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Feast of the Transfiguration 1979

Pope St John Paul II's homily at Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani's Funeral
St Peter's Basilica, the Vatican, 6th August 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Ecce Sacerdos magnus, qui in diebus suis placuit Deo et inventus est iustus (cf Sir 44, 16-17): these are the first words that rise spontaneously to my lips at the moment in which we offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice to God and prepare to take leave of our revered brother, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani. He was really a great priest, distinguished for his religious piety, exemplary fidelity in the service of the Holy Church and of the Apostolic See, solicitous in his ministry and in the practice of Christian charity. And he was at the same time a Roman priest, in possession, that is, of that typical spirit, perhaps not easy to define, that those born here in Rome — as he was born, ten years before the end of the nineteenth century — have by inheritance, as it were; that spirit which is expressed in special attachment to Peter and to the faith of Peter and, again, in keen sensitivity to what the Church of Peter is and does and must do.

For this reason, I spoke of "exemplary fidelity", and now that he is dead after a long and laborious earthly day, it is easier to perceive this fidelity as the constant characteristic of his whole life. His was really a tried and unflagging fidelity. Without wishing to go through the phases of his activity in the different ministries, to which his brilliant intellect and the confidence of the Sovereign Pontiffs called him, he always distinguished himself for this moral quality, an extraordinary quality, a quality that means consistency, dedication, obedience. As Substitute at the Secretariat of State, and then Assessor, Pro-Secretary, Pro-Prefect and Prefect of what was then the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, as Prelate Bishop and Cardinal, he gave proof of possessing this quality; a uniform, as it were, which characterized him and identified him in the eyes of those — and there were many of them both in Rome and outside — who knew him and esteemed him. Being responsible for the Congregation which is institutionally entrusted with the safeguarding of the sacred patrimony of faith and of Catholic morality, he expressed this same virtue in a behaviour of perspicacious attention in the conviction — objectively founded and gradually more and more matured in experience of things and of men — that rectitudo fidei, that is orthodoxy, is the indispensable patrimony and the first condition for rectitudo morum, or orthopraxis. His high juridical sense, which had made him, when still young, a teacher praised and listened to by many hosts of priests, sustained him in the tenacious work he carried out in defence of the faith.

Always available, always ready to serve the Church, he also saw in reforms the providential sign of the times, so that he was able and wished to collaborate with my predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI, as he had already done with Pius XII and even earlier with Pius XI. His existence was literally spent for the good of the holy Church of God. Our brother in everything and always was homo Dei, ad omne opus bonum instructus (2 Tim 3, 17); and this is indeed an essential reference, a characteristic element, which highlights his spiritual and moral nature.

He was also a man with a great priestly heart: there are still many people who remember him in his daily ministry in the midst of the boys and youths of St Peter's Oratory, who had him — alongside other unforgotten Roman priests and prelates — as a friend and brother, and I will say better: as a solicitous and affectionate father. This presence of his was not a distraction from the tedious weariness of official papers and bureaucratic commitments, but a necessity that arose spontaneously, intentionally and generously from a priestly programme, a service offered at the bidding of his vocation.

He was born poor in the working-class district of Trastevere, and this origin explains his tender love and preferential solicitude for the poor, for children and for orphans. And now it is just these innocent souls who — beside so many priests and laity who received from Cardinal Ottaviani the light of wisdom, the lesson of simplicity, the medicine of mercy — intercede for him before the altar of the Lord, in order that the reward destined for the "good and faithful servant" (cf Mt 25, 21) may quickly be bestowed on him.

By a strange coincidence this sad rite takes place at the same time at which, exactly a year ago, my beloved predecessor Paul VI was about to leave this world. And I am happy to recall with you the strong and moved voice of the Cardinal when he announced publicly on 21 June 1963 the elevation of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini to the Pontificate. From the very tone of his words, though they repeated the usual Latin formula Habemus Papam, there could be felt the satisfaction of the old teacher who saw exalted a colleague and friend, so worthy of esteem, who would open an intense and promising season in the Church and for the Church. Both of them, in their respective positions of responsibility, in the obvious distinction of their individual personalities, have now concluded the cycle of earthly existence, to enter definitively — as we all hope and pray — that Kingdom into which their ardent and intrepid faith had brought them in hope.

May the Lord now grant both of them rest in his light, in his peace. Amen!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Angelus
Castel Gandolfo, Sunday 5th August 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"I. The Angelus — a prayer that recalls to our memory the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God — also calls up in those who recite it the memory of the dead. If this has always been so, it is far more the case today, when this memory is particularly alive here, in Castel Gandolfo. In fact, a year ago, on the solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord, on 6 August the difficult and laborious life of Pope Paul VI ended just here at Castel Gandolfo. Tomorrow, at about 9 pm, will be the first anniversary of that great Pope's death. And therefore we wish today, on the eve of this anniversary, to dedicate to him, particularly, the "Angelus" prayer.

Contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, let us not forget that this mystery illuminates the darkness of every man's earthly pilgrimage, especially his last days, which are marked by the suffering of the death agony. We die in Christ, who overcame death and opened the prospect of eternal life. A year ago, Paul VI left this world with the certainty of the faith which he proclaimed and with which his earthly life was imbued up to his last moments. Those who had the possibility to be with him in the last instants of his life, here at Castel Gandolfo, remember and testify to that death, so painful on the human plane, but imbued with such strength of faith in Christ. "Pretiosa in conspectu Domini mors sanctorum eius" ("Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" Psalm 116 [115], 15).

2. Today, on the eve of the first anniversary of that death, we wish, all together, to commend the late Pope's soul to Christ the Lord who is "Everlasting Father" (Is 9, 5), asking for him that peace which only Christ can give.

We also wish to glorify and thank the Holy Trinity for that life — of more than 80 years — up to the end and unreservedly, so full of service for the Church and for mankind. It seems that this was the most ardent wish of the deceased: to be able to serve up to the end and to depart at the right moment, without disturbing anyone with his own person. Although sadness and mourning came over all of us after his death, nevertheless we thanked and still thank the Lord today for answering the prayer of his servant and vicar on earth; because He granted him, with an impressive death, to complete his life-work and launch in this way his last message of love, humility, and offering to the Church and to the world.

"Gloria Dei—vivens homo": The glory of God is living man (St Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, IV, 20.7). The glory of God is also man's death, in which the dawn of eternal life is revealed."

Greetings after the Angelus:

"1. I wish to address a word of greeting to the Representatives of the Secular Institute "Voluntarie di Don Bosco," present here with us for this moment of prayer. Beloved daughters, may your commitment of complete consecration to God, in the spirit of the message of St John Bosco, become true Christian witness in your environment of work and of life. I accompany you with my blessing."

"2. And now a greeting also to the teachers and pupils of the International Institute of Sciences of Education. Beloved daughters, may your didactic and educative work always be guided by the light that shines forth from the mystery of the Incarnation, thanks to which "the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every man" (Past. Const. Gaudium et Spes, 22), conferring on everyone an incomparable dignity. May my Apostolic Blessing sustain you in your high mission."

"3. An affectionate greeting to you too, dear boys of the city of Cagliari, who are spending your holidays under the guidance of the Salesian Priests.

Take advantage of this period of rest to fortify your spirit too. Try, therefore, with the help of divine grace, always to be good, joyful and generous.

Finally, the Holy Father addressed the teams taking part in the international motorboat Gran Premio of Castel Gandolfo, to be held on Lake Albano that afternoon:

4. Present at this Sunday meeting are also the pilots, technicians and managers of the International Motorboat Gran Premio of Castel Gandolfo, which is being held today on Lake Albano. My cordial greetings to you all.

You desired this meeting with the Pope, and I thank you for your cordiality and your sympathy. I wish all of you success in sport, and, at the same time, I exhort you to be always full of energy and enthusiasm also in the noble competition of goodness and honesty.

I willingly impart my Blessing to everyone."