VATICAN CITY, APRIL 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says that peace at any level is linked to conversion of heart and a genuine change of life.
The Pope expressed this conviction in a message, published today, on the occasion of the first “Penitential March,” an initiative of the Order of Minims, directed in particular to young people.
The march, which will be held Wednesday in the Italian city of Paola, will be repeated every year on the anniversary of the death of St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507), the order’s founder.
The Pope said the march was opportune, given the present situation of “not a few preoccupations and sufferings, also because of the war.”
In fact, it is an occasion “to reflect and to pray for the fundamental gift of peace for humanity,” he said.
Indeed, the Penitential March gives a kind of continuity to the Day of Prayer and Fasting, which opened this year’s Lenten season, the Pope said.
“These intense spiritual moments help to be ever more aware of the urgent need to build peace, even at the cost of personal sacrifices,” John Paul II stressed in his message to Father Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, general superior of the Minims.
“It is necessary to be prepared to give up anything that is legitimate in view of a higher good,” the Holy Father said. “Above all, one must be conscious that everything can be obtained from God with prayer.”
The Penitential March can be turned into a “school of life, because it enables one to refer to the luminous examples of the saint of Paola, who did not hesitate to put his own option of evangelical penance at the service of the Church and society,” the Pope added.
He encouraged the Order of Minims, and the young people who will participate in the march, “to accept with docility, in the school of the saint of Paola, the gentle pedagogy of evangelical penance, in order to learn the real secret of peace.”
The Pope added: “As the saint himself teaches, the conquest of peace at all levels is joined to conversion of heart and a genuine change of life.”