General Audiences - Wednesday, September 6th, 1978
Directions to be good
By my right and my left there are Cardinals and Bishops, my brothers in the Episcopate. I am only their elder brother. My warmest greeting to them and also to their dioceses.
Memory of Paul VI
Just a month ago, Paul VI died in Castelgandolfo, a great Pontiff, who has rendered big services to the Church during fifteen years. The effects are already noticed partly now, but I think they will be seen mainly in the future. Every Wednesday, he came here and talked to people.
In 1977 Synod, many Bishops said: 'Wednesdays speeches that Pope Paul pronounces are an authentic catechesis adapted to the modern world.
I will try to imitate him, with the hope of being able to also help people somehow to be better. But to be good it is necessary to be in rule with God, with the others and with us ourselves.
God' s Commandments
Before God, the right position is Abraham' s when he said: 'I am just ash and dust before You, Lord!' We must feel small before God. When I say: 'Lord, I believe', I am not ashamed to feel like a boy before his mother; I believe in my mother; I believe in God and I believe in what He has revealed me.
The Commandments are a little more difficult to fulfil, sometimes very difficult; but God has given them to us not as a whim or for His interest, but quite the contrary, only for our interest.
Once, a person went to buy a car. The salesman made him notice some things: 'Look that the car has excellent conditions. Treat it well: you know, Super gasoline in the tank, and for the motor, fine oil'. The other one answered him: 'No; to your knowledge, I will tell you I do not bear neither the gasoline smell nor that one of the oil; in the tank, I will put champagne I like so much, and the motor I will grease it with jam. Do as you like, but do not come and complain if you end inside a hole with the car. The Lord has done something similar with us: He has given us this body, animated of an intelligent soul and a beautiful will. And He has said: this machine is good, but treat it well.
These are the Commandments: Honour your father and your mother, do not kill, do not get angry, be delicate, do not say lies, do not steal... If we were able to fulfil the commandments, we would work better and the world would also work better.
Love and obedience to parents and superiors
And then, the others... But the others are at three levels: they are over us, others are at our level and others are bellow. Over us, they are our parents. The Catechism said: to respect them, to love them, to obey them. The Pope must instil respect and obedience from children to their parents.
I am told there are altar- boys from Malta here. Come one, please... the altar-boys of Malta, who have served for a month in St. Peter. So, what is your name? -- James. - - James! Tell me, have you ever been ill? -- No. - - Never? -- No. - - Haven' t you ever been ill? -- No. -- Not even a fever? -- No. - - What a lucky one! But, when a boy is ill, who gives him any broth, any medicine? Is it not mum? Alright. Later, you become elder and your mother grows old; you become a great gentleman and your poor mother will be ill in bed. Then, who will be going to give to mum a little milk and medicines? Who? -- My brothers and me. - - Wonderful! His brothers and him, he has said. I like this. Have you understood?
But not always it happens like that. I, as Bishop in Venice, sometimes used to go and visit old people' s home. Once I met a sick, an old woman. 'How are you, madam?' 'Mmm' 'Eating?' 'OK' 'Heat, heating?' 'OK' 'So, are you glad, madam?' 'No, I am not ', and she started weeping. 'But, why are you weeping?' 'My daughter-in-law and my son never come and visit me. I'd like to meet my little grandchildren ' Heating, food are not enough: there is a heart; it is also necessary to think about our old ones' heart. The Lord has said that parents must be respected and be loved, also when they are old.
And besides the parents, it is the State, the superior ones. Can the Pope recommend obedience? Bossuet, a great Bishop, wrote: Where no one gives orders, all give orders. Where all give orders, nobody gives orders, but chaos. Sometimes, something similar is also seen in this world. Let us respect, then, those who are superior.
Justice and charity
Then, there are our equal ones. And usually here, there are two virtues to practice: justice and charity. But charity is justice heart. It is necessary to love the others, the Lord has recommended it to us so much! I always recommend not only great charities, but little charities. On a book titled 'The art of making friends', written by Carnegie, American, I have read this insignificant episode: One lady had four men at home: her husband, a brother and two children. She was in charge to go shopping, to wash and iron the clothes, the kitchen... everything, her. One Sunday, they come home. The table is ready for lunch, but there is only a handful of hay on the dishes. They protest and say: 'Oh, but what, hay!' And she says: 'No, everything is ready. But, let me tell you this: I change the menu, I keep all clean, I take care of everything. And never, you have never told me once: You have prepared us a pretty little lunch. I am not made of stone. One works more pleased when gratefulness is shown. These are the small charities. We all have some person at home who is waiting for a compliment.
Besides, there are those who are smaller than us; they are the children, the sick, and even the sinners. As a Bishop, I have been even very close to those who do not believe in God. I have been convinced that they often reject not God, but the wrong idea they have about God. How much mercy it is necessary to have! And also those who are wrong... It is really necessary to be in order with us ourselves.
Meekness and goodness
I limit myself to recommend you a virtue very estimated by the Lord. He has said: Learn from me that I am meek and humble of heart.
I am risking of saying a nonsense. But I say it: the Lord loves so much humility that sometimes allows serious sins. Why? So that who have committed them -- these sins, I say – afterwards, being regretful, they stay humble. One is not feeling like thinking to be half a Saint, half an angel, when one knows that serious offences have been committed.
The Lord has recommended as much: be humble! Even if you have made great things, say: useless servants we are. However the tendency of all of us is rather the opposite: to put ourselves in the first row. Humble, humble: it is the Christian virtue that concerns to all of us.
To just married
The just married presence touches more specially because the family is something great. Once I wrote an article in the newspaper and I allowed myself to joke mentioning Montaigne, a French writer, who said: 'Marriage is like a cage: those who are outside do the impossible to enter and those who are inside do the impossible to leave'. No, no, no. But some days later, a letter from an old provincial education delegate, who had written books, arrived to me, and he had reproached me, saying: 'Excellency, you have made wrong when mentioning Montaigne; my wife and me have been together for sixty years and every day is like the first'. And he even mentioned a French poet, in French but I say it in Italian: 'I love you every day more, today much more than yesterday, but much less than tomorrow'. I wish you lively that can happen to you the same.
To the participants at the VII International Congress organized by the International Transplants Society
We address a particular greeting to the VII International Congress of Organs Transplants Society members. We are very touched by your visit, that it is a tribute to the Pope and, mainly, your wish of making clear and looking deeply the serious human and moral problems at stake into the research and surgical technologies which are your fight. We encourage you, in this matter, to ask the Catholic friends' help, expert in Theology and Moral, and very informed about your problems, who have a very sure knowledge of Catholic doctrine and a deeply human sense.
Today, we are glad to express our congratulations to you and our confidence for the great work you go into service of human life, to make it longer in the best conditions. The whole problem is to work respecting the person and its others, organ donors or their beneficiaries, and never making man become an object of experiments. There is the respect for his body, there is also the respect for his spirit. We pray God, the Author of life, to inspire you, to assist you in these wonderful and formidable responsibilities. May Him bless you together with all your beloved ones!
Peace for the Middle East
If you allow me, now I wanted to invite you to join my prayers for an intention on which I am very interested. You will have known by the press and the television that, at Camp David, United States, an important meeting between the leaders of Egypt, Israel and the United States begins today, with the intention of finding a solution in the Middle East conflict. This fight, that lasts already more than thirty years in Jesus' land, has caused so many victims and so many sufferings, as much between Arabs as between Jews, and has infected the adjacent countries as a malignant disease. Think about Lebanon, a martyr Lebanon, undone by the repercussions of this crisis. Then, for that reason, I' d want to pray together for the happy success of Camp David meeting; may these conversations smooth out the way towards a right and total peace. Right, that is to say, that satisfies all the parts in fight. Total, without leaving any question without solution: the Palestinian problem, the security of Israel, the Holy City of Jerusalem. Let us pray the Lord to illuminate people in charge of all the involved peoples, so that they can have amplitude of sights and can be brave when taking decisions that must bring serenity and peace to Holy Land and to all the Eastern world.