Papal Homily in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square
"Faith Is a Gift, Also a Task"
WARSAW, Poland, MAY 27, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered during a Mass Friday before 275,000 people in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw.
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Praised be Jesus Christ!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord, "Together with you I wish to sing a hymn of praise to divine Providence, which enables me to be here as a pilgrim." Twenty-seven years ago, my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II began his homily in Warsaw with these words. I make them my own, and I thank the Lord who has enabled me to come here today to this historic square. Here, on the eve of Pentecost, Pope John Paul II uttered the significant words of the prayer "Let your Spirit descend, and renew the face of the earth." And he added: "the face of this land."
This very place witnessed the solemn funeral ceremony of the great primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, whose 25th anniversary occurs during these days. God united these two men not only through the same faith, hope and love, but also through the same human vicissitudes, which linked each of them so strongly to the history of this people and of the Church that lives in their midst.
At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II wrote to Cardinal Wyszynski: "This Polish Pope would not be on the Chair of Peter today, beginning a new pontificate, full of the fear of God, but also full of trust, had it not been for your faith, which did not bend in the face of imprisonment and suffering, your heroic hope, your trusting to the end in the Mother of the Church; had it not been for Jasna Gora and this whole period of the history of the Church in our homeland, linked to your service as bishop and primate" (Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Polish People, Oct. 23, 1978).
How can we not thank God today for all that was accomplished in your native land and in the whole world during the pontificate of John Paul II? Before our eyes, changes occurred in entire political, economic and social systems. People in various countries regained their freedom and their sense of dignity. "Let us not forget the great works of God" (cf. Psalm 78:7).
I thank you too for your presence and for your prayer. I thank the cardinal primate for the words that he addressed to me. I greet all the bishops here present. I am glad that the president and the authorities of national and local government could be here. I embrace with my heart all the Polish people both at home and abroad.
"Stand firm in your faith!" We have just heard the words of Jesus: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth" (John 14:15-17a). With these words Jesus reveals the profound link between faith and the profession of Divine Truth, between faith and dedication to Jesus Christ in love, between faith and the practice of a life inspired by the commandments.
All three dimensions of faith are the fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit. This action is manifested as an inner force that harmonizes the hearts of the disciples with the Heart of Christ and makes them capable of loving as he loved them. Hence faith is a gift, but at the same time it is a task.
"He will give you another Counselor -- the Spirit of truth." Faith, as knowledge and profession of the truth about God and about man, "comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ," as St. Paul says (Romans 10:17). Throughout the history of the Church, the apostles preached the word of Christ, taking care to hand it on intact to their successors, who in their turn transmitted it to subsequent generations until our own day. Many preachers of the Gospel gave their lives specifically because of their faithfulness to the truth of the word of Christ. And so solicitude for the truth gave birth to the Church's Tradition.
As in past centuries, so also today there are people or groups who obscure this centuries-old Tradition, seeking to falsify the Word of Christ and to remove from the Gospel those truths which in their view are too uncomfortable for modern man. They try to give the impression that everything is relative: Even the truths of faith would depend on the historical situation and on human evaluation. Yet the Church cannot silence the Spirit of Truth. The successors of the apostles, together with the Pope, are responsible for the truth of the Gospel, and all Christians are called to share in this responsibility, accepting its authoritative indications.
Every Christian is bound to confront his own convictions continually with the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church's Tradition in the effort to remain faithful to the word of Christ, even when it is demanding and, humanly speaking, hard to understand. We must not ...
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