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Easter - Pasqua - Pâques - Pascua 1979

Pope Saint John Paul II's homily at the Easter Vigil
St Peter's Basilica, Holy Saturday, 14 April 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. The word "death" sticks in one's throat. Although humanity has, during so many generations, become accustomed in a way to the reality of death and to its inevitability, it is, however, something overwhelming every time. Christ's death had deeply entered the hearts of those closest to him, and the consciousness of the whole of Jerusalem. The silence that followed it filled the Friday evening and the whole of the following day of Saturday. On this day, in accordance with Jewish regulations, no one had gone to the place of his burial. The three women, of whom today's Gospel speaks, well remember the heavy stone with which the entrance to the sepulchre had been closed. This stone, of which they were thinking and about which they would speak the next day on their way to the sepulchre, also symbolizes the weight that had crushed their hearts. The stone that had separated the Dead One from the living, the stone that marked the limit of life, the weight of death. The women, who go to the sepulchre in the early morning of the day after the Sabbath, will not speak of death, but of the stone. When they arrive at the spot, they will see that the stone no longer blocks the entrance to the sepulchre. It has been rolled back. They will not find Jesus in the sepulchre. They looked for him in vain! "He is not here; for he has risen, as he said" (Mt 28, 6).

They are to go back to the city and announce to the disciples that he has risen again and that they will see him in Galilee. The women are not able to utter a word. The news of death is spoken in a low voice. The words of the resurrection were even difficult for them to grasp. Difficult to repeat, so much has the reality of death influenced the thought and heart of man.

2. Since that night and even more since that morning which followed it, Christ's disciples have learned to utter the word "resurrection". And it has become the most important word, the central word, the fundamental word in their language. Everything takes its origin again from it. Everything is confirmed and is constructed again: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 117 (118), 22-24).

It is for this very reason that the paschal vigil — the day following Good Friday — is no longer only the day on which the word "death" is spoken in a low voice, on which the last moments of the life of the Dead Man are remembered: it is the day of a great Awaiting. It is the Easter Vigil: the day and the night of waiting for the Day which the Lord has made. The liturgical content of the Vigil is expressed by means of the various hours of the breviary and is then concentrated with all its riches in this liturgy of the night, which reaches its climax, after the period of Lent, in the first "Alleluia".

Alleluia: the cry that expresses paschal joy!

The exclamation that rings out again in the middle of the night of waiting and brings with it already the joy of the morning. It brings with it the certainty of resurrection. That which, at the first moment, the lips of the women in front of the sepulchre or the mouths of the apostles did not have the courage to utter, now the Church, thanks to their testimony, expresses with her Alleluia.

This song of joy, sung about midnight, announces to us the Great Day. (In some Slav languages, Easter is called the "Great Night" after the Great Night there arrives the Great Day: "the day which the Lord has made").

3. And now we are about to meet this Great Day with the paschal fire lit; we have lit the candle — Christ's light — from this fire and proclaimed beside it the glory of his Resurrection in the song of the Exsultet. Then we entered, by means of a series of readings, the process of the great announcement of creation, of the world, of man, of the People of God; we entered the preparation of the whole of creation for this Great Day, the day of the victory of good over evil, of Life over death. It is not possible to grasp the mystery of the Resurrection except by returning to the origins and following, thereafter, the whole development of the history of the economy of salvation up to that Moment! To the moment in which the three women of Jerusalem, stopping at the threshold of the empty sepulchre, heard the message of a young man dressed in a white robe "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here" (Mk 16, 5-6).

4. That great Moment does not allow us to remain outside ourselves; it compels us to enter our own humanity. Christ not only revealed to us the victory of life over death, but brought us, with his Resurrection, the New Life. He gave us this new life.

Here is how St Paul puts it: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6, 3-4).

The words: "(we) were baptized into his death" say a great deal. Death is the water in which Life is won back: the water "welling up to eternal life" (Jn 4, 14). It is necessary to "immerse oneself" in this water, in this Death, in order then to emerge from it as a New Man, as a New Creature, as a new being, that is, vivified by the Power of the Resurrection of Christ!

This is the mystery of the Water, which we bless tonight, which we cause to be penetrated with the "light of Christ, with the New Life; it is the symbol of the power of the Resurrection!

This Water becomes, in the Sacrament of Baptism, the sign of the victory over Satan, over sin; the sign of the victory that Christ won by means of the cross, by means of Death and which he then brings to each of us: "Our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin" (Rom 6, 6).

5. This is the night of the Great Awaiting. Let us wait in Faith, let us wait with all our human being for Him, who at dawn broke the tyranny of death and revealed the Divine Power of Life: He is our Hope."

Papa Giovanni Paolo II's Urbi et Orbi Message on Easter Sunday
15th April 1979, St Peter's Square - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Resurrexit tertia die..." The third day he rose again...

Today, together with the whole Church, we repeat these words with particular emotion. We repeat them with the same faith with which—on this very day—they were said for the first time. We say them with the same certainty that the eye-witnesses of the events put into this phrase. Our faith comes from their testimony, and that testimony sprang from seeing, hearing, meeting face to face, touching the pierced hands, feet and side.

The witness is born from the Fact; yes, on the third day Christ rose again. Today we repeat these words with all simplicity, because they come from people of simplicity. They come from hearts that love, and that have so loved Christ as to be capable of passing on and preaching nothing else but the truth about him: "Crucifixus sub Pontio Pilato passus et sepultus est" : He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried.

Thus sound the words of this testimony. And with the same simplicity of truth they continue to proclaim: "et resurrexit tertia die": and the third day he rose again.

This truth, upon which as upon the "cornerstone" (cf. Eph 2:20) the whole edifice of our faith is based, today we wish once more to share this faith among us, one with another, as the fullness of the Gospel. We confessors of Christ, we Christians, we the Church. And, at the same time, we wish to share it with all those who are listening to us, with all men and women of good will.

We share it joyfully, for how could we not be filled with joy for the victory of Life over Death? "Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando! Dux vitae, mortuus, regnat vivus!": "The Lord of life was dead; but now he is alive and triumphs" (Easter Sequence).

2. How could we fail to rejoice at the victory of this Christ, who passed through the world doing good to everyone (cf. Acts 10:38) and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom (cf. Mt 4:24), in which is expressed the fullness of the redemptive goodness of God? In it man has been called to the highest dignity.

How can we fail to rejoice at the victory of him who was so unjustly condemned to the most terrible passion and death on the Cross; at the victory of him who first was scourged, buffeted, spat upon, with such inhuman cruelty?

How can we fail to rejoice at the revelation of the power of God alone and at the victory of this power over sin and blindness of men?

How can we fail to rejoice at the victory definitively won by good over evil?

This is the day that the Lord has made!

This is the day of universal hope. The day on which there gather about the Risen One, and join with him, all human sufferings, disappointments, humiliations, crosses, human dignity violated, human life not respected, oppression, repression, all the things that cry aloud: "Victimae paschali laudes immolent Christiani" ("To the paschal victim let there rise today the sacrifice of praise").

The Risen One does not go away from us; the Risen One comes back to us: "But you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you...'" (Mk 16:7). He comes everywhere, where people most await him, where sadness and fear are greatest:, where misfortune and tears are greatest. He comes to shed the light of the Resurrection upon everything that is subjected to the darkness of sin and death.

3. As he enters the Upper Room though the doors were shut, the Risen Christ greets his disciples gathered there with the words: "Peace be with you" (Jn 20:20).

These are the first words of his Easter message.

How great is the good in this peace that he gives us, and that the world cannot give (cf. Jn 14: 27). How closely it is linked with his coming and his mission!

How necessary for the world is his presence, the victory of his Spirit, the order coming from his commandment of love, so that men and women, families, nations, continents may enjoy peace.

Today, this greeting of the Risen One, expressed to the apostles in the Upper Room in Jerusalem—we wish to repeat this greeting from this place, and address it to wherever it is particularly relevant and particularly awaited.

Peace to you, peoples of the Middle East.
Peace to you, peoples of Africa.
Peace to you, peoples and countries of distant Asia.
Peace to you, brothers and sisters of Latin America.
Peace to you, peoples who live in the various social, economic and political systems!

Peace! As the fruit of fundamental order; as the expression of respect for every human being's right to life, to truth, freedom, justice and love.

Peace of consciences and peace of hearts. This peace cannot be had unless each one of us has the awareness of doing everything in his or her power so that a life worthy of the children of God will be ensured from the first moment of their existence, for all men and women—brothers and sisters of Christ, loved by him even to death. I am thinking at this moment in particular of all those who are suffering for the lack of what is strictly necessary for existence, of all who suffer from hunger, and above all of the little children, who—in their weakness—are the ones who are specially loved by Christ and to whom is dedicated this year, the International Year of the Child.

May the Risen Christ inspire in all, Christians and non-Christians, sentiments of solidarity and of generous love towards all our brothers and sisters in need.

4. "Surrexit Christus, spes mea!"

Dear brothers and sisters! How eloquent for us is this Day, which speaks with all the truth of our origin. Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone of our whole edifice (cf. Eph 2:20-21). This stone, cast aside by the builders, that God has bathed in the light of the Resurrection, is placed at the very foundation of our faith, our hope and our love.

It is the primary reason of our vocation and of the mission that each one of us receives at Baptism.

Today we wish to rediscover this vocation, to claim this mission for our own once more. We wish to let it be filled once more with the joy of the Resurrection. We wish to bring it near to all people, to those who are near and to those who are far off.

Let us share this joy with one another. Let us share it with the apostles, with the women who were the first to bring the news of the Resurrection.

Let us unite ourselves with Mary. "Regina caeli, laetare!"

Man can never lose the hope of the victory of good. May this day become for us today the beginning of a new hope.

Catechesis by Pope Saint John Paul II in the Easter Octave
Wednesday 18th April 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Haec dies quam fecit Dominus"

All these days between Easter Sunday and the second Sunday after Easter "in Albis" constitute, in a certain sense, the One Day. The liturgy is concentrated on an Event, on the one Mystery. "He has risen, he is not here" (Mk 16, 6). He fulfilled the Passover. He revealed the meaning of the Passing. He confirmed the truth of his words. He spoke the last word of his message: the message of the Good News, of the Gospel. God himself, who is the Father, the author of life, God himself who does not want death (cf Ez 18, 23,32) and "created all things that they might exist" (Wis 1, 14), manifested his Love, in Him and through Him, right to the end. Love means Life.

The Resurrection is the definitive testimony of Life, that is, of Love.

"Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando / Dux vitae mortuus regnat Vivus"!

"Death and Life faced each other / in an amazing duel. The Lord of life had died; but now, alive, He triumphs" (Sequence).

"This is the Day which the Lord has made" (Psalm 117 (118), 24): "excelsior cunctis, lucidior universis, in quo Dominus resurrexit, in quo sibi novam plebem... regenerationis spiritu conquisivit, in quo singuloruin mentes gaudio et exsultatione perfudit" (more sublime than all, more luminous than all; on which the Lord rose again; on which he won for himself a new people... by means of the spirit of regeneration; on which he filled the soul of everyone with joy and exultation — St Augustine, Sermo 168, in Pascha X.1).

This One Day corresponds, in a certain way, to all the seven days, of which the book of Genesis speaks, and which were the days of creation (cf Gen 1-2). Therefore we celebrate them all on this one day. On these days during the octave we celebrate the mystery of the new Creation. This mystery is expressed in the Person of the Risen Christ. He himself is already this Mystery and is for us its announcement, the invitation to it. The leaven. By virtue of this invitation and of this leaven we all become in Jesus Christ the "new creation".

"Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven... but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor 5, 8).

2. Christ, after his resurrection, returns to the same place from which he had gone to his Passion and death. He returns to the Upper Room, where the apostles were. While the doors were closed, he came, stood among them and said: "Peace be with you". And he goes on: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20, 19-23).

How significant are these first words of Jesus after his Resurrection! The message of the Risen Christ is contained in them. When he says: "Receive the Holy Spirit", there comes into our mind the same Upper Room in which Jesus delivered the farewell address. Then he uttered the words pregnant with the mystery of his heart: "It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (Jn 16, 7). He said so thinking of the Holy Spirit.

And now, after having made his sacrifice, his "departure" through the Cross, he comes again to the Upper Room to bring them the One he has promised. The Gospel says: "He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20, 22). He states the mature word of his Passover. He brings them the Gift of the Passion and the Fruit of Resurrection. With this gift he models them anew. He bestows on them the power of awakening others to Life, even when this Life is dead in them: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" (Jn 20, 23).

Fifty days will pass from the Resurrection to Pentecost. But the essential Gift and the Fruit of Pentecost are already enclosed in this One Day which the Lord has made (cf Ps 117 (118), 24). When Christ says: "Receive the Holy Spirit", he proclaims his paschal mystery to the end.

"Hoc autem est mysticum et secretissimum, quod nemo novit, nisi qui accipit, nec accipit nisi qui desiderat, nec desiderat, nisi quem ignos Spiritus Sancti medullitus inflammat, quem Christus misit in terram" (This is a mysterious and hidden reality, which no one knows but he who receives it, and no one receives it but he who desires it, and no one desires it but he who is inflamed in the innermost depths of his heart by the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent on the earth (St Bonaventure, Itinerarium mentis in Deum, cap. 7, 4).

3. The Second Vatican Council again illuminated the paschal mystery in the earthly pilgrimage of the People of God. It drew from it the full image of the Church, which always plunges its roots in this salvific mystery, and draws vital sap from it. "In the human nature united to himself, the son of God, by overcoming death through his own death and resurrection, redeemed man and changed him into a new creation (cf Gal 6, 15; 2 Cor 5, 17). For by communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation. In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his passion and glorification" (Lumen Gentium, 7).

The Church remains constantly in the mystery of the Son which was accomplished with the descent of the Spirit, at Pentecost.

The paschal octave is the Day of the Church!

Living this Day, we must accept, together with it, the words that rang out for the first time in the Upper Room where the Risen Christ appeared: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20, 21).

To accept the Risen Christ means accepting the mission, as those who were gathered at that moment in the Upper Room, the apostles, accepted it.

To believe in the Risen Christ means taking part in the same mission of salvation which he carried out with the paschal mystery. Faith is a conviction of the intellect and of the heart.

This conviction takes on its full meaning when participation in this mission, which Christ accepted from the Father, springs from it. To believe means accepting as a consequence this mission from Christ.

Among the apostles, Thomas was absent when the Risen Christ came for the first time to the Upper Room. This Thomas, who declared aloud to his brothers "Unless I see... I will not believe" (Jn 20, 25), was convinced by the next coming of the Risen Christ. Then, as we know, all his reservations vanished and he professed his faith with these words: "My Lord and my God" (Jn 20, 28). Together with the experience of the paschal mystery, he reconfirmed his participation in Christ's mission. As if, eight days afterwards, these words of Christ: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (cf Jn 20, 21), reached him, too.

Thomas became a mature witness to Christ.

4. The Second Vatican Council teaches the doctrine on the mission of the whole People of God, which has been called to take part in the mission of Christ himself (cf Lumen Gentium, 10-12). It is a triple mission. Christ — Priest, Prophet and King — expressed his mission to the end in the paschal mystery, in the Resurrection.

Each of us in this large community of the Church, of the People of God, takes part in this mission by means of the sacrament of Baptism. Each of us is called to faith in the Resurrection like Thomas: "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing" (Jn 20, 27).

Each of us has the duty of defining the meaning of his own life by means of this faith. This life has a very varied form. It is we ourselves who give it a determined form. And it is precisely our faith which brings it about that the life of each one of us is penetrated somewhere by this mission, which Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, accepted from the Father and shared with us. Faith brings it about that some part of the paschal mystery penetrates the life of each of us. A certain irradiation of it.

We must find this ray in order to live it every day for all this time, which began again on the Day which the Lord has made."


Ai giovani

"Un saluto particolarmente affettuoso va ora ai ragazzi, alle ragazze e a tutti i giovani venuti così numerosi ad allietare questa udienza generale. Carissimi, vi ringrazio di cuore per questa vostra significativa presenza e per la gioia che mi procurate col dono della vostra giovinezza e della vostra fede in Cristo risorto. In questo tempo pasquale, vi dirò con l’Apostolo Paolo: “Se dunque siete risorti con Cristo, cercate le cose di lassù, dove si trova Cristo assiso alla destra di Dio; pensate alle cose di lassù, non a quelle della terra” (Col 3,1-2).Cari giovani, in alto i cuori e sempre avanti nel nome del Signore!

Ai malati

Un pensiero, ormai consueto, ma sempre nuovo e vivamente sentito, desidero rivolgere a quanti di voi sono sofferenti. Le piaghe gloriose di Cristo risorto valgano ad illuminare e sanare le vostre ferite, fisiche e morali, tuttora aperte e doloranti. Ricordate la massima ascetica: “Per crucem ad lucem”, cioè: attraverso le sofferenze della Croce si giunge alla beatitudine della luce. Sappiate che Cristo con la sua Risurrezione ha riscattato e redento il dolore, il quale ha così acquistato la sua dignità, essendo stato chiamato ad uscire dalla sua inutilità e a diventare fonte positiva di bene e segno luminoso di speranza non fallace. Vi conforti sempre la mia speciale Benedizione Apostolica.

Agli sposi

Agli sposi novelli auguro che la gioia pasquale, che in questi giorni irradia nei nostri cuori, li accompagni per tutta la loro vita, e li aiuti a vincere i pericoli, sempre insorgenti, dell’egoismo, il grande male della vita familiare. Vi accompagni anche, lungo il corso della vostra vita, il canto dell’“alleluia”, che in questi giorni risuona nelle nostre chiese. Questo canto liturgico, che significa “Lodate il Signore”, risuoni sempre nelle vostre case e nei vostri cuori a testimonianza della letizia cristiana. Vi benedico di cuore.

APPELLO

Ancora una parola per invitarvi alla preghiera. Abbiamo gioito insieme per la vittoria di Cristo sulla morte, gustando la sovrabbondanza di grazia e di vita che ci è stata comunicata da lui. Pasqua è veramente una festa di gioia e di vita.

Eppure non possiamo dimenticare il dolore, la mestizia che hanno avvolto, proprio in questi giorni, con la perdita di vite umane, con sofferenze e privazioni di ogni genere, i popoli di alcune regioni del mondo: per un improvviso cataclisma, come il terremoto che ha colpito, la mattina di Pasqua, numerosi centri abitati in Jugoslavia e in Albania; oppure a causa dell’aggravarsi di tensioni politiche e sociali, di lotte armate, in Rhodesia, in Uganda, in Nicaragua; o per il riaccendersi di fiammate punitive, doloroso strascico di precedenti rivolgimenti.

Vorrei che la preghiera che insieme rivolgiamo al Signore, con l’intercessione di Maria regina dei cieli, potesse implorare pace ai morti, sollievo ai feriti e ai senza tetto, protezione alle popolazioni minacciate da incursioni o rappresaglie, umanità per i prigionieri e clemenza per i vinti, perdono e riconciliazione per tutti.

Pope St John Paul II's homily at Mass with a group of deacons
Cappella Paolina, Saturday 21 April 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Beloved Deacons,
In the long history of the Church in Rome, it is not uncommon to see deacons associated with the Pope in his ministry, to see deacons at his side. And this morning it is a special joy for me to be surrounded by deacons, as our relationship – our ecclesial communion – reaches its highest expression in the holy Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Our joy is enhanced – yours and mine – to have some of your parents and loved ones here. All of us have come to celebrate the Paschal Mystery and to experience the love of Jesus. His is a sacrifical love – a love that moved him to lay down his life for his people and to take it up again. And his sacrifical love has been manifested with great generosity in your parents’ lives, and today it is very fitting that they should have an exceptional moment of serenity, satisfaction and wholesome pride.

As we commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we reflect on his various appearances, as recorded in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles: his appearance to Mary Magdalen, to the two disciples, to the Eleven Apostles. We renew our faith – our holy Catholic faith – and we rejoice and exult because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia! Today more than ever before we are conscious of what it means to be an Easter people and to have the alleluia as our song. The Easter event – the bodily Resurrection of Christ – pervades the life of the whole Church. It gives to Christians everywhere strength at every turn in life. It makes us sensitive to humanity with all its limitations, sufferings and needs. The Resurrection has immense power to liberate, to uplift, to procure justice, holiness and joy.

But for you, Deacons, there is a particular message this morning. By your sacred ordination you have been associated in a special way with the Gospel of the Risen Christ. You have been commissioned to render a special type of service, diaconia, in the name of the Risen Lord. During the ordination ceremony the Bishop told each of you: "Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach". And so you are called to take the words of the Acts of the Apostles to heart. In the rank of deacons you have come to be associated with Peter and John and all the apostles. You support the apostolic ministry and share in its proclamation. Like the Apostles you too must feel impelled to proclaim by word and deed the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. You too must experience the need to do good, to render service in the name of the crucified and Risen Jesus – to bring God’s word into the lives of his holy people.

In today’s first reading we hear the Apostles saying: "We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard". And you are called, in the obedience of faith, to proclaim on the basis of their testimony – on the basis of what has been hanted down in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – the great mystery of the Risen Lord, who hin his very act of Resurrection communicates eternal life to all his brethren because he communicates his victory over sin and death. Remember that the Apostles by their proclamation of Resurrection were a challenge and reproof to many.

And they were warned never to speak again in the name of the Risen Jesus. But their response was immediate and clear: "You must judge whether in God’s eyes it is right to listen to you and not to God". And in this obedience to God they found the supreme measure of paschal joy.

It is the same for you, the new deacons of this Easter season. As the associates of the Bishops and priests of the Church, your discipleship will be marked by these two characteristics: obedience and joy. Each, in this own way, will show the authenticity of your lives. Your ability to communicate the Gospel will depend on your adherence to the faith of the Apostles. The effectiveness of your diaconia will be measured by fidelity of your obedience to the mandate of the Church. It is the Risen Christ who has called your, and it is his Church that sends you forth to proclaim the message transmitted by the Apostles. And it is the Church that authenticates your ministry. Be confident that the very power of the Gospel you proclaim will fill you with the most sublime joy: sacrifical joy, yes, but the transforming joy of being intimately associated with the Risen Jesus in his triumphant mission of salvation. All the disciples of Jesus and you Deacons by a special title, are called to share the immense Easter joy experienced by Blessed Mother. At the Resurrection of her Son, we see Mary as Mater plena sanctae laetitiae, becoming for all us Causa nostrae laetitiae. Obedience and joy are then true expression of your discipleship. But they are also conditions for your effective ministry, and at the same time gifts of God’s grace – effects of the very mystery of the Resurrection that you proclaim.

Dear Deacons, I speak to you as sons and brothers and friends. This is a day of special joy. But let it also be a day of special resolve. In the presence of the Pope, under the gaze of the Apostles Peter and Paul, in the company of Stephen, before the vitness of your parents, and in the communion of the universal Church, renew again your ecclesial consecration to Jesus Christ, whom you serve and whose life-giving message you are called to transmit in all its purity and integrity, with all its exigencies and in all its power. And know that it is with immense love that I repeat to you and to your brother deacons throughout the Church the words of this morning’s Gospel, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creatures".

This is the meaning of your ministry. This will be your greatest service to humanity. This is your response to God’s love. Amen."

Pope St John Paul II's homily at Mass on Sunday 2nd of Easter
Church of San Pancrazio, Rome, Sunday 22 April 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Today we are following in the footsteps of a very ancient tradition of the Church, that of the second Sunday of Easter, called "in Albis", which is bound up with the liturgy of Easter and particularly with the liturgy of the Easter Vigil. This Vigil, as its modern form also testifies, represented a great day for catechumens, who, during the night of Easter, by means of baptism, were buried together with Christ in death in order to be able to walk in a new life, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father (cf. Rom 6:4).

In this inspiring image St Paul presented the mystery of baptism. Catechumens received baptism precisely during the Easter Vigil, as we had the fortune to have also this year, when I conferred baptism on children and adults of Europe, Asia and Africa.

In this way the night that precedes Easter. Sunday really became for them the "Passover", that is, the Passing from sin, that is from the death of the spirit, to Grace, that is to the life of the Holy Spirit. It was the night of a real Resurrection in the Spirit. As a sign of sanctifying grace, the newly baptized received during baptism a white garment, which distinguished them for the whole octave of Easter. On this day of the second Sunday of Easter, they took off this garment; hence the very ancient name of this day: Sunday "in Albis depositis".

In Rome this tradition is linked with the church of San Pancrazio. Today the liturgical station is precisely here. We have, therefore, the fortune to unite the pastoral visit to the parish with the Roman tradition of the station of Sunday in Albis.

2. Today, therefore, we wish to sing together here the joy of the Resurrection of the Lord, as the liturgy of this Sunday announces:

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
for his mercy is eternal..
This is the day made by the Lord
let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps 118, 1,24).

We wish also to give thanks for the indescribable gift of faith, which descended into our hearts and is constantly strengthened by means of the mystery of the Resurrection of the Lord. Today St John speaks to us of the greatness of this gift in the powerful words of his letter: "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 Jn 5:4-5).

So we thank the Risen Christ with great joy in our hearts, since he lets us participate in his victory. At the same time, we humbly beseech him that we may never cease being participants, through faith, in this victory: particularly in difficult and critical moments, in moments of disappointment and suffering, when we are exposed to temptation and ordeals. Yet we know what St Paul writes: "Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim 3:12). And here, furthermore, are St Peter's words: "... you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 1:6-7).

3. The Christians of the first generations of the Church prepared for baptism for a long time and thoroughly. This was the period of the catechumenate, the traditions of which are still reflected today in the liturgy of Lent. These traditions were alive when adults prepared for baptism. To the extent to which the tradition of the baptism of children developed, the catechumenate in this form was to disappear. Children received baptism in the faith of the Church, for which the whole Christian community (which today is called the "parish") vouched, and in the first place their own family. The renewed liturgy of the baptism of children highlights this aspect even more. The parents with the godfathers and godmothers profess the faith, make the baptismal promises and assume responsibility for the Christian education of their child.

In this way, the catechumenate is transferred in a way to a later period, to the time of gradual growth to adulthood; then the baptized person must acquire, from those closest to him and in the parish community of the Church, a living awareness of that faith, in which he has already become a participant, by means of the grace of baptism. It is difficult to call this process "catechumenate" in the original and proper sense of the word. Nevertheless it is the equivalent of the authentic catechumenate and must take place with the same earnestness and zeal as the one that once preceded baptism. The duties of the Christian family and of the parish converge on this point. On this occasion today, we must realize this with special clarity and strength.

4. The parish, as the fundamental community of the People of God and as an organic part of the Church, has its origin, in a certain sense, in the sacrament of baptism. It is, in fact, the community of the baptized. Through every baptism, the parish participates in a special way in the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection. Its whole pastoral and apostolic effort aims at making all parishioners aware of baptism, so that they may persevere in Grace, that is, in the state of Sons of God and enjoy the fruits of baptism in personal life as well as in family and social life. Therefore renewal of the awareness of baptism is particularly necessary. It is a fundamental value in the life of the parish to undertake this catechumenate—which is now lacking in preparation for baptism—and carry it out the various stages of life.

The function of catechesis consists precisely of this. It must extend not only to the period of the elementary school but also to higher education and to later periods of life.

In particular sacramental catechesis is indispensable as preparation for first communion and confirmation; preparation for the sacrament of marriage is of great importance.

Furthermore baptized man, if he wishes to be a Christian "in works and in truth", must constantly remain faithful, during life, to the catechesis received. It tells him, in fact, how he must understand his Christianity and put it into practice in the various phases and environments of professional, social and cultural life. This is the vast task of catechesis for adults.

Thanks be to God, this activity is developing widely in the life of the diocese of Rome and in your parish.

5. I am informed, indeed, of the many initiatives of catechesis and associative life, which the parish institutions are carrying out with the help of many Religious Families, male and female, and various ecclesial movements. Special mention should be made of the well-deserving Discalced Carmelite Fathers, who dedicate their energies to the spiritual progress of this parish of San Pancrazio. The large population concentrated here is just another stimulus for an indefatigable apostolic commitment. My word, therefore, becomes exhortation and encouragement both to the parish leaders that they may continue joyfully in their service to the Body of Christ, and to all the members of the Community, that they may always and consciously find in it the best place for their growth in the faith, hope and love which they are to testify to the world.

6. On Sunday "In Albis", the liturgy of the Church makes us witnesses of the meeting of the Risen Christ with the apostles in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The figure of the Apostle Thomas and Christ's talk with him always attracts our particular attention. The Risen Master allows him in a unique way to recognize the signs of his passion and thus convince himself of the reality of the Resurrection. Then St Thomas, who at first did not want to believe, expresses his faith in the words: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28). Jesus replies: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (Jn 20:29).

May the experience of Lent, touching in a certain sense the signs of Christ's Passion, and the solemnity of his Resurrection, renew and strengthen our faith—and also the faith of those who are mistrustful, half-hearted, indifferent and distant.

And may the blessing that the Risen Christ uttered in his conversation with Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe", remain with us all!"

Pope St John Paul II's homily at the Beatification of Fr Jacques Laval CSSP & Fr Francis Coll OP on 3rd Sunday of Easter
St Peter's Square, 29 April 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Alleluia! Alleluia! On this third Sunday of Easter, our paschal joy is expressed as an echo of the overflowing joy of the Apostles who, from the first day, recognized the Risen Christ. On Easter evening, "Jesus himself stood among them". "See my hands and my feet". He invited them to touch him with their hands. And he ate before their eyes (cf Lk 24, 36, 39, 40). Amazed and slow to believe, the Apostles recognized him at last: "The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord" (Jn 20, 20; Lk 24, 41); and now no one could take their joy from them (cf Jn 16, 22), or silence their testimony (cf Acts 4, 20). A few moments earlier, the hearts of the disciples of Emmaus were also burning within them while Jesus spoke to them on the way and explained the Scriptures to them; and they too had recognized him at the breaking of bread (cf Lk 24, 32, 35).

The joy of these witnesses is ours, dear Brothers and Sisters, we who share their faith in the Risen Christ. Glorified at the Father's side, he never stops drawing men to him, communicating to them his life, the Spirit of holiness, while preparing a place for them in the Father's house. Today, as it happens, this joy finds a striking confirmation, since we are honouring two admirable Servants of God who, last century, shone forth on our earth with Christ's holiness and whom the Church is now able to declare blessed, to propose them to the special veneration and imitation of the faithful: Father Laval and Father Coll, whom we must now contemplate.

2. It is plainly impossible to point out here all the outstanding events in the life of Father Jacques-Désiré Laval, or all the Christian virtues that he practised to a heroic degree. Let us remember at least what characterizes this missionary, with regard to the mission of the Church today.

It is in the first place his concern to evangelize the poor, the poorest, and, in this case, his "dear Blacks" of the island of Mauritius, as he used to call them. A Frenchman, he had begun by practising medicine in a little town in his native diocese, Evreux, but gradually the call to an undivided love of the Lord, which he had repressed for a certain time, made him abandon his profession and worldly life. "Once I am a priest, I will be able to do more good", he explained to his brother (cf biography).

A late vocation at St Sulpice Seminary in Paris, he was at once put in charge of service of the poor; then, as parish priest of the little Norman parish of Pinterville, he shared all he had with those in want. But on learning of the misery of the Blacks of Africa and the urgency of bringing them to Christ, he obtained permission to leave for the island of Mauritius, with the Vicar Apostolic, Mons. Collier. For 23 years, until his death, he dedicated all his time, used all his strength, and gave his whole heart to the evangelization of the inhabitants: indefatigably, he listened to them, catechized them, and made them discover their Christian vocation. He often intervened also to improve their medical and social condition.

His tenaciousness is an unending source of astonishment for us, especially in the discouraging conditions of his mission. But, in his apostolate, he always went to what is essential.

The fact is that our missionary left behind him innumerable converts, with a firm faith and piety. He was not given to sensational ceremonies, fascinating for these simple souls but with no lasting effect, or to flights of oratory. His educational concern was closely integrated in life. He was not afraid to return continually to the essential points of Christian doctrine and practice, and he admitted to baptism or to first communion only people prepared in little groups and tested. He took great care to put at the disposal of the faithful little chapels scattered over the island. Another remarkable initiative which links up with the concern of many pastors today: he had recourse to collaborators, men and women, as leaders of prayer, catechists, people who visited and advised the sick, others in charge of little Christian communities, in other words poor people, evangelizers of the poor.

What is, then, the secret of his missionary zeal? We find it in his holiness: in the gift of his whole person to Jesus Christ, inseparable from his tender love of men, especially the most humble among them, to whom he wishes to give access to the salvation of Christ. Whatever time was not dedicated to the direct apostolate, he spent in prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament, and he continually combined acts of penance which deeply impressed his confreres, in spite of his discretion and his humility.

He himself often expresses regret for his spiritual lukewarmness — let us say rather the feeling of his aridity: is it not precisely that he sets the greatest store by fervent love of God and Mary, to which he wishes to initiate his faithful? That is also the secret of his apostolic patience: "It is on God alone and on the protection of the Blessed Virgin that we depend" (Letter of 6 July 1853, cf biography). What a magnificent confession! His missionary spirituality had been, from the beginning, in keeping with the general pattern of a young Religious and Marian Institute, and he was always anxious to follow its spiritual requirements, in spite of his solitude and geographical distance: the Society of the Sacred Heart of Mary, of which he was one of the first members alongside the famous Father Libermann, and which was soon to merge with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. The apostle, now as in the past, must in the first place maintain spiritual vigour within himself: he bears witness that he is continually drawing from the Source.

That is a model for evangelizers today. May he inspire missionaries and, I venture to say, all priests, who have in the first place the sublime mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ and training the Christian life!

May he be, in a special way, the joy and stimulus of all religious of the Holy Spirit, who have never stopped implanting the Church, particularly in the land of Africa, and are at work there so generously!

May the example of Father Laval encourage all of those who, in the African continent and elsewhere, are endeavouring to build a brotherly world, free of racial prejudices! May Blessed Laval be also the pride, the ideal and the protector of the Christian community of the island of Mauritius, so dynamic today, and of all Mauritians!

To these wishes, I am happy to add a very cordial greeting to the Delegation of the Government of Mauritius, as well as to that of the French Government, which have come to take part in this ceremony.

3. A second reason for ecclesial joy is the beatification of another figure that the Church wishes to exalt today and propose to the imitation of the People of God: Father Francis Coll. A new glory of the great Dominican family and equally so, of the diocesan family of Vich. A religious and at the same time a model apostle—for a large part of his life—in the ranks of the clergy of Vich.

He is one of those ecclesial personalities who, in the second half of the nineteenth century enrich the Church with new religious foundations: a son of Spain, of Catalonia, which has produced so many generous souls that have bequeathed a fruitful heritage to the Church.

In our case, this heritage takes on concrete form in a magnificent and tireless work of evangelical preaching, which culminates in the foundation of the Institute known today as that of the Dominican Sisters of "La Anunciata", present here in large numbers to celebrate their Father Founder, together with so many members of the various organizations which the Congregation has created.

We cannot now present a complete portrait of the new Blessed, an admirable mirror—as you have been able to observe from a reading of his biography—of heroic human, Christian and religious virtues, which make him worthy of praise and of imitation in our earthly pilgrimage. Let us merely speak briefly about one of the most striking aspects of this ecclesial figure.

What impresses us most on approaching the life of the new Blessed, is his evangelizing zeal. At a very difficult moment of history, in which social upheavals and laws persecuting the Church make him leave his convent and live permanently outside it, Father Coll, abstracting from human, sociological or political considerations, dedicates himself completely to an astonishing task of preaching. Both during his parish ministry, especially in Artés y Moya, and in his later phase as an apostolic missionary, Father Coll shows himself to be a true catechist, an evangelizer, in the best line of the Order of Preachers.

In his innumerable apostolic journeys over the whole of Catalonia, through memorable popular missions and other forms of preaching, Father Coll—Mosén Coll, for many—is a transmitter of faith, a sower of hope, a preacher of love, peace and reconciliation among those whom passions, war and hatred keep divided. A real man of God, he lives fully his priestly and religious identity, made a source of inspiration in the whole of his task. To those who do not always understand the reasons for certain attitudes of his, he answers with a convinced "because I am a religious". This deep consciousness of himself is what directs his incessant labour.

An absorbing task, but which does not lack a solid foundation: frequent prayer, which is the driving power of his apostolic activity. On this point, the new Blessed speaks very eloquently. He himself is a man of prayer; he wishes to introduce the faithful along this way (it is enough to see what he says in two publications of his "La hermosa rosa" and "La escala del cielo"). It is the path he points out in the Rule to his daughters, with stirring words, which because of their relevance today I also make my own: "The life of Sisters must be a life of prayer... For this reason I urge you over and over again, beloved Sisters: do not abandon prayer".

The new Blessed , recommends various forms of prayer to sustain apostolic activity. But there is one that he prefers and which I have particular pleasure in mentioning and emphasizing: prayer while contemplating the mysteries of the rosary; that ladder to go up to heaven", composed of mental and vocal prayer which "are the two wings that Mary's Rosary offers Christian souls". A form of prayer which the Pope too practises assiduously and in which he calls upon all of you to join, particularly in the coming month of May, dedicated to the Virgin.

I conclude these reflections in Spanish with a greeting to the Authorities who have come for these celebrations in honour of Father Coll. I invite everyone to imitate his example of life, but especially the sons of St Dominic, the clergy and particularly you, Dominican Sisters of the "Anunciata", who have come from Spain, Europe, America and Africa, where your religious activity is carried on generously.

4. The hope that I express this morning, in conclusion, is that today's double Beatification will serve to strengthen and promote commitment in the catechetical action of the whole Church. It is well known that the subject of the Fourth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held here in Rome in the autumn of 1977, was precisely that of catechesis. The Synod Fathers — of whom I too was one — tackled and studied this theme of prime importance for the life and action of the Church at all times. They stressed the urgency of giving catechesis definite priority over other initiatives, less essential even if, perhaps, more spectacular, because the absolutely original aspect of the Church's mission is carried out by means of it. A mission — they confirmed — which involves all members of the People of God, though in their different functions, and commits them to a continual search for adequate methods and means for a more and more effective transmission of the Message.

The thought of the Synod Fathers was addressed particularly to the young, of whose growing importance in the world of today they were well aware: for amid uncertainties and disorders, excesses and frustrations, the young represent the great force on which the fate of future humanity depends. The question that troubled the Synod Fathers is precisely this one: how to get this multitude of young people to have a living experience of Jesus Christ, and that not just in the dazzling encounter of a fleeting moment, but by means of a knowledge of his person and his message that becomes more complete and luminous every day? How to kindle in them the passion for the Kingdom, which he came to inaugurate, and in which alone the human being can find full and satisfying self-fulfilment?

To answer this question is the most urgent task of the Church, today. It will depend on the generous commitment of all, if a testimony of the "message of this salvation" (Acts 13, 26) can be offered to the new generations, a testimony capable of winning over the minds and hearts of the young, and of involving their will in those concrete choices, often costly ones, which the logic of the love of God and of one's neighbour demands. It will depend above all on the sincerity and the intensity with which families and communities are able to live their adherence to Christ, if the young are effectively reached by the teachings imparted to them at home, in school, in church.

Let us pray, therefore, the new Blesseds to be close to us with their intercession and to guide us to personal and deep experience of the Risen Christ, who will make our hearts also "burn within us", as the hearts of the two disciples burned on the way to Emmaus, while Jesus "talked to them on the road and opened to them the Scriptures" (cf Lk 24, 32). In fact, only he who can say: "I know him" — and St John has warned us that anyone who does not live according to Christ's commandments cannot say this (cf. Second Reading) — only he who has reached an "existential" knowledge of him and of his Gospel, can offer others a credible, incisive and enthralling catechesis.

The lives of the two new Blesseds are an eloquent confirmation of this. May their example not be proposed to us in vain"

Pope St John Paul II's homily on 5th Sunday of Easter
Church of St Stanislaus, Rome, Sunday 13 May 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Abide..."

The word that returns most often to the readings of the Fifth Sunday of Easter is precisely the word "Abide". With this word the Risen Christ, who had first been crucified, invites us to union with him. He presents this union to us, referring to a simile drawn from nature. The branches abide in the vine and for this reason they bear fruit. They cannot do so by themselves if this organic link with life is lacking. In this case, in fact, there remain only twigs and dry branches, which are gathered and thrown into the fire because they can be used as firewood. On the other hand, as long as the branches remain in the vine and draw vital sap from it, they continue to be real branches. They form one thing with the vine, and are even defined together with it with the same name "the vine". They also deserve careful attention on the part of the owner, the vine-dresser. He looks carefully at every vine and every branch. If it bears fruit, "he prunes it" so that it may bear even more fruit. But if it does not bear fruit, be removes it so that it will not get in the way, and with its fruitless growth weigh down the vine.

Here is the simile. Here is the image in which there is expressed everything that had to be said in order that listeners would understan, first, the mystery of spiritual abiding in Christ; and then, the duty of producing spiritual fruits owing to the fact that they abide in him. For this reason the Master uses at the same time descriptive language, showing the branch that remains in the vine, and normative language, giving an order; he says, "Abide in me".

2. In what does this "abiding" in Jesus Christ consist? St John himself, who included the allegory of the vine in his Gospel, offers an answer to this question as author of the first letter. "All who keep his commandments abide in him (God), and he (God) in them (1 Jn 3, 24). This is the most evident proof. The Apostle almost seems to hesitate in answering the question whether it is possible to establish and ascertain, with the help of some criterion that is verifiable, such a mysterious reality as the abiding of God in man, and thanks to that of man in God. This reality is strictly spiritual in nature. Is it possible to ascertain, to check this reality? Can man have the certainty that his works are good, pleasing to God and that they serve His abiding in his soul? Can man be certain that he is in a state of grace?

The Apostle answers this question as if he were answering himself and us at the same time: "if our hearts do not condemn us, we have trust in God" (1 Jn 3, 21), the confidence that we abide in him and he in us. And if, on the contrary, we have reasons for apprehension, it is from active love of God and of our brothers that we will be able to derive interior certainty and peace, we will be able to "reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" (cf Jn 3, 20). Then, too, we do not cease to be in the range of his love, which can change the state of sin into the state of grace and make our heart once more the dwelling of the Living God. All that is necessary is our response to his love. Love is the principle of divine Life in our souls. Love is the law of our abiding in Christ: of the branch in the vine.

Let us love therefore — writes St John — let us love "in deed and in truth" (1 Jn 3, 18). Let our love prove its interior truth by means of deeds. Let us defend ourselves from the appearances of love .... "let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our hearts before him" (1 Jn 3, 18-19). "And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us" (Jn 3, 24).

3. We meet today, dear Brothers and Sisters, in St Stanislaus' church in Rome, to begin here the Jubilee of the ninth centenary of the martyrdom of the Patron Saint of Poland. It has started simultaneously in Krakow, in conformity with the very ancient Polish tradition: 8 May and the Sunday that immediately follows this day.

Every year this solemnity is the patronal feast of the Church in Poland, and it is closely connected with the solemnity of the White Mountain Queen of Poland, on 3 May, and the feast of St Wojciech (Adalbert) at Gniezno, on 23 April.

In the current year, which, in relation to the ninth centenary of St Stanislaus' death has been proclaimed a jubilee year, this annual feast of Krakow constitutes the beginning of the religious celebrations, the culminating point of which will occur on the Sunday of Pentecost and that of the Holy Trinity.

The usual gathering of Poles in the Roman church of St Stanislaus recalls the important initiative of the Servant of God, Cardinal Stanislaw Hozjusz, Bishop of Warmia and one of the Pope's legates at the Council of Trent, who founded St Stanislaus' hospice precisely at this church. The Cardinal, born at Krakow, and therefore spiritually sensitive to the cult of the Holy Bishop and Martyr, wished to designate this place in Rome with his name, as if to remind his fellow-countrymen in Poland that they had remained in union with St Peter's See for many centuries and must continue to remain in this union. In the year 1579 that great ecclesiastic, a close friend of St Charles Borromeo, died and was buried in St Mary's church in Trastevere, that is, in the church which is at present the titular church of the Cardinal Primate of Poland. The fourth centenary of Cardinal Hozjusz' death coincides with St Stanislaus' jubilee this year.

4. Dear Fellow-countrymen! The eloquence of the facts is such that it enables us to understand more adequately and deeper the Gospel of the vine and the branches this Sunday. We have abided in union with Christ since the time of the baptism of Poland and this spiritual union finds its visible expression in union with the Church. In the year of the anniversary of St Stanislaus' death we owe special gratitude to God who accepted the sacrifice of martyrdom and strengthened by this martyrdom our link with Christ living in the Church. And just as, during the millennium, we have sung the "Te Deum" of thanks for the gift of faith and Baptism, so we should sing the "Te Deum" this year in thanksgiving for the strengthening of what started with Baptism.

And at the same time, meditating on the allegory of the vine and the branches, let us look at the figure of that "Owner" who cultivates the vineyard, looks after every branch solicitously and, if need be, "prunes" it so that it may bear more fruit. Understanding the meaning of this allegory more deeply, let us pray ardently and humbly, each one for himself and everyone for everyone, that the branches will not wither and break away from Christ, who is the vine. Let us pray that the forces of irreligiousness, the forces of death, may not be more powerful than the forces of life, the lights of faith. We have lit up over Poland and over Poles all over the world the lights of the millennium.

Let us all strive so that they will not be extinguished. May they shine in the same way as the cross of Stanislaus of Szczepanow shines in the hearts and consciences of Poles, indicating to them Christ who continues to be "the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14, 6) of men and of nations.

And now I would like to add a word for the Italian-speaking faithful gathered here.

We meet in this Roman church of St Stanislaus to begin the jubilee of the ninth centenary of the martyrdom of the Patron Saint of Poland, as is happening simultaneously also in Krakow. While I thank you, I invite you, too, to participate with your thought, and above all with your prayer, in this great solemnity of the Poles. St Stanislaus' church, in which we are gathered, represents in itself a concrete link between the city of Rome and my land of origin, since it was founded by the Polish Cardinal Stanislaus Hozjusz, a native of Krakow and Bishop of Warmia, Papal Legate at the Council of Trent, who died in 1579.

Beloved, today we read at Mass the Gospel of the vine and the branches. Jesus' word is for us all a stimulus to remain united with the Lord, separated from whom we are, on the contrary, destined to wither and die. Poland, since the time of its baptism, has remained faithfully united with Christ and expresses this spiritual bond of faith and love by means of visible integration in the Church. Well, on the anniversary of St Stanislaus' martyrdom, we must thank the Lord particularly, who accepted the sacrificial offering of that life, by means of which our link with Christ living in the Church was strengthened.

Let us pray together, therefore, humbly and ardently, that we may never separate from the Lord, and that the forces of faith and life in the Lord may never succumb to those of disbelief and death. Amen.

Praised be Jesus Christ."

Pope St John Paul II's homily on 6th Sunday of Easter with the Polish Bishops in Honour of Saint Stanislaus
St Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Sunday 20 May 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. The joy of the paschal period in today's liturgy dictates to the Church words of deep gratitude. Here they are: "The love of God was made manifest among us" (1 Jn 4, 9); it was manifested in this way, that "God sent his only Son into the world" (1 Jn 4, 9). He sent him "so that we might live through him" (1 Jn 4, 9). He sent him "to be the expiation for our sins" (1 Jn 4, 10).

This sacrifice offered on Calvary on Good Friday was accepted. And lo, Easter Sunday brought us certainty of Life. He who broke the seals of the tomb, manifested victory over death, and thereby revealed the Life that we have "through him" (1 Jn 4, 9).

All men are called to this Life: "God shows no partiality" (Acts 10, 34; cf Gal 2, 6). And the Holy Spirit, as St Peter testifies in today's liturgy, "fell on all who heard the word" (Acts 10, 44).

The work of salvation carried out by Christ has no limit in space and in time. It embraces one and all. Christ died on the cross for everyone and he won for everyone this divine life, the power of which was manifested in his Resurrection.

With this great and universal paschal joy of the Church I wish to associate particularly, today, the joy of my fellow-countrymen, the joy of the Church in Poland, expressed by the presence of so many pilgrims from all over the world, with the illustrious and beloved Primate of Poland, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, with the Archbishops and Metropolitans of Krakow and of Wrocklaw, and with so many representatives of the Polish Episcopate. Celebrating this Holy Sacrifice, we wish to express to God, who is "Love", our gratitude for the millennium of faith and of permanence in union with the Church of Christ; for the millennium of the presence of Poland, always faithful, at this spiritual centre of catholicity and universality which is St Peter's tomb in Rome as also this splendid Basilica built above it.

2. This reason for our special joy is, this year, the jubilee of St Stanislaus, Bishop of Krakow and Martyr. 900 years have passed since this Bishop was martyred at the hands of King Boleslaus. He exposed himself to death by reprimanding the king and asking him to change his attitude. The royal sword did not spare the Bishop; it reached him during the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice and immediately deprived him of life. The precious relic of the Bishop's skull, on which the signs of the mortal blows are still visible, has remained a witness to this moment. This relic, preserved in a valuable reliquary, has for many centuries been carried in the month of May from Wawel cathedral to St Michael's Church at Skalka (Rupella) when the solemnities of St Stanislaus are celebrated in Poland. Throughout the centuries, there took part in this procession the Polish kings, successors of that Boleslaus who had inflicted death on the Bishop and who, according to tradition, ended his life as a converted penitent.

The liturgical hymn in honour of St Stanislaus was sung as the solemn hymn of the nation which took the martyr as its own patron saint. Here are the first words of this hymn: "Gaude mater Polonia / Prole fecunda nobili / Summi Regis magnalia / Laude frequenta vigili."

3. Today I, the first Pope in the history of the Church of the race of Poles and Slav Peoples, celebrate with gratitude the memory of St Stanislaus, since up to a few months ago I was his successor in the episcopal see at Krakow. And together with my fellow-countrymen gathered here, I express deep gratitude to all those who take part in this solemnity here. In two weeks I shall have the fortune to go on a pilgrimage to Poland, to thank God there for the millennium of faith and of the Church which is founded on St Stanislaus as on a cornerstone. And even if this event is, above all, the jubilee of the Church in Poland, we express it also in the dimension of the universal Church; because the Church is a large family of peoples and nations, all of which have contributed, at the right moment, to make it a community by means of their own testimony and their own gift, and have thus highlighted their participation in universal unity. Such a gift was, 900 years ago, the sacrifice of St Stanislaus.


The Holy Father then delivered section 4 in Polish

4. Beloved Fellow-Countrymen!
We cannot present the great mystery of St Stanislaus after 900 years, other than by going back to the Paschal Mystery of Christ. This is what the Polish Hierarchy did in their pastoral letter to prepare all Poles at home and abroad for the celebration of his feast this year.

Here is an extract from the letter: "Dwelling prayerfully on his martyrdom, we have still in mind the recent Lenten memories of the Passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ: 'he who wishes to be my disciple, let him take up his cross... and follow me'. If, beginning from Christ's death and resurrection, the Lord's disciples will shed their blood down the ages as a witness of faith and love, this will always happen with him and in him. He will draw them to his pierced Heart, and thus they will be united in the death of Christ.

The cross in the life of St Stanislaus and his death as a martyr were essentially very close to the Cross and Death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. They had a similar significance. Christ defended the truth of his Father, the Eternal God; he defended the truth of himself as the Son of God. He defended man who, indeed, lives under the temporal power, but lives in an incomparable manner under the power of God ..

Let the fruit of this holy jubilee be our fidelity to the Blood which Christ shed on Calvary for man's salvation, for the salvation of each one of us; fidelity to Christ's Mother of Sorrows; fidelity to the sacrificial martyrdom of St Stanislaus."

I read these words with great joy. They give us the best understanding of what is proclaimed in the liturgy of St Stanislaus: vivit Victor sub gladio! In fact, the weighty sword fell on the head of the Bishop of Krakow, Stanislaus of Szczepanowa in 1079 and terminated his life. Beneath that sword the bishop was conquered. Boleslaus had removed his adversary. The great drama had concluded within the short frontiers of time. However, even though the power of the sword had achieved its end at the moment of the sacrifice of death, yet the power of the Spirit, which is Life and Love, began to reveal itself and to grow at the same time. It irradiated from his relics, embracing the peoples of the lands of the Piasts and uniting them. Even though the sword and its material power can kill and destroy, yet only love, the power of the Spirit, can vivify and unite in a lasting way. And love is manifested even in death — "when a man lays down his life for his friends" (Jn 15, 13).

We rejoice that today we can praise God for the revelation of his love in the death of
St Stanislaus, servant of the Eucharist and servant of the People of God in the see of Krakow.

5. The Church in Poland is grateful to Peter's See, because in 966, by means of Baptism, it accepted the nation into the great community of the family of Peoples.

The Church in Poland is grateful to St Peter's See, because the Bishop and Martyr St Stanislaus of Szczepanow was raised to the altars and proclaimed Patron Saint of the Poles.

The Church in Poland, by means of the memory of its Patron Saint, confesses the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Love, which is stronger than death.

With this confession it wishes to serve the men of our time. It wishes to serve the Church in her universal mission in the modern world. It wishes to contribute to the strengthening of faith, hope and charity not only in its people, but also in the other nations and peoples of Europe and of the whole world.

Let us pray with the deepest humility at St Peter's tomb that this witness and this readiness to serve may be accepted by means of the Church of God, which is "all over the earth". Let us pray with humility, love and with the deepest veneration that they may be accepted by Almighty God, the Searcher of our hearts and Father of the time to come."

Pope St John Paul II's homily on 7th Sunday of Easter
with Episcopal Ordination in St Peter's Basilica
Vatican, Sunday 27 May 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen" (Acts 1, 24).

Thus the apostles prayed, gathered in the Upper Room at Jerusalem when, for the first time, they had to fill the place that had remained empty in their community. It was necessary, in fact, for the Twelve to continue to bear witness to the Lord and to his Resurrection. Christ had duly constituted the Twelve. And now, after the loss of Judas, it was necessary to face for the first time the duty of deciding in the Lord's name who was to take the vacant place.

Then those gathered pray precisely in this way: "Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship..." (Acts 1, 24-25).

What took place so long ago in the early Church, is repeated also today. Behold, those who are to take the different places "in the ministry and apostleship", have been chosen. They have been chosen after the fervent prayer of the whole Church and of every community that needs them and which they will serve.

So you have been chosen, dear Brothers. Today you are here at St Peter's tomb to receive episcopal consecration. Certainly today, too, as during the whole preceding period of preparation for episcopal ordination, each of you repeats in this Basilica: "Lord, you know the hearts of all men. You know my heart too. Lord, you yourself have been pleased to choose me. You yourself once said to the apostles, after calling them: 'You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide'" (Jn 15:16).

2. "As far as the east is from the west..." (Ps 103, 12).

You have really come here today, revered and dear Brothers, from the east and the west, from the south and the north. Your presence expresses the paschal joy of the Church, which can already testify in the various parts of the earth "that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world" (1 Jn 4, 14).

At this point, I would like, in beautiful and poetic and, at the same time, simple, language, to describe and, as it were, gather the countries from which you ordinands come, beginning with the most distant East, the Philippines, India, and then, through Africa (Sudan and Ethiopia), to arrive at South America (Brazil, Nicaragua, Chile) and North America (United States, Canada), and then back again to Europe (Italy, Bulgaria, Spain and Norway).

Time, unfortunately, does not allow me to do so. The presence among the ordinands of a Bishop from Bulgaria offers me, however, the welcome opportunity of addressing a special thought to that noble nation, which has been Christian for so many centuries. I take advantage of this happy occasion to send an affectionate greeting to all my Catholic brothers and sisters, of Latin and of Byzantine rite. Although their number is not large, they bear witness to the vitality of their faith in love for their country and in service of the communities to which they belong. A respectful greeting also to the venerable Bulgarian Orthodox Church and to all its children.

Among the ordinands there are also three archbishops, called to serve, particularly, the universal mission of the Apostolic See: the Secretary of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church and two Pontifical Representatives. Their mandate springs, as a natural and necessary requirement, from the specific function entrusted to Peter within the Apostolic College and the whole ecclesial community. Their task is, therefore, to be ministers of "catholic" unity, as "servants of the servants of God", together with , the one whom they represent.

3. And now, shortly, by means of episcopal consecration, you will receive special participation in Christ's priesthood, the fullest participation. In this way you will become pastors of the People of God in different places of the earth, each one with his own duty in the service of the Church.

As the Second Vatican Council recalled, it was Christ himself who willed that "the successors of the apostles, that is, the Bishops, should be pastors in his Church for all ages" (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 8). Obedient to this will of their Master, the apostles "not only had various helpers in their ministry, but... in order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, they consigned... to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun. ...Thus, according to the testimony of St Irenaeus, the apostolic tradition is manifested and preserved in the whole world by those who were made bishops by the apostles and by their successors down to our own time (ibid. n. 20). The Council illustrated amply the essential function that the Bishops carry out in the life of the Church. Among the many texts which refer to this subject, let it suffice to recall the vigorous synthesis contained in that passage of Lumen Gentium where, on the basis of the datum of faith according to which "in the person of the bishops... the Lord Jesus Christ is present...", it is deduced with logical consistency that Christ "above all through their signal service preaches the Word of God to all peoples and administers without cease to the faithful the sacraments of faith; that through their paternal care (cf. 1 Cor 4:15) he incorporates, by a supernatural rebirth, new members into his body; that finally, through their wisdom and prudence he directs and guides the people of the New Testament on their journey towards eternal beatitude" (n. 21).

In the light of these clear and rich conciliar affirmations, I express the deep joy it gives me to confer episcopal consecration on you today dear Brothers, and in this way bring you into the college of the Bishops of Christ's Church: with this act, in fact, I can show particular esteem and love for your fellow-countrymen, your nations and the local Churches from which you have been chosen and for the good of which you are constituted Pastors (cf. Heb 5:1).

Together with you I meditate on the words of the Gospel today: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (Jn 15:15). And I wish with my whole heart to congratulate you on this friendship. What could be greater? And therefore I wish you nothing else but this: abide in the love of Christ! (cf. Jn 15:10); abide in his friendship. Abide in it as he abides in the Father's love.

May this love and this friendship fill your life completely and become the inspiring source of your works in the service you assume today. I wish you abundant and happy fruits in this ministry of yours: "that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (Jn 15:16), that the Father may give you everything you ask him for in the name of Christ (cf. Jn 15:16) his eternal Son.

May your mission and your ministry lead to the strengthening of mutual love, common love, and of the union of the People of God in Christ's Church, since it is in love and union that there is revealed, in all its luminous simplicity, the face of God: Father and Son and Holy Spirit; God who is love (cf 1 Jn 4, 16).

And what the world, that world to which we are sent, needs most is precisely love!"