, with the discovery of God’s true Face, contains a very eloquent message for us since, unfortunately, such tendencies are not lacking in our day. In this Pauline Year, I am pleased to emphasize that like St Paul, Bartolo Longo was transformed from persecutor to apostle:  an apostle of Christian faith, of Marian devotion and, in particular, of the Rosary, in which he found a synthesis of the whole Gospel.

This city, which Longo refounded, is thus a historical demonstration of how God transforms the world:  filling the human heart with love and making it a “vehicle” of religious and social renewal.

Pompeii is an example of how faith can work in the human city, inspiring apostles of charity who place themselves at the service of the lowly and the poor and act to ensure that the dignity of the least is respected and that they find acceptance and advancement. Here in Pompeii one realizes that love for God and love for neighbor are inseparable. Here the genuine Christian people, the people who face life with sacrifices, find the strength to persevere in good without stooping to compromises. Here, at Mary’s feet, families rediscover or reinforce the joy of love that keeps them together. Appropriately, therefore, in preparation for my Visit today, a special “pilgrimage of families for the family” took place exactly a month ago to entrust this fundamental nucleus of society to Our Lady. May the Blessed Virgin watch over every family and over the entire Italian people!

May this Shrine and this city continue above all to be ever linked in a unique Marian gift:  the prayer of the Rosary. When we see, in the famous painting of Our Lady of Pompeii, the Virgin Mother and the Child Jesus giving the Rosary beads to St Catherine of Siena and St Dominic respectively, we immediately understand that this prayer leads us through Mary to Jesus, as Pope John Paul II taught us in his Letter Rosarium virginis Mariae, in which he explicitly mentions Bl. Bartolo Longo and the charism of Pompeii. The Rosary is a spiritual “weapon” in the battle against evil, against all violence, for peace in hearts, in families, in society and in the world.

Dear brothers and sisters, in this Eucharist, the inexhaustible source of life and hope, of personal and social renewal, let us thank God because in Bartolo Longo he has given us a luminous witness of this Gospel truth. And let us once again turn our hearts to Mary with the words of the Supplication that in a little while we shall be reciting together: ”As our Mother, thou art our Advocate and our Hope. To thee, amidst sighs, do we lift up our hands, crying for mercy!” Amen.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 18 October 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the Third Sunday of October, we are celebrating World Mission Day. To every ecclesial community and to each Christian it is a strong appeal for commitment to witnessing and proclaiming the Gospel to all, especially those who do not yet know it. In the Message I wrote for this occasion, I found inspiration in a phrase in the Book of Revelation which echoes a prophecy of Isaiah: “By its light shall the nations walk” (Rv 21: 24). The light mentioned is that of God, revealed by the Messiah and reflected on the face of the Church, portrayed as the new Jerusalem, a marvelous city in which the glory of God shines out in its fullness. It is the light of the Gospel which directs the people’s journey and guides them towards the fulfilment of a great family in justice and in peace, under the fatherhood of the one, good and merciful God. The Church exists to proclaim this message of hope to the whole of humanity, which in our time “has experienced marvelous achievements but which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself” (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, no. 2).

In the month of October, especially on this Sunday, the universal Church highlights her missionary vocation. Guided by the Holy Spirit she knows she is called to pursue the work of Jesus himself, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God which is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rm 14: 17). This Kingdom is already present in the world as a force of love, freedom, solidarity and respect for the dignity of every person, and the ecclesial community has a heartfelt urge to work, so that the sovereignty of Christ may be completely fulfilled. All her members and structures cooperate in this project, according to their various states of life and charisms. On this World Mission Day I would like to recall the missionaries priests, religious and lay volunteers who devote their lives to bringing the Gospel to the world, also facing hardship and difficulty and sometimes even outright persecution. I am thinking, among others, of Fr Ruggero Ruvoletto, a donum fidei priest, recently killed in Brazil; of Fr Michael Sinott, a religious kidnapped a few days ago in the Philippines; and how can we forget all that is emerging from the Synod of Bishops for Africa, in terms of extreme sacrifice and love for Christ and for his Church? I thank the Pontifical Mission Societies for the valuable service they render to missionary animation and formation. Further, I ask all Christians for a gesture of material and spiritual sharing in order to help the young Churches in the poorest countries.

Dear friends, today, 18 October, is also the Feast of St Luke the Evangelist, who, in addition to the Gospel, wrote the Acts of the Apostles in order to spread the Christian message to the ends of the known world in his time. Let us invoke his intercession, together with that of St Francis Xavier and St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Patrons of the missions, and of the Virgin Mary, so that the Church may continue to make Christ’s light shine out among all the peoples. I also ask you to pray for the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which is taking place here in the Vatican in these weeks.



St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 17 October 2010

At the end of this solemn celebration, I wish to renew my cordial greeting to all the pilgrims who came to honor the new Saints.

I greet with pleasure the French-speaking pilgrims and in particular the Official Delegation from Canada and all the Canadians present here for the Canonization of Bro. André Bessette. In taking up his message, I encourage you to follow in his footsteps to welcome God’s will in your life freely and through love. May you too, as he was, be overflowing with charity for your brothers and sisters who are experiencing distress. May God bless you all and your families! Have a pleasant stay in Rome!

I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those who have come in such great numbers for today’s Canonization. May these new Saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives. I greet especially the Official Delegations from Canada and Australia who have traveled to Rome in honor of St André Besette and St Mary MacKillop. May God bless and keep you all, as well as your families and loved ones at home.

I offer a warm welcome to the German-speaking pilgrims and visitors. Saints are the living image of God’s love. Today, therefore, we are rejoicing in the six new Saints, Stanisław Kazimierczyk Sołtys, André Besette, Cándida María Cipitria, Mary MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Camilla da Varano. May they be models and intercessors for our Christian life. May the Lord bless you all.

I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims who have taken part in the solemn ceremony of Canonization this morning, especially the Cardinals and Bishops, as well as the Official Delegation from Spain. I entrust the Religious, the Daughters of Jesus, to the intercession of St Cándida, their Foundress. I also ask God that the new Saints may serve as models to the Christian people, particularly to youth, so that those who accept the Lord’s call and give their whole lives to proclaiming the greatness of his love may be ever more numerous.

I warmly greet all the Poles who have come for the Canonization. I welcome in particular the Representatives of the Episcopate and the President of the Republic of Poland. I rejoice with you in the glory of the holiness of your compatriot, Stanisław Kazmierczyk. Let us learn from him the spirit of prayer, contemplation and sacrifice for our neighbor. May he keep in God’s presence the Church of Poland, you who are here, your loved ones and your Homeland. I warmly bless you.

I greet the Italian pilgrims who are celebrating St Battista da Varano and St Giulia Salzano, as well as the Official Delegation who has come here for this happy occasion. In particular, my thoughts turn to their spiritual daughters, as well as to the faithful who have come from the Marches and Campania.

In thinking of Italy, I am anxious to recall that today, in Reggio Calabria, the 46th Social Week for Italian Catholics is drawing to a close. It has marked out a “programme of hope” for the country’s future. I address a cordial greeting to the participants in the Congress, who are connected via live broadcast at this moment, and I hope that the search for the common good will always be the reliable reference for the commitment of Catholics in social and political action.

Let us now turn in prayer to Mary Most Holy, whom God has placed in the centre of the great assembly of Saints. Let us entrust the whole Church to her so that illumined by their example and sustained by their intercession she may walk with ever new enthusiasm towards the heavenly Homeland.


ANDRÉ BESSETTE (1845 - 1937)
GIULIA SALZANO (1846 - 1929)


St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, 17 October 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The celebration of holiness is renewed today in St Peter’s Square. I joyfully address my cordial welcome to you who have come from even very far away to take part in it. I offer a special greeting to the Cardinals, to the Bishops and to the Superiors General of the Institutes founded by the new Saints, as well as to the Official Delegations and to all the Civil Authorities. Let us seek together to understand what the Lord tells us in the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed just now. This Sunday’s Liturgy offers us a fundamental teaching: the need to pray always, without tiring. At times we grow weary of praying, we have the impression that prayer is not so useful for life, that it is not very effective. We are therefore tempted to throw ourselves into activity, to use all the human means for attaining our goals and we do not turn to God. Jesus himself says that it is necessary to pray always, and does so in a specific parable (see Lk 18: 1-8).

This parable speaks to us of a judge who does not fear God and is no respecter of persons: a judge without a positive outlook, who only seeks his own interests. He neither fears God’s judgment nor respects his neighbor. The other figure is a widow, a person in a situation of weakness. In the Bible, the widow and the orphan are the neediest categories, because they are defenseless and without means. The widow goes to the judge and asks him for justice. Her possibilities of being heard are almost none, because the judge despises her and she can bring no pressure to bear on him. She cannot even appeal to religious principles because the judge does not fear God. Therefore this widow seems without any recourse. But she insists, she asks tirelessly, importuning him, and in the end she succeeds in obtaining a result from the judge. At this point Jesus makes a reflection, using the argument a fortiori: if a dishonest judge ends by letting himself be convinced by a widow’s plea, how much more will God, who is good, answer those who pray to him. God in fact is generosity in person, he is merciful and is therefore always disposed to listen to prayers. Therefore we must never despair but always persist in prayer.

The conclusion of the Gospel passage speaks of faith: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18: 8). It is a question that intends to elicit an increase of faith on our part. Indeed it is clear that prayer must be an expression of faith, otherwise it is not true prayer. If one does not believe in God’s goodness, one cannot pray in a truly appropriate manner.

Faith is essential as the basis of a prayerful attitude. It was so for the six new Saints who are held up today for the veneration of the universal Church: Stanisław Sołtys, André Bessette, Cándida María de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla Varano.

St Stanisław Kazimierczyk, a religious of the 15th century, can also be an example and an intercessor for us. His whole life was bound to the Eucharist, first of all in the Church of Corpus Domini in Kazimierz, known today as Krakow, where, beside his mother and father, he learned faith and piety. Here he made his religious vows with the Canons Regular; here he worked as a priest and educator, attentive to the care of the needy. However, he was linked in a special way to the Eucharist through his ardent love for Christ present under the species of the Bread and the Wine; by living the mystery of his death and Resurrection, which is fulfilled in an unbloody way in the Holy Mass; by the practice of love for neighbor, of which Communion is a source and a sign.

Bro. André Bessette, a native of Quebec in Canada, and a religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, experienced suffering and poverty at a very early age. They led him to have recourse to God through prayer and an intense inner life. As porter of the College of Notre Dame in Montreal, he demonstrated boundless charity and strove to relieve the distress of those who came to confide in him. With very little education, he had nevertheless understood where the essential of his faith was situated. For him, believing meant submitting freely and through love to the divine will. Wholly inhabited by the mystery of Jesus, he lived the beatitude of pure of heart, that of personal rectitude. It is thanks to this simplicity that he enabled many people to see God. He had built the Oratory of St Joseph of Mount Royal, whose faithful custodian he remained until his death in 1937. He was the witness of innumerable cures and conversions. “Do not seek to have your trials removed”, he said, “ask rather for the grace to bear them well”. For him, everything spoke of God and of God’s presence. May we, in his footsteps, seek God with simplicity in order to discover him ever present in the heart of our life! May the example of Bro. André inspire Canadian Christian life!

When the Son of man comes to do justice to the chosen ones, will he find this faith on earth? (see Lk 18: 8). Today, contemplating figures such as Mother Cándida María de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, we can say “yes” with relief and firmness. That girl of simple origins on whose heart God had set his seal and whom he brought very soon, with the guidance of her Jesuit spiritual directors, to make the firm decision to live “for God alone”. She faithfully kept to her decision as she herself recalled when she was about to die. She lived for God and for what he most desires: to reach everyone, to bring everyone the hope that does not disappoint, especially to those who need it most. “Where there is no room for the poor, there is no room for me either” the new Saint said, and with limited means she imbued the other Sisters with the desire to follow Jesus and to dedicate themselves to the education and advancement of women. So it was that the Hijas de Jesus [Daughters of Jesus] came into being; today they have in their Foundress a very lofty model of life to imitate and an exciting mission to carry on Mother Cándida’s apostolate with her spirit and aspirations, in many countries.

“Remember who your teachers were from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”. For many years countless young people throughout Australia have been blessed with teachers who were inspired by the courageous and saintly example of zeal, perseverance and prayer of Mother Mary MacKillop. She dedicated herself as a young woman to the education of the poor in the difficult and demanding terrain of rural Australia, inspiring other women to join her in the first women’s community of religious sisters of that country. She attended to the needs of each young person entrusted to her, without regard for station or wealth, providing both intellectual and spiritual formation. Despite many challenges, her prayers to St Joseph and her unflagging devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to whom she dedicated her new congregation, gave this holy woman the graces needed to remain faithful to God and to the Church. Through her intercession, may her followers today continue to serve God and the Church with faith and humility!

In the second half of the 19th century, in Campania, in the south of Italy, the Lord called a young elementary teacher, Giulia Salzano, and made her an apostle of Christian education, Foundress of the Congregation of the Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Mother Gulia understood well the importance of catechesis in the Church and, combining pedagogical training with spiritual fervor, dedicated herself with generosity and intelligence, contributing to the formation of people of every age and social class. She would repeat to the Sisters that she wished to catechize to the very last hour of her life, showing with her whole self that if “God created us to know him, love him and serve him in this life”, it is necessary to put nothing before this task. May the example and intercession of St Giulia Salzano sustain the Church in her perennial duty to proclaim Christ and to form authentic Christian consciences.

St Battista Camilla Varano, a Poor Clare nun of the 15th century, witnessed to the deep evangelical meaning of life, especially through persevering prayer. She entered the monastery in Urbino at the age of 23, fitting into that vast movement of the reform of Franciscan female spirituality which aimed to recover fully the charism of St Clare of Assisi. She promoted new monastic foundations in Camerino where she was several times elected Abbess, in Fermo and in San Severino. St Battista’s life, totally immersed in divine depths, was a constant ascent on the way of perfection, with a heroic love of God and neighbor. She was marked by profound suffering and mystic consolation; in fact she had decided, as she herself writes, “to enter the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and to drown in the ocean of his most bitter suffering”. In a period in which the Church was undergoing a period of moral laxity, she took with determination the road of penance and prayer, enlivened by an ardent desire for the renewal of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank the Lord for the gift of holiness that is resplendent in the Church and today shines out on the faces of these brothers and sisters of ours. Jesus also invites each one of us to follow him in order to inherit eternal life. Let us allow ourselves to be attracted by these luminous examples and to be guided by their teaching, so that our life may be a canticle of praise to God. May the Virgin Mary and the intercession of the six new Saints whom we joyfully venerate today obtain this for us. Amen.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 16 October 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday and today an important meeting has taken place in the Vatican on the theme of the New Evangelization, a meeting that ended this morning with the Eucharistic celebration at which I presided in St Peter’s Basilica. The main aim of the project, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, was to examine in depth the context for a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in countries with an ancient Christian tradition, and at the same time it presented several significant testimonies and experiences.

The invitation was accepted by many people from every part of the world who are committed to this mission, which Bl. John Paul II had already clearly indicated to the Church as an urgent and exciting task. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council and of Pope Paul VI, the one who began its implementation, John Paul II was in fact both a strenuous supporter of the mission ad gentes — that is, to the people and territories where the Gospel has not yet put down roots — and a herald of the New Evangelization. These are aspects of the Church’s one mission and it is particularly meaningful to consider them together in this month of October, characterized by the celebration of World Mission Day next Sunday itself.

As I did a short while ago in the Homily at Mass, I gladly take the opportunity on this occasion to announce that I have decided to proclaim a special Year of Faith which will begin on 11 October 2012 — the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council — and will end on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King. I have explained the reasons, aims and guidelines of this “year” in an Apostolic Letter that will be published in the next few days. The Servant of God Paul vi proclaimed a similar “Year of Faith” in 1967, on the occasion of the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul and in a period of great cultural turmoil.

I consider that as half a century has passed since the opening of the Council, associated with the happy memory of Bl. Pope John XXIII it is appropriate to recall the beauty and centrality of the faith, the need to reinforce it and to deepen it at the personal and the community level and to do so in a perspective that is not so much celebratory as missionary, with a view precisely to the mission ad gentes and the New Evangelization.

Dear friends, in this Sunday’s Liturgy we read what St Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction”. May these words of the Apostle to the Gentiles be auspicious and be the programme for missionaries in our day — priests, religious and lay people — involved in proclaiming Christ to those who do not know him or who have reduced him to a mere historical figure. May the Virgin Mary help every Christian to be an effective witness of the Gospel.



Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 16 October 2011

Venerable Brothers,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I celebrate Holy Mass with joy for you who are involved in many parts of the world on the front of the New Evangelization. This liturgy concludes of the meeting that called you yesterday to an exchange on the areas of this mission and to listen to several significant testimonies. I myself wished to offer you some thoughts, whereas today I break the bread of the Word and of the Eucharist with you, in the certainty – shared by us all – that without Christ, the Word and Bread of Life, we can do nothing (see Jn 15:5). I am glad that this congress fits into the context of the month of October, exactly a week before World Mission Day: this reminds us of the proper universal dimension of the New Evangelization, in harmony with that of the mission ad gentes.

I address a cordial greeting to all of you who have accepted the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. In particular, I greet and thank the President of this recently established dicastery, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, and his collaborators.

Let us now come to the biblical Readings in which the Lord speaks to us today. The first, taken from the Second Book of Isaiah, tells us that God is one, there is no other; there are no gods other than the Lord and even the powerful Cyrus, Emperor of the Persians, was part of a larger plan that God alone knew and carried ahead. This Reading gives us the theological meaning of history: the epochal upheavals and the succession of great powers are under the supreme domination of God; no earthly power can stand in his stead. The theology of history is an important and essential aspect of the New Evangelization because the people of our time, after the inauspicious season of the totalitarian empires in the 20th century, need to rediscover an overall look at the world and at time, a truly free, peaceful look, that look which the second Vatican Council communicated in its documents and which my predecessors, the Servant of God Paul VI and Bl. John Paul II, illustrated with their Magisterium.

The Second Reading is the beginning of the First Letter to the Thessalonians and this is already very evocative because it is the oldest letter that has come down to us of the greatest evangelizer of all time, the Apostle Paul. He tells us first of all that one does not evangelize by oneself: in fact he too had collaborators, Silvanus and Timothy (see 1 Thes 1:1) and many others. And he immediately adds something else that is very important: that proclamation must always be preceded, accompanied and followed by prayer. Indeed, he writes: “We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” (v. 2). The Apostle then says he is well aware of the fact that he did not choose the members of the community, but that [God]: “has chosen you”, he says (v. 4).

Every Gospel missionary must always bear in mind this truth: it is the Lord who touches hearts with his word and with his Spirit, calling people to faith and to communion in the Church. Lastly, Paul leaves us a very valuable teaching, taken from his experience. He writes: “our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (v. 5). Evangelization, to be effective, needs the power of the Spirit, who gives life to proclamation and imbues those who convey it with the “full conviction” of which the Apostle speaks. This term “conviction” or “full conviction” in the original Greek is pleroforia: a word that does not so much express the subjective, psychological aspect, rather the fullness, fidelity, completeness, in this case of the proclamation of Christ. It is a proclamation which, to be complete and faithful, asks to be accompanied by signs and gestures, like the preaching of Jesus. Word, Spirit and certainty — understood in this way — are therefore inseparable and compete to ensure that the Gospel message is spread effectively.

Let us now reflect on the Gospel passage. It is the text about the legitimacy of the tribute to be paid to Caesar which contains Jesus’ famous answer: “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). But, before reaching this point there is a passage that can be applied to those who have the mission of evangelizing. Indeed, those who are speaking with Jesus — disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians — compliment him, saying “we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man” (v. 16). It is this affirmation itself, although it is prompted by hypocrisy, that must attract our attention. The disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians do not believe in what they say. They are only affirming it as a captatio benevolentiae to make people listen to them, but their heart is far from that truth; indeed, they want to lure Jesus into a trap to be able to accuse him. For us, instead, those words are precious: indeed, Jesus is true and teaches the way of God according to the truth, and stands in awe of none. He himself is that “way of God”, which we are called to take. Here we may recall the words of Jesus himself in John’s Gospel: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6).

In this regard St Augustine’s comment is illuminating: “It was necessary for Jesus to say ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’, when knowing the way by which he went they had to learn where he was going. The way led to truth, it led to life.... And where are we going, but to him, and by what way do we go, but by him? (In Evangelium Johannis tractatus 69, 2). The new evangelizers are called to walk first on this Way that is Christ, to make others know the beauty of the Gospel that gives life. And on this Way one never walks alone but in company, an experience of communion and brotherhood that is offered to all those we meet, to share with them our experience of Christ and of his Church. Thus testimony combined with proclamation can open the hearts of those who are seeking the truth so that they are able to arrive at the meaning of their own life.

A brief reflection also on the central question of the tribute to Caesar. Jesus replies with a surprising political realism, linked to the theocentrism of the prophetic tradition. The tribute to Caesar must be paid because his image is on the coin; but the human being, every person, carries in him- or herself another image, that of God, and therefore it is to him and to him alone that each one owes his or her existence. The Fathers of the Church, drawing inspiration from the fact that Jesus was referring to the image of the Emperor impressed on the coin of the tribute, interpreted this passage in the light of the fundamental concept of the human being as an image of God, contained in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.

An anonymous author wrote: “The image of God is not impressed on gold, but on the human race. Caesar’s coin is gold, God’s coin is humanity…. Therefore give your riches to Caesar but keep for God the unique innocence of your conscience, where God is contemplated…. Caesar, in fact, asked that his image be on every coin, but God chose man, whom he created to reflect his glory” (Anonymous, Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 42). And St Augustine used this reference several times in his homilies: “If Caesar reclaims his own image impressed on the coin”, he says, “will not God demand from man the divine image sculpted within him?” (En. Ps., Psalm 94:2). And further, “as the tribute money is rendered to him [Caesar], so should the soul be rendered to God, illumined and stamped with the light of his countenance” (ibid., Ps 4:8).

This word of Jesus is rich in anthropological content and it cannot be reduced only to the political context. The Church, therefore, is not limited to reminding human beings of the right distinction between the sphere of Caesar’s authority and that of God, between the political and religious contexts. The mission of the Church, like that of Christ, is essentially to speak of God, to remember his sovereignty, to remind all, especially Christians who have lost their own identity, of the right of God to what belongs to him, that is, our life.

Precisely in order to give a fresh impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead human beings out of the wilderness in which they often find themselves to the place of life, friendship with Christ that gives us life in fullness, I have decided to proclaim a “Year of Faith”, which I shall have the opportunity to illustrate with a special Apostolic Letter. It will begin on 11 October 2012 on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and will end on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King. It will be a moment of grace and commitment for an ever fuller conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in him and to proclaim him with joy to the people of our time.

Dear brothers and sisters, you are among the protagonists of the New Evangelization that the Church has undertaken and carries forth, not without difficulties but with the same enthusiasm as the first Christians. To conclude, I make my own the words of the Apostle Paul that we have heard: I give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in my prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

May the Virgin Mary, who was not afraid to answer “yes” to the Word of the Lord and, after conceiving in her womb, set out full of joy and hope, always be your model and your guide. Learn from the Mother of the Lord and our Mother to be humble and at the same time courageous, simple and prudent; meek and strong, not with the strength of the world but with the strength of the truth. Amen.



St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, 21 October 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before concluding this celebration, let us address the Virgin Mary, the One who is Queen of all saints, with a thought for Lourdes, hit by the severe flooding of the Gave that has also inundated the Grotto of the Apparitions of Our Lady. In particular, let us entrust today to the motherly protection of the Virgin Mary the missionaries “men and women, priests, religious and lay people” who sow the good seed of the Gospel in every part of the world. Let us also pray for the Synod of Bishops which in these weeks is taking on the challenge of new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.

In French: I cordially greet the French-speaking pilgrims, especially the official delegations of Canada, Madagascar and France that have come to Rome for the canonization of Fr Jacques Berthieu and Kateri Tekakwitha. May the example of these new saints encourage you to welcome Christ’s love into your life and to bear witness to it around you! Through their prayers may numerous young people respond to the Lord’s call to live and proclaim the Gospel! As I entrust the Church in your countries to their protection, I wholeheartedly bless you all as well as your families! I wish you all a good pilgrimage!

In English: On the happy occasion of the canonizations today, I greet the official delegations and all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America. May the holiness and witness of these saints inspire us to draw closer to the Son of God who, for such great love, came to serve and offer his life for our salvation. God bless you all!

In German: I address a warm greeting to all the German-speaking guests, especially the official delegation from Bayern and the many pilgrims from the Diocese of Regensburg. Looking into God’s heart is what St Anna Schaffer learned in her “workshop of suffering.” She was thereby able to know that God’s love brings comfort, which becomes even greater when it is given to others. May the new saints strengthen us and help us through their example and their prayers of intercession, so that with faith we too may become witnesses and heralds of the Gospel.

In Spanish: I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims, and in particular Spain’s official delegation, as well as the pastors and faithful present here for the canonization of Mother Carmen Salles y Barangueras. From heaven, she continues to urge everyone, but especially her daughters, the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching, to welcome and meditate on the word of God faithfully in their hearts, putting it into practice with a spirit of service, trust and humility, after the example of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Aided by the intercession of the new saint, may an ever increasing number of people courageously proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially among the young. Have a happy Sunday!

In Polish: I cordially greet the Poles. Today the new saints usher us into Mission Week. In a special way let us sustain spiritually and materially those who proclaim Christ on the different continents. I thank all those who, through the Pontifical Mission Societies, care for the missions throughout the world. May the Year of Faith rekindle in Poland the missionary enthusiasm both of clerics and of the lay faithful! I warmly bless you.

In Italian: I address my cordial greeting to the official Italian Delegation and to all the pilgrims, who have come to celebrate the canonization of Giovanni Battista Piamarta, and in particular the members of the Institutes he founded. May you, as he did, him, always combine intense prayer with generous service to your neighbor.




Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)

Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Church listens again to these words of Jesus, spoken by the Lord during his journey to Jerusalem, where he was to accomplish the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection. They are words which enshrine the meaning of Christ’s mission on earth, marked by his sacrifice, by his total self-giving. On this third Sunday of October, on which we celebrate World Mission Sunday, the Church listens to them with special attention and renews her conviction that she should always be fully dedicated to serve mankind and the Gospel, after the example of the One who gave himself up even to the sacrifice of his life.

I extend warm greetings to all of you who fill Saint Peter’s Square, especially the official delegations and the pilgrims who have come to celebrate the seven new saints. I greet with affection the Cardinals and Bishops who, during these days, are taking part in the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization. The coincidence between this ecclesiastical meeting and World Mission Sunday is a happy one; and the word of God that we have listened to sheds light on both subjects. It shows how to be evangelizers, called to bear witness and to proclaim the Christian message, configuring ourselves to Christ and following his same way of life. This is true both for the mission ad Gentes and for the new evangelization in places with ancient Christian roots.

The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)

These words were the blueprint for living of the seven Blessed men and women that the Church solemnly enrolls this morning in the glorious ranks of the saints. With heroic courage they spent their lives in total consecration to the Lord and in the generous service of their brethren. They are sons and daughters of the Church who chose a life of service following the Lord. Holiness always rises up in the Church from the well-spring of the mystery of redemption, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the first reading: the Servant of the Lord is the righteous one who “shall make many to be accounted as righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Is 53:11); this Servant is Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and living in glory. Today’s canonization is an eloquent confirmation of this mysterious saving reality. The tenacious profession of faith of these seven generous disciples of Christ, their configuration to the Son of Man shines out brightly today in the whole Church.

Jacques Berthieu, born in 1838 in France, was passionate about Jesus Christ at an early age. During his parish ministry, he had the burning desire to save souls. Becoming a Jesuit, he wished to journey through the world for the glory of God. A tireless pastor on the island of Sainte Marie, then in Madagascar, he struggled against injustice while bringing succor to the poor and sick. The Malagasies thought of him as a priest come down from heaven, saying, You are our “father and mother!” He made himself all things to all men, drawing from prayer and his love of the sacred heart of Jesus the human and priestly force to face martyrdom in 1896. He died, saying “I prefer to die rather than renounce my faith”. Dear friends, may the life of this evangelizer be an encouragement and a model for priests that, like him, they will be men of God! May his example aid the many Christians of today persecuted for their faith! In this Year of Faith, may his intercession bring forth many fruits for Madagascar and the African Continent! May God bless the Malagasy people!

Pedro Calungsod was born around the year 1654, in the Visayas region of the Philippines. His love for Christ inspired him to train as a catechist with the Jesuit missionaries there. In 1668, along with other young catechists, he accompanied Father Diego Luís de San Vitores to the Marianas Islands in order to evangelize the Chamorro people. Life there was hard and the missionaries also faced persecution arising from envy and slander. Pedro, however, displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ, and this made him resolute in accepting martyrdom. He died on the April 2nd 1672. Witnesses record that Pedro could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego’s side. The priest was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed. May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!

Giovanni Battista Piamarta, priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a great apostle of charity and of young people. He raised awareness of the need for a cultural and social presence of Catholicism in the modern world, and so he dedicated himself to the Christian, moral and professional growth of the younger generations with an enlightened input of humanity and goodness. Animated by unshakable faith in divine providence and by a profound spirit of sacrifice, he faced difficulties and fatigue to breathe life into various apostolic works, including the Artigianelli Institute, Queriniana Publishers, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth for men, and for women the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord. The secret of his intense and busy life is found in the long hours he gave to prayer. When he was overburdened with work, he increased the length of his encounter, heart to heart, with the Lord. He preferred to pause before the Blessed Sacrament, meditating upon the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, to gain spiritual fortitude and return to gaining people’s hearts, especially the young, to bring them back to the sources of life with fresh pastoral initiatives.

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you” (Ps 32:22). With these words, the liturgy invites us to make our own this hymn to God, creator and provider, accepting his plan into our lives. María Carmelo Salles y Barangueras, a religious born in Vic in Spain in 1848, did just so. Filled with hope in spite of many trials, she, on seeing the progress of the Congregation of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching, which she founded in 1892, was able to sing with the Mother of God, “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lk 1:50). Her educational work, entrusted to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, continues to bear abundant fruit among young people through the generous dedication of her daughters who, like her, entrust themselves to God for whom all is possible.

I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in 1838 in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in 1862 she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world. There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in 1656 to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.

Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!

Anna Schaeffer, from Mindelstetten, as a young woman wished to enter a missionary order. She came from a poor background so, in order to earn the dowry needed for acceptance into the cloister, she worked as a maid. One day she suffered a terrible accident and received incurable burns on her legs which forced her to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. So her sick-bed became her cloister cell and her suffering a missionary service. She struggled for a time to accept her fate, but then understood her situation as a loving call from the crucified One to follow him. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many who sought her counsel. May her apostolate of prayer and suffering, of sacrifice and expiation, be a shining example for believers in her homeland, and may her intercession strengthen the Christian hospice movement in its beneficial activity.

Dear brothers and sisters, these new saints, different in origin, language, nationality and social condition, are united among themselves and with the whole People of God in the mystery of salvation of Christ the Redeemer. With them, we too, together with the Synod Fathers from all parts of the world, proclaim to the Lord in the words of the psalm that he “is our help and our shield” and we invoke him saying, “may your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you” (Ps 32:20.22). May the witness of these new saints, and their lives generously spent for love of Christ, speak today to the whole Church, and may their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world. 

© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana