DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     July 8, 1999     vol. 10, no. 131

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Days will be dedicated to Prayer, Walking, Reading, and Friends

          VATICAN CITY, JUL 7 (ZENIT).- How can God's mercy and justice be reconciled? The answer to this question was the main topic the Holy Father addressed at his usual Wednesday morning general audience, which today was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall, and was attended by some 10,000 faithful.

          The question goes to the heart of one of the most profound Christian mysteries. God who forgives everything and is infinitely merciful, is also infinitely just.

          The Pontiff answered the question by referring to Sacred Scripture. He began by explaining how in the Old Testament, "intervention in favor of the oppressed is conceived as justice, in other words, as God's faithfulness to the saving promises he made to Israel." For the Jewish people, "God is just because he saves, fulfilling his promises, whereas judgment of sin and of the wicked is nothing other than a manifestation of his mercy. The sinner who is sincerely repentant can always count on this merciful justice."

          Precisely because of "the difficulty of finding justice in men and in their institutions, the Bible reveals the truth that justice will be fully realized only in the future, through the work of a mysterious person, who progressively assumes more specific 'Messianic' connotations," the Pope continued.

          Thus, St. Paul was able to understand one of the most stirring truths about Christianity, as the Holy Father noted. "God's justice is intimately connected to the gift of reconciliation: if we allow ourselves to be reconciled with the Father through Christ, through him we can also become God's justice."

          John Paul II came to the conclusion that "judgment and mercy are two dimensions of the same mystery of love." This conviction gives the believer tremendous peace in face of any negative or fearful idea of God and Christianity. "Love, which is the basis of the divine attitude and must become a fundamental virtue of the believer, makes us have confidence in the Day of Judgment, and excludes all fear."

    Pope arrives in Les Combes for two week stay

          For the seventh time in ten years, John Paul II has traveled in the Valley of Aosta to spend some days of rest in the silence of these imposing mountains. After receiving close to 10,000 faithful in general audience and clearing up his desk of the last important items, the Pope took a plane to Turin and from there a helicopter to Les Combes, the urban center of Introd, located about a mile above sea level.

          Among those on hand to greet the Holy Father was the new parish priest of the town, Fr. Quinto Vacquin, a simple person who has worked with mountaineers for thirty years. "We hope you will be able to have the best possible rest," Fr. Vacquin said with slight embarrassment.

          The people of the area in general are very quiet, underlining the reserved character of these places, something the Pontiff undoubtedly appreciates. The Holy Father will stay in a two-story chalet, the property of the Chevreres family of Introd. It is made of stone and wood and, although originally a stable, over the years has become a very welcoming home. It has central heating, in case the temperature drops. John Paul's room is on the second floor, a loft that has been furnished by the diocesan seminary of Aosta and the nearby priory Church of Saint Pierre.

          The Pope's refuge has a very simple bedroom. When the weather is good, the window offers a spectacular view, crowned by the imposing Mont Blanc. Next door is a small office with a balcony.

          The Pope will be here, some 12.5 miles from Aosta, until July 20. His only public engagements are the Angelus messages on July 11 and 18. On the 18th he will give a message to the world from the Carmelite monastery that he himself inaugurated in 1989. The rest of the time will be spent in prayer. The contemplation of nature has always been a time of transcendental awareness for the Pope. Reading, conversations with lifelong friends (including some who might come from Poland), and walking in the woods will be his other activities. This is a very special time during which the Pope has often prepared a particularly moving document or address. On his agenda for the coming months is the Synod of Bishops for Europe, preparation for his much awaited trip to the Holy Land and places of Revelation and, of course, the marathon of events scheduled for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. ZE99070704 and ZE99070705

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

July 8, 1999       volume 10, no. 131


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