Bookmark and Share

Faith in Divine Providence strengthens our Reasons for Hope

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 30 April 1986 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." The first article of the creed has not finished revealing to us its extraordinary riches. Faith in God as the Creator of the world (of "things visible and invisible"), is organically linked to the revelation of divine Providence.

In our reflection on creation we begin today a series of catecheses whose theme lies both at the heart of the Christian faith, and in the heart of the person called to faith. It is the theme of divine Providence. It concerns God who, as a wise and omnipotent Father, is present and active in the world and in the history of every creature. He does this so that every creature, and specifically man, God's image, may be able to live life as a journey under the guidance of truth and love toward the goal of eternal life in God.

"Why has God created us?", asks the Christian tradition of catechesis. Enlightened by the great faith of the Church, we repeat, whether as adults or children, these or similar words: "God created us to know and love him in this life and to be happy with him forever in the next."

This extraordinary truth of God guides our history with serene countenance and sure hand. Paradoxically, it finds a twofold and conflicting sentiment in the heart of man. On the one hand, he is led to accept and to entrust himself to this Provident God, as the Psalmist says: "I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast" (Ps 131:2). On the other hand, man fears and hesitates to abandon himself to God, as Lord and Savior of his life. This is either because he is perplexed by things and forgets the Creator, or because of suffering he has doubts about God as Father. In both _Å“_cases man calls divine Providence into question. Such is the human condition, that even in Sacred Scripture, Job does not hesitate to complain before God with frank confidence. In this way the word of God indicates that Providence is expressed even in the complaint of his children. Afflicted in body and heart, Job said: "Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him, and fill my mouth with arguments" (Job 23:3-4).

2. Throughout the whole of human history, whether in the thought of philosophers, in the teachings of the great religions, or in the simple reflection of the person in the street, human beings have not lacked reasons to seek to understand, or rather to justify God's action in the world.

Solutions are different and clearly not all are acceptable, and none is fully exhaustive. From ancient times, some have appealed to blind and capricious fate or destiny, to blind-folded fortune. Others have compromised man's free will in their affirmation of God. Especially in our contemporary age, others think that the affirmation of man and his freedom implies the denial of God. These extreme and unilateral solutions at least make us understand what profound problems of life enter into play when we speak of "divine Providence." How can God's omnipotence be reconciled with our freedom, and our freedom with his infallible decrees? What will our future tiny be? How are we to interpret and recognize his infinite wisdom and goodness in the face of the evils of the world—the moral evil of sin and the suffering of the innocent? This history of ours, unfolding through centuries of events, of terrible catastrophes and of sublime acts of greatness and of sanctity...what is the meaning of it all? Is it an eternal, fatalistic return of everything to the point of departure with no point of arrival, if not a final cataclysm that will bury all life for ever? Or, on the contrary—and here the heart feels that it has reasons greater than those that its puny logic can provide—is there a provident and positive being? Is there this being whom we call God, who surrounds us with his intelligence, tenderness and wisdom, and guides "with a strong and gentle touch" this existence of ours—reality, the world, history, even our rebellious wills, if they consent to him—toward the "seventh day's" rest of a creation which has finally arrived at its fulfillment?

3. Here, on the razor's edge between hope and despair, we have the word of God to immensely strengthen our reasons for hope. Ever new though repeatedly called upon, that word of God is so marvelous as to be almost incredible from the human point of view. Never does the word of God assume such greatness and attraction as when man's greatest demands confront it. God is here, he is Emmanuel, God with us (Is 7:4). In Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead, Son of God and our brother, God shows that "he has made his dwelling among us" (Jn 1:14). We can well say that the whole story of the Church in time consists in the constant and ardent search to find, to examine and to propose the signs of God's presence. The Church is guided in this by the example of Christ and by the power of the Spirit. For this reason the Church can, the Church wishes, the Church must proclaim and give to the world the grace and the meaning of divine Providence. The Church does this for the love of man, to rescue him from the crushing weight of the enigma and to entrust him to a mystery of a great, immeasurable, decisive love such as God is. So the Christian vocabulary is enriched with simple expressions which constitute, today as in the past, the patrimony of faith and culture of Christ's disciples: God sees, God knows, God willing, to live in the presence of God, may his will be done, God writes straight with crooked short—divine Providence.

4. The Church announces divine Providence not through her own invention, however inspired by thoughts of humanity, but because God has revealed himself thus. He revealed in the history of his people that his creative action and his salvific intervention were indissolubly united, that they formed part of a single plan decreed from eternal ages. Thus Sacred Scripture becomes, in its globality, the supreme document of divine Providence. It manifests God's intervention in nature by creation and his still more wonderful intervention by redemption, which makes us new creatures in a world renewed by the love of God in Christ. The Bible speaks of divine Providence in the chapters on creation and in those more specifically concerned with the work of salvation—in Genesis, and in the Prophets, especially in Isaiah, in the so-called psalms of creation and in the profound meditations of Paul on the inscrutable divine plans at work in history (cf. especially Ephesians and Colossians), in the Wisdom Books, so keen to find the sign of God in the world, and in the Book of Revelation completely intent on finding in God the meaning of the world. In the end it appears that the Christian concept of Providence is not simply a chapter of religious philosophy, but that faith provides an answer to the great questions of Job and of all those like him. It does so with the completeness of a vision which, by favoring the rights of reason, does justice to reason itself by anchoring it in the more stable certainties of theology. In this regard our path will meet with the untiring reflection of faith on the Tradition to which we shall opportunely refer. Within the sphere of the perennial truth, we shall avail ourselves of the Church's effort to be a companion to man who questions himself ever anew and in new terms about Providence. Each in its own way, the First and Second Vatican Councils are precious voices of the Holy Spirit, not to be ignored but to be meditated on. We need not let ourselves be frightened by the depth of the thought, but welcome the life-giving sap of the truth that does not die.

5. Every serious question should receive a serious, well-reasoned and sound answer. For this reason we shall touch on various aspects of the single theme. We shall see especially how divine Providence enters into the great work of creation and is its affirmation which places in evidence the manifold and actual riches of the divine action. From this, it follows that Providence is manifested as transcendent Wisdom which loves man and calls him to participate in God's plan as the first recipient of his loving care, and at the same time as his intelligent cooperator.

The relationship between divine Providence and human freedom is not one of antithesis, but of a communion of love. Even the profound problem of our future destiny finds a providential light in divine revelation, specifically in Christ. While preserving the mystery intact, it guarantees for us the Father's salvific will. In this perspective divine Providence, far from being denied by the presence of evil and suffering, becomes a bulwark of our hope. It enables us to perceive how it can draw forth good even from evil. Finally we shall recall the great light which Vatican II sheds on the Providence of God in regard to the evolution and progress of the world, taking up at the end in the transcendent vision of the growing kingdom the final point of the unceasing and wise action of a provident God in the world. "Whoever is wise let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them" (Hos 14:9)."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ad alcuni gruppi di lingua inglese

I wish to welcome the various groups of English-speaking pilgrims and visitors from England, Sweden, India, Australia and the United States. In particular, my greetings go to the Youth Choir from Strömstad, Sweden. May Christ our Risen Saviour fill your hearts with his joy and peace.

Ai pellegrini di espressione francese

Je suis heureux d’accueillir ici tous les pèlerins de langue française. J’ai noté la présence des moines et moniales des Fraternités monastiques urbaines de Saint-Gervais à Paris, qui cherchent à constituer, au coeur de la grande ville moderne, un lieu de prière, pour la louange du Seigneur et la méditation silencieuse. Je salue tous les autres groupes, de laïcs adultes et de jeunes; je salue les familles. Je vous bénis tous et de grand coeur.

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnola

Me complazco en presentar mi cordial saludo a todos los peregrinos de lengua española.

En particular a las Hermanas Misioneras Siervas del Espíritu Santo a quienes animo a una siempre mayor entrega a las exigencias de su vocación religiosa al servicio de los más necesitados.

* * *

Saludo igualmente a los participantes en el X Congreso Internacional de Asociaciones de Investigadores Privados. Que vuestro trabajo profesional se inspire siempre en los principios de la justicia y la verdad.

* * *

Mi cordial bienvenida a esta audiencia al grupo de profesionales de Argentina y a la peregrinación procedente de Chile; así como al grupo de emigrantes de Alemania.

Finalmente, me es grato saludar a los numerosos alumnos y alumnas de diversos Colegios españoles que han querido testimoniar su afecto al Papa con su entusiasmo y buenos propósitos de vida cristiana. Os bendigo a vosotros, a vuestros profesores y a vuestras familias en España.

A todos imparto con afecto mi Bendición Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini di espressione tedesca

Indem ich euch, liebe Brüder und Schwestern, heute dazu aufrichtig ermutige, grüße ich euch alle sehr herzlich zu dieser Audienz: die Pilger- und Reisegruppen sowie auch alle ungenannten Einzelpilger. Unter ihnen gilt mein besonderer Gruß den Teilnehmern der Wallfahrt der Katholischen Männerbewegung Osterreichs und der Romwallfahrt der Diözese Graz-Seckau unter der Leitung ihres Oberhirten, Bischof Weber.

Namentlich grüße ich ferner die anwesenden Mitglieder der CDU-Landesgruppe Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland. Seien Sie sich gerade als Christen in der Potilik stets der Wahrheit bewußt, daß letztlich Gott der Herr und Lenker der Geschicke der Volker ist, der auch für Ihr verantwortungsvolles Wirken in Christus Wegweiser und treuer Weggefährte sein will.

schließlich richte ich noch einen herzlichen Willkommensgruß an die Gruppe der Eheleute aus dem Bistum Speyer, die mit dieser Romwallfahrt ihr Silbernes Ehejubiläum feiern. Mit besten persönlichen Wünschen erteile ich euch sowie allen Pilgern deutscher Sprache für Gottes bleibenden Schutz und Beistand von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai pellegrini provenienti dalla Polonia

Serdecznie pozdrawiam pielgrzymów z Polski, w szczególności z parafii św. Judy Tadeusza, Nowa Huta - Czyżyny; z parafii św. Piotra i Pawła - Trzebinia, archidiecezia krakowska; liczna, grupę z archidiecezji warszawskiej; również pielgrzymkę Przyjaciół Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego z Warszawy; z parafii Miłosierdzia Bożego, Biała Podlaska, diecezja siedlecka; pielgrzymkę księży salezianów z prowincji św. Wojciecha z siedzibą, w Pile, archidiecezia poznańska; pielgrzymów z parafii św. Bonifacego z Wrocławia oraz z parafii św. Anny z Wrocławia; z parafii Bukowie i Bierutowo; z parafii św. Stanisława i Doroty z Wrocłavia; prócz tego uczestników grup turystycznych: kolejarzy z Gliwic i Katovic, Turysty z Wrocławia i z Krakova, Orbisu, PKS-u.

Ai gruppi italiani

Saluto tutti i gruppi di lingua italiana, qui convenuti da diverse regioni della penisola.

Saluto in particolare i fedeli della Parrocchia di Carugo, in diocesi di Milano, che ricordano il 50° anniversario della consacrazione della loro Chiesa, dedicata a San Bartolomeo. Essi recano una fiaccola perché sia qui accesa e poi portata da una staffetta di giovani maratoneti fino al Santuario della Madonna Immacolata di San Zeno.

Cari parrocchiani di Carugo, volentieri accendo questa fiaccola e vi auguro che le celebrazioni giubilari vi facciano sentire sempre più la necessità di considerare la vostra Parrocchia un vero focolare spirituale, che vi riunisca nella preghiera e nella solidarietà verso i bisogni altrui.

* * *

Saluto parimenti gli appartenenti alla formazione ciclistica Del Tongo-Colnago, qui rappresentati dai noti corridori e dalle rispettive famiglie. Vi ringrazio per la vostra partecipazione a questo incontro e vi auguro sempre maggiori successi nelle competizioni sportive e nella vita quotidiana.

Ai giovani

Desidero adesso rivolgere un caro saluto ai giovani qui presenti. In particolare saluto gli 800 giovani dell’oratorio “Vilma e Salvatore Avezzano” e della Scuola catechistica della parrocchia di Grumo Nevano. Benvenuti, cari giovani, e il Signore sia con voi!

Oggi la Chiesa ricorda, nella sua liturgia, una grande figura di Pontefice, San Pio V: un Papa che, con sapienza, fermezza e dedizione, seppe guidare il popolo di Dio nel delicato periodo storico che richiedeva l’applicazione dei decreti del Concilio di Trento. Fu quello, per tutta la Chiesa, un periodo di grande rinnovamento spirituale, ricco di fervore e di iniziative di apostolato e di carità.

Cercate, cari giovani, di cogliere l’anima cristiana del presente momento storico, alimentando ad essa il vostro entusiasmo, così da prepararvi a svolgere i compiti che la Chiesa oggi e domani vi affiderà in forme nuove, ma con lo stesso spirito di fede. Con tale augurio, vi benedico di cuore!

Agli ammalati

Desidero ora rivolgere un affettuoso saluto agli ammalati, fra i quali vorrei ricordare quelli dell’UNITALSI di La Spezia e i bambini dell’istituto Casa del Sole di Curtatone, in diocesi di Mantova. Carissimi, vi ringrazio per essere venuti. Domani inizia il mese di maggio, tradizionalmente dedicato ad una più intensa devozione alla Madonna. Non si finirebbe mai di raccontare tutte le delicate attenzioni di Colei, che invochiamo Salute degli infermi e Consolatrice degli afflitti, verso coloro che soffrono! Invito pertanto anche voi ad aumentare, nel mese prossimo, la vostra fiducia in questa Madre tenerissima. La sua premurosa intercessione, invocata con cuore puro, se non sempre procura la salute del corpo, ci ottiene però sempre la grazia di Dio e la pace dell’anima, che in fondo sono i beni più preziosi. Ed io vi seguo con la mia Benedizione.

Agli sposi novelli

Cari sposi novelli qui presenti! Salute e pace a voi da Nostro Signore! Benvenuti presso la Sede di Pietro! A voi voglio ricordare la cara e grande figura di S. Giuseppe, sposo di Maria Santissima. Auspico che possiate sempre trovare nel Falegname di Nazaret un modello e un intercessore, e anche un esempio di probità nel lavoro, di diligenza nel compierlo, di pazienza nell’accoglierne i pesi, di perseveranza nel farlo fruttare! Con la mia cordiale Benedizione.

Alla festa dei lavoratori che si celebrerà domani 1° Maggio in tutto il mondo, Giovanni Paolo II dedica un particolare pensiero nel corso dell’udienza generale di oggi. Ecco le parole del Santo Padre.

Domani, primo maggio, è la festa dei lavoratori. Rivolgo il mio più cordiale saluto a tutti i lavoratori. Desidero assicurarli che sono loro vicino, condividendo le loro ansie e preoccupazioni, le loro gioie e le loro aspirazioni. Il mio pensiero va agli operai, agli agricoltori, agli artigiani, ai pescatori e a tutti coloro che col sudore quotidiano guadagnano il necessario per le loro famiglie e per la società intera. Invoco la protezione di san Giuseppe su di loro e su coloro che si trovano disoccupati; con il suo aiuto e sul suo esempio ogni cristiano sappia contribuire fattivamente al benessere sociale e spirituale di tutti e di ciascuno.

Al termine dell’udienza generale in Piazza San Pietro Giovanni Paolo II raggiunge l’Aula Paolo VI dove riceve in udienza il Consiglio Direttivo del Centro Anglicano, presente a Roma in occasione del XX anniversario di fondazione. Queste le parole del Papa.

I am very happy to welcome the members of the Council of the Anglican Centre who have come to Rome for the twentieth anniversary of the Centre’s foundation.

Your presence here recalls that historic meeting which took place in March 1966 between my predecessor Pope Paul VI and the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey. It was shortly after that meeting that the metropolitans of the Anglican Communion, meeting together in Jerusalem, endorsed the establishment of the Anglican Centre in Rome. Building on the friendship forged between Pope Paul and Archbishop Ramsey, the Anglican Centre has continued to work for the fulfilment of the hopes and aspirations of those who founded it. It has been a place of ecumenical study, a centre for meetings between Christians of different backgrounds, and above all, a place which has fostered that friendship between Catholics and Anglicans which is the basis for further progress along the path of unity.

I pray that the Lord will continue to lead us forward and that we will always be open to the guiding light of the Holy Spirit. May Almighty God bless each of you with his deep and abiding peace.

Ecco le parole del Papa in una nostra traduzione italiana.

Sono molto felice di dare il benvenuto ai membri del Consiglio del Centro Anglicano che sono venuti a Roma per il 20° anniversario della fondazione del Centro. La vostra presenza qui richiama quello storico incontro che ebbe luogo nel marzo 1966 tra il mio predecessore Papa Paolo VI e l’allora Arcivescovo di Canterbury, il dottor Michael Ramsey, fu poco dopo quell’incontro che i metropoliti della Comunione Anglicana, incontratisi a Gerusalemme, firmarono per la creazione del Centro Anglicano a Roma. Costruito sull’amicizia nata tra il Papa Paolo VI e l’Arcivescovo Ramsey, il Centro Anglicano ha continuato a lavorare per l’adempimento delle speranze e delle aspirazioni di coloro che lo fondarono. È stato un luogo di studi ecumenici, un centro d’incontri tra cristiani di differenti ambienti, e soprattutto un posto che ha incoraggiato quell’amicizia tra cattolici e anglicani che è la base per ulteriori progressi sul cammino dell’unità.

Prego affinché il Signore continui a guidarci avanti, e perché possiamo essere sempre aperti alla guida della luce dello Spirito Santo. Dio onnipotente vi benedica con la sua profonda e costante pace.

© Copyright 1996 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana