2. In this monastic community of Quart, Mary, Queen of Carmel, is venerated with the title "Mother of Mercy". In fact, in giving birth to Jesus, the Blessed Virgin gave the world the supreme Witness of God's merciful love. In this plan of salvation she was not a mere instrument, but indeed a docile co-operator: divine Mercy finds perfect resonance in Mary. In her Immaculate Heart, God's tenderness, his desire to forgive sinners and the throbbing of his fatherly compassion are fittingly reflected.
Mary's motherhood was fulfilled on Calvary where divine Mercy accomplished the supreme act of Redemption in Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. At that tragic and glorious hour, Mary became the Mother of Mercy forever. Carmelite nuns are inspired by her sublime model and offer themselves for the salvation of all. Let us thank the Lord for never ceasing to call chosen souls to be prayerful apostles of his merciful Love in the heart of the Church.
3. From this place that is so important for the Church in Val d'Aosta, I would like to offer a cordial greeting to all the diocesan priests, as well as to the men and women religious. A special thought and greeting go to the Sisters of St Joseph of Aosta, who are beginning their General Chapter. I am also thinking with affection of Aosta's seminary community: I encourage the seminarians to apply themselves to their formation, while I hope that many young men will joyfully and gratefully answer the Lord's call to devote their entire life to serving the Gospel. But Christian life is always a response to the Lord's call, which nevertheless needs to be recognized and accepted with generosity. It was in this perspective that the summer "Mariapolis" of the Focolari Movement was held at La Thuile, and I am pleased that the participants are here now - and we can hear them. I greet you with affection, dear friends, and urge you to be witnesses to God's love in everyday life. I cordially greet all the residents of Val d'Aosta, especially the community of Quart and its mayor.
4. My stay in Val d'Aosta is coming to an end. I take this opportunity, then, to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who welcomed me with remarkable warmth, beginning with Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi and the Salesians. I thank the President of the Regional Board, the other authorities, the mayor of Introd, the Forestry Service, the State Police and the Carabinieri, who arranged everything for a calm and peaceful visit.
I once again entrust Val d'Aosta, all the residents and holiday-makers to Blessed Mary, Mater Misericordiae.
The Holy Father also greeted the French-speaking visitors: Dear French-speaking pilgrims who have joined in our Marian prayer, I offer you my cordial welcome. On this day of the week dedicated to the Lord, I ask the Holy Spirit to fill your hearts with the gift of wonder at the beauties of creation. God bless you!
JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 14 July 2002
1. For many people the holiday period begins in the month of July. I warmly wish everyone on vacation a peaceful time of relaxation that physically and mentally refreshes them. At the same time, I cannot but recall with affection all those who, instead, do not have the chance to go away. I am thinking especially of the people in prison, in hospital, and who are left alone at home. I would like to assure them of my spiritual closeness as I hope they will not lack the help they need from friends. I also express my deep appreciation of those who with a genuine human and Christian spirit dedicate themselves to helping the needy, the sick and all who are in difficulty.
Upon the English-speaking visitors I invoke an abundance of divine blessings, and wish you all a very pleasant and spiritually fruitful holiday.
I warmly greet the German-speaking pilgrims. May the Lord bless you all and may God's mercy accompany you throughout life, and in leisure time!
I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims. May this summer season also be a favourable opportunity to experience God's presence in our lives.
Dear Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, as I offer you a cordial greeting, I ask you to pray that my forthcoming Apostolic Journey will bear abundant fruits in the Continent of Hope, especially among young people.
I greet the pilgrims who have come from Poland: from Slupsk - the Parish of St Maximilian Mary Kolbe, from Skawina, near Kraków - a group of scouts from Czchów and from Gorlice - the teachers, young people and children from the summer camps in Kalisz, Poznan, and Stettin, and the "Belcanto" Choir from Gdansk. The sun has come out after the shower. May God bless and favour you all and your families.
I affectionately greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the community of the International Novitiate of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and assure them a special prayer for the 13 novices who will be making their profession this 5 August.
4. Let us entrust all our intentions to Mary. Let us ask her to watch over the World Youth Day, now at hand, so that it may be an experience rich in faith and Christian commitment for the young people who will be meeting one another in Toronto.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Saint Pope 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.
Les Combes (Aosta Valley)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have been here for some days in the marvellous mountains of the Aosta Valley, where the memory of my beloved Predecessor John Paul II lives on; his stays here over the years were relaxing and invigorating. This summer break is a truly providential gift of God after the first months of the demanding pastoral service that divine Providence has entrusted to me. I warmly thank dear Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta, also the Metropolitan, dear Cardinal Poletto of Turin, and all who have made it possible, as well as those who with their discretion and generous self-denial have enabled everything to go smoothly. I am also grateful to the locals and the tourists for their cordial welcome.
In the world in which we live, the need to be physically and mentally replenished has become as it were essential, especially to those who dwell in cities where the often frenzied pace of life leaves little room for silence, reflection and relaxing contact with nature. Moreover, holidays are days on which we can give even more time to prayer, reading and meditation on the profound meaning of life in the peaceful context of our own family and loved ones. The vacation period affords unique opportunities for reflection as we face the stirring views of nature, a marvellous "book" within the reach of everyone, adults or children. In contact with nature, individuals rediscover their proper dimension, they recognize that they are creatures but at the same time unique, "capable of God" since they are inwardly open to the Infinite. Driven by the heartfelt need for meaning that urges them onwards, they perceive the mark of goodness and divine Providence in the world that surrounds them and open themselves almost spontaneously to praise and prayer.
As we recite the Angelus together in this delightful Alpine spot, let us ask the Virgin Mary to teach us the secret of silence that becomes praise, of recollection that is conducive to meditation, of love for nature that blossoms in gratitude to God. Thus, we will more easily be able to welcome the light of the Truth into our hearts and practise it in freedom and love.
After the Angelus, the Pope said:
I would like to add a few words of thanks and greeting. I am thinking first of the particular Church in which I find myself, the ancient Diocese of Aosta: in these days, I am saying many prayers for the Bishop, whom I thank once again, for the priests, Religious and for the families. I assure the whole community of the Aosta Valley of my remembrance in the Lord, especially for the sick and for all who are suffering.
I greet with gratitude the Salesian Priests who have given me hospitality in their house, the State Authorities, and those of the region and the municipal Administration of Introd.
I offer a special thought to the Sisters of the Congregation of St Joseph of Aosta, Pinerolo and Cuneo, as I express to them my appreciation for the mission they carry out and assure them of my prayers for their Chapter.
I greet the English-speaking visitors who join us for this Angelus. May the summer holidays be a period of rest and an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord in gratitude and prayer. Upon you and your families, I cordially invoke God's Blessings of joy and peace.
I turn now with special love to the sick. I would have liked to shake hands with each one of you. Unfortunately, however, you are all scattered about! You can be certain that I embrace you in my heart and in my prayers. You are always present to the Lord, and always embraced by his love.
I now address all of you, particularly you young people, who have come for my first Angelus in the mountains. We are already spiritually on our way to Cologne. See you in Cologne.
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.
In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ’s Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people “from every nation under heaven” (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of God’s love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ!
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”. These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at today’s Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us – to all those who have received the Spirit’s gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord’s body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, “one body, one spirit in Christ”.
But what is this “power” of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God’s life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Luke 4:21). He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin May, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God’s grace.
Here in Australia, this “great south land of the Holy Spirit”, all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit’s presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: “charged”, as the poet says, “with the grandeur of God”, filled with the glory of his creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spirit’s presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord.
The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Church’s sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spirit’s power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: “Come, come to the Father” (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).
Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. God’s love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to God’s grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive “power from on high”, enabling us to be salt and light for our world.
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3 August 2014