The Holy See
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[Rimini - 22-28 August 2010]


Your Most Reverend Excellency,

I am pleased to express the Holy Father's cordial greeting to you, Your Excellency, to the organizers and to all who are taking part in the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples in Rimini.

This year the theme of your important event: "That Nature which Pushes Us to Desire Great Things Is the Heart", reminds us that in the depths of every human being is an irrepressible restlessness that impels him to seek something that satisfies his yearning. Every person understands that in the realization of his heart's deepest desires he can fulfil himself, he can become truly himself.

Men and women know that they cannot respond only to their own needs. However much they may deceive themselves they find out that they are not self-sufficient.

As the Meeting's theme emphasizes, the ultimate goal of the human heart is not just anything that may be momentarily satisfying but only the "great things". In the Gospel account of the temptations of Jesus (cf. Mt 4: 1-4), the devil insinuates that it is "bread", in other words material satisfaction, that can appease the human being's hunger. This is a dangerous falsehood because it contains only part of the truth. Man lives on bread, but Jesus' answer reveals the ultimate falsity of this attitude: " "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' " (Mt 4: 4). God alone suffices, he alone can satisfy man's deep hunger. The person who has found God has found everything.... Basically, man needs one thing that embraces all, but he must first learn to recognize, even in his superficial desires and yearnings, what he really needs.

God came into the world to reawaken our thirst for "great things". This can be clearly seen in the infinitely rich Gospel passage of Jesus' meeting with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4: 5-42) on which St Augustine has left us a luminous commentary. The Samaritan woman was experiencing the existential dissatisfaction of those who have not yet found what they seek: she had had "five husbands" and was living with another man. The woman had gone to Jacob's well to draw water as usual and found Jesus sitting there in the midday heat. After asking her for a drink, Jesus himself offered her not just any water, but "living water" that could quench her thirst. So it was that he made room for himself "little by little... in her heart" (St Augustine, Commentary on the Gospel of John, XV, 12), kindling the desire for something deeper than merely the quenching of physical thirst.

The disciples of Emmaus had a similar experience with Jesus (cf. Lk 24: 13-35). Even without recognizing the Risen Jesus, as they walked beside him they felt their hearts burning within them, enlivening them, so that once they had arrived they "constrained" him, saying: "Stay with us, Lord". This is an expression of the desire vibrant in the heart of every human being; this desire for "great things" must be transformed into prayer. For our part we must purify our desires and hopes if we are to be able to welcome God's gentleness. Praying to God is a journey, a ladder: it is a process of the purification of our thoughts and desires. We can ask God everything. Everything that is good. God's goodness and power make no distinction between great and small, material and spiritual or earthly and heavenly things. In dialogue with him, unfolding our whole life to him, we learn to desire good things, basically, to want God himself. Learning to pray is learning to desire, hence learning to live.

Five years after the death of Mons. Luigi Giussani, the Pope is spiritually united with the members of the Movement of Communion and Liberation. As he said at the Audience in St Peter's Square on 24 March 2007, "Fr Giussani then committed himself to awaken in youth the love for Christ, "Way, Truth and Life', repeating that only he is the way towards the fulfilment of the deepest desires of the human heart".

As I entrust these thoughts to those taking part in the Meeting, in the hope that they will be helpful for knowing, encountering and loving the Lord more and more, and for witnessing in our time that the "great things" for which the human heart yearns are found in God, His Holiness Benedict xvi assures you of his prayers and very gladly imparts his Apostolic Blessing to you, Your Excellency, to those in charge, to the organizers and to everyone present.

I cordially add also my own good wishes.