Bookmark and Share

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary 1993

Pope Saint John Paul celebrated this beautiful feast with young people at the end of World Youth Day Denver in the USA, at which there were over 1 million people for the final Mass in Cherry Creek National Park.

Pope St John Paul II's homily at Holy Mass      
World Youth Day Denver, Cherry Creek State Park, Denver, Sunday 15th August 1993 - in English, Italian & Spanish

""God who is mighty has done, great things for me" (Lk 1, 49).

Beloved young people, and dear friends in Christ,
1. Today the Church finds herself, with Mary, on the threshold of the house of Zechariah in Ain–Karim. With new life stirring within her, the Virgin of Nazareth hastened there, immediately after the fiat of the Annunciation, to be of help to her cousin Elizabeth. It was Elizabeth who first recognized the "great things" which God was doing in Mary. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth marvelled that the mother of her Lord should come to her (cf Lk 1,43). With deep insight into the mystery, she declared: "Blessed is she who believed that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled" (Lk 1, 45). With her soul full of humble gratitude to God, Mary replied with a hymn of praise: "God who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name" (Lk 1, 49).

On this solemnity the Church celebrates the culmination of the "great things" which God has done in Mary: her glorious Assumption into Heaven. And throughout the Church the same hymn of thanksgiving, the "Magnificat", rings out as it did for the first time at Ain–Karim: all generations call you blessed (cf Lk 1, 48).

Gathered at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, which remind us that Jerusalem too was surrounded by hills (cf Ps 124, 2) and that Mary had gone up into those hills (cf Lk 1, 39), we are here to celebrate Mary’s "going up" to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the threshold of the eternal Temple of the Most Holy Trinity. Here in Denver, at the World Youth Day, the Catholic sons and daughters of America, together with others "from every tribe and tongue, people and nation" (Apoc 5, 9), join all the generations since who have cried out: God has done great things for you, Mary – and for all of us, members of his pilgrim people! (cf Lk 1, 49).

With my heart full of praise for the Queen of Heaven, the sign of hope and source of comfort on our pilgrimage of faith to "the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb 12, 22), I greet all of you who are present at this solemn Liturgy. It is a pleasure for me to see so many priests, religious and lay faithful from Denver, from the State of Colorado, from all parts of the United States, and from so many countries of the world, who have joined the young people of the World Youth Day to honour the definitive victory of grace in Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer.

2. The 8th World Youth Day is a celebration of Life. This gathering has been the occasion of a serious reflection on the words of Jesus Christ: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10). Young people from every corner of the world, in ardent prayer you have opened your hearts to the truth of Christ’s promise of new Life. Through the Sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist, and by means of the unity and friendship created among so many, you have had a real and transforming experience of the new Life which only Christ can give. You, young pilgrims, have also shown that you understand that Christ’s gift of Life is not for you alone. You have become more conscious of your vocation and mission in the Church and in the world. For me, our meeting has been a deep and moving experience of your faith in Christ, and I make my own the words of St Paul: "I have great confidence in you, I have great pride in you; I am filled with encouragement, I am overflowing with joy" (2 Cor 7, 4).

These are not words of empty praise. I am confident that you have grasped the scale of the challenge that lies before you, and that you will have the wisdom and courage to meet that challenge. So much depends on you.

3. This marvelous world – so loved by the Father that He sent his only Son for its salvation (cf Jn 3, 17) – is the theater of a never–ending battle being waged for our dignity and identity as free, spiritual beings. This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat described in the First Reading of this Mass. Death battles against Life: a "culture of death" seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full. There are those who reject the light of life, preferring "the fruitless works of darkness" (Eph 5, 11). Their harvest is injustice, discrimination, exploitation, deceit, violence. In every age, a measure of their apparent success is the death of the Innocents. In our own century, as at no other time in history, the "culture of death" has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, "final solutions", "ethnic cleansings", and the massive "taking of lives of human beings even before they are born, or before they reach the natural point of death" (Dominum et vivificantem, 57).

Today’s reading from the Book of Revelation presents the Woman surrounded by hostile forces. The absolute nature of their attack is symbolized in the object of their evil intention: the Child, the symbol of new life. The "dragon" (Apoc 12, 3), the "ruler of this world" (Jn 12, 31) and the "father of lies" (Jn 8, 44), relentlessly tries to eradicate from human hearts the sense of gratitude and respect for the original, extraordinary and fundamental gift of God: human life itself. Today that struggle has become increasingly direct.

4. Dear Friends, this gathering in Denver on the theme of Life should lead us to a deeper awareness of the internal contradiction present in a part of the culture of the modern "metropolis".

When the Founding Fathers of this great nation enshrined certain inalienable rights in the Constitution – and something similar exists in many countries and in many international declarations – they did so because they recognized the existence of a "law" – a series of rights and duties – engraved by the Creator on each person’s heart and conscience.

In much of contemporary thinking, any reference to a "law" guaranteed by the Creator is absent. There remains only each individual’s choice of this or that objective as convenient or useful in a given set of circumstances. No longer is anything considered intrinsically "good" and "universally binding". Rights are affirmed but, because they are without any reference to an objective truth, they are deprived of any solid basis. Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to "create" opinion and impose it on others.

It is above all the family that is under attack. And the sacred character of human life denied. Naturally, the weakest members of society are the most at risk: the unborn, children, the sick, the handicapped, the old, the poor and unemployed, the immigrant and refugee, the South of the world!

5. Young pilgrims, Christ needs you to enlighten the world and to show it the "path to life" (Ps 16, 11). The challenge is to make the Church’s "yes" to Life concrete and effective. The struggle will be long, and it needs each one of you. Place your intelligence, your talents, your enthusiasm, your compassion and your fortitude at the service of life!

Do not be afraid. The outcome of the battle for Life is already decided, even though the struggle goes on against great odds and with much suffering. This certainty is what the Second Reading declares: "Christ is now raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. in Christ all will come to life again" (1 Cor 15, 20-22). The paradox of the Christian message is this: Christ – the Head – has already conquered sin and death. Christ in his Body – the pilgrim People of God – continually suffers the onslaught of the Evil One and all the evil which sinful humanity is capable of.

6. At this stage of history, the liberating message of the Gospel of Life has been put into your hands. And the mission of proclaiming it to the ends of the earth is now passing to your generation. Like the great Apostle Paul, you too must feel the full urgency of the task: "Woe to me if I do not evangelize" (1 Cor 9, 16). Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life. The Church needs your energies, your enthusiasm, your youthful ideals, in order to make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society, transforming people’s hearts and the structures of society in order to create a civilization of true justice and love. Now more than ever, in a world that is often without light and without the courage of noble ideals, people need the fresh, vital spirituality of the Gospel.

Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (cf Rom 1,16). It is the time to preach it from the rooftops (cf Mat 10, 27). Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living, in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern "metropolis". It is you who must "go out into the byroads" (Mat 22, 9) and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father.

Jesus went in search of the men and women of his time. He engaged them in an open and truthful dialogue, whatever their condition. As the Good Samaritan of the human family, he came close to people to heal them of their sins and of the wounds which life inflicts, and to bring them back to the Father’s house. Young people of World Youth Day, the Church asks you to go, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to those who are near and those who are far away. Share with them the freedom you have found in Christ. People thirst for genuine inner freedom. They yearn for the Life which Christ came to give in abundance. The world at the approach of a new millennium, for which the whole Church is preparing, is like a field ready for the harvest. Christ needs labourers ready to work in his vineyard. May you, the Catholic young people of the world, not fail him. In your hands, carry the Cross of Christ. On your lips, the words of Life. In your hearts, the saving grace of the Lord.

7. At her Assumption, Mary was "taken up to Life" – body and soul. She is already a part of "the first fruits" (1 Cor 15, 20) of our Saviour’s redemptive death and resurrection. The Son took his human life from her; in return He gave her the fullness of communion in divine life. She is the only other being in whom the mystery has already been completely accomplished. In Mary the final victory of Life over death is already a reality. And, as the Second Vatican Council teaches: "In the most holy Virgin the Church has already reached the perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle" (Lumen Gentium, 65). In and through the Church we too have hope of "an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us" (cf 1 Pet 1, 4).

You are blessed, O Mary!
Mother of the eternal Son
born of your virgin womb,
you are full of grace (cf Lk 1, 28).
You have received the abundance of Life (cf Jn 10, 10)
as no one else
among the descendants of Adam and Eve.
As the most faithful "hearer of the Word" (cf Lk 11, 28),
you not only treasured
and pondered this mystery in your heart (cf Lk 11, 2, 19, 51),
but you observed it in your body
and nourished it by the self–giving love
with which you surrounded Jesus
throughout his earthly life.
As Mother of the Church,
you guide us still
from your place in heaven
and intercede for us.
You lead us to Christ,
"the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" (Jn 14, 16),
and help us to increase in holiness
by conquering sin (cf LG 65).

8. The Liturgy presents you, O Mary,
as the Woman clothed with the sun (cf Apoc 12, 1).
But you are clothed
even more splendidly
with the divine light
which can become the Life
of all those created
in the image and likeness
of God himself: "this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it" (Jn 1, 4-5).

O Woman clothed with the sun,
the young people of the world
greet you with so much love;
they have come to you
with all the courage of their young hearts.
Denver has helped them
to become more conscious of the Life
which your Divine Son has given.

We are all witnesses of this.

These young people now know
that Life is more powerful than the forces of death;
they know that the Truth is more powerful than darkness;
that Love is stronger than death (cf Cant 8, 6).

Your spirit rejoices, O Mary,
and our spirit rejoices with you
because the Almighty has done great things for you and for us,
– for all these young people gathered here in Denver,
for all of us,
for all the young people of the world,
for all the young people, this generation,
the future generation.
The Almighty has done great things for you, Mary. And for us. For you and for us, for us with you.
The Almighty – and holy is his name!

His mercy is from age to age.
We rejoice, Mary, we rejoice with you, Virgin assumed into heaven.
The Lord has done great things for you! The Lord has done great things for us! Alleluia. Amen."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Angelus at WYD Denver:
Cherry Creek State Park, Sunday 15 August 1993 - in English, Italian & Spanish

I now invite all taking part in this concluding Liturgy of the World Youth Day, and all who are in contact with us through radio and television, to turn in spirit to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, and to join in reciting the Angelus prayer. This traditional prayer invites us to meditate on Mary’s own pilgrimage of faith.

With trust we appeal to her:
Mary, you are the "model of the Church
in faith, charity and perfect union with Christ" (Lumen Gentium, 63).
You freely accepted God’s will,
which was revealed to you at the Annunciation.
You bore in your womb
the Word made flesh,
who dwelt among us
as your Son.
You watched him grow
"in wisdom and age and grace" (Lk 2, 52)
in the home of Nazareth.
Your way of discipleship
led even to the foot of the Cross,
where Jesus made you the Mother
of all his followers (cf Jn 19, 27).

Mary, you are the Mother of the Lord of life
who stood beneath the Tree of life.
At the Cross you became
our spiritual mother
and, from heaven, you continue to intercede for us
who are still making
our way towards the Father’s house (cf LG 62).

Mary, Mother of the Church,
in union with you
we thank the Blessed Trinity
for all that this World Youth Day
has accomplished in the lives of the young people
who have followed the Holy Year Cross to Denver.

Mary, Immaculate Virgin,
pray for these young people
that they may "have life
and have it abundantly" (cf Jn 10, 10).
Accompany them as they prepare
to be messengers of that divine Life
which alone can satisfy
the hunger of the human heart!
Like you, may they see
in the Cross of Christ
the call of Divine Love
which transforms death into life,
despair into hope,
and sadness into unending joy.

Blessed Mother,
assist all the young people
who are struggling to give
a definitive and responsible "Yes"
to the Lord’s call to the priesthood,
to the religious life,
or to a special consecration in the Church.
Obtain for them the courage and hope
they need
to overcome all obstacles
and to follow closely the path of your Divine Son.

We ask you to watch over all of us
gathered here as we continue our pilgrimage
towards the true source of life.
For this pilgrimage must continue!
It must continue in our lives.
It must continue in the life of the Church
as she looks towards the third Christian millennium.
It must continue as "a new Advent",
a time of hope and expectation,
until the return of the Lord in glory.
Our celebration
of this World Youth Day
has been a stop along the path,
a moment of prayer and refreshment,
but our journey must lead us on again.

Today I wish to announce
that the next World Youth Day
will take place at the beginning of 1995 in Manila in the Philippines.
In this way, our pilgrimage
will take us to the vast and vital continent of Asia.
The Holy Year Cross
will lead us to a meeting
with the generous and faith filled people of the Philippines.

Mary of the new Advent,
we implore your protection
on the the preparations
that will now begin for that next Meeting.

Mary, "full of grace",
we entrust to you the next World Youth Day!

Mary, assumed into Heaven,
we entrust to you the young people of the world!"

After the Angelus:

"The time has come for us to say goodbye, until we meet again.

I wish to thank all those unnamed people, the members of the police, the fire–department, the citizens of Denver, who have been our hosts and helpers during the World Youth Day. I also mention Archbishop Stafford and all the volunteers of the Church here in Denver who have worked for months to prepare this Day. Our gratitude goes to the local radio stations and the translators who have made it possible to follow the World Youth Day in the principal languages, to everyone in radio and television who are bringing World Youth Day to audiences in many countries. My gratitude goes to Cardinal Pironio and the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who are responsible for organizing the World Youth Day at the international level. To Archbishop Keeler, President of the Bishops’ Conference and all the Bishops for their cooperation: thanks to the whole Church in the United States. To Archbishop Keeler, President of the Bishops’ Conference, and Mgr Lynch and all their staff, to all the cardinals and the bishops for their cooperation. Thanks to the whole Church in the United States. A special thanks to all the cardinals and bishops who have become pilgrims together with their young people from all the continents. The World Youth Day has been a great event, and there has been a wonderful exchange of spiritual gifts and experiences between all the young people present. For all of this we must give praise and thanks to God. I wish to express my deepest and warm appreciation to the representatives of the other Churches: Christian churches and communities, as well as to the representatives of the various religious traditions who have taken such an active part in World Youth Day.

¡Cómo no agradecer a esa parte de la Iglesia en Estados Unidos que habla español la gran participación de jóvenes en este encuentro! Y a todos los que han llegado de México, de América Central, de América del Sur, de España. Dios sea alabado por vuestra fe, vuestra generosidad y vuestra voluntad de vivir de la vida que Cristo os da. Llevad el saludo entrañable del Papa a vuestras familias, a vuestros amigos, a los pueblos y naciones de donde venís.

L’ora della partenza ci fa dire: arrivederci a Roma! Giovani italiani, portate con voi l’esperienza interiore della vita nuova che solo Cristo può dare. Fate sì che questa vita divenga in voi il seme di opere impegnative di vita ecclesiale e di rinnovamento della società. Conservate l’entusiasmo di questi giorni, nella fiducia piena in Cristo, in Maria e nella Chiesa.

Au terme de cette rencontre, vous tous, jeunes pèlerins de langue française, je vous salue cordialement et je vous confie au Seigneur, avec l’immense espérance que ce temps fort de partage et de prière à Denver contribue à raviver sans cesse votre engagement et votre mission d’annoncer l’Evangile à tous les jeunes de vos différents pays. Que l’Esprit Saint poursuive en vous son œuvre! Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous garde sous sa constante protection!

Einen herzlichen Grub richte ich an Euch, liebe deutschsprachige Pilger, die Ihr nach Denver gekommen seid. Wenn Ihr jetzt in die Heimat zurückkehrt und Euch den Herausforderungen des Alltags stellen mübt, besinnt Euch auf die in diesen Tagen gewonnenen Erkenntnisse. Vor allem denkt daran, dab Christus der wahre Quell des Lebens, der Freude und der Glückseligkeit ist. Gebt diese Überzeugung Euren Mitmenschen weiter. Arbeitet am Aufbau einer Zivilisation, die alle Menschen achtet. Durch die Gnade Christi seid Zeugen der Frohbotschaft des Heils.

A todos os jovens de expressão portuguesa: " Adeus! Até à próxima! ". Nesta minha despedida, quero encorajar–vos a que vos torneis sempre mais verdadeiros apóstolos e missionários da Boa Nova de Jesus Cristo. Eu espero que levareis convosco o entusiasmo de um novo compromisso ao serviço da Igreja e do desenvolvimento humano dos vossos irmãos e irmãs. Louvado seja Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo!

Drodzy Młodzi Rodacy! W czasie Światowego Dnia Młodzieży w Denver rozważaliście wspólnie ze swymi kolegami słowa Chrystusa: “Ja przyszedłem po to, aby miały życie i miały je w obfitości” (Io. 10, 10). W słowach tych Chrystus odpowiada na najgłębsze pragnienie ludzkiego serca. Każda i każdy z Was pragnie życia, i to życia “w obfitości”. Otwierajcie się więc coraz bardziej na ten Chrystusowy dar! Dzielcie się nim z innymi! Badźcie autentycznymi apostołami życia, które przyniósł Chrystus! Nasza Ojczyzna, która przeżywa okres historycznych przemian, takich apostołów życia bardzo potrzebuje!

Kończy się Światowy Dzień Młodzieży, a dla Was – jego uczestników – rozpoczyna się misja, którą powierza Wam Chrystus. On na Was liczy. Tym, co tu przeżyliście, dzielcie się ze swymi kolegami i koleżankami w środowiskach, w których żyjecie, uczycie się czy pracujecie. Na tym apostolskim szlaku niech Wam towarzyszy opieka i wstawiennictwo Maryi, którą czcimy jako Królową Apostołów.

[In Russian] Possa Dio rafforzarvi e proteggervi al vostro ritorno a casa. Portate i miei saluti alle vostre famiglie e ai vostri amici. Dio benedica il vostro paese e tutti i suoi cittadini.

[In Lithuanian] "Fino al momento in cui ci incontreremo a settembre, dite ai vostri amici quanto il Papa desidera farvi visita! Possa la Madre della Saggezza guidarvi nel grande pellegrinaggio della vita!

[In Croatian] Il tema della Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù è particolarmente significativo per voi e per il popolo dei Balcani. Invochiamo la benedizione di Dio perché giunga la pace su tutta la regione. Il rumore della battaglia e lo spettro della morte e della sofferenza devono lasciare il posto alla gioia della pace e dell’armonia fra i popoli. Dovete affrontare sfide importanti. Siate certi delle preghiere del Papa e della Chiesa.

[In Arabic] La pace di Dio sia con tutti voi! Possiate crescere come testimoni di Cristo!

[In Tagalog] La prossima meta del nostro pellegrinaggio sarà Manila nel 1995. Spero che i giovani delle Filippine si prepareranno spiritualmente per quell’occasione. Possano essere rafforzati e incoraggiati a particolare devozione della loro nazione alla Beata Madre di Dio. Essa indica la via: la vostra generosità renderà veri i suoi desideri materni per la Chiesa nel vostro paese.

[In Korean] Possiate accrescere la maturità che Cristo si aspetta dai suoi seguaci ed essere apostoli della sua Parola e della sua missione nel mondo.

Maria, la Madre di Cristo, vi mostra la via della sequela. Non è una via facile, ma voi riponete la vostra fiducia in Cristo che vi ama e che non abbandona mai il suo popolo fedele. Dio vi benedica! Dio benedica la vostra patria!

I have spoken too much. But you are many and I thank you. I thank you with all my heart. I thank you for being here, for receiving from Christ – you are here for Christ! – you received from him life, abundant life.

We all have celebrated, participated in the Eucharist. What is the Eucharist? Christ has given us life, his life, divine life, the pilgrim life – he was a pilgrim. He was a man – divine life, he is the Son of God.

He gives us his life, his divine life, his eternal life. But he not only gives us his life, he also receives every one of us. We are accepted by him. That is communion: Christ is communion, Eucharist is sacrifice and Eucharist is communion.

We receive him, but he receives us and that is life, the full human life, the sacramental life, but that is also the future life, eternal life.

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for life.

Thank you for all of us; I say it again, thank you, thank you for the life you gave us and that you are giving us, you are permitting us. Thank you through your Mother, Our Lady. In the day of her Assumption, thank you, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father. In the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."