ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
Saturday, 12 January 2002
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am pleased to meet you at the end of the Conference held on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of the Blessed Founder of
Opus Dei. I greet the Prelate, Bishop Javier Echevarría, and I cordially thank him for his words that sum up the sentiments of devotion of all those gathered here. His words highlighted the nature and importance of your congress. More than a celebration of Blessed Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, you tried to penetrate more deeply into the most current aspects of his message. In a special way you have studied the grandeur of daily life as a path to holiness. I greet Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne and the cardinals, bishops and priests present. I greet each one of you, who have come to Rome to take part in this important celebration.
In the light of these considerations, one's every day activities came to be seen as a valuable means for achieving union with Christ. They become the place and the matter of holiness, the playing field for exercising the virtues, and a dialogue of love that is expressed in deeds. One's work is transfigured by the spirit of prayer. Each person discovers the capacity of remaining in a contemplative relation with God even while carrying out the most diverse tasks. For every baptized person who desires to follow Christ faithfully, the factory, the office, the library, the laboratory, the workshop, the home, can be transformed into places for an encounter with the Lord, who chose to live in obscurity for thirty years. Who can doubt that the time Jesus spent in Nazareth was an integral part of his saving mission? The same holds true for us. Daily activities, even in their seeming dullness in the monotony of actions that seem to be repeated and always the same, can also acquire a supernatural dimension and become in a certain way transfigured.
Moreover, by sanctifying one's work in accord with the norms of objective morality, the lay faithful contribute in an effective way to building up a society that is more worthy of man. They set free creation that groans and suffers waiting for the revelation of the sons of God (cf. Rom 8,19-22).
Thus the lay faithful cooperate in fashioning a truly human society that is attentive to the needs of the person and of the common good.
4. Dear brothers and sisters! Continue on with your mission enthusiastically and faithfully, following in the footsteps of your Founder. Show with your daily efforts that the love of Christ can indeed inform the whole gamut of human existence. In this way you will attain the ideal of the unity of life which I insisted on in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, as fundamental to the evangelization of contemporary society (cf. n. 17).
Prayer, work and the apostolate, as you learned from Bl. Josemaría, converge and fuse together when they are lived in this spirit. He always encouraged you to "love the world passionately".
And he added one important clarification: "Be men and women of the world but do not be worldly men and women" (The Way, 939). In this way you will avoid the danger of falling into a worldly mentality that views the spiritual life as something confined to the private sphere and irrelevant to the public forum. If men do not welcome the grace of God into their hearts, if they do not pray, if they do not frequent the sacraments, if they do not strive for personal holiness, they lose the very meaning of their earthly pilgrimage. The earth, your Blessed Founder reminds us, is a pathway to heaven, and the life of every believer, even with his or her burdens and limitations, can become a true temple in which dwells the Son of God made man.
5. Along this challenging spiritual and apostolic journey, may you always encounter the example and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her husband St Joseph. I entrust all of your families to their intercession. To them I entrust all of your activities, so that they may always be at the service of the Gospel. May you always work in fraternal communion and solidarity with all the other members of the Christian people and with all the other ecclesial institutions. May Bl. Josemaría continue to watch over you from Heaven, so that in every circumstance you may be faithful disciples of Christ. I assure you of the support of my prayer for reaching that goal, and I affectionately bless you, together with all of your families and all the members of your Prelature.