CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered at midday today, before he prayed the Angelus with pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, which we celebrated yesterday, is followed today by the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Two liturgical celebrations that invite us to undertake a spiritual pilgrimage to Calvary. They encourage us to unite ourselves to the Virgin Mary in contemplating the mystery of the cross.
Christianity has its principal symbol in the cross. Wherever the Gospel has put down roots, the cross is there to indicate the presence of Christians. In churches and homes, in hospitals and schools, in cemeteries — the cross has become the sign par excellence of a culture that draws truth and liberty, trust and hope from the message of Christ.
In the process of secularization, which characterizes a great part of the contemporary world, it is all the more important that believers fix their gaze on this central sign of Revelation and gather its original and authentic meaning.
2. Also today, in keeping with the teachings of the early Fathers, the Church presents the cross to the world as “the tree of life,” from which one can gather the ultimate and full meaning of every single existence and of the whole of human history.
Since Jesus made it the instrument of salvation, the cross is no longer synonymous with a curse but, on the contrary, with a blessing. For man, tormented by doubt and sin, it reveals that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). In a word, the cross is the supreme symbol of love.
Because of this, Christian young people carry it with pride through the streets of the world, entrusting to Christ all their worries and all their expectations of liberty, justice and peace.
[John Paul II then greeted pilgrims in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Italian. The Pope spoke the following words in English:]
3. Trusting in the loving care of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast we are celebrating today, I commend the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims to her maternal intercession. Upon all of you I invoke abundant divine blessings.
[At the end, speaking again in Italian, the Pontiff concluded his address with this message:]
4. At the foot of the cross the Virgin Mary, perfectly united to the Son, was able to share in a singular way the depth of the pain and love of his sacrifice. No one better than she can teach us to love the cross. To the Virgin of Sorrows we entrust young people and families, nations and the whole of humanity. We invoke her in a special way for the sick and the suffering, for the innocent victims of injustice and violence, for Christians persecuted because of their faith. May the glorious Cross of Christ be for all a pledge of hope, rescue and peace.
[Translation by ZENIT]