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Pope Saint John Paul II's homily at Holy Mass on 2nd Sunday of Easter
San Pancrazio Parish, 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 eternal is his mercy ...
This is the day made by the Lord
let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps 118 (117) 1, 24).

We also desire 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 a particular 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.

Moreover, the 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!"

3rd Sunday of Easter - Beatification of Father Laval & Father Coll
29 April 1979

4th Sunday of Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday & Day of Prayer for Vocations

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!"