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Papa's Words

The beautiful words of our Holy Fathers - Saint John Paul II, Papa Benedict XVI & Pope Francis - shining light on what is good and true in their speeches and homilies, letters and messages.

Many of our Papas' words in encyclicals & apostolic exhortations are included on Totus2us Novenas (split into 9 bits, as they're chunky!):
Francis on the Joy of the Gospel & the Light of Faith
BXVI on Christian Hope & God is Love
JPII on the Redeemer of Man, the Holy Spirit, Our Lady, St Joseph, the Church of the Eucharist, Faith & Reason, the Gospel of Life, Europe & the salvific meaning of suffering.
Plus JPII's words on the Sacred Heart of Jesus & BXVI's words at JPII's funeral & beatification.
For catechesis (given at the Wednesday audiences), check out Catechesis with Papas Francis, BXVI & JPII.

Click on the titles for the whole text of the recordings (& links to other languages on Vatican website). You can subscribe to this Totus2us podcast here on iTunes or here on the RSS feed.
To download the free mp3 Totus2us audio recordings individually, right/double click on the play buttons.

Papa Benedict XVI's homily at Mass with Cardinal Newman's beatification      
Cofton Park Birmingham, Sunday 19th September

"Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or 'Heart speaks unto heart', gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God. He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness. As he wrote in one of his many fine sermons, “a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to God and the unseen world in every season, in every place, in every emergency – prayer, I say, has what may be called a natural effect in spiritualizing and elevating the soul. A man is no longer what he was before; gradually he has imbibed a new set of ideas, and become imbued with fresh principles”. Today’s Gospel tells us that no one can be the servant of two masters, and Blessed John Henry’s teaching on prayer explains how the faithful Christian is definitively taken into the service of the one true Master, who alone has a claim to our unconditional devotion. Newman helps us to understand what this means for our daily lives: he tells us that our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a “definite service”, committed uniquely to every single person: “I have my mission”, he wrote, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place … if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling.”"

Papa BXVI at the Prayer Vigil      
Hyde Park, London, Saturday 18 September 2010

"One of the Cardinal’s best-loved meditations includes the words, “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another” (Meditations on Christian Doctrine). Here we see Newman’s fine Christian realism, the point at which faith and life inevitably intersect. Faith is meant to bear fruit in the transformation of our world through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives and activity of believers. No one who looks realistically at our world today could think that Christians can afford to go on with business as usual, ignoring the profound crisis of faith which has overtaken our society, or simply trusting that the patrimony of values handed down by the Christian centuries will continue to inspire and shape the future of our society. We know that in times of crisis and upheaval God has raised up great saints and prophets for the renewal of the Church and Christian society; we trust in his providence and we pray for his continued guidance. But each of us, in accordance with his or her state of life, is called to work for the advancement of God’s Kingdom by imbuing temporal life with the values of the Gospel. Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life, a culture forged by love and respect for the dignity of each human person. As our Lord tells us in the Gospel we have just heard, our light must shine in the sight of all, so that, seeing our good works, they may give praise to our heavenly Father (cf Mt 5, 16).

Here I wish to say a special word to the many young people present. Dear young friends: only Jesus knows what “definite service” he has in mind for you. Be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart. Christ has need of families to remind the world of the dignity of human love and the beauty of family life. He needs men and women who devote their lives to the noble task of education, tending the young and forming them in the ways of the Gospel. He needs those who will consecrate their lives to the pursuit of perfect charity, following him in chastity, poverty and obedience, and serving him in the least of our brothers and sisters. He needs the powerful love of contemplative religious, who sustain the Church’s witness and activity through their constant prayer. And he needs priests, good and holy priests, men who are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep. Ask our Lord what he has in mind for you! Ask him for the generosity to say “yes!” Do not be afraid to give yourself totally to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to fulfil your vocation."

BXVI's words in Westminster Abbey      

"Gathered in this ancient monastic church, we can recall the example of a great Englishman and churchman whom we honour in common: Saint Bede the Venerable. At the dawn of a new age in the life of society and of the Church, Bede understood both the importance of fidelity to the word of God as transmitted by the apostolic tradition, and the need for creative openness to new developments and to the demands of a sound implantation of the Gospel in contemporary language and culture.

This nation, and the Europe which Bede and his contemporaries helped to build, once again stands at the threshold of a new age. May Saint Bede’s example inspire the Christians of these lands to rediscover their shared legacy, to strengthen what they have in common, and to continue their efforts to grow in friendship. May the Risen Lord strengthen our efforts to mend the ruptures of the past and to meet the challenges of the present with hope in the future which, in his providence, he holds out to us and to our world. Amen."

Papa Benedict XVI's Address in Westminster Hall      
Houses of Parliament, London - Friday 17 September 2010
during his pilgrimage to the United Kingdom

"The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization."

BXVI to members of other religions      
St Mary's University College, Twickenham, Friday 17 September 2010

"Your presence and witness in the world points towards the fundamental importance for human life of this spiritual quest in which we are engaged. Within their own spheres of competence, the human and natural sciences provide us with an invaluable understanding of aspects of our existence and they deepen our grasp of the workings of the physical universe, which can then be harnessed in order to bring great benefit to the human family. Yet these disciplines do not and cannot answer the fundamental question, because they operate on another level altogether. They cannot satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart, they cannot fully explain to us our origin and our destiny, why and for what purpose we exist, nor indeed can they provide us with an exhaustive answer to the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

The quest for the sacred does not devalue other fields of human enquiry. On the contrary, it places them in a context which magnifies their importance, as ways of responsibly exercising our stewardship over creation. In the Bible, we read that, after the work of creation was completed, God blessed our first parents and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1, 28). He entrusted us with the task of exploring and harnessing the mysteries of nature in order to serve a higher good. What is that higher good? In the Christian faith, it is expressed as love for God and love for our neighbour. And so we engage with the world wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, but always with a view to serving that higher good, lest we disfigure the beauty of creation by exploiting it for selfish purposes"

Papa Benedetto's words to Students      
St Mary's University College, London, Friday 17 September 2010
during his pilgrimage to the United Kingdom

"When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.

Not only does God love us with a depth and an intensity that we can scarcely begin to comprehend, but he invites us to respond to that love. You all know what it is like when you meet someone interesting and attractive, and you want to be that person’s friend. You always hope they will find you interesting and attractive, and want to be your friend. God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints."

Papa Benedict XVI's Homily in Scotland      
Bellahouston Park, Glasgow - Thursday 16 September 2010
during his pilgrimage to the United Kingdom

"The evangelization of culture is all the more important in our times, when a “dictatorship of relativism” threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good. There are some who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatize it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty. Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister. For this reason I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful, in accordance with your baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of faith in public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith’s wisdom and vision in the public forum. Society today needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility. Do not be afraid to take up this service to your brothers and sisters, and to the future of your beloved nation. ...."

Papa St John Paul II's Homily on eve of Pentecost      
Westminster Cathedral, London - Friday 28 May 1982
during his pilgrimage to Great Britain

"The meaning of Baptism is reflected in the symbolism of the sacramental rite. Water, washing over us, speaks of the redeeming power of Christ’s suffering, death and Resurrection, washing away the inheritance of sin, delivering us from a kingdom of darkness into a kingdom of light and love. By Baptism we are indeed immersed into the death of Christ - baptized, as St Paul says, into his death - so as to rise with him in his Resurrection (cf Rom 6, 3-5). The anointing of our heads with oil signifies how we are strengthened in the power of Christ and become living temples of the Holy Spirit.

We are on the eve of Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit who descends on us at Baptism. One of the finest passages in the Pentecost liturgy was written by an Englishman, Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. In six short and vivid lines he calls upon the Holy Spirit to work in us: Wash what is unclean. Water what is parched. Heal what is diseased. Bend what is rigid. Warm what is cold. Straighten what is crooked.

Most of the ills of our age or of any age can be brought under that prayer. It reflects a boundless confidence in the power of the Spirit whom it invokes."

Papa John Paul II's Homily on the Annunciation
in the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth - 25 March 2000
during JPII's Jubilee pilgrimage to the Holy Land

"Like Abraham, Mary is asked to answer "yes" to something that has never happened before. Sarah is the first of the barren women in the Bible who conceive by the power of God, just as Elizabeth will be the last. Gabriel speaks of Elizabeth to reassure Mary: “See: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son” (Lk 1, 36).

Like Abraham, Mary must walk in the dark, trusting in the One who has called her. However, even her question “How is it possible?” suggests that Mary is ready to answer "yes", notwithstanding her fears and uncertainties. Mary does not ask if the promise is realizable, but only how it will be realised. It is not surprising, therefore, that finally she pronounces her fiat: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). With these words Mary shows herself the true daughter of Abraham and becomes the Mother of Christ and Mother of all believers."

Papa Francis's Message for Lent 2014   
Given on 26 December 2013, Feast of Saint Stephen

“So what is this poverty with which Jesus frees us and renders us rich? It is exactly his way of loving us, his getting close to us like the Good Samaritan who drew near to the man left half dead on the side of the road (cf Lk 10, 25). That which gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is his love of compassion, tenderness and sharing. The poverty of Christ which enriches us is his taking flesh, his taking upon himself our weaknesses, our sins, communicating to us the infinite mercy of God. The poverty of Christ is the greatest of riches: Jesus is rich in his boundless trust in God the Father, in his giving himself to Him in every moment, seeking always and only the will and the glory of God the Father. Jesus is rich as a child is who feels loved and loves his parents and does not for an instant doubt their love and tenderness. The richness of Jesus is his being the Son, his unique relationship with the Father is the sovereign prerogative of this poor Messiah. When Jesus invites us to take upon ourselves his “easy yoke”, he invites us to be enriched by this his “rich poverty” and “poor richness”, to share with Him his filial and fraternal Spirit, to become sons and daughters in the Son, brothers and sisters in the Firstborn Brother (cf Rom 8:29)."

Papa Francis's Homily on the Epiphany 
St Peter's Basilica, Monday 6 January 2014

On the feast of the Epiphany, when we recall the manifestation of Jesus to humanity in the face of a Child, may we sense the Magi close by our side, as wise companions on the road. Their example helps us to lift our gaze to the star and to follow the great desires of our hearts. They teach us not to content ourselves with a mediocre life, with “coasting it, playing it safe”, but to let ourselves always be fascinated by what is good, true and beautiful… by God, who is all of this, in an always greater way! And they teach us not to let ourselves be deceived by appearances, by that which for the world is great, wise, powerful. We must not stop there. It is necessary to keep the faith. In these times this is so important: to keep the faith. We must go further, beyond the darkness, beyond the fascination of the Sirens, beyond worldliness, beyond so many forms of modernity that exist today, to go to Bethlehem, there where, in the simplicity of a house on the periphery, between a mummy and daddy full of love and faith, shines forth the Sun come from on high, the King of the universe. Following the example of the Magi, may we, with our little lights, seek the Light and keep the faith. So be it."

Papa Benedict XVI's Homily on the Epiphany    
St Peter's Basilica, 6 January 2006

"But what is this light? Is it just an evocative metaphor or does this image correspond to a reality? The Apostle John writes in his First Letter: "God is light and in him there is no darkness" (I Jn 1, 5); and further on he adds: "God is love". These two affirmations, taken together, help us better understand: the light, shone forth at Christmas, which today is manifested to the peoples, is the love of God, revealed in the Person of the Verb incarnate. Attracted by this light, the Magi arrived from the East. In the mystery of the Epiphany, therefore, alongside a movement of radiation toward the outside, a movement of attraction is manifested toward the centre, which brings to fulfillment the movement already written about in the Old Covenant. The source of such dynamism is God, One in substance and Three in Persons, who draws to Himself everything and everyone. The Incarnate Person of the Verb is presented thus as the principle of universal reconciliation and recapitulation (cf Eph 1, 9-10). He is the final destination of history, the point of arrival of an "exodus", of a providential pathway of redemption, which culminates in his death and resurrection. This is why, on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the liturgy foresees the so-called "Announcement of Easter": indeed, the liturgical year sums up the entire parable of the history of salvation, at whose centre is "the Triduum of the Lord, crucified, buried and risen".

Papa John Paul II's Homily on the Epiphany     
& the Closing of the Holy Door at the end of the Great Jubilee
Papal Chapel, St Peter's - 6 January 2001

"Now it is time to look forward, and the story of the Magi can in a certain way indicate a spiritual route to us. They tell us above all that, when we encounter Christ, we must learn to stop and live profoundly the joy of intimacy with Him. 'Going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his Mother, and bowing down they worshipped him': their lives were from then on handed for ever to this Child for whom they had endured the rigours of the journey and the deceitfulness of men. Christianity is born, and continually regenerates itself, starting from this contemplation of the glory of God which shines out in the face of Christ.

A face to contemplate, as if glimpsing in his eyes the “features” of the Father and letting ourselves be filled with the love of the Spirit. The great Jubilee pilgrimage has reminded us of this fundamental Trinitarian dimension of Christian life: in Christ we also encounter the Father and the Spirit. The Trinity is the origin and the fulfilment. Everything starts from the Trinity, everything comes back to the Trinity.

And yet, as happened to the Magi, this immersion in the contemplation of the mystery does not stop us from journeying on, rather it obliges us to start out afresh on a new stretch of the pathway on which we become proclaimers and witnesses. “They returned to their own country by a different road”. The Magi were in a way the first missionaries. Their encounter with Christ did not keep them in Bethlehem, but propelled them anew on the streets/roads of the world. We must start out from Christ, and for this also, start out from the Trinity."

Papa Francis' Homily on the Nativity of Jesus 
Christmas Midnight Mass, St Peter's Basilica, 25 December 2013

“The shepherds were the first to see this “tent”, to receive the announcement of the birth of Jesus. They were the first because they were among the last, the marginalized. And they were the first because they kept vigil in the night, keeping watch over their flocks. The law of the pilgrim is to keep vigil, and they kept vigil. With them, we stop before the Child, we pause in silence. With them, we thank the Lord for having given us Jesus, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts praise for his fidelity: We bless You, Lord God Most High, who lowered yourself for us. You are immense, and you made yourself little; you are rich, and you made yourself poor; you are omnipotent, and you made yourself weak.

On this night we share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, He loves us so much that He gave his Son as our brother, as light in our darkness. The Lord repeats to us: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2, 10). As the angels said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid!” And I also repeat to you all: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, He loves us, He gives us Jesus to guide us on the pathway towards the promised land. He is the light that illuminates the darkness. He is mercy: our Father always forgives us. He is our peace. Amen.

Papa Benedict XVI's Homily on the Nativity     
Christmas Midnight Mass, St Peter's Basilica, 24 December in the Year of Faith 2012

"Thus the great moral question about how things are for us in regard to the homeless, refugees and migrants, takes on a still deeper meaning: do we truly have room for God, when He seeks to enter our home? Do we have time and space for Him? Is not perhaps God Himself actually rejected by us? It begins when we have no time for God. The faster we can move, the more efficient the time-saving tools become, the less time we have available. And God? The question regarding Him never seems urgent. Our time is already completely filled. But things go even deeper. Does God truly have a place in our thinking? The methodology of our thinking is structured in such a way that He, at the base, should not exist. Although He seems to knock at the door of our thinking, He must be removed with reasoning. So as to be taken seriously, thinking must be structured in such a way as to render the “God hypothesis” superfluous. There is no room for Him. Even in our feelings and will there is no room for Him. We want ourselves, we want the things that can be touched, happiness experienced, the success of our personal projects and of our intentions. We are completely “filled” with ourselves, so that there remains no space for God. And as such there is no space for others, for children, for the poor, for strangers. Starting from those simple words about the lack of room at the inn, we can realise how much we need St Paul’s exhortation: “Be transformed by renewing your way of thinking!” (Rom 12, 2). Paul speaks of renewal, of unlocking our intellect (nous); he speaks, in general, of the way in which we see the world and ourselves. The conversion we need must truly reach all the way to the depths of our relationship with reality. Let us pray to the Lord that we may become alert to his presence, that we may feel how softly yet insistently He knocks at the door of our being and of our will. Let us pray that in our innermost selves we make room for Him. And that in this way we can recognize Him also in those through whom He addresses us: in children, in the suffering and the abandoned, in the marginalized and in the poor of this world."

Papa John Paul II's Homily on the Nativity 
Christmas Midnight Mass, St Peter's - 25 December in the Great Jubilee 2000

"It is as if on every day of the Jubilee year the Church has never ceased to repeat: “Today is born for us the Saviour”. This proclamation, which possesses an inexhaustible charge of renewal, resonates on this holy night with special force: it is the Christmas of the Great Jubilee, a living memory of 2000 years of Christ, of his wondrous birth, which marked the new beginning of history. Today “the Verb was made flesh and came to dwell among us” (Jn 1, 14).

“Today”. On this night, time opens up to eternity, because You, O Christ, are born among us, coming from on high. You came to light from the womb of a Woman blessed among all women, You, “the Son of the Most High”. Your holiness sanctified our time once and for always: the days, the centuries, the millennia. With your birth, you made of time a “today” of salvation."