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The Holy Spirit Constantly Perfects Our Faith So That Revelation May Be Better Understood

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 10 April 1985 - in Italian & Spanish

"1. We have said many times during these reflections that faith is a particular response on the part of man to the word of God who reveals himself until the definitive revelation in Jesus Christ. Without doubt, this response has a cognitive character. It gives man the possibility of receiving this knowledge (self-knowledge) which God "shares" with him.

The acceptance of this knowledge of God, which in the present life is always partial, provisional and imperfect, gives man the possibility of already participating in the definitive and total truth which will be revealed to him one day in the immediate vision of God. "Abandoning himself completely to God" in response to his self-revelation, man participates in this truth. From such participation there begins a new supernatural life which Jesus calls "eternal life" (Jn 17:3) and which the Letter to the Hebrews defines as "life by faith": "my righteous one shall live by faith" (Heb 10:38).

2. If then we wish to deepen our understanding of what faith is, and what the expression "to believe" means, the first thing that strikes us is the originality of faith, in comparison with the rational knowledge of God which starts from "created things."

The originality of faith consists, first of all, in its supernatural character. By faith, man gives his response to "God's self-revelation" and accepts the divine plan of salvation which consists in participation in the nature and intimate life of God himself. Such a response should lead man beyond everything that the human being himself attains by the faculties and the powers of his own nature, both as regards knowledge and will. It is a question of the knowledge of an infinite truth and of the transcendent fulfillment of aspirations to the good and to happiness which are rooted in the will and the heart. It is a matter of "eternal life."

"Through divine revelation," we read in the Constitution Dei Verbum, "God chose to show forth and communicate himself and the eternal decisions of his will regarding the salvation of men. That is to say, he chose 'to share with them those divine treasures which totally transcend the understanding of the human mind' (n. 6). The Constitution is here quoting the words of the First Vatican Council (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, n. 12), which underline the supernatural character of faith.

Thus the human response to God's self-revelation, and in particular to his definitive self-revelation in Jesus Christ, is formed interiorly under the enlightening power of God himself. God works in the depths of man's spiritual faculties, and in a certain way, in the whole ensemble of his energies and dispositions. That divine power is called grace, in particular, the grace of faith.

3. We read again in the same Constitution of the Second Vatican Council: "To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving 'joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it' [the words of the Second Council of Orange repeated by the First Vatican Council]. To bring about an ever deeper understanding of revelation the same Holy Spirit constantly brings faith to completion by his gifts" (DV 5).

The Constitution Dei Verbum speaks succinctly on the subject of the grace of faith. However, this synthetic formulation is complete and reflects the teaching of Jesus himself who said: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (Jn 6:44). The grace of faith is precisely such an "attraction" exercised by God in regard to man's interior essence, and indirectly in regard to the whole of human subjectivity. It enables man to respond fully to God's "self-revelation" in Jesus Christ, by abandoning himself to God. That grace precedes the act of faith. It stirs up, supports and guides it. Through it, man becomes capable first of all of "believing in God," and in fact believes. Thus prevenient and cooperating grace establishes an interpersonal, supernatural "communion" which is the living structural framework of faith. Through it, man who believes in God, participates in "eternal life": "He knows the Father and him whom he has sent, Jesus Christ" (cf. Jn 17:3) and through charity enters into a relationship of friendship with them (cf. Jn 14:23; 15:15).

4. This grace is the source of the supernatural illumination which "opens the eyes of the mind." The grace of faith particularly embraces the cognitive sphere of the human person and concentrates on it. From this follows the acceptance of the entire content of divine revelation. This revelation contains the mysteries of God and the elements of the plan of human salvation. But at the same time man's cognitive faculty, under the action of the grace of faith, tends to an ever deeper understanding of the contents revealed. This understanding is projected to the total truth promised by Jesus (cf. Jn 16:13), toward "eternal life." This effort of growing understanding finds support in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially in those which perfect the supernatural knowledge of faith—knowledge, understanding, wisdom....

From this brief sketch the originality of faith is presented as a supernatural life. Through it, God's "self-revelation" is rooted in the ground of human intelligence, becoming the source of supernatural light. Through it, man participates, in a human measure, but at a level of divine communion, in that knowledge by which God eternally knows himself and every other reality in himself."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di espressione inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to extend a special Easter greeting to the Englishspeaking visitors and pilgrims. I welcome the newly ordained deacons from the Pontifical Irish College, accompanied by members of their families, as well as the group of students and friends of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome.

* * *

My greeting also goes to the Marian Pilgrimage from Melbourne, Australia; to the Pilgrimage from the United States Army Base in Worms, Germany; and to the group of parents, teachers and students of Holy Family Convent School in Johannesburg, South Africa, who are currently celebrating the Eightieth Anniversary of their school.

* * *

And to all the people who have come from England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, South Africa, Australia, the United States and Canada I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and hope in Jesus Christ, our Risen Saviour and Lord.

Ai gruppi di lingua francese

Je suis heureux de vous accueillir ici, chers Frères et Sœurs. J’encourage spécialement les nombreux pèlerins du diocèse de Nancy qui font cette démarche de foi aux tombeaux des Apôtres. Je salue aussi le groupe des pompiers venus de Montréal, et tous les autres groupes des pays francophones, en particulier ceux des établissements scolaires, des paroisses, les familles. A tous, je souhaite la paix et la joie de Pâques. A l’occasion de cette grande fête, nous avons pu renouveller la profession de foi de notre baptême, recevoir les sacrements de réconciliation et d’eucharistie. Demandons au Seigneur d’augmenter notre foi, de nous faire vivre de sa Vie nouvelle, et d’attirer ceux qui demeurent hésitants. Je vous redis les mots de l’Apôtre Pierre: en attendant que se manifeste pleinement Jésus Christ, “vous l’aimez sans l’avoir vu, vous croyez en Lui sans le voir encore, et vous tressaillez d’une joie inexprimable, sûrs d’obtenir le salut qui est l’aboutissement de votre foi”. A tous ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Ich erneuere von Herzen meinen Gruß an alle hier anwesenden Pilger deutscher Sprache. Ich grüße besonders die Seminaristen aus den Diözesen Salzburg und Gurk-Klagenfurt, die Gruppe der Diakone und der Kandidaten für das Diakonat im Bistum Trier sowie die Teilnehmer der Jubiläumswallfahrt des Vereins katholischer deutscher Lehrerinnen anläßlich des hundertjährigen Bestehens ihres Verbandes. Besonders ihnen gilt mein aufrichtiger Dank für ihr christliches Zeugnis im Bereich der Jugenderziehung. Für ihr so wichtiges Apostolat erbitte ich weiterhin Gottes besonderen Beistand. Ihnen und allen Pilgern erteile ich für reiche Gnaden des auferstandenen Herrn in aufrichtiger Verbundenheit meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai numerosi pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Y ahora un cordial saludo a todos los peregrinos de lengua española.

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

En primer lugar saludo a los seminaristas de Barbastro. Os aliento, queridos seminaristas, a prepararos con fidelidad y esmero a vuestra futura misión de servidores del pueblo de Dios. Un recuerdo ahora a las Religiosas de la Pureza de María y a los estudiantes de Monóvar, Madrid, Mataró, Orihuela y Vitoria.

* * *

Mi saludo también a los peregrinos de Córdoba (Argentina) dirigidos a Roma y Tierra Santa. Vivid conscientemente el misterio de fe de la resurrección de Cristo. Saludo asimismo a los peregrinos de la “Ciudad de los Niños” de Monterrey (México) y a los de Puerto Rico.

A todos los peregrinos de los varios países de lengua española les deseo continúen en la alegría y gracia de la Pascua, y los bendigo de corazón.

Ai seminaristi croati dell’arcidiocesi di Split

Cordialmente saluto i seminaristi di Spalato. Gesù Cristo risorto vi aiuti sulla vostra strada verso il sacerdozio e siate i suoi coraggiosi testimoni.

Ai fedeli di espressione polacca

Pozdrawiam serdecznie wszystkich pielgrzymów z Polski, przede wszystkim wielką pielgrzymkę młodzieży palotyńskiej; prócz tego: z archidiecezji krakowskiej, parafia Paszkówka i Krzęcin oraz salezjańska parafia świętego Stanisława Kostki z Dębnik Krakowskich, do których ja również przynależę, a w każdym razie przynależałem, wreszcie pielgrzymi indywidualni tak z kraju, jak i z emigracji, zwłaszcza ze Szwajcarii. . . . To krótkie streszczenie dzisiejszej konferencji równocześnie łączę raz jeszcze z pozdrowieniami i życzeniami Wielkanocnymi dla wszystkich uczestników audiencji oraz dla wszystkich rodaków zarówno w Ojczyźnie, jak i poza Polką.

Ai giovani

Il mio cordiale saluto va ora a tutti i gruppi italiani, rivolgendo un pensiero speciale a voi giovani seminaristi che, convenuti da varie parti d’Europa, state partecipando al Congresso internazionale dei seminaristi presso il Centro Mariapoli di Rocca di Papa.

Approfondendo il tema-guida del vostro raduno: “Gesù crocifisso e abbandonato - La via dell’unità”, certamente capirete che prepararsi al sacerdozio vuol dire seguire Cristo, portando la croce ogni giorno (cf. Mt 16, 24), per collaborare alla redenzione dell’uomo.

Vi accompagno con la mia benedizione assicurandovi del mio ricordo nella preghiera affinché perseveriate nella vocazione ricevuta e possiate servire Dio con generosità e dedizione.

* * *

Desidero rivolgere il mio particolare saluto ai giovani che stanno vivendo a Roma la settimana di Pasqua.

Carissimi, sull’esempio e per l’intercessione dei beati Apostoli e martiri Pietro e Paolo, sappiate testimoniare con entusiasmo e fino al sacrificio che il Signore, risorto e vivo, è la vera sorgente di quella pace che nasce dal cuore e ha in sé la capacità di diffondersi negli ambienti, superando ogni ostacolo creato dall’egoismo delle persone.

Agli ammalati

Saluto con particolare affetto gli ammalati qui presenti.

Voi siete i prediletti di Colui che, con la sua sofferenza, ha salvato il mondo. Sappiate sempre operare per il bene dell’umanità intera e della Chiesa in unione con il Signore risorto e rendendo efficaci le croci della vostra vita, abbracciandole con quello spirito d’amore e di obbedienza alla volontà del Padre, di cui il Salvatore ci ha dato l’esempio più luminoso.

Agli sposi novelli

Infine saluto di cuore gli sposi novelli.

Proprio nei giorni in cui abbiamo rivissuto l’atto supremo di amore di Cristo, voi avete iniziato nel sacramento del Matrimonio la vostra nuova vita come coniugi. Vi auguro di saper riprodurre ogni giorno quella scelta di amore, che scaturisce dall’amore di Cristo per la Chiesa, di cui voi ora fate parte come famiglia cristiana.


© Copyright 1996 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana