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The Spirit: principle of peace

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
General Audience, Wednesday 29 May 1991 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. Peace is the great desire of contemporary humanity. It comes in two principal forms: the elimination of war as a way to solve disputes between nations or states, and the resolution of social conflicts by achieving justice. Can anyone deny that the spread of these sentiments represents a progress in social psychology, in political mentality and in the very organization of national and international co-existence? Especially in regard to the dramatic experiences of late, the Church, whose task it is to preach and pray for peace, cannot fail to rejoice when she observes the new achievements in law, social and political institutions, and, more fundamentally, in the human awareness itself of peace.

Profound conflicts, however, remain even in the world today and are the origin of many ethnic and cultural disputes, in addition to economic and political ones. To be realistic and sincere, one cannot fail to recognize the difficulty, even the impossibility, of preserving peace without a higher principle which operates with divine power deep within the human mind.

2. According to revealed doctrine this principle is the Holy Spirit, who gives spiritual peace to individuals, an inner peace which becomes the basis of peace in society.

Jesus himself, speaking to his disciples in the upper room, announced his peace: "My peace I give to you" (Jn 14:27). This peace is shared with the disciples by the gift of the Holy Spirit who gives this peace to human hearts. In John's text, the promise of peace follows the promise of the Paraclete's coming (cf. Jn 14:26). Christ's work of peacemaking is achieved through the Holy Spirit who was sent to fulfill the Savior's mission.

3. It should be noted that Christ's peace is announced and offered along with forgiveness of sins, as can be seen in the words of the risen Jesus to his disciples: "Peace be with you.... Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive they are forgiven them" (Jn 20:21-23). This peace is the result of the redemptive sacrifice, accomplished on the cross, which reaches its fulfillment in the glorification of Christ.

This is the first type of peace which human beings need: the peace obtained by overcoming the obstacle of sin. It is a peace which can only come from God, by the forgiveness of sins through Christ's sacrifice. The Holy Spirit, who accomplishes this forgiveness in individuals, is for human beings the operative principle of that fundamental peace which consists in reconciliation with God.

4. According to St. Paul peace is a "fruit of the Holy Spirit" connected with charity: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace..." (Gal 5:22). It is opposed to the works of the flesh, among which (according to the Apostle) are "hostilities, arguing, jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy..." (Gal 5:20). This is a list of primarily interior obstacles which impede peace of soul and social peace. Precisely because he transforms interior dispositions, the Holy Spirit inspires a basic attitude of peace in the world, too. Paul says of Christ that "he is our peace" (Eph 2:14), and explains that Christ has made peace by reconciling all people with God through his sacrifice, from which one new man is born upon the ashes of human dissension and hostility. But the Apostle himself adds that this peace is accomplished in the Holy Spirit: "Through Christ we have access in one Spirit to the Father" (Eph 2:18). It is always the one, true peace of Christ, but is poured into hearts and experienced under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.

5. In the Letter to the Philippians the Apostle speaks of peace as a gift given to those who, even in the difficulties of life, turn to God "in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude...." He assures them: "God's own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:6-7).

The lives of the saints are a testimony and a proof of the divine origin of peace. They appear to us with an inner serenity in the midst of the most painful trials and storms which seem to sweep them away. Something—indeed Someone—is present and at work in them to protect them not only from the shifting tides of external events, but from their own weakness and fear. It is the Holy Spirit who is the author of that peace which is the fruit of the love which he pours out into human hearts (cf. Summa Theol., II-II, q. 29, aa. 3-4).

6. According to St. Paul, "the kingdom of justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). The Apostle formulates this principle when he admonishes Christians not to judge the weakest among them harshly when the latter do not succeed in freeing themselves from certain ascetical practices which are based on a false idea of purity, such as the prohibition against eating meat and drinking wine which was practiced by some pagans (e.g., the Pythagoreans) and some Jews (e.g., the Essenes). Paul invited them to follow the rule of an enlightened and certain conscience (cf. Rom 14:5-6, 23), but especially to be inspired by charity, which should direct the conduct of the strong: "Nothing is unclean in itself.... If your brother is being hurt by what you eat, your conduct is no longer in accord with love. Do not because of your food destroy him for whom Christ died!" (Rom 14:14-15).

Paul's recommendation, then, is not to create trouble in the community, not to stir up conflict and not to scandalize others. He exhorts: "Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another" (Rom 14:19). Everyone should be concerned with preserving harmony by not using the Christian's freedom in a way which offends or harms one's neighbor. The principle formulated by the Apostle is that charity should direct and regulate freedom. In dealing with a particular problem, Paul enunciates a general principle: "The kingdom of God is peace in the Holy Spirit."

7. The Christian should be committed to complying with the Holy Spirit's activity by fostering in his soul "the tendency of the Spirit toward life and peace" (Rom 8:6). This is the reason for the Apostle's repeated exhortations to the faithful to "preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force" (Eph 4:3); to act "with perfect humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another lovingly" (Eph 4:2); and to continue to turn away from "the tendency of the flesh, which is at enmity with God" and conflicts with the tendency of the Spirit which "is toward life and peace" (Rom 8:6-7). Only if they are united in the "binding force of peace" do Christians appear "united in the Spirit" and as true followers of him who came into the world to bring peace.

The Apostle's wish is that they receive from God that great gift which is an essential element of life in the Spirit: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:13).

8. To conclude this catechesis, I too wish peace in the Holy Spirit to all Christians and to everyone. And I wish to recall again that, according to the teaching of Paul and the witness of saintly souls, the Holy Spirit makes his inspirations recognized by the inner peace which they bring to the heart. The promptings of the Holy Spirit go in the direction of peace, not in the direction of anxiety, discord, dissent and hostility about the good. There can be a legitimate difference of opinion on particular points and on the ways of reaching a common goal, but the impulse of charity, which is a sharing in the Holy Spirit, is toward profound concord and unity in the good willed by the Lord. St. Paul is categorical: "God is not the God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor 14:33).

This is obviously true for peace of mind and heart within Christian communities. But when the Holy Spirit reigns in hearts, he stirs up the desire to use every effort to establish peace in relationships with others on every level: family, civic, social, political ethnic, national and international (cf. Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14). In particular, he motivates Christians to engage in prudent mediation to reconcile people in conflict and to use dialogue as the means to be employed against temptations and the threat of war.

Let us pray that Christians, the Church and all persons of good will may be ever more committed to obeying faithfully the Spirit of peace.

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

Ai fedeli di lingua polacca

“Twoja cześć, chwała, nasz wieczny Panie . . .”. Wraca do mojej pamięci ta wspaniała polska pieśń na Boże Ciało. Jutro wyruszają procesje eucharystyczne na ulice miast i ludzkich osiedli, na drogi wiejskie.

W tym kontekście przypominam sobie poprzednią moją pielgrzymkę do Ojczyzny, a w szczególności wielkie zgromadzenie eucharystyczne w Gdańsku na Zaspie. Był to czerwiec r. 1987.

Właśnie tam, na Zaspie, rozpo czynając homilię, wyszedłem od tych słów: “Twoja cześc, chwała, nasz wieczny Panie”.

Kiedy ponownie mam udać się do Polski, o Pani Jasnogórska, staję naprzód przy mogile Twego wielkiego Sługi, Prymasa Tysiąclecia. I wraz z tylu rodakami powtarzam: “ Wejrzyj na jego heroiczną wiarę całkowite oddanie się Tobie, na jego męstwo wobec przeciwności i prześladowań, które znosił dla Twego imienia. Pomnij, jak bardzo miłował Kościół Twojego Syna, jak wiernie kochał Ojczyznę i każdego człowieka, broniąc jego godności i praw, przebaczając wrogom, zło dobrem zwyciężając . . . ”.

Przed dziesięciu laty, właśnie w tych ostatnich dniach maja, miesiąca poświęconego Tobie, Bogarodzico, Ojciec niebieski odwołał do siebie Prymasa Tysiąclecia.

Kiedy wypada mi ponownie stanąć na ziemi polskiej, proszę Boga, aby Sługę swego, Kardynała Stefana uczynił orędownikiem mojej pasterskiej posługi na ziemi ojczystej.

Na całym szlaku tej pielgrzymki bądź z nami, Pani Jasnogórska oraz wy, wszyscy święci i błogosławieni Patronowie ludu Bożego w Polsce, abyśmy umieli przybliżać światu tę miłość, którą jest Bóg.

“Twoja cześć, chwała, nasz wieczny Panie”.

Ai numerosi fedeli di espressione tedesca

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher sehr herzlich. Mein besonderer Gruß gilt den Studentinnen und Studenten der Katholischen Schule für Sozialpädagogik in Stuttgart sowie der Gruppe angehender Religionslehrer, die an einem Missio-Kurs ebenfalls in Stuttgart teilnehmen.

Beten vir alle zusammen, daß die Christen, die Kirche und alle Menschen guten Willens sich immer mehr einsetzen in treuem Gehorsam für den Geist des Friedens. Dazu erteile ich Euch allen, Euren lieben Angehörigen in der Heimat sowie den mit uns über Rundfunk und Fernsehen verbundenen Gläubigen von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai gruppi di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

Pèlerins de langue française, je vous salue cordialement, jeunes et aînés. Je souhaite que votre venue à Rome soit pour vous une expérience vivante de communion ecclésiale. De tout cœur, je vous donne ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai fedeli di espressione inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My cordial greeting goes to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience. As the month of Maydraws to a close, I pray that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, will lead people everywhere to faith in Jesus Christ her Son. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings of grace and peace.

Ai fedeli di espressione spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Deseo ahora saludar muy cordialmente a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española.

En particular, a los nińos ganadores del concurso sobre San Juan de la Cruz, organizado por la Caja de Ahorros de Avila, así como a las peregrinaciones procedentes de Argentina y México.

A todos imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai fedeli italiani

Saluto, ora, i numerosi gruppi di pellegrini di lingua italiana.

In particolare i fedeli della parrocchia di Casalbordino, in Diocesi di Chieti: sono lieto di benedire la corona d’oro che essi hanno donato alla Madonna, venerata nella chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli; le comunità parrocchiali di Laino Borgo della Diocesi di Cassano allo Ionio che, insieme al loro Vescovo, Monsignor Andrea Mugione, hanno voluto concludere qui, presso la Basilica Vaticana, le celebrazioni del 9° Centenario del rinvenimento dell’Immagine di Santa Maria del Castello, Patrona di Castrovillari, e far benedire ed incoronare la Vergine Addolorata.

Saluto i parrocchiani di Allumiere, in Provincia di Roma, che hanno portato una statua del Cuore Immacolato di Maria perché, dopo la benedizione, sia collocata nell’edicola della piazza principale del paese.

Do, soprattutto, il mio cordiale benvenuto ai partecipanti al corso di perfezionamento di Bioetica, promosso dal Centro di Bioetica del Policlinico “Agostino Gemelli” di Roma. Mentre li ringrazio vivamente per la loro presenza, auguro di saper difendere sempre, attraverso la propria importante e benemerita attività professionale, il valore inviolabile della vita dal suo inizio alla sua fine naturale.

E mi rivolgo pure al gruppo di malati, sottoposti a trapianto di reni, che provengono da Lecce e dal Salento. Carissimi Fratelli e Sorelle del Centro Nefrologico dell’Ospedale di Lecce, mi compiaccio per i risultati conseguiti: abbiate sempre grande fiducia, confidate nell’aiuto del Signore che con la sua divina assistenza sostiene ogni sforzo a favore del vero bene integrale dell’uomo.

Saluto, poi, gli ufficiali della Scuola Militare di Commissariato e Amministrazione provenienti da Nocera Inferiore e Maddaloni, come pure i partecipanti al Convegno di Cultura “Ven. Maria Cristina di Savoia” di Cosenza, venuti a Roma in occasione del 50 della fondazione.

Esprimo, inoltre, un beneaugurante pensiero alle Religiose della Congregazione delle Figlie di Santa Maria di Leuca, le quali celebrano i 50 anni dalla loro nascita. Che la Vergine Maria vi accompagni sempre sul cammino della fedeltà e della santità.

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli

Rivolgo ora ai giovani, ai malati e alle coppie degli sposi novelli l’invito a guardare sempre alla Vergine Maria come al modello di vita cristiana, caratterizzata da una pronta dedizione a Dio.

Vi esorto pure a vivere con particolare intensità l’imminente Solennità del Santissimo Corpo e Sangue di Cristo, e ad accostarvi frequentemente all’Eucaristia, per essere ricolmi del forte e soave amore di Dio.

In tale modo voi, giovani, sarete capaci di affrontare la vita compiendo opere di bene, di giustizia e di carità; voi, malati, saprete irradiare serenità e pace; voi, sposi novelli, potrete perseverare nel reciproco amore ed in una piena disponibilità al disegno di Dio su di voi.

A tutti imparto la mia benedizione apostolica.

Annunciato per il 28 giugno un Concistoro unico

Ho ora la gioia di annunziare che, il prossimo 28 giugno, vigilia della Solennità dei Santi Apostoli Pietro e Paolo, avrà luogo un Concistoro, nel quale nominerò 22 nuovi Cardinali.

Nel medesimo Concistoro, inoltre, pubblicherò la nomina cardinalizia, riservata “in pectore” nel Concistoro del 30 giugno 1979, di S. E. Rev. ma Monsignor Ignatius Gong Pin-mei, Vescovo di Shanghai.

Nella lista dei nomi, carissimi fratelli e sorelle, si rispecchia in modo eloquente l’universalità della Chiesa: tra i nuovi Cardinali, infatti, vi sono Presuli di ogni continente, benemeriti nel servizio alla Sede apostolica o nel ministero pastorale. Qualcuno ha pagato con un alto prezzo di sofferenza la propria fedeltà a Dio e alla Chiesa in momenti e condizioni difficili.

Altre degnissime persone avrebbero meritato di essere elevate alla dignità cardinalizia: penso a tanti fedeli servitori della Santa Sede, a tanti venerati Pastori di chiese particolari sparse per il mondo, ed ad altre eminenti personalità ecclesiastiche. Il limite numerico, stabilito da Papa Paolo VI nella Costituzione apostolica “De Summo Pontifice Eligendo” ( Pauli VI, De Summo Pontifice Eligendo, 33) e che ritengo opportuno mantenere, non consente di concedere loro in questa circostanza quel riconoscimento che mi auguro possa essere dato in altra occasione.

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