Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. In Ancient Israel the fundamental commandment of love for God was inserted into their daily prayer: "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest."
At the root of this command to love God in a total way we find the love which God Himself bears for humanity. He awaits a true and proper response of love from the people he loves with a preferential love. He is a jealous God (cf. Ex 20:5), who cannot tolerate idolatry, to which his people are continually tempted. Hence the commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ibid., v. 3).
Israel continually grows in the understanding that beyond this relationship of profound respect and exclusive adoration, they must have a childlike and even nuptial attitude towards the Lord. The Song of Songs is intended and read as such, transfiguring the beauty of human love in the spousal dialogue between God and His people.
The Book of Deuteronomy recalls 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" (cf. Dt 30:6), 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" (Ibid., v.16).
2. The precept of Deuteronomy returns unaltered in the teaching of Jesus, Who defines it as "the greatest and first of the commandments," strictly uniting it to the love of neighbor (cf Mt 22:34-40). Reproposing the precept in the same terms as the Old Testament, Jesus shows that on this point revelation has already reached its apex.
At the same time, precisely in the person of Jesus, the sense of this commandment assumes its fullness. In him, in fact, the maximum intensity of man's love for God is realized. 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" (Romans 5:5).
3. Love constitutes the essence of the new "commandment" taught by Jesus. It is in effect the soul of all commandments, the observance of which confirms and even becomes the clear demonstration of love for God: "For the love of God is this, that we obey His commandments" (1 John 5:3). This love, which is complete love for Jesus, represents the condition for being loved by the Father: "Whoever has My commandments and observes them is the one who loves Me. And whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him" (John 14:21).
Love for God, made possible by the gift of the Spirit, is founded on the mediation of Jesus, as he Himself affirmed in His priestly prayer: "I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved Me may be in them and I in them" (John 17:26). This mediation is made concrete above all in the gift that he made of His life, the gift that gave the greatest love a sweeping testimony, by requiring from others the observance of what Jesus commands: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:13-14).
Christian love draws from this wellspring of love, which is Jesus, the Son of God offered for us. The capacity to love as God loves is offered to every Christian as the fruit of the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection.
4. The Church has expressed this sublime reality by teaching that love is a theological virtue. It is worthy of being called a virtue directly referring to God, and allows the human creature to enter into the circuit of Trinitarian love. In fact, God the Father loves us as He loves Christ, seeing in us His image. This image is, so to speak, painted in us by the Spirit, Who like an "iconographer" accomplishes it in time.
It is also always the Holy Spirit Who designs the fundamental lines of the Christian response in the depths of our person. The dynamism of love for God springs forth as such from a sort of "connaturality" accomplished by the Holy Spirit Who, according to traditional Eastern language, "divinizes" us.
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. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "the exercise of all the virtues is animated and inspired by love. This is the 'chain of perfection' (Col 3:14); it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and coordinates them; it is the source and end of their Christian practice. Love guarantees and purifies our human capacity to love. It elevates to the supernatural perfection of divine love" (N. 1827). As Christians, we are always those called to love.
Ten years later Pope Paul VI named him Titular Archbishop of Justinian Prima on June 24, 1965 and the Prelate of Loreto - the Holy Family's house near the Adriatic Sea where he was declared Pontifical Delegate for the sanctuary there. In 1971 the Holy Father returned him to Rome to become the Secretary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and Consultor of the Secretariat of State who was Cardinal Augustin Bea at the time. He remained in this position until 1982 when he was named Pro-Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. A year later Pope John Paul II elevated him to the cardinalate during his Consistory of February 2, 1983 where he received the titular church of St. Apollinaris and promoted to Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. At the same time he was given the additional post of Archpriest of the Patriarchal Vatican Basilica and President of the Fabric of Peter until resigning in 1991. Today he resides in retirement in Rome at Palazzo del Tribunale, Piazza San Marta in Vatican City.
Jesus Christ founded the Church to bring all men to eternal salvation. “For the grace of God our Saviour has appeared to all men, instructing us, in order that, rejecting ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live temperately and justly and piously in this world; looking for the blessed hope and glorious coming of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and cleanse for himself an acceptable people, pursuing ood works” (Titus 2: 11-14).
Our Lord Jesus Christ established the Church in order to lead men to Heaven by: (a) continuing His teaching and example; and (b) Applying the fruits of His Sacrifice on the cross to all men until the end of the world.
Our Lord gave to the Church a three-fold office: the office of teacher, the office of priest or sanctifier, and the office of pastor or ruler. By these offices Christ intended His Church to accomplish the purpose for which He founded it.
The Church founded by Christ was a visible organization, with the Apostles as superiors and rulers. From the very beginning they exercised their authority and powers. They did not advise; the directed, as superiors, and decided, as judges. Thus Saint Paul excommunicated the sinful Corinthian; and he commanded the Hebrews: “Obey your superiors, and be subject to them” (Hebrews 13:17). The Church is enabled to lead men to salvation by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Who gives life.
God the Father and God the Son sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the Church. On the feast of Pentecost, we celebrate a mystery which is forever renewed in the Church and in our souls: the mystery of the indwelling of God, the reign of the law of love which succeeded the law of bondage and fear (cf. Romans 8:15).
The Holy Spirit guides the rulers of the Church, especially the Pope, and helps them in their duties. Before the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles had been timid and afraid. After His coming they went forth to teach, whatever hardships came; they remembered and understood all the teachings of Christ.