The Holy See
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(VARESE, 21 - 25 AUGUST 2006)


Your Most Reverend Excellency,

I am pleased to convey the cordial greeting of the Supreme Pontiff to you, to the organizers and to the participants in the 57th National Liturgical Week to be held in Varese on the theme: "Let us celebrate Jesus Christ, the hope of the world". This annual event constitutes a preparatory phase of the upcoming Ecclesial Congress of the Italian Church which will take place in Verona and will be an opportunity for a wise renewal of our pastoral responsibility at the service of the Gospel.

Reflecting on the significance of the Liturgical Celebration as a source of hope for all means focusing attention on the event of the death and Resurrection of Christ, the basis of our hope.

The Apostle Peter says: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading" (I Pt 1: 3-4).

Yes, the Risen One is the source of our hope, and every Celebration imbues in the human heart that mystery of hope fulfilled in Christ.

The theme of your Convention is therefore evocative, because it indicates how, through the Liturgical Celebration, the human being inserted into the Paschal Mystery is transfigured by the Risen One.

Prayer then opens our lives to God's plan and encourages us to become docile instruments in his hands, to change our way of life and, consequently, the history of our environment.

Thus, the Liturgical Celebration embraces various aspects of life: the world of emotions and relationships, shared frailty and weaknesses, the experience of work and rest, ever proclaiming the primacy of God's love.

In his First Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, the Holy Father Benedict XVI writes: "In the Church's Liturgy, in her prayer, in the living community of believers, we experience the love of God, we perceive his presence and we thus learn to recognize that presence in our daily lives" (n. 17).

The experience of God's goodness in the Liturgy becomes a renewal of the gift of hope. By freeing the human heart of its daily apprehensions, the Liturgical Celebration gives new trust; the moment of celebration communicates the joy of hoping in a better world, of living in the Church, of being loved by God and of reciprocating his love, of being forgiven and saved.

For this reason, believers should be helped to understand that in order to preserve, revive, witness to and communicate this hope, they must return to celebrating and contemplating Jesus, the Risen One.

His Holiness hopes that through its moments of reflection and prayer the 57th National Liturgical Week in Varese will emphasize that Christian hope is nourished by the celebrative action - which is an action of God -, an action that immerses us continuously in the Pasch of Christ, source of every hope.

As he assures you of his prayers for the total success of the Meeting, the Supreme Pontiff invokes upon all who are attending it the motherly protection of Santa Maria del Monte (St Mary of the Mount) and imparts a special Apostolic Blessing to you, venerable Brother, to Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, to the speakers and the participants.

As I add my personal greeting and good wishes, I take this occasion to confirm that I remain,

Yours most devotedly in the Lord,

Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Secretary of State