ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
Thursday 3 May 2001
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. With great joy I welcome you and I extend my cordial greeting to each of you. I greet, in particular, Abbot Ugo Gianluigi Tagni and I thank him for the words expressing your sentiments.
My greeting and my cordial appreciation go also to the Daughters of the Heart of Mary Missionary Sisters who, like mothers and sisters, assist the guests of the International College, opened by the Cistercian monks with praiseworthy attention to the Church's pastoral needs. It welcomes priests and religious of various nationalities who have come to Rome to complete their studies by attending the city's numerous academic centres. Finding themselves together in a place that is so suitable to the requirements of those who have been called to devote themselves to the priestly ministry makes it possible to achieve a wonderful exchange of gifts that is certainly useful for their future apostolic activity.
The contact, then, with the typical spirituality of the Cistercian monastic order gives the opportunity to take advantage of another possibility for spiritual and apostolic formation. My sincere hope is that each of you may draw abundantly from this source, which has over the centuries nourished so many concrete realizations of consecrated life.
I would like here to recall what I already have said in my recent Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, that "the time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living" (n. 31). This is even more valid for you, dear Brothers ordained for the service of the Christian people. Jesus asks you as he did Peter: "Simon, Son of John, do you love me more than these?" (Jn 21: 15). And he awaits your answer, expressed not only in words, but also, and above all, in the concreteness of your daily choices.
The authentic theologian is he who prays. It was in this perspective that I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte: "We who have received the grace of believing in Christ, the revealer of the Father and the Saviour of the world, have the duty to show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead" (n. 33).
Let Sts Benedict and Bernard inspire you to live ecclesial communion in great fraternity
May your College therefore be a Cenacle: a place where, in assiduous and harmonious prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1: 14), you should be of one heart and one soul (cf. ibid., 4: 32). A school of fraternal life where, as St Benedict teaches (cf. R.B. 72: 4 ff.), each one competes with the other in paying reciprocal honour, while supporting each other's weakness with the greatest patience. May no one seek his own advantage but rather that of others, loving his neighbour with chaste love. The lifestyle, the experience of communion between priests and religious will be of valid help to you in your communities of origin when, having finished the time of your formation here in Rome, you will undertake the work to which the Holy Spirit will call you.
May Mary, whom we wish to invoke as Mater boni consilii, watch over your good intentions and your entire daily activity. Dear friends, have constant recourse to her and to her intercession. With these sentiments, I cordially bless each and every one of you.