DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     October 14, 1999     vol. 10, no. 196

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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John Paul II's General Audience with 16,000 Pilgrims

        VATICAN CITY, OCT 13 (ZENIT).- During the general audience this morning in St. Peter's Square, which brought together 16,000 pilgrims from 18 European countries and other areas of the world, including Japan and Indonesia (the latter represented by a national Charismatic movement), John Paul II focused on the theological virtue of charity, and on the fundamental commandment to love God and one's neighbor.

        "At the root of this command to love God in a total way we find the love which God Himself bears for humanity," the Pope said, quoting the Bible several times. "He awaits a true and proper response of love from the people he loves with a preferential love. He is a jealous God, who cannot tolerate idolatry, to which his people are continually tempted. Hence the commandment: 'You shall have no other gods before me.' "

        Referring to the Old Testament, John Paul II highlighted two essential characteristics of this love: "The first is that man would never be worthy of this love, if God did not give him the strength, through 'circumcision of the heart,' to rid the heart of every attachment to sin. The other characteristic is that, far from being mere feeling, this love is a concrete 'walking in the ways' of God, and observing 'his commandments, decrees and ordinances.' "

        In the teaching and person of Jesus, the ancient Biblical precept comes into its fullness, united to love of neighbor. "From now on, to love God with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength means to love this God who is revealed in Christ, and to love him with Christ's love, infused in us 'through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,' " continued the Holy Father.

        Christian charity comes from this source of love, who is Jesus, and the capacity to love the way God loves is given to each Christian as the fruit of the Paschal mystery of death and resurrection. "In the strength of the Holy Spirit, love inspires the moral action of the Christian, and directs and reinforces all the other virtues, which build in us the structure of the new man." Christians, therefore, are those always called to love.

        At the end of the catechesis, John Paul II mentioned the Virgin of Fatima, to whom he is especially devoted, because it is the anniversary of the last apparition in the little Portuguese town. ZE99101307

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October 14, 1999       volume 10, no. 196


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