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A new anthropology from the Spirit

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II in his series on the Holy Spirit
General Audience, Wednesday 23 May 1990 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. In the Symbol of faith we profess that the Son, one in being with the Father, became man by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem I wrote that "the conception and birth of Jesus Christ are in fact the greatest work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the history of creation and salvation: the supreme grace—'the grace of union,' source of every other grace, as St. Thomas explains [1] .... For the 'fullness of time' is matched by a particular fullness of the self-communication of the Triune God in the Holy Spirit. 'By the power of the Holy Spirit' the mystery of the 'hypostatic union' is brought about—that is, the union of the divine nature and the human nature, of the divinity and the humanity in the one Person of the Word-Son" (n. 50).

2. This refers to the mystery of the Incarnation. At the start of the new covenant, the mystery of the Holy Spirit is linked to the revelation of the Incarnation. We have seen this in the preceding catecheses which permitted us to illustrate this truth in its various aspects, beginning with the virginal conception of Jesus Christ, as we read in the Lucan passage on the annunciation (cf. Lk 1:26-38). It is difficult to explain the origin of this text without thinking of the narrative about Mary, who alone could have made known what had taken place within her at the moment of the conception of Jesus. The analogies which have been proposed between this passage and other accounts from the ancient world and especially Old Testament writings never refer to the most important and decisive point, that is, the virginal conception. That constitutes an absolutely new element.

It is true that in the parallel passage from Matthew we read: "All of this took place to fulfill what the Lord said through the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel'" (Mt. 1:22-23). The result, however, always surpasses the expectations. That is, the event includes new elements which were not expressed in the prophecy. Thus, in the case that we are referring to, the Isaian oracle about the virgin who will conceive (cf. Is 7:14) remained incomplete and therefore lent itself to various interpretations. The Incarnation event fulfilled it with unforseeable perfection. A truly virginal conception was brought about through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Son who was born is truly "God with us." We are no longer referring strictly to a covenant with God, but to God's real presence in the people's midst by virtue of the Incarnation of the eternal Son of God. This is an absolutely new element.

3. The virginal conception, therefore, is an integral part of the mystery of the Incarnation. The body of Jesus, conceived in virginal fashion by Mary, belongs to the person of the eternal Word of God. The Holy Spirit does precisely this as he comes upon the virgin of Nazareth. He brings it about that the man (the Son of Man) whom she conceived is the true Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, one in substance with the Father, for whom the eternal Father is the only Father. While being born of Mary as a man, he continues to be the Son of the same Father of whom he is eternally begotten.

See how in a special way the virginity of Mary stresses the fact that the Son she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit is the Son of God. God alone is his Father.

The traditional iconography, which shows Mary with the child Jesus in her arms and does not picture Joseph beside her, constitutes a silent but firm statement of her virginal motherhood, and for that very reason, of the Son's divinity. This image, therefore, could be called the icon of Christ's divinity. We find it already at the end of the second century in a fresco in the Roman catacombs and afterward, in innumerable reproductions. It is especially depicted with very effective artistic touches and marks of faith in the Byzantine and Russian icons which have links with the most genuine sources of faith: the Gospels and the early tradition of the Church.

4. Luke reports the words of the angel who announced the birth of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Lk 1:35). The Spirit of which the evangelist speaks is the Spirit "which gives life." Reference is not made solely to that "breath of life" which is the mark of living beings, but to the very life of God himself: the divine life. The Holy Spirit who is in God as a breath of love, the absolute (uncreated) Gift of the divine Persons, acts in the Incarnation of the Word as the breath of this love for humanity: for Jesus himself, for human nature and for all of humanity. This breath expresses the Father's love. He so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (cf. Jn 3:16). In the Son is the fullness of the gift of divine life for humanity.

In the incarnation of the Son-Verb is manifested thus in a particular way the Holy Spirit as the one "who gives life".

5. This is what I called in the Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem "the particular fullness of the self-communication of the triune God in the Holy Spirit" (n. 50). This is the deepest meaning of the "hypostatic union." This is a formula which reflects the thought of the Councils and of the Fathers on the mystery of the Incarnation, and therefore on the concepts of nature and person, elaborated and made use of on the basis of the experience of the distinction between nature and subject which every man perceives within himself. The idea of the person had never before been so clearly individuated and defined as it was in the work of the Councils, once the apostles and the evangelists had made known the event and the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word "by the power of the Holy Spirit."

6. We can say, therefore, that in the Incarnation the Holy Spirit laid the foundations for a new anthropology which sheds light on the greatness of human nature as reflected in Christ. In him, human nature reaches its highest point of union with God, "having been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that one and the same subject can be Son of God and Son of man" [2] . It was not possible for man to rise up higher than this highpoint, nor is it possible for human thought to conceive of a closer union with the divinity.

After the Catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai pellegrini provenienti da alcune diocesi francesi

Je salue très cordialement les pèlerins de langue française qui sont présents ici ce matin et, en particulier, j’offre mes voeux fervents aux Frères Capucins Missionnaires en Afrique que j’encourage dans leur apostolat.

A tous, je souhaite un bon séjour à Rome et j’espère qu’en découvrant la Ville, ils découvriront mieux l’Eglise et entendront l’appel du Seigneur à marcher à sa suite avec les martyrs et les saints. Que Dieu vous bénisse!

Ai gruppi di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to extend a cordial welcome to the Missionary Sisters of the Most Precious Blood. Dear Sisters, on returning to your apostolic work in various parts of the world, take with you a vivid memory of these days spent near the tomb of Saint Peter. May this experience serve to renew your faith and the love which inspires your religious consecration. Take with you the Pope’s blessing on all those whom you serve in the Lord.

On all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially from Sweden, Finland, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, I invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessings.

Ad un gruppo di fedeli giapponesi provenienti da Niigata

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Dilettissimi pellegrini provenienti da Niigata: auspico che questo vostro pellegrinaggio alle tombe degli Apostoli rimanga come una luce che illumina la vostra vita. Con questo augurio e invocando su di voi la protezione della madre di Dio, vi imparto di cuore la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Ai fedeli di espressione linguistica tedesca

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich alle Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache sehr herzlich. Mein besonderer Gru gilt den Teilnehmern am zweiten Romseminar des Bistums Hildesheim für Dechanten und Mitarbeiter, einer Gruppe evangelischer Vikare der Landeskirche Württemberg, den Teilnehmern an der von der Kirchenzeitung des Erzbistums Köln organisierten Romreise sowie der Besuchergruppe der Stadtbau-Gesellschaft Amberg. Euch allen wünsche ich einen bereichernden Romaufenthalt.

In diesen Tagen vor dem Pfingstfest erbitte ich Euch die Gaben des Heiligen Geistes und erteile Euch und Euren Angehörigen in der Heimat von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di espressione spagnola

Me es grato saludar a los peregrinos de América Latina y España presentes en esta Audiencia. De modo particular, este saludo se dirige cordialmente a los Hermanos Maristas, que están efectuando en Roma un curso de renovación espiritual, así como a las Comunidades neocatecumenales de las Parroquias “ Nuestra Señora del Carmen ” y “ San Pío X ”, de Valencia y Algemesí, respectivamente, al grupo de pensionistas de Zaragoza, y a los profesores y alumnos de la Escuela de Turismo de la Universidad “ Intercontinental ” de México, nación que con tanto afecto y devoción me ha acogido durante mi reciente visita pastoral.

Doy mi más afectuosa bienvenida a la representación de la Congregación de Agustinas Recoletas que, con motivo de su primer Centenario de Fundación, ha querido presentar al Papa el sentido testimonio de filial cercanía y adhesión. Os agradezco de corazón este gesto en tan significativa efemérides. Y, al mismo tiempo, pido al Todopoderoso que, apoyadas en una vida constante y profunda de oración y en una vivencia comunitaria fraterna, sigáis sirviendo con plena generosidad a Cristo y a su Iglesia, de acuerdo con vuestro carisma fundacional.

A vosotras, a las demás Religiosas de vuestro Instituto, y a todos los presentes de lengua española imparto complacido mi Bendición Apostólica.

Ad alcuni gruppi di espressione portoghese

Meus caros irmãos e irmãs,

A todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa dou a minha Bênção, como penhor das divinas graças e consolações.

Ai polacchi

“Za wolność Kościoła w świecie współczesnym i w Polsce”.

Te słowa zostały wypowiedziane na Jasnej Górze w uroczystym dniu 3 maja Roku Milenijnego. Zostały wypowiedziane z głębi wielkiego cierpienia, z pośrodka wielu udręk i ograniczeń.

Nie możemy zapomnieć tych słów Nie możemy ich zapomnieć teraz, gdy jesteśmy świadkami zmian w Polsce, a także wśród naszych pobratymców i sąsiadów. Są to zmiany na lepsze. Zmiany i przeobrażenia, które tutaj torują sobie drogę, rozumieją właściwie tylko ci, którzy doznawali udrk, dyskryminacji, prześladowań, więzień, gułagów . . .

Właśnie w takim czasie zostały wypowiedziane te słowa ustami Prymasa Tysiąclecia, a brzmiały one tak: “ Oddajemy siebie w Twą macierzyńską niewolę za wolność Kościoła w świecie współczesnym i w Polsce ”.

Nie można tych słów zapominać. I nie można też zacierać “ paradoksu ”: “ macierzyńska niewola ” jako cena wolności ludzkich sum i eń, cena wolności religii, Kościoła, osoby i społeczeństwa.

Ten, który wówczas wypowiedział te słowa - Prymas Tysiąclecia - zabrał ze sobą do grobu ich najbardziej autentyczną treść i znaczenie.

Kiedy przychodzimy na Jasną Górę, aby złożyć dziękczynienie za wszystko, co się zmienia na lepsze, za to, że zrozumiano, że nie można niewolić ludzkich wnętrz, ludzkich sumień, równocześnie nie przestajemy polecać tych wszystkich, którym nadal wolność religijna jest odmawiana, którzy cierpią za swe przekonania.

Pozdrawiam serdecznie wszystkich obecnych z ks. biskupem Władysławem Jędruszukiem z Drohiczyna na czele; pozdrawiam pielgrzymów z Krakowa i łapsz Niższych na Spiszu - od księży pijarów; pielgrzymów z parafii Miłosierdzia Bożego z Otwocka; z parafii św. Wojciecha z Kielc; z parafii Matki Bożej Królowej Polski z Lublina; z parafii św. Józefa z Pełczyna-Zdroju; z parafii św. Jacka ze Słupska; wszystkich pielgrzymów z diecezji szczecińskokamieńskiej oraz z archidiecezji gnieźnieńskiej; współpracowników misyjnych sióstr pallotynek; pielgrzymów z parafii Nawiedzenia Najświtszej Maryi Panny z Domaniowa; z parafii Miłosierdzia Bożego z Oławy; grupę sióstr franciszkanek Rodziny Maryi z Brazylii; prócz tego uczestników grup turystycznych: kolejarzy z Gliwic, Logos Touru z Poznania, grupę biura turystycznego Cenrex; budowlanych z Sopotu i Gdańska; Żeglarski Klub Morski z Katowic; a także innych pielgrzymów indywidualnych, nie objętych tymi grupami, bądź to z kraju, bądź z emigracji.

A gruppi di fedeli italiani

Con gioia, accolgo ora i soci del Rotary Club di Macerata, impegnati in attività di promozione umana e di aiuto al Terzo Mondo.

Saluto, poi, i fedeli delle Comunità parrocchiali della Valle del Giovenco, guidati dal loro pastore diocesano, Monsignor Biagio Terrinoni. Essi celebrano un particolare anno mariano, nel ricordo del terzo centenario del Santuario “Madonna di Sulla Villa”, in Ortona dei Marsi.

Rivolgo, quindi, il mio benvenuto al gruppo della Diocesi di Lugano, in pellegrinaggio presso la tomba di Pietro, sotto la guida del loro Vescovo, Monsignor Eugenio Corecco.

Il mio pensiero va anche alle Infermiere Professionali del Collegio Vincenza Bonfante, annesso alla Facoltà di Medicina dell’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Roma.

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli

A voi carissimi giovani, e a voi carissimi ammalati rivolgo ora il mio particolare saluto, con gioia e con affetto. Apprezzando vivamente la vostra presenza all’Udienza Generale, segno di profonda convinzione e devozione, desidero ancora indicarvi la figura di Pier Giorgio Frassati, che domenica scorsa è stato dichiarato “beato”. Egli fu un testimone straordinario di fede cristiana vissuta con coraggio e con coerenza nella preghiera e nella carità. In un periodo della storia, denso di tensioni sociali e politiche, e anche di contrasti religiosi, Pier Giorgio maturò e compì la sua scelta definitiva di amore a Cristo e ai fratelli sofferenti, realizzando lietamente e serenamente, le Beatitudini evangeliche.

Ora che Pier Giorgio Frassati è stato elevato ufficialmente all’onore degli altari, cari ragazzi e ragazze, pregatelo tutti con fervore e confidenza, e anche voi, carissimi fratelli ammalati, invocate con fiducia il novello Beato, pur egli colpito dalla malattia, per essere illuminati ed aiutati nel cammino della vostra vita e perché siate sostenuti nella vostra sofferenza dal suo esempio e dalla sua celeste intercessione. Pensando al Beato Pier Giorgio, imparto a tutti la mia speciale Benedizione!

Con particolare affetto, mi rivolgo infine agli Sposi Novelli, ai quali auguro di essere sempre testimoni del Vangelo nella loro famiglia e di impegnarsi costantemente perché, guidati dallo Spirito Santo, possano irradiare nella società la luce del Signore risorto. A tutti la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

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