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The Passage from Suffering to Joy

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II
in his series in the Jubilee of the Redemption
General Audience, Wednesday 27 April 1983 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Paschal joy, which is the habitual condition of the Christian and which we appreciate more particularly in this liturgical season, cannot make us forget, dearest brothers and sisters, the immensity of the world's sufferings. Is it not true, moreover, that the Resurrection of Christ, from which our joy springs, continually sends us back to the mystery of his Passion? Also humanity which, at Easter, was introduced into the mystery of the Passion and Resurrection of the Saviour, is called to live continually the passage from suffering to joy. And indeed, according to the divine design, where sufferings abound more, there joy is destined to overflow.

In his work of reconciliation, the incarnate Son of God voluntarily took upon himself suffering and death, which mankind deserved for their sins. But he did not exempt us from this suffering and this death, because he wants to make us participate in his redemptive sacrifice. He has changed the meaning of pain: it should have been a punishment for the faults committed; now instead, in the crucified Lord, it has become material of a possible offering to divine love for the formation of a new humanity.

Jesus has corrected the opinion that considered suffering uniquely as punishment for sin. In fact, to the disciples' question regarding/about the man born blind, he excludes that this infirmity derives from sin, and affirms that it has for/as its reason the manifestation of the works of God, manifestation that will take place with the miracle of healing and even more with the adhesion of the sick man healed in the light of faith (Jn 9, 3).

2. To understand the meaning of suffering, one must not look so much at man sinner, but rather at Christ Jesus, his Redeemer. The Son of God, who had not merited/deserved suffering and who could have avoided it, for love of us committed himself deeply instead to the way of suffering. He endured pains of every kind, both of the physical and the moral order. Among the moral sufferings there were not only the outrages, the false accusations and the contempt of enemies, together with the disappointment for the cowardice of the disciples; there was also the mysterious affliction felt in the depths of the soul due to the Father's abandonment. Suffering invaded and enveloped the whole human being of the Son incarnate.

The word "Here is the man!" (Jn 19, 5), which Pilate pronounced so as to divert/distract the accusers from their plan, showing them what a miserable state Jesus was in, was accepted and preserved by Christians as an invitation to discover a new face of man. Jesus appears as the man oppressed by pain, hatred, violence, mockery, and reduced to powerlessness. At that moment he personified the deepest sufferings of humanity. Never has man suffered so intensely, nor so completely, and this man is the Son of God. In his human face shines through a superior nobility. Christ realizes the ideal of man who, through pain, takes the value of existence to the highest level.

3. This value does not result uniquely from suffering, but from the love which is expressed in it. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end (Jn 13, 1). In the mystery of the Passion, Christ's love for us reaches its summit. And precisely from this summit spreads a light which illuminates and gives meaning to all human sufferings. In the divine intention, sufferings are destined to favour the growth of love and therefore to ennoble and enrich human existence. Suffering is never sent by God for the purpose of crushing, nor of diminishing the human person, nor of hindering the(ir) development. It has always the purpose of raising the quality of life, stimulating it to a higher generosity.

Certainly, following Jesus, we must strive to alleviate and, as far as possible, to suppress the sufferings of those around us. In the course of his earthly life, Jesus testified to his sympathy for all the unhappy, and brought them efficacious help, healing a large number of the sick and infirm. He then recommended to his disciples to assist all the unfortunate, recognizing their own face in each of them.

But in sufferings that touch us personally, and which we cannot avoid, Christ invites us to grasp the possibility of a greater love. He warns his disciples that they will be particularly associated with his redemptive Passion: “In truth, in truth, I say to you: you will weep and be sad, but the world will rejoice. You will be afflicted, but your affliction will turn into joy ”(Jn 16, 20). Jesus did not come to establish an earthly paradise, from which pain is excluded. Those who are most intimately united to his destiny must expect suffering. This, however, will end in joy. Like the suffering of the woman who gives birth to her own creature (Jn 16:21).

Suffering is always a short passage towards a lasting joy (Rom 8, 18), and this joy is founded on the admirable fruitfulness of pain. In the divine plan, every pain is the pain of childbirth; it contributes to the birth of a new humanity. We can therefore affirm that, by reconciling man with God through his sacrifice, Christ has reconciled him with suffering, because he has made of it a witness of love and a fruitful act for the creation of a better world."


"Chers Frères et Sœurs, Je souhaite la bienvenue à tous les pèlerins de langue française, de France, de Belgique, de Suisse, et spécialement à quelques groupes caractéristiques, comme celui de l’Ecole Royale des Cadets de Belgique et les groupes de prière “Padre Pio”. Je vous accueille tous avec des vœux de paix et de joie pascales. Cette joie ne saurait nous faire oublier l’immense souffrance du monde. Le Christ a pris volontairement sur lui la souffrance et la mort, méritées par les péchés des hommes. Il a supporté la douleur physique extrême, et tant de souffrances morales venant de l’attitude des ennemis, des disciples, et même du sentiment d’abandon de son Père. La valeur de ce calvaire, c’est avant tout l’amour que le Christ y exprime. Avec lui, la souffrance change de sens; de châtiment pour le péché, elle devient offrande à l’amour de Dieu pour la naissance d’une humanité nouvelle. Cela n’empêche pas que nous devons, comme lui, nous efforcer de soulager les souffrances de notre entourage. Mais Jésus n’est pas venu instaurer un paradis terrestre d’où la douleur serait exclue. Il a plutôt fait de celle-ci une douleur d’enfantement, un acte fécond pour créer un monde meilleur, un témoignage d’amour, bref, un passage nécessaire vers une joie durable. Je prie Dieu de vous aider à le comprendre, à le vivre, en vous bénissant de tout cœur.

My dear brothers and sisters, Through the Paschal Mystery, all of humanity is called to live continuously the passage from suffering to joy. Christ our Redeemer has shown us the way by willingly accepting suffering and death as the means of reconciling us to the Father. In this way, he has transformed the meaning of suffering. It is no longer the path to death but the gateway to eternal life. Affliction, grief or pain of any kind must be understood as our sharing in the redemptive action of Christ, who has made it possible for us to transform our suffering into an experience of even deeper love of God. I am very happy to greet all of you who have come here from England, Ireland, Sweden and the United States. I greet in a special way the groups of Sisters and, the group of American priests who are celebrating the Fortieth Anniversary of their Ordination to the Priesthood. In particular, I wish to extend a warm welcome to the group of Holy Year Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Harare in Zimbabwe. I know what great sacrifice this journey to Rome has meant for you. I thank you for your efforts and I ask the Risen Lord to bless you all with his gifts of lasting joy and peace.

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern! Herzlich grüße ich euch alle zusammen und jeden einzelnen von euch. Jeder fühle sich persönlich aufrichtig willkommen zur heutigen Audienz im Jubiläumsjahr der Erlösung. Einen besonderen Willkommensgruß richte ich an die anwesenden Priester aus dem Bistum Rottenburg-Stuttgart, an die große Romwallfahrt aus der Region Odenwald-Tauber im Erzbistum Freiburg und an die Kirchenchöre der Region Mosel-Eifel-Hunsrück. Das Heilige Jahr lenkt unsere Gedanken auf das Geheimnis unserer Erlösung durch den Tod und die Auferstehung Christi. Der Herr hat uns durch sein Leiden und Sterben aus der Knechtschaft der Sünde befreit, Leid und Schmerz selbst jedoch nicht aus der Welt verbannt. Er lädt uns ein, unser persönliches Leid mit seinem Erlösungsopfer zu verbinden und so für das Heil der Menschen fruchtbar zu machen. Christus hat durch seinen Kreuzestod den Sinn des menschlichen Leidens zutiefst gewandelt. Es ist nicht mehr nur Strafe für begangene Vergehen; es bewirkt persönliche Läuterung und führt zu größerer innerer Reife. Leid und Prüfungen verbinden uns noch enger mit Christus, unserem Erlöser, und rufen uns zu noch größerer Liebe und Hingabe. Von Herzen erteile ich euch, besonders denen unter euch, die von Leid heimgesucht sind, Für Gottes Trost und Beistand meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Amadsimos hermanos y hermanas, En esta audiencia, que se desarrolla en un marco de meditación de la Palabra revelada y de plegaria, a fin de disponer los espíritus a obtener los dones del Jubileo, dirijo mi cordial saludo a todos los aquí presentes de lengua española. De manera particular a las secretarias provinciales de la Compañía de Santa Teresa de Jesús (a quienes aliento a seguir con entusiasmo el ejemplo del beato Enrique de Ossó), y a los miembros de la peregrinación de la Comunidad Cristiana de Viudas, así como a los peregrinos venidos de Barcelona, de México y Argentina. A todos dejo una breve reflexión espiritual, apropiada al tiempo de pascua en el que estamos y el la perspectiva del Año Santo. El Señor, cuando estaba para volver al Padre tras su resurrección, nos advirtió que tendríamos tristezas y dolor en nuestra vida terrena. Pero ese dolor no debe desalentarnos, sino ser un estímulo hacia el bien y la generosidad en favor de los demás, porque caminamos hacia un destino eterno, hacia una alegría perdurable que nadie podrá quitarnos. Que os aliente en el buen camino esa promesa del Maestro y la bendición que con afecto os imparto.

Amados irmãos e irmãs de língua portoguesa, peregrinos do Ano Santo da Redenção, Ao saudar-vos cordialmente, neste acto religioso, desejo a todos em abundância a graça e a paz de Deus, a desabrochar na alegria pascal. Esta, na vida cristã, é irradiação de uma esperança viva. O cristão nunca esquece a imensidade dos sofrimentos do mundo, nem se limita a um comportamento estóico frente à dor pessoal; mas vive a certeza de que, na Ressurreição de Cristo, a alegria veio depois da cruz. Com isso adquiriu um sentido novo o sofrimento humano: para além do valor expiatório e reparador do pecado, ele pode ser testemunho de amor. E é assim em convite e em ideal para cada cristão, porque foi assim realmente em Cristo Senhor. É sempre dever cristão evitar e aliviar o sofrimento em si e nos outros, como fez e ensinou Jesus; mas, se ele aparece, lembremos: ao reconciliar-nos com Deus, Cristo reconciliou-nos com o sofrimento - físico ou moral - assumindo-o como acto de amor e tornando-o fecundo espiritualmente: em nós o sofrimento pode ser penitência, para a vida, a vida eterna, a alegria sem fim com Cristo, o que a todos desejo, com a Bênção Apostólica.

1. Pragnę przytoczyć słowa z orędzia papieskiego na 1000 rocznicę konsekracji biskupiej św. Wojciecha. Wydarzenie to miało miejsce w Weronie w dniu 29 czerwca 983 roku. Mszy św. koncelebrowanej z okazji 1000 rocznicy przewodniczył Kardynał Władysław Rubin.

W orędziu czytamy: “Przykład świętego Wojciecha jest dziś aktualny dla Europy bardziej niż kiedykolwiek. Europa przechowuje wprawdzie bezcenny skarb prawdy chrześcijańskiej, ale dostrzega przecież w sobie powstające, w różnej postaci, fermenty rozkładu typowe dla myśli pogańskiej, która została przezwyciężona przez nowość Ewangelii. Stało się to dzięki wielkodusznej, wręcz heroicznej pracy pierwszych misjonarzy, do których właśnie należy Święty Patron Pragi i patron Polski”.

2. Święty Wojciech wraz ze świętym Stanisłąwem jest głównym Patronem Polski przy Twoim boku, Pani Jasnogórska i Królowo Polski. Łącząc się w duchu z doroczną uroczystością Świętego Wojciecha, która w ubiegłą niedzielę miała swoje centrum w prymasowskim Gnieźnie - polecam wstawiennictwu tego Świętego Ojczyznę naszą i wszystkich moich Rodaków. Niech Ten, którego święte relikwie wkrótce po Chrzcie Polski stały się podwaliną jedności hierarchicznej w Ojczyźnie, wstawia się za nami w doświadczeniach czasów obecnych:
abyśmy wytrwali w wierności dla przyrzeczeń naszego Chrztu,
aby Chrzest nie przestawał być dla nas źródłem duchowej siły.

Un affettuoso saluto desidero rivolgere ai fedeli della Diocesi di La Spezia, che, con la guida del Vescovo Monsignor Siro Silvestri, compiono un pellegrinaggio a Roma per venerare le Tombe degli Apostoli. A voi il mio compiacimento e l’augurio che questo Anno Giubilare della Redenzione sia vissuto in spirito di penitenza e di rinnovamento spirituale, secondo l’invito rivolto da Cristo alle folle, fin dall’inizio del suo ministero: “Convertitevi e credete al Vangelo”.

Un deferente saluto porgo anche ai partecipanti al nono Corso-convegno sulla “Umanizzazione della Medicina” ed altresì ai medici partecipanti al secondo Congresso nazionale sulla “Terapia di Supporto in Oncologia”, organizzato dalla Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia dell’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore; come pure ai partecipanti al terzo Simposio internazionale sulla “Chirurgia ed Endoscopia dell’Apparato digerente”, organizzato dai Direttori delle Cattedre di Semeiotica e Patologia chirurgica dell’Università degli Studi di Roma. La vostra professione è un grave, continuo e delicato impegno, dedicato alla vita ed alla salute dell’uomo; è pertanto un gesto di amore e di solidarietà verso i fratelli. Il Signore, Padre di tutti, vi illumini sempre, vi guidi e vi dia i suoi celesti conforti.

Desidero salutare il gruppo dei pellegrini di Apricena, in diocesi di Lucera, e ben volentieri intendo benedire il diadema d’oro, con cui il 10 maggio prossimo sarà incoronata l’Effigie della Vergine Santissima venerata nel Santuario mariano di quella cittadina. Un particolare saluto anche al folto gruppo di Donatori del Sangue, che sono venuti da Lanciano, guidato dal loro Arcivescovo, Monsignor Enzo d’Antonio, al fine di lucrare il Giubileo.

Il mio più cordiale saluto a voi, carissimi giovani, ed a voi studenti delle scuole di ogni grado. Saluto in particolare voi, ari bambini, che nel sacramento dell’Eucaristia avete ricevuto per la prima volta Gesù nel cuore. Sia Egli l’amico vostro di oggi e di sempre. La vostra presenza mi porta col pensiero ai ragazzi della scuola media di Napoli che ieri sono stati coinvolti in un tragico incidente nei pressi della città di Firenze. Invito tutti i presenti ad unirsi con me ad un’accorata preghiera al Signore, perché accolga nella gioia della sua casa le vittime della sciagura e conforti le loro famiglie, alle quali mi sento tanto vicino in questo momento di indicibile dolore. Preghiamo, altresì, per i feriti, affinché possano ricuperare presto la salute.

Un pensiero particolare, nel clima dell’Anno Santo, rivolgo agli ammalati, che sono i collaboratori più cari del Signore, nell’Opera della Salvezza. Saluto in particolare i Ragazzi del Centro Don Gnocchi di Milano, i Volontari della Sofferenza di Roma, gli ammalati di Villaraspa di Mason e dell’UNITALSI di Signa. Carissimi, come ogni croce offerta al Signore, anche il vostro quotidiano dolore è strumento di bene per l’umanità intera. Il Cristo della Pasqua, che è presente ogni giorno con voi, sia il costante punto di riferimento della vostra vita.

Agli sposi novelli, qui presenti, ricordo che il Salvatore ci ha redenti nell’amore. Auspico perciò che possiate trovare sempre in Lui, che ha amato fino al sacrificio di sé, l’esempio e la forza per poter vivere un amore autenticamente cristiano, e formulo voti affinché nella società siate luce capace di togliere dai cuori le tenebre dell’egoismo.

Su voi tutti e sui vostri cari la mia Benedizione Apostolica."