4. No less painful, and perhaps even more distressing from a human point of view, were the trials which he had to endure as a result, it might be said, of his incomparable charisms. It happens at times in the history of holiness that, by God's special permission, the one chosen is misunderstood. In that case, obedience becomes for him a crucible of purification, a path of gradual assimilation to Christ, a strengthening of true holiness. In this regard, Bl. Pio wrote to one of his superiors: “I strive only to obey you, the good God having made known to me the one thing most acceptable to him and the one way for me to hope for salvation and to sing of victory” (Letter I, p. 807).
When the “storm” broke upon him, he took as his rule of life the exhortation of the First Letter of Peter, that we have just heard: Come to Christ, a living stone (cf. 1 Peter 2:4). He himself thus became a “living stone” for the building of that spiritual house which is the Church. For this we today give thanks to the Lord.
5. “You too are living stones, built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). How fitting are these words if we apply them to the extraordinary ecclesial experience which grew up around the new blessed! So many people, meeting him directly or indirectly, rediscovered their faith; inspired by his example, “prayer groups” sprang up in every corner of the world. To all who flocked to him he held up the ideal of holiness, repeating to them: “It seems that Jesus has no interest outside of sanctifying your soul” (Letter II, p. 155).
If God's Providence willed that he should be active without ever leaving his convent, as though he were “planted” at the foot of the Cross, this is not without significance. One day the Divine Master had to console him, at a moment of particular trial, by telling him that “it is under the Cross that one learns to love” (Letter I, p. 339).
The Cross of Christ is truly the outstanding school of love; indeed, the very “well-spring” of love. Purified by suffering, the love of this faithful disciple drew hearts to Christ and to his demanding Gospel of salvation.
6. At the same time, his charity was poured out like balm on the weaknesses and the sufferings of his brothers and sisters. Padre Pio thus united zeal for souls with a concern for human suffering, working to build at San Giovanni Rotondo a hospital complex which he called the “House for the Relief of Suffering”. He wanted it to be a first-class hospital, but above all he was concerned that the medicine practised there would be truly “human”, treating patients with warm concern and sincere attention. He was quite aware that people who are ill and suffering need not only competent therapeutic care but also, and more importantly, a human and spiritual climate to help them rediscover themselves in an encounter with the love of God and with the kindness of their brothers and sisters.
With the “House for the Relief of Suffering”, he wished to show that God's “ordinary miracles” take place in and through our charity. We need to be open to compassion and to the generous service of our brothers and sisters, using every resource of medical science and technology at our disposal.
7. The echo stirred by this beatification in Italy and throughout the world shows that the fame of Padre Pio, a son of Italy and of Francis of Assisi, has gone forth to embrace all the continents. And I gladly greet those who have gathered here — in the first place the Italian authorities who have chosen to be present: the President of the Republic, the President of the Senate, the Prime Minister, who leads the official delegation, and the many other ministers and distinguished guests. Italy is represented most worthily! But also the many faithful from other nations have gathered here to pay homage to Padre Pio.
My affectionate greeting goes to all who have come from near and far, with a special thought for the Capuchin Fathers. To everyone I offer heartfelt thanks.
8. Let me conclude with the words of the Gospel of this Mass: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God”. There is a reference to this exhortation of Christ in the advice which the new blessed never tired of giving to the faithful: “Abandon yourselves fully to the divine heart of Jesus, like a child in the arms of his mother”. May these words of encouragement fill our hearts too and become a source of peace, serenity and joy. Why should we fear, if Christ for us is the Way, and the Truth and the Life? Why should we not trust in God who is the Father, our Father?
May “Our Lady of Graces”, whom the humble Capuchin of Pietrelcina invoked with constant and tender devotion, help us to keep our gaze fixed on God. May she take us by the hand and lead us to seek wholeheartedly that supernatural charity flowing forth from the wounded side of the Crucified One.
And you, Blessed Padre Pio, look down from heaven upon us assembled in this square and upon all gathered in prayer before the Basilica of St John Lateran and in San Giovanni Rotondo. Intercede for all those who, in every part of the world, are spiritually united with this event and raise their prayers to you. Come to the help of everyone; give peace and consolation to every heart. Amen!
JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 2 may 1999
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. The solemn Eucharistic liturgy in which I had the joy of beatifying Padre Pio of Pietrelcina has ended in St Peter's Square. I am now pleased to be here with you who have come from various parts of Italy and the world to this Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano to pay homage to the new blessed and to show him your affection. Together with you I would like cordially to greet the many faithful who have gathered in prayer at the friary of the Capuchin Friars in San Giovanni Rotondo and those who are following the beatification ceremony on radio and television. This is a great and moving display of faith that enables us to experience concretely the reality of the Church, the family of God, which rejoices today in the holiness of one of her generous and faithful children.
By his teaching and example, Padre Pio invites us to pray, to receive divine mercy through the sacrament of Penance and to love our neighbour. He invites us, in particular, to love and venerate the Virgin Mary. His devotion to Our Lady was apparent in every aspect of his life: in his words and writings, in his teaching and in the advice he gave to his many spiritual children. A true son of St Francis of Assisi, from whom he learned to call upon Mary with splendid expressions of praise and love (cf. “Greeting to the Virgin”, in Fonti Francescane, 59), the new blessed never tired of teaching the faithful a tender and profound devotion to Our Lady that was rooted in the Church's authentic tradition. In the privacy of the confessional, as in his preaching, he continually urged the faithful: love Our Lady! At the end of his earthly life, when the time came to express his last wishes, he turned his thoughts, as he had done throughout his life, to Blessed Mary: “Love Our Lady and help others to love her. Always recite the Rosary”.
2. With deep sorrow and concern my thoughts turn again today to nearby Yugoslavia, and my affection embraces everyone there who is weeping, suffering and dying. Once again I raise my voice to beg — in the name of God — that that oppression of man by man may cease, that the tools of destruction and death be stopped and that every possible channel be opened for aiding those who have been forced to leave their lands amid unspeakable atrocities. May dialogue be resumed, with that intelligence and creativity which God has given man to resolve tensions and conflicts and to build a society based on proper respect for every human being.
With all my strength I invite you, brothers and sisters, to pray intensely throughout this month of May, imploring Our Lady for the gift of peace in the Balkans and in the all too many places in the world where violence reigns, fomented by prejudice and hatred towards those who have different ethnic orgins, religious convictions and political ideas. In addition to the Balkans, my thoughts turn to Africa, the continent now drenched in blood by the greatest number of wars: power struggles, ethnic conflicts and indifference to others are slowly choking it.
During this month of May, may prayers be organized in every Diocese to implore the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Peace, with one voice in the Church so that in the Balkans, on the African continent and in every part of the world peacemakers may burgeon who will forget their own interests and be willing to work for the common good.
May Padre Pio, a most loving son of the “Queen of Heaven”, intercede for us and for all, so that sentiments of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace may flow from human hearts at the end of this millennium and the beginning of the new, third millennium, for which we are preparing.
JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 28 April 2002
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. The Liturgy of the Fifth Sunday of Easter presents Christ as "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (cf. John 14:6). He is the only way of salvation, the full truth that makes us free, the true life that gives meaning to our existence.
2. This coming Wednesday we begin the month of May dedicated to Our Lady. For centuries popular devotion has made this month a wonderful occasion for expressing in many ways our Marian devotion.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us live intensely these days dedicated to the heavenly Mother of the Lord. Let us pray the Rosary, if possible every day, either by ourselves or in community. The Rosary is a simple prayer, but profound and very effective, even to ask favours for families, communities and the world.
During the month of May may an uninterrupted and common prayer be raised to heaven from every part of the world so that finally initiatives for easing tension and for dialogue may be affirmed in the Land of Christ and in every other place of the globe, experiencing violence and suffering.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Pope Saint John Paul II, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus tells his Apostles to put their faith in him, for he is “the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth which gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly Kingdom. Let us take the Lord at his word! Let us renew our faith in him and put all our hope in his promises!
With this encouragement to persevere in the faith of Peter (cf. Luke 22:32; Matthew 16:17), I greet all of you with great affection. I thank Cardinal Egan for his cordial words of welcome in your name. At this Mass, the Church in the United States celebrates the two hundredth anniversary of the creation of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville from the mother See of Baltimore. The presence around this altar of the Successor of Peter, his brother bishops and priests, and deacons, men and women religious, and lay faithful from throughout the fifty states of the Union, eloquently manifests our communion in the Catholic faith which comes to us from the Apostles.
Our celebration today is also a sign of the impressive growth which God has given to the Church in your country in the past two hundred years. From a small flock like that described in the first reading, the Church in America has been built up in fidelity to the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. In this land of freedom and opportunity, the Church has united a widely diverse flock in the profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of American society as a whole.
This great accomplishment was not without its challenges. Today’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks of linguistic and cultural tensions already present within the earliest Church community. At the same time, it shows the power of the word of God, authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human limitations and weakness. Here we are reminded of a fundamental truth: that the Church’s unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programs, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God’s indefectible gift to his Church.
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25 May 2014