4. Dear brothers and sisters, I embrace you all in the Lord. I especially greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop of the area, Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, your young parish priest, Fr Gerard McCarthy — one can see he is of Irish origin, like many before him who came as missionaries from Ireland to the continent, even if not to Italy, but to the rest of the continent: certainly to Germany and other countries of Central Europe. I greet him and I see that you too greet him cordially — I also greet all the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St Charles Borromeo, who collaborate with him in guiding the community. I also greet, of course, their superior, Fr Camisasca.
A grateful thought goes to the dear Capuchin Franciscans of the Province of Abruzzo, who ran the parish from 1965 to 1997, always receiving sympathy and support from the population. May the Lord reward them for the good that they did during these years of generous pastoral service and grant them the gift of numerous and holy vocations to the advantage of the Capuchin religious family and for the good of the entire Christian community.
I also extend a cordial greeting to the Oblate Sisters of Divine Love and the Missionary Sisters of Charity, who make the gift of religious life present in this part of the Diocese. Finally, I affectionately greet each of you, dear faithful, with a special thought for the catechists, the numerous young people who are preparing for the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation, and the many members of the parish groups who with their gifts and vivacity contribute to enlivening the entire People of God.
5. I know that two different urban settlements live together within your parish: an older one which grew up around the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, and one more recently built which gravitates around the Church of the Holy Martyrs of Portuense. These two centres are also characterized by a certain social differentiation. In the first, in fact, the residents are above all families of much longer formation and elderly people, while in the second there are younger family units with a considerable number of children and adolescents. This diversity is not a problem for you, but, rather, a valuable opportunity to make a greater sense of community and sharing grow in all.
By harmoniously living the gifts that each one possesses, and by putting them with generosity at the service of one another, you will achieve that full communion of hearts, making the announcement of the Gospel of love more effective. There are also various social realities present in the parish: six schools, two clinics, two nursing homes, some company headquarters, industries, commercial and craft enterprises. It is your apostolic task to make the divine Word of salvation pervade all these areas of life and productive activity. See that it does so explicitly and adequately, corresponding as far as possible to the expectations and demands of the persons and social groups that reside here. To each and everyone bring the comfort of the merciful love of the Lord.
6. “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
I make these words of the Apostle Paul my own, and I want to leave them with you as a remembrance and a wish on the occasion of this visit. The love of God, fully revealed to us in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, is the inspirational source and light that illumines every missionary task. May the strength of the Spirit's love support you and help you to confess the name of Jesus courageously without ever being ashamed of the Cross.
May the Holy Martyrs of Portuense be an example to you and may the motherly protection of Our Lady of the Rosary, special patroness of your neighbourhood, assist you.
Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, pray for us. Amen.
PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 11 November 2001
1. "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, all live for him" (Luke 20, 38).
On 2nd November, we celebrated the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed. The Liturgy of the 32nd Sunday of ordinary time returns again to this mystery, and invites us to reflect on the comforting reality of the resurrection of the dead. Biblical and Christian tradition, based on the Word of God, affirms with certainty that, after this earthly existence, a future immortality awaits the human person. It is not a generic affirmation, which intends to meet the aspiration of human beings for life without end. Faith in the resurrection of the dead is founded on the fidelity of God, as the Gospel today reminds us, God who is not the God of the dead, but of the living, who communicates to those who trust in him the same life he possesses in its fullness.
The refrain of the responsorial psalm propels us into life beyond death, which is the goal and full realization of our pilgrimage here on earth. In the First Testament we witness a progression from the obscure survival of human souls in Sheol to the more explicit doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The Book of Daniel (cf. Daniel 12,2-3) and the Second Book of Maccabees, which we heard in the first reading, all witness to it. In an age in which the chosen people were fiercely persecuted, seven brothers with their mother did not hesitate to face together suffering and martyrdom so that they might not fail in their faithfulness to the God of the Covenant. They conquered in the terrible trial because they were sustained by the expectation of the "fulfillment of the hope of being raised up again by him" (2 Maccabees 7,14). While we admire the example of the seven brothers in the Book of Maccabees, we firmly renew our faith in the resurrection of the dead and in the face of critical contemporary approaches. It is a fundamental point of Christian doctrine that sheds a comforting light on the whole of earthly existence.
Above all, I am happy to see the Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishop of the sector. I am also happy to see the General Director of the Sons of Divine Providence with the Provincial Director. I greet your zealous parish priest, Don Savino Lombardi, the parochial vicars, the Community of the Theological Institute, and all the religious who belong to the family of Don Orione, and work in this vast complex in the service of the poor. I greet your collaborators, the volunteers and the laity who are occupied with many pastoral and social activities. I greet the women religious of five Institutes who live in the area. Such a rich array of charisms and consecrated persons constitute a great gift for the whole Parish.
I affectionately embrace all of you young men who live in the Don Orione Institute. You are the heart of the Work in which the spirit of the Founder is well reflected. I also greet the sick, the persons who live alone, the elderly and all those who live in the area.
Many professionals, journalists and university lecturers live in your parish. This offers you the opportunity to attempt a useful pastoral experience, involving so many experts and agents of communication in a journey of reflection and exploration of the fundamental themes of Christian doctrine. The relation between faith and life constitutes one of the more complicated challenges for the new evangelization today.
In the Centre, which is the heart of the Parish, we experience the impact of Blessed Luigi Orione, untiring apostle of charity and fidelity to the Church. Beloved, follow in his footsteps, imitating his faithful obedience to the Church, in the indefatigable search for the good of souls, by taking care of the poor and the needy. The "old" and the "new" poverty's live alongside each other, and await your generous service.
5. I dedicate a special reflection to you, young men and women. I know that many of you were occupied in preparing and celebrating the World Youth Day during August last year. At the end of the unforgettable Prayer Vigil of Tor Vergata, I invited the young people of the world to be "the sentinels of the morning at the dawn of the Third Millennium". I renew this exhortation to you so that you will be wise and vigilant sentinels who keep alive the desire for Christ. Be missionaries to your contemporaries, without being discouraged in the face of difficulties, seek ways of evangelizing the world of youth.
I think of the good you have accomplished for years now at the "Don Orione Sports Centre", perfectly integrated into the life of the parish, as well as the apostolic opportunities offered by the Centres for Professional Formation. I also congratulate you, young people of the parish, for having started a wonderful initiative, an alternative New Year's Eve that involves many of your contemporaries. At the end of December you bring together, for an event of prayer and celebration, boys and girls from all over Italy. Your idea has even spread to other countries in other parts of the world.
With youthful enthusiasm, prepare yourselves for the next World Youth Day, to be held in Toronto in July of 2002, by reflecting on the Message taken from the Gospel: "You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world" (Matthew 5,13-14).
6. God the Father, who in Jesus Christ "loved us and in his mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope, console your hearts and strengthen them for every good work and word" (2 Thessalonians 2, 16-17).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, with these words of the Apostle Paul, that we just heard in the liturgy, I encourage you to persevere every day in your Christian life. For an apostolate that will be productive of great good, be faithful to prayer and stay anchored to the solid rock which is Christ.
May Blessed Luigi Orione help you on your spiritual journey. May Our Lady whom you honour with the wonderful title of Mother of God help you, as she watches over the City from this place.
To her, Mother of God and of the Church, I entrust you. May she protect and guide you every day. Amen.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
St Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Second Reading of today's Liturgy, the Apostle Paul underlines the importance of work for the life of man. We are reminded of this idea on “Thanksgiving Day”, that is traditionally celebrated in Italy on this second Sunday in November, as the offering of thanks to God at the end of the harvest season. Although in other geographical areas farming periods naturally differ, today I would like to draw inspiration from St Paul's words to reflect on agricultural work in particular.
The full gravity of the current economic crisis, discussed these past few days at the “G20 Summit”, should be understood. This crisis has numerous causes and is a strong reminder of the need for a profound revision of the model of global economic development (cf. Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, n. 21).
It is an acute symptom which has been added to a long list of many far more serious and well-known problems, such as the lasting imbalance between wealth and poverty, the scandal of world hunger, the ecological emergency and the now widespread problem of unemployment.
In this context, a strategic revitalization of agriculture is crucial. Indeed, the process of industrialization has often overshadowed the agricultural sector, which although benefiting in its turn from modern technology has nevertheless lost importance with notable consequences, even at the cultural level. It seems to me that it is time to re-evaluate agriculture, not in a nostalgic sense but as an indispensable resource for the future.
In the present economic situation, the dynamic economies are tempted to pursue advantageous alliances, which nevertheless may have detrimental results for other poorer States, situations of extreme poverty among the masses and the depletion of the natural resources of the earth that God has entrusted to man, as it says in Genesis, so that he may till it and keep it (cf. 2: 15). And in spite of the crisis it can still be seen that in the old industrialized countries, lifestyles marked by unsustainable consumerism are encouraged. These also prove damaging for the environment and for the poor. Then a really concerted aim for a new balance between farming, industry and services is necessary so that development may be sustainable, so that no one will lack bread and work, air and water, and that the other fundamental resources may be preserved as universal rights (cf. Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, n. 27). Thus it is essential to cultivate and spread a clear ethical awareness that is equal to facing the most complicated challenges of our time. Everyone should be taught to consume in a wiser and more responsible way. We should promote personal responsibility along with a social dimension of rural activities based on the undying values of hospitality, solidarity and sharing the toil of labour. Many young people have already chosen this path and many professionals are also returning to agricultural enterprises, feeling that in this way they are not only responding to personal and family needs but also to a sign of the times, to a concrete sensibility for the common good.
Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that these reflections may serve as incentive to the international community, as we thank God for the fruits of the earth and the work of mankind.
After the Angelus:
At this moment, I wish to renew my closeness to the dear peoples of Haiti who, because of the dreadful earthquake last January, are now suffering from a serious cholera epidemic. I encourage all those who are doing their utmost to help in this new emergency and while I assure them of my special remembrance in prayer, I appeal to the international community to generously help these people.
On Saturday, 27 November, in St Peter's Basilica, I will preside at First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent and at a Prayer Vigil for unborn life. This is a joint initiative with the Churches throughout the world, which I have recommended also be observed in parishes, religious communities, associations and movements. The season of preparation for Holy Christmas is a favourable time to invoke the divine protection of every human being called into existence and to give thanks to God for the gift of life we have received from our parents.
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, particularly the parish groups from California in the United States. Today’s Gospel reminds us that our lives and all history will be judged in the light of God’s truth. In these final days of the Church’s liturgical year, let us pray for the grace to remain always faithful to the Lord, as we look forward to Christ’s coming in glory and the fulfilment of his promises. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s gifts of wisdom, strength and peace! I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
17 November 2013