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1 (of 2) Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II in Lent
General Audience, Wednesday 28 March 1979 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Paenitemini et date eleemosynam" (cf. Mk 1, 15 and Lk 12, 33).

Today we do not listen willingly to the word "alms". We feel something humiliating in it. This word seems to suppose a social system in which there reigns injustice, the unequal distribution of goods, a system which should be changed with adequate reforms. And if these reforms were not carried out, the need of radical changes, especially in the sphere of relations among men, would loom up on the horizon of social life. We find the same conviction in the texts of the Prophets of the Old Testament, on which the liturgy often draws during Lent. The Prophets consider this problem at the religious level: there is no true conversion to God, there can be no real "religion" without putting right offences and injustices in relations among men, in social life. Yet in this context the Prophets exhort to almsdeeds.

They do not even use the word "alms", which, moreover, in Hebrew is "sedaqah", that is, precisely "justice". They ask for help for those who are victims of injustice and for the needy: not so much by virtue of mercy as rather by virtue of the duty of active charity. "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, / to undo the thongs of the yoke, / to let the oppressed go free, / and to break every yoke? / Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, / and bring the homeless poor into your house; / when you see the naked, to cover him, / and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" (Is 58, 6-7).

The Greek word "eleemosyne" is found in the late books of the Bible and the practice of almsdeeds is a verification of an authentic religious spirit. Jesus makes almsdeeds a condition of access to his kingdom (cf. Lk 12, 32-33) and of real perfection (Mk 10, 21 and paral.). On the other hand, when Judas — in front of the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus — uttered the remark: `'Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" (Jn 12, 5), Christ defended the woman, answering: "The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me" (Jn 12, 8). Both sentences offer food for deep thought.

2. What does the word "alms" mean?

The Greek word "eleemosyne" comes from "éleos", which means compassion and mercy. Originally it indicated the attitude of the merciful man and, later, all works of charity for the needy. This word, transformed, has remained in nearly all European languages.

In French: "aumône"; Spanish: limosna"; Portuguese: "esmola"; German: "Almosen"; English: "Alms". Even the Polish expression "jalmuzna" is the transformation of the Greek word.

We must differentiate here the objective meaning of this word from the meaning we give it in our social conscience. As can be seen from what we have already said before, we often attribute, in our social conscience, a negative meaning to the word "alms". Various circumstances have contributed to this and continue to contribute to it today. On the contrary, "alms" in itself, as help for those who need it, as "letting others share in one's own goods absolutely does not give rise to such negative associations. We may not agree with the person who gives alms, because of the way in which he does it. We may also not be in agreement with the person who stretches out his hand asking for alms, in that he does not try to earn his own living. We may disapprove of the society, the social system, in which almsdeeds are necessary. However, the fact itself of giving help to those who need it, the fact of sharing one's own goods with others, must inspire respect.

We see how, in understanding verbal expressions, it is necessary to free oneself from the influence of various incidental circumstances: circumstances that are often improper, which affect their ordinary meaning. These circumstances, moreover, are sometimes positive in themselves (for example, in our case the aspiration to a just society, in which there would be no need of alms. because a just distribution of property would reign there.

When the Lord Jesus speaks of alms, when he asks for almsdeeds to be practised, he always does so in the sense of bringing help to those who need it, sharing one's own goods with the needy, that is, in the simple and essential sense, which does not permit us to doubt the value of the act denominated with the term "alms", but on the contrary, urges us to approve it: as a good act, as an expression of love for one's neighbour and as a salvific act.

Moreover, at a moment of particular importance, Christ utters these significant words: "The poor you always have with you" (Jn 12: 8). He does not mean by these words that changes of social and economic structures are not important and that we should not try different ways to eliminate injustice, humiliation, want and hunger. He means merely that man will have needs which cannot be satisfied unless with help for the needy and by sharing one's own goods with others... Of what help are we speaking? What sharing? Is it only a question of "alms", understood in the form of money, of material aid?

3. Certainly Christ does not remove alms from our field of vision. He thinks also of pecuniary, material alms, but in his own way. More eloquent than any other, in this connection, is the example of the poor widow, who put a few small coins into the treasury of the temple: from the material point of view, an offering that could hardly be compared with the offerings given by others. Yet Christ said: "This poor widow has put in... all the living that she had" (Lk 21:3-4). So it is, above all, the interior value of the gift that counts: the readiness to share everything, the readiness to give oneself.

Let us here recall St Paul: "If I give away all I have... but have not love, I gain nothing" (1 Cor 13:3). St Augustine, too, writes well in this connection: "if you stretch out your hand to give, but have not mercy in your heart, you have not done anything; but if you have mercy in your heart, even when you have nothing to give with your hand, God accepts your alms" (Enarrat. in Ps. CXXV, 5).

We are here touching the heart of the problem. In Holy Scripture and according to the evangelical categories, "alms" means in the first place an interior gift. It means the attitude of opening "to the other". Precisely this attitude is an indispensable factor of "metanoia", that is, conversion, just as prayer and fasting are also indispensable. St Augustine, in fact, expresses himself well: "how quickly the prayers of those who do good are granted! And this is man's justice in the present life: fasting, alms, prayer" (Enarrat. in Ps. XLII, 8): prayer, as an opening to God; fasting, as an expression of self-mastery also in depriving oneself of something, in saying "no" to oneself; and finally alms, as opening "towards others". The Gospel draws this picture clearly when it speaks to us of repentance, of "metanoia". Only with a total attitude — in his relationship with God, with himself and with his neighbour — does man reach conversion and remain in the state of conversion.

"Alms" understood in this way has a meaning which is in a certain sense decisive for this conversion. To convince ourselves of this, it is enough to recall the image of the Last Judgment that Christ gave us: "For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them: `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25, 35-40). And the Fathers of the Church will then say with St Peter Chrysologus: "The poor man's hand is the treasury of Christ, since Christ receives everything that the poor man receives" (Sermo VIII, 4), and with St Gregory of Nazianzus: "The Lord of all things wants mercy, not sacrifice; and we give it through the poor" (De patuperum amore, XI).

Therefore, this opening to others, which is expressed by "help", by "sharing" food, a glass of water, a good word, consolation, a visit, precious time, etc., this interior gift offered to the other man, arrives directly at Christ, directly at God. It decides the meeting with him. It is conversion.

We can find many texts in the Gospel that confirm this, and also in the whole of Scripture. "Alms" understood according to the Gospel, according to the teaching of Christ, has a definitive, decisive meaning in our conversion to God. If alms be lacking, our life does not yet converge fully towards God.

4. In the cycle of Lenten reflections, it will be necessary to come back to this subject. Today, before concluding, let us dwell for another moment on the real meaning of "alms". It is very easy, in fact, to falsify the idea, as we noted at the beginning. Jesus also gave a warning about the superficial, "exterior" attitude of almsdeeds (cf. Mt 6:4; Lk 11:41). This problem is still a living one. If we realize the essential significance that "alms" has for our conversion to God for the whole of Christian life, we must avoid, at all costs, all that falsifies the meaning of alms, mercy, works of charity, all that may distort their image in ourselves. In this field, it is very important to cultivate interior sensitivity as regards the real needs of our neighbour, in order to know in what we must help him, how to act in order not to wound him, and how to behave in order that what we give, what we bring to his life, may be a real gift, a gift not dimmed by the ordinary negative meaning of the word "alms".

We see, therefore, what a field of work — wide and at the same time deep — opens before us, if we want to put into practice the call "Paenitemini et date eleemosynam" (cf. Mk 1:15 and Lk 12:33). It is a field of work not only for Lent, but for every day. For the whole of life."                   

Ad alunni e alunne:

"Dear Pupils of the Elementary and Secondary Schools of Rome, who have come with your fellow students from other Italian towns and together with other boys and girls belonging to Catholic associations! The Pope receives you with fatherly affection and thanks you warmly for the visit you desired to pay him. This meeting, as you know, takes place in the liturgical season of Lent, the purpose of which is fervent preparation for Easter. I am sure that your Teachers and Assistants have instructed you about the importance of this period, urging you to meditate on the mystery of our Redemption: Jesus, our brother, took our place in order to expiate sin, and to do so he had to suffer the passion and death on the Cross: I hope that, reflecting on God's infinite love, you will feel more and more the duty of prayer and mortification, by means of which, purified in spirit and in body, one is more deeply united with the heavenly Father.

And now it is necessary to carryout the work: to relive in the worthiest way the unique and unrepeatable event of the history of mankind—the Resurrection of the Divine Saviour—making use of the means which he himself put at our disposal, that is, the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, which give the ineffable joy of sharing in Christ's triumph. In this way you will faithfully carry out St Paul's invitation: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Col 3:1-2). And with this wish I give you the Apostolic Blessing, which I wish to extend to all your dear ones."

A vari gruppi di Religiosi e Religiose

"Desidero ora estendere il mio benedicente saluto ai Religiosi e Religiose, che oggi sono particolarmente numerosi in quest’Aula.

– Una speciale menzione vada anzitutto ai sacerdoti ed alle suore che partecipano al XIX Convegno degli Economi cattolici d’Italia: vi sono molto grato, cari figli e figlie, per il vostro servizio talora misconosciuto, ma quanto mai prezioso, e meritorio davanti a Dio. Il Signore vi sostenga nella vostra opera.

– Alle Suore di Santa Dorotea Frassinetti, che in questi giorni sono qui a Roma per prendere parte al loro Capitolo Generale, auspico con le stesse parole del Concilio Vaticano II che possiate veramente “adempiere con sicurezza e custodire con fedeltà la vostra professione religiosa, e progredire nella gioia spirituale sulla via della carità” (cf. Lumen Gentium, 43).

– Un pensiero beneaugurante rivolgo pure alle partecipanti al Convegno Nazionale sulle Comunicazioni Sociali e a quelle del Corso per “Maestre di formazione”: portate dappertutto il segno sorridente della vostra bontà operosa, che riverbera lo spirito stesso del Cristo e del suo Vangelo. Fate sentire ovunque la vostra presenza cristiana."

Ai partecipanti al convegno nazionale del Patronato per l’Assistenza Spirituale alle Forze Armate e al pellegrinaggio dell’Associazione dei Reduci dalla Prigionia

"Anche ai partecipanti al Convegno delle Sezioni per l’“Assistenza Spirituale alle Forze Armate d’Italia”, auguro che il loro impegno per l’animazione cristiana e per la promozione dei supremi valori della pace e del rispetto reciproco tra gli individui sia coronato dal buon successo, che solo nella forza del Signore trova il suo pieno compimento. Riservo, infine, un saluto particolarmente affettuoso al pellegrinaggio dell’Associazione dei Reduci dalla Prigionia e dai campi di concentramento, qui presenti insieme con un gruppo di familiari e di congiunti di militari dispersi nella campagna di Russia. Carissimi, voi che portate ancora nelle vostre anime e nei vostri corpi i segni di antiche e tuttora doloranti ferite avete un posto del tutto speciale nel cuore del Papa, che non cessa di ricordarvi nella preghiera. A tutti voi imparto una speciale Benedizione."

Agli ammalati

"Desidero assicurare a tutti gli ammalati e a quanti soffrono che io sono particolarmente vicino ad essi col cuore e con la preghiera. Carissimi, vi invito ad unire, soprattutto in questo periodo di Quaresima, le vostre sofferenze a quelle di Cristo, sospeso sulla croce, e di offrirle per la salvezza di tutti gli uomini. Vi accompagno col mio incoraggiamento e con la mia benedizione, che volentieri estendo ai vostri familiari e a quanti vi assistono."

Addressing the newly-weds:

"A special greeting and my fatherly good wishes go now to you newly-weds. May your married life — begun with a sacred ceremony with which your eyes and ears, and still more your souls, are yet filled—become better every day, strengthened by mutual love and by a reciprocal active sense of responsibility. Maintain for a long time, maintain forever, the vital power that supports you today and which makes you look to the future with joyous hope."

Al Seguito del Presidente della Repubblica dello Zaïre

"Qualche parola di benvenuto alle settanta persone che accompagnano il Presidente dello Zaïre durante la sua visita. Riceverò domani con molto piacere il Generale Mobuto Sese Seko, per dirgli la mia sollecitudine per il popolo dello Zaïre. A voi rivolgo i miei saluti più cordiali, assicurandovi le mie preghiere per voi, per le vostre famiglie e per tutti i vostri compatrioti."

2 (of 2) Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II in Lent
General Audience, Wednesday 4 April 1979 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Sisters and Brothers,
1. Today I wish to return once more to the subjects of our three Lenten meditations, prayer, fasting, almsdeeds; and particularly the latter. If prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds form our conversion to God, a conversion that is expressed more exactly by the Greek term "metanoia", if they constitute the main subject of the Lenten liturgy, a penetrating study of this liturgy persuades us that "almsdeeds" has a special place in it. We tried to explain it briefly last Wednesday, referring to the teaching of Christ and of the Old Testament Prophets which often rings out in the Lenten liturgy.

However, there is need to bring this subject up to date, to express it, so to speak, not only in a language of modern terms, but also in a language of the present human reality: interior and social at the same time. How can words spoken thousands of years ago, in a completely different historico-social context, words addressed to men with such a different mentality from that of today, refer to the present reality? What crucial points of our present-day injustice, of human iniquities, of the various inequalities which have not at all disappeared from the life of humanity—although the watchword "equality" has been written on different banners—must these words strike?

The discreet words which Christ addressed one day to the traitor apostle ring out with unusual forcefulness: "The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me" (Jn 12:8).

"You will always have poor people among you." After the abyss of these words, no man has ever been able to say what Poverty is... When God is questioned, he answers that it is precisely he who is the Poor Man: "Ego sum pauper." (Léon Bloy, La femme pauvre, II. 1. Mercure de France 1948).

2. The call to repentance, to conversion, means a call to interior opening "to others". Nothing in the history of the Church and in the history of man can replace this call. This call has infinite destinations. It is addressed to every man, and it is addressed to each one for reasons specific to each one. So everyone must see himself in the two aspects of the destination of this call. Christ demands of me an opening to the other. But to what other? To the one who is here, at this moment! It is not possible to "postpone" this call of Christ to an indefinite moment, in which that "qualified" beggar will appear and stretch out his hand.

I must be open to every man, ready to "be helpful". Be helpful, how? It is well known that sometimes we can "make a present" to the other with a single word. But with a single word we can also strike him painfully, offend him, wound him; we can even "kill him" morally. It is necessary, therefore, to accept this call of Christ in those ordinary everyday situations of coexistence and contact where each of us is always the one who can "give" to others and, at the same time, the one who is able to accept what others can offer him.

To realize Christ's call to open inwardly to others, means living always ready to find oneself at the other end of the destination of this call. I am the one who gives to others even when I accept, when I am grateful for every good that comes to me from others. I cannot be closed and ungrateful. I cannot isolate myself. To accept Christ's call to opening to others requires, as can be seen, a re-elaboration of the whole style of our daily life. It is necessary to accept this call in the real dimensions of life; not postpone it to different conditions and circumstances, to the occasion when the necessity will present itself. It is necessary to persevere continually in this interior attitude. Otherwise, when that "extraordinary" opportunity turns up, it may happen that we do not have an adequate disposition.

3. Understanding practically, in this way, the meaning of Christ's call to "be helpful" to others in everyday life, we do not want to limit the meaning of this dedication only to everyday events, so to speak, of small dimensions. Our "being helpful" must regard also distant events, the needs of our neighbour with whom we are not in touch every day, but of whose existence we are aware. Yes, today, we know far better the needs, the sufferings, the injustices of men who live in other countries, in other continents. We are far from them geographically, we are divided by linguistic barriers, by frontiers set up by the individual States... We cannot penetrate directly into their hunger, their want, the ill-treatment, the humiliation, the tortures, imprisonment, social discriminations, their condemnation to an "interior exile" or to "proscription"; however, we know that they are suffering, and we know that they are men like us, our brothers. "Brotherhood" was not inscribed only on the banners and standards of modern revolutions. Christ already proclaimed a long time ago, "you are all brethren" (Mt 23:8). And, even more, he gave this brotherhood an indispensable point of reference: he taught us to, say "Our Father". Human brotherhood presupposes the divine paternity.

Christ's call to open "to the other", to one's "brother", precisely one's brother, has a radius of extension that is always concrete and always universal. It concerns each one because it refers to all. The extent of this opening is not so much — and not merely — the other's closeness as his needs: I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was naked, in prison, sick... We answer this call by seeking the man who is suffering, following him even beyond the frontiers of States and continents. In this way that universal dimension of human solidarity is created—through the heart of each of us. The mission of the Church is to guard this dimension: not to limit herself to some frontiers, to some political trends, to some systems. To guard universal human solidarity particularly with those who are suffering; to preserve it in consideration of Christ, who formed just this dimension of solidarity with man once and for all. "For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor 5:14 f). And he gave it to us as our task once and for all. He gave it to the Church as her task. He gave it to everyone. He gave it to each of us. "Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant." These are the words of St Paul (2 Cor 11:29).

 Therefore, in our conscience — in the individual conscience of the Christian — in the social conscience of the various environments, of the nations, special areas of solidarity must, I would say, be formed precisely with those who are suffering most. We must work systematically, in order that the areas of particular human needs, of great sufferings, of wrongs and injustice, may become areas of Christian solidarity of the whole Church and, through the Church, of individual societies and of the whole of humanity.

4. If we live in conditions of prosperity or of welfare, we must be all the more aware of the whole "geography of hunger" on the earthly globe. We must turn our attention all the more to human misery as a mass phenomenon: we must arouse our sense of responsibility and stimulate readiness for active and effective help. If we live in conditions of freedom, of respect for human rights, we must suffer all the more for the oppression of societies which are deprived of freedom, of men who are deprived of fundamental human rights. And this regards religious liberty too. Particularly where religious liberty is respected, we must take part in the sufferings of the people, sometimes whole religious communities and whole Churches, who are denied the right to religious life according to their own confession or their own rite. Am I to call such situations by their name? Certainly. This is my duty. But we cannot stop only at this. All of us, in every place, must endeavour to assume an attitude of Christian solidarity with our brothers in the faith who are undergoing discrimination and persecution. It is also necessary to seek forms in which this solidarity can be expressed. This has always, from the most ancient times, been the tradition of the Church. In fact, it is well known that the Church of Jesus Christ did not enter the history of mankind "in a position of force", but through centuries of persecution. And it is just these centuries that have created the deepest tradition of Christian solidarity.

Today, too, this solidarity is the force of a real renewal. It is the indispensable way for the self-fulfilment of the Church in the modern world. It is the verification of our faithfulness to Christ, who said: "The poor you always have with you" (Jn 12:8), and again: "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 24:40). Our conversion to God is carried out only along the way of this solidarity.

I bless you with great affection."                   

"Before addressing the pilgrims of the various nations in their own languages, I should like to turn my mind to a particular situation which I have very much at heart.

The grave and worrying news arriving from Uganda during these days is for me a cause of profound sorrow. Uganda, as you know, is the country which gave a warm welcome to my Predecessor Paul VI during his historic visit to Africa. Now it is a theatre of bloody conflict causing victims and destruction. I invite you to join with me in prayer that God may alleviate the sufferings of that sorely tried people and ensure to them and to the whole African continent the desired gift of a just and stable peace."

To the young people:

"I now wish to address a special word to the large number of young people, come from various parts, who are taking part in this meeting.

Welcome, beloved young people!

To this impressive Audience, which wishes to be also a feast of hearts, you bring an extraordinary note of joy, goodness, and hope. I greet you cordially and express my gratitude to you.

As I have already had occasion to say many times, the Church trusts you and your enthusiasm for every noble, great cause; she must trust you, because you are the men of the future. Looking at your faces, we see the future! In the light of your eyes, the year two thousand shines. It is an impressive and exalting sight which, at the same time, is also the demand of true human and Christian formation.

Looking at you, I think of what you will be; and your generous commitment gives me comfort.

I want to address to you today only one recommendation: remember that the world needs innocence. All values are important and necessary, for the development of the person and of society and for the smooth course of civil life. But the Christian knows that the principal and absolute value is the "grace" of God, which is participation in the very life of the Holy Trinity and the presence of God in one's soul. In a word, the first value for everyone is innocence of life, maintained by means of observance of the Ten Commandments — that is, the moral law — and by means of prayer and the sacraments.

In fact, Jesus himself warned us: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?" (Mt 16:24-26).

And again, Jesus beseeches us not to move away from him who is "the true vine"—that is, not to lose "grace"—in order not to become dry and useless branches: "Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:4-6).

Therefore, I too exhort you like Jesus: keep innocence! Live in God's grace. Do not let yourselves be attracted, enveloped, swept along and suffocated by evil, which—as you know—always exists in the world and also in ourselves, in view of our nature, which is, certainly, redeemed, but wounded by original sin.

I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin, to whom I call you to pray to every day, and I willingly bless you all!"

A un pellegrinaggio della Diocesi di Forlì

"Saluto con paterno affetto i parroci e i fedeli dei numerosi pellegrinaggi italiani provenienti dalle rispettive parrocchie vicine e lontane con i loro generosi propositi per la santa Pasqua. Un particolare benvenuto desidero dare al pellegrinaggio della diocesi di Forlì, composto di oltre mille fedeli, guidati dal loro Vescovo, Monsignor Giovanni Proni. Mi congratulo con loro per la fervida devozione alla Santissima Vergine, venerata sotto il titolo di “Madonna del Fuoco”; e la prego insieme con tutti voi affinché sostenga sempre le nobili tradizioni cristiane ricevute dai vostri padri, vi accenda di continuo amore verso Dio e verso il prossimo, e sia animatrice di fraterna coesione non solo in tutta la diocesi a lei consacrata, ma anche nell’intera regione di Romagna."

To the sick:

A special, affectionate thought to all of you sick people in body or in spirit, who have come from various nations to visit the Pope. What a significant, cordial and interesting meeting is this one, which takes place between those who represent suffering Humanity and the Vicar on earth of him who willed to be the "Man of sorrows" for the purpose of giving value, comfort and hope to the suffering of every human existence! The present liturgical period leads us to consider Christ, who, in his agony in the garden of Gethsemane, accepted trouble, anguish and deep sadness (cf. Mk 14:33). He prayed, he entrusted himself completely to the will of the Heavenly Father and had comfort and strength enough to drain the cup of sorrow (ibid. 14: 36).

Beloved sick people, keep your eyes fixed on Christ, your Friend, your Model, your Consoler! Following his example, you will obtain that your trouble will change into serenity, your anguish into hope, and your sadness into joy; your suffering will become purification and merit for our souls, as well as a precious contribution to the spiritual good of the Church (cf. Col 1:24). I willingly bless you, your dear ones, and all those who assist you lovingly."

To the newly-weds:

"Allow me, finally, to address you, newly-weds, who, as usual, are numerous and animated with the deep desire to pay a filial homage to the Pope, to listen to his word and receive his blessing. With great pleasure I see among you the group of couples belonging to the Focolari Movement, who come from various European countries.

Beloved sons and daughters, see to it that the new families, sprung from affection of the heart and from the free consent of your will, sealed by the divine grace of the Sacrament of Marriage, will always be deeply imbued with strong and fruitful love. Remain firm on the rock of unity and faithfulness, and be vivified by those Christian virtues which found and guarantee the peace and prosperity of the domestic hearth which you have just lit. I invoke the continual assistance of the Lord on your newly-founded families and I willingly impart my special Blessing to you all."