The Greatest Journey — Day 33

Pope John Paul I - September 27, 1978Wednesday, Sept. 27, 1978

In his Wednesday Audience, John Paul spoke on the third theological virtue, charity (or love.) He began and structured his address to 17,000 pilgrims with “a very well-known prayer” he learned from his mother and which he recites several times each day:

“My God, with all my heart above all things I love You, infinite good and our eternal happiness, and for your sake I love my neighbor as myself and forgive offences received. Oh Lord, may I love you more and more.”

In a word: to love means travelling, rushing with one’s heart towards the object loved. … To love God is therefore a journeying with one’s heart to God. A wonderful journey! When I was a boy, I was thrilled by the journeys described by Jules Verne (“Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea,” “From The Earth To The Moon,” “Round The World In Eighty Days,” etc.) But the journeys of love for God are far more interesting.

God is too great, he deserves too much from us for us to be able to throw to him, as to a poor Lazarus, a few crumbs of our time and our heart. He is infinite good and will be our eternal happiness: money, pleasure, the fortunes of this world, compared with him, are just fragments of good and fleeting moments of happiness. It would not be wise to give so much of ourselves to these things and little of ourselves to Jesus.

John Paul also quoted from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Populorum Progressio (23): “Private property does not constitute for anyone an absolute and unconditioned right. No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need, when others lack necessities.” In closing, the pope said:

From pile-dwellings, caves and the first huts we have passed to houses, apartment buildings and skyscrapers; from journeys on foot, on the back of a mule or of a camel, to coaches, trains and airplanes. And people desire to progress further with more and more rapid means of transport, reaching more and more distant goals. But to love God, we have seen, is also a journey: God wants it to be more and more intense and perfect. He said to all his followers: “You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13-14,) “You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48.) That means: to love God not a little, but so much; not to stop at the point at which we have arrived, but with his help, to progress in love.

The pope then encapsulated his remarks for the benefit of the English-speaking pilgrims in attendance. (This is one of the few occasions the pope has spoken publically in English.)

His Holiness also met today with the eparch for the United States, Archbishop Joseph Tawil, and Patriarch Maximos Hakin, both of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Many people do not realize that the Roman Rite and the Latin Church are only one of the many Catholic rites and Churches in full communion with the pope.

What is the greatest journey you have ever made with and for the Lord?

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