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Pope John Paul I's First General Audience
Wednesday, 6 September 1978 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"On my right and on my left there are Cardinals and Bishops, my brothers in the episcopate. I am only their elder brother. My affectionate greeting to them and also to their dioceses!

Just a month ago, Paul VI died at Castelgandolfo. In 15 years he rendered enormous services to the Church. The effects are partly seen now already, but I think that they will be seen especially in the future. Every Wednesday he came here and spoke to the people. At the 1977 Synod several bishops said:

"Pope Paul's Wednesday addresses are a real catechesis adapted to the modern world." I will try to imitate him, in the hope that I, too, will be able, somehow, to help people to become better.

To be good, however, it is necessary to be in place before God, before our neighbour and before ourselves. Before God, the right position is that of Abraham, who said:

"I am only dust and ashes before you, O Lord!" We must feel small before God. When I say, "Lord I believe" I am not ashamed to feel like a child before his mother; one believes in one's mother; I believe in the Lord, in what he has revealed to me. The commandments are a little more difficult to observe; but God gave them to us not to satisfy a whim, not in his own interest, but solely in our interest.

Once a man went to buy a motorcar from the agent. The latter talked to him plainly: "Look here, it's a good car; mind that you treat it well: premium petrol in the tank, and for the joints, oil the good stuff." But the other replied: "Oh, no, for your information, I can't stand even the smell of petrol, nor oil; I'll put champagne, which I like so much, in the tank and I'll oil the joints with jam" "Do what you like: but don't come and complain if you end up in a ditch, with your car!" The Lord did something similar with us: he gave us this body, animated by an intelligent soul, a good will. He said, "this machine is a good one, but treat it well."

Here are the commandments. Honour your father and your mother; do not kill; do not get angry; be gentle; do not tell lies; do not steal... If we were able to observe the commandments, we would be better off and so would the world. Then there is our neighbour... But our neighbour is at three levels: some are above us; some are at our level; some are below. Above, there are our parents. The catechism said: respect them, love them, obey them. The Pope must instil respect and obedience in children for their parents. I am told that the choir-boys of Malta are here. Let one come here, please ... the choir-boys of Malta, who have served in St Peter's for a month. Well, what is your name?

—James. And listen, have you ever been ill?
—Ah, never?
—Never been ill?
—Not even a temperature?
—Oh, how lucky you are! But when a child is ill, who brings him a little broth, some medicine? Isn't it his mother? That's it. Afterwards you grow up, and your mother gets old; you become a fine gentleman, and your mother, poor thing, will be in bed, ill. That's it. Well, who will bring the mother a little milk and medicine? Who will?
—My brothers and I.
—Well said! "His brothers and he," he said. I like that. Did you understand?

But it does not always happen. As Bishop of Venice, I sometimes went to homes. Once I found an elderly woman, sick.
—How are you?
—Well, the food is all right!
—Are you warm? Is there heating?
—It's good.
—So you are content?
—"No" She almost began to cry.
—But why are you crying?
—My daughter-in-law, my son, never come to see me. I would like to see my grandchildren.

Heat and food are not enough, there is the heart; we must think of the heart of our old people. The Lord said that parents must be respected and loved, even when they are old. And besides our parents, there is the State, there are superiors. May the Pope recommend obedience? Bossuet, who was a great bishop, wrote: "Where no one commands, everyone commands. Where everyone commands, no one commands any longer, but chaos." Sometimes something similar is seen in this world too. So let us respect those who are our superiors.

Then there are our equals. And here, there are usually two virtues to observe: justice and charity. But charity is the soul of justice. We must love our neighbour, the Lord recommended it so much. I always recommend not only great acts of charity, but little ones. I read in a book, written by Carnegie, an American, entitled "How to Make Friends", the following little episode:

A lady had four men in the house: her husband, a brother, two grown­up sons. She alone had to do the shopping, the washing, the ironing and the cooking: everything all alone. One Sunday they come home. The table is laid for dinner, but on the plate there is only a handful of hay. "Oh!", the others protest and say: "What! Hay!" And she says, "No, everything is ready. Let me tell you: I prepare your food, I keep you clean, I do everything. Never once have you said: 'That was a good dinner you made for us.' But say something! I'm not made of stone."

People work more willingly when their work is recognized. These are the little acts of charity. In our home we have all someone who is waiting for a compliment.

There are those who are smaller than we are; there are children, the sick, even sinners. As Bishop, I was very close even to those who do not believe in God. I formed the idea that they often combat not God, but the mistaken idea they have of God. How much mercy it is necessary to have! And even those who err.... We must really be in place with ourselves. I will just recommend one virtue so dear to the Lord. He said, "Learn from me who am meek and humble of heart". I run the risk of making a blunder, but I will say it: the Lord loves humility so much that, sometimes, he permits serious sins. Why? In order that those who committed these sins may, after repenting, remain humble. One does not feel inclined to think oneself half a saint, half an angel, when one knows that one has committed serious faults. The Lord recommended it so much: be humble. Even if you have done great things, say: "We are useless servants." On the contrary the tendency in all of us, is rather the contrary: to show off. Lowly, lowly: this is the Christian virtue which concerns ourselves."

To Participants in the Seventh International Congress of the Organ Transplant Society

"We owe a special greeting to members of the Seventh International Congress of the Organ Transplant Society . We are very touched by your visit, which is a homage to the Pope, and particularly by your desire to throw light on and to study more deeply the serious human and moral problems at stake in the researches or in the surgical technique which are your lot. We encourage you, in this field, to request the help of Catholic friends, expert in theology and in morality and with a thorough knowledge of your problems, possessing a sound knowledge of Catholic doctrine and a deeply human understanding.

We are content today to express to you our congratulations and our trust, for the immense work that you put in the service of human life in order to prolong it in better conditions. The whole problem is to act with respect for the person and for one's neighbours, whether it is a question of donors of organs or beneficiaries, and never to transform man into an object of experiment. There is respect for his body, there is also respect for his spirit. We pray to God, the Author of life, to inspire you and assist you in these magnificent and formidable responsibilities. May he bless you, with all your dear ones!

Now, if you permit, I should like to invite you to join with me in prayer for an intention that I have much at heart. You have learned from the press, from television, that today at Camp David an important meeting begins between the rulers of Egypt, Israel and the United States, in the hope of finding a solution to the conflict in the Middle East. This conflict, which for more than 30 years has been continued on the land of Jesus, has already caused so many victims, so much suffering, both among the Arabs and the Israeli. Like an evil malady it has infected the neigbouring countries. Think of the Lebanon, a martyred Lebanon, upset by the repercussions of this crisis. For this, then, I should like to pray together with you for the success of the Camp David meeting: that these talks may pave the way towards a full and just peace. Just: that is, to the satisfaction of all the parties in the conflict. Full: without leaving any problem unresolved; the problem of the people of Palestine, the security of Israel, the Holy City of Jerusalem. Let us ask the Lord to enlighten those responsible for all the peoples concerned, so that they may be far-seeing and courageous in taking the decisions that should bring serenity and peace to the Holy Land and to the whole world of the East."

Pope John Paul I's Second General Audience on Faith
Wednesday, 13 September 1978 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"My first greeting goes to my bishop confrères, of whom I see many here.

Pope John, in a note of his, which was also published, said: "This time I gave the retreat on the Seven Lamps of Sanctification". Seven virtues, he meant, that is, faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance. Who knows if the Holy Spirit will help the poor Pope today to illustrate at least one or these lamps, the first one, faith.

Here in Rome there was a poet, Trilussa, who also tried to speak of faith. In a certain poem of his, he said: "That little old blind woman, whom I met / the evening I lost my way in the middle of the wood, / said to me: —If you don't know the way / I'll accompany you, for I know it / If you have the strength to follow me / from time to time I'll call to you, right to the bottom there, where there is a cypress, / right to the top there, where there is a cross. I answered: that may be ... but I find it strange / that I can be guided by some one sightless ... / The blind woman, then, took my hand / and sighed: Come on. —It was faith." As a poem, it is delightful; as theology, defective.

It is defective because when it is a question of faith, the great stage manager is God. Because Jesus said: "No one comes to me unless my Father draws him." St Paul did not have faith, in fact he was persecuting the faithful. God waits for him on the way to Damascus: "Paul", he says to him, "don't take it into your head to rear up, to kick, like a restive horse. I am that Jesus whom you are persecuting. I need you. You must change!" Paul surrendered; he changed, leading a completely different life. Some years afterwards, he will write to the Philippians: "that time, on the way to Damascus, God seized me; since then I have done nothing but run after him, to see if I, too, am able to seize him, imitating him, loving him more and more."

That is what faith is: to surrender to God, but transforming one's life. A thing that is not always easy! Augustine has told of the journey of his faith; especially in the last few weeks it was terrible; reading, one feels his soul almost shudder and writhe in interior conflicts. On the one hand, God calls him and insists; on the other hand, his old habits, "old friends", he writes, ... ; "and they pulled me gently by my mantle of flesh and they said to me: 'Augustine, what! You are abandoning us? Look out, you won't be able to do this any more, you won't be able ever again to do that other.''' A hard thing! "I felt", he says, "like one who is in bed, in the morning. He is told: 'Out, Augustine, get up! Finally the Lord gave me a sharp tug, and I came out. You see, one mustn't say: 'Yes, but; yes, but later'. One must say: 'Yes, Lord! At once!' This is faith. To respond to the Lord generously. But who says this 'yes'? He who is humble and trusts God completely! "

My mother used to tell me when I was a boy: "When you were little, you were very ill. I had to take you from one doctor to another and watch over you whole nights; do you believe me?" How could I have said: "I don't believe you, Mamma"? "Of course I believe, I believe what you tell me, but I believe especially in you."

And so it is in faith. It is not just a question of believing in the things that God revealed, but in him who deserves our faith, who has loved us so much and done so much for our sake.

It is also difficult to accept some truths, because the truths of faith are of two kinds; some pleasant, others unpalatable to our spirit. For example, it is pleasant to hear that God has so much tenderness for us, even more tenderness than a mother has for her children, as Isaiah says. How pleasant and congenial it is! There was a great French bishop, Dupanloup, who used to say to the rectors of seminaries: "with the future priests, be fathers, be mothers". It is agreeable. Other truths, on the contrary, are hard to accept. God must punish, if I resist. He runs after me, he begs me to repent and I say: "No!" I almost force him to punish me. This is not agreeable. But it is a truth of faith. And there is a last difficulty, the Church. St Paul asked: "Who are you, Lord?" —"I am that Jesus whom you are persecuting". A light, a flash, crossed his mind. I do not persecute Jesus, I don't even know him: I persecute the Christians. It is clear that Jesus and the Christians, Jesus and the Church are the same thing: indissoluble, inseparable.

Read St Paul: "Corpus Christi quod est Ecclesia". Christ and the Church are only one thing. Christ is the Head, we, the Church, are his limbs. It is not possible to have faith and to say, "I believe in Jesus, I accept Jesus but I do not accept the Church." We must accept the Church, as she is. And what is this Church like? Pope John called her "Mater et Magistra". Teacher also. St Paul said: "Let everyone accept us as Christ's aids and stewards and dispensers of his mysteries."

When the poor Pope, when the bishops, the priests, propose the doctrine, they are merely helping Christ. It is not our doctrine, it is Christ's; we must just guard it and present it. I was present when Pope John opened the Council on 11 October 1962. At a certain point he said: "We hope that with the Council the Church will take a leap forward." We all hoped so; but a leap forward, on what way? He told us at once: on certain and immutable truths. It never even occurred to Pope John that the truths could go forward, and then, gradually, change. Those are the truths: we must walk along the way of these truths, understanding them more and more, bringing ourselves up-to-date, proposing them in a form suited to the new times. Pope Paul too had the same thought. The first thing I did, as soon as I was made Pope, was to enter the private Chapel of the Pontifical Household. Right at the back Pope Paul had two mosaics made: St Peter and St Paul: St Peter dying, St Paul dying. But under St Peter: are the words of Jesus: "I will pray for you, Peter, that your faith may never fail." Under St Paul, on whom the sword falls: "I have run my race, I have kept the faith." You know that in his last address on 29 June, Paul VI said: "After 15 years of pontificate, I can thank the Lord that I have defended the faith, that I have kept the faith".

The Church is also a mother. If she continues Christ, and Christ is good, the Church too must be good; good to everyone. But if by chance there should sometimes be bad people in the Church? We have our mother. If mother is sick, if my mother by chance should become lame, I love her even more. It is the same, in the Church. If there are, and there are, defects and shortcomings, our affection for the Church must never fail. Yesterday, and I conclude, I was sent the issue of "Città Nuova". I saw that they have reported, recording it, a very short address of mine, with an episode. A certain British preacher MacNabb, speaking in Hyde Park, had spoken of the Church. When he finished, someone asked to speak and said: "Yours are fine words. But I know some Catholic priests who did not stay with the poor and became rich. I know also Catholic husbands who have betrayed their wives. I do not like this Church made of sinners." The Father said: "There's something in what you say. But may I make an objection?" — "Let's hear it."— He says: "Excuse me, but am I mistaken or is the collar of your shirt a little greasy?" — He says: "Yes, it is, I admit." — "But is it greasy because you haven't used soap, or because you used soap but it was no use?" "No", he says, I haven't used soap."

You see. The Catholic Church too has extraordinary soap: the gospel, the sacraments, prayer. The gospel read and lived; the sacraments celebrated in the right way; prayer well used, would be a marvellous soap, capable of making us all saints. We are not all saints, because we have not used this soap enough. Let us try to meet the hopes of the Popes who held and applied the Council, Pope John, Pope Paul. Let us try to improve the Church, by becoming better ourselves. Each of us and the whole Church could recite the prayer I am accustomed to recite: "Lord, take me as I am, with my defects, with my shortcomings, but make me become as you want me to be."

I must say a word also to our dear sick, whom I see there. You know, Jesus said: "I hide behind them; what is done for them is done for me." So we venerate the Lord himself in their persons and we hope that the Lord will be close to them, and help and sustain them.

On our right, on the other hand, there are the newlyweds. They have received a great sacrament. Let us wish that this sacrament which they have received will really bring not only goods of this world, but more spiritual graces. Last century there was in France a great professor, Frederick Ozanam. He taught at the Sorbonne, and was so eloquent, so capable! His friend was Lacordaire, who said: "He is so gifted, he is so good, he will become a priest, he will become a great bishop, this fellow!" No! He met a nice girl and they got married, Lacordaire was disappointed and said: "Poor Ozanam! He too has fallen into the trap!" But two years later, Lacordaire came to Rome, and was received by Pius IX. "Come, come, Father", he says. "I have always heard that Jesus established seven sacraments. Now you come along and change everything. You tell me that he established six sacraments, and a trap! No, Father, marriage is not a trap, it is a great sacrament!"

So let us express again our best wishes for these dear newlyweds: may the Lord bless them!"

Pope John Paul I's Third General Audience on Hope
Wednesday, 20 September 1978 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"The second of the seven "Lamps of Sanctification" for Pope John was Hope. Today I will speak to you of this virtue, which is obligatory for every Christian. In his Paradiso (cantos 24, 23 & 26), Dante imagined himself taking an examination in Christianity. A magnificent commission was operating. "Do you have faith?" St Peter asks him first. "Do you have hope?" St James continues. "Do you have charity?" St John ends. "Yes", Dante answers, "I have faith, I have hope, I have charity." He proves it and passes with full marks.

I said that hope is obligatory: that does not mean that hope is ugly or hard. On the contrary, anyone who lives it travels in an atmosphere of trust and abandonment, saying with the psalmist: "Lord, you are my rock, my shield, my fortress, my refuge, my lamp, my shepherd, my salvation. Even if an army were to encamp against me, my heart will not fear; and if the battle rises against me, even then I am confident." You will say: is not this psalmist exaggeratedly enthusiastic? Is it possible that things always went right for him? No, they did not always go right. He, too, knows, and says so, that the bad are often fortunate and the good oppressed. He even complained to the Lord about it sometimes; he went so far as to say: "Why are you sleeping, Lord? Why are you silent? Wake up, listen to me, Lord." But his hope remained: firm, unshakeable. To him and to all those who hope can be applied what St Paul said of Abraham: "In hope he believed against hope" (Rom 4: 18).

You will say further: how can this happen? It happens because one is attached to three truths: God is almighty, God loves me immensely, God is faithful to promises. And it is he, the God of mercy, who kindles trust in me; so that I do not feel lonely, or useless, or abandoned, but involved in a destiny of salvation, which will lead to Paradise one day. I mentioned the Psalms. The same certain confidence vibrates in the books of the Saints. I would like you to read a homily delivered by St Augustine on Easter day about Alleluia. We will sing the true Alleluia: — he says approximately — in Paradise. That will be the Alleluia of full love: this one, now, is the Alleluia of starving love, that is, of hope.

Someone will say: what if I am a poor sinner? I reply to him as I replied to an unknown lady, who had confessed to me many years ago. She was discouraged because, she said, she had a stormy life morally. "May I ask you", I said. "how old you are?"
—"35! But you can live for another 40 or 50 and do a great deal of good. So, repentant as you are, instead of thinking of the past, project yourself into the future and renew your life. with God's help."

On that occasion I quoted St Francis of Sales, who speaks of "our dear imperfections". I explained: God detests failings because they are failings. On the other hand, however, in a certain sense he loves failings since they give to him an opportunity to show his mercy and to us an opportunity to remain humble and to understand and to sympathize with our neighbour's failings.

Not everyone shares this sympathy of mine for hope. Nietzsche, for example, calls it the "virtue of the weak". According to him, it makes the Christian a useless, separated, resigned person, extraneous to the progress of the world. Others speak of "alienation", which, they say, turns the Christian away from the struggle for human advancement. But "the Christian message", the Council said, "far from deterring men from the task of building up the world ... binds them, rather, to all this by a still more stringent obligation." (Gaudium et Spes, 34, cf. nn. 39 and 7 and Message to the World of the Council Fathers,  20 October 1962).

In the course of the centuries there have also appeared from time to time affirmations and tendencies of Christians that were too pessimistic with regard to man. But these affirmations were disapproved of by the Church and were forgotten, thanks to a host of joyful and hardworking saints, to Christian humanism, to the ascetic teachers, whom Saint-Beuve called "les doux", and to a comprehensive theology. St Thomas Aquinas, for example, puts among the virtues jucunditas or the capacity of changing things heard and seen into a cheerful smile — to the extent and in the way appropriate (cf 2.2ae, q. 168, a.2). This kind of cheerfulness, I explained to my pupils, was shown by that Irish mason who fell from the scaffolding and broke his legs. He was taken to hospital and the doctor and Sister nurse rushed to him. "Poor thing", the latter said, "you hurt yourself falling." But the patient said: "Mother, not exactly falling, but reaching the ground I hurt myself."

When St Thomas declared that joking and making people smile was a virtue, he was in agreement with the "glad tidings" preached by Christ, and with the hilaritas recommended by St Augustine. He overcame pessimism, clothed Christian life in joy and invited us to keep up our courage also with the healthy pure joys which we meet on our way.

When I was a boy, I read something about Andrew Carnegie the Scot, who went to America with his parents and gradually became one of the richest men in the world. He was not a Catholic, but I was struck by the fact that he returned insistently to the simple, true joys of his life. "I was born in poverty", he said, "but I would not exchange the memories of my childhood with those of a millionaire's children. What do they know of family joys, of the sweet figure of a mother who combines the duties of nurse, washerwoman, cook, teacher, angel and saint?" When still very young, he took a job in a Pittsburg mill with 56 miserable lire a month as wages. One evening, instead of giving him his wage at once, the cashier told him to wait. Carnegie was trembling: "Now they'll dismiss me."

On the contrary, after paying the others, the cashier said to him: "Andrew, I've watched your work carefully; I've come to the conclusion that it is worth more than that of the others. I'm raising your wage to 67 lire." Carnegie said many years afterwards, "all my millions put together never gave me the joy of that eleven lire rise."

Certainly, these joys, though good and encouraging, must not be absolutized. They are something, not everything; they serve as a means, they are not the supreme purpose; they do not last for ever, but only for a short time. "Christians", St Paul wrote, "deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away" (cf 1 Cor 7:31). Christ had already said: "Seek first of all the kingdom of God" (Mt 6:33).

In conclusion, I would like to refer to a hope which is proclaimed Christian by some people, and on the contrary is Christian only up to a certain point. Let me explain. At the Council, I, too, voted for the "Message to the World" of the Council Fathers. In it we said: the principal task of divinizing does not exempt the Church from the task of humanizing. I voted for Gaudium et Spes. I was moved and enthusiastic when Populorum Progressio came out. I think that the Magisterium of the Church will never sufficiently insist in presenting and recommending the solution of the great problems of freedom, justice, peace, development; and Catholic laity will never fight sufficiently to solve these problems. It is wrong, on the other hand, to state that political, economic and social liberation coincides with salvation in Jesus Christ, that the Regnum Dei is identified with the Regnum hominis, that Ubi Lenin ibi Jerusalem.

In the last few days the subject "the future of hope" has been dealt with at Freiburg, on the 85th Katholikentag. They were speaking of the "world" to be improved, and the word "future" was right. But if we pass from hope for the "world" to hope for individual souls, then we must speak also of "eternity". On the seashore at Ostia, in a famous conversation, Augustine and Monica, "forgetting the past and turning to the future, asked themselves what eternal life would be" (Confessions, I, 10). This is Christian hope; this is what Pope John intended and what we intend when we pray, with the catechism: "My God, I hope from your goodness ... eternal life and the necessary graces to deserve it with good works, which I must do and want to do. My God, let me not remain confounded for ever.""

Pope John Paul I's Fourth General Audience on Charity
Wednesday, 27 September 1978 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

""My God, with all my heart above all things I love You, infinite good and our eternal happiness, and for your sake I love my neighbour as myself and forgive offences received. Oh Lord, may I love you more and more." This is a very well-known prayer, embellished with biblical phrases. My mother taught it to me. I recite it several times a day even now, and I will try to explain it to you, word by word, as a parish catechist would do.

We are at Pope John's "third lamp of sanctification": charity. I love. In philosophy class the teacher would say to me: You know St Mark's bell tower? You do? That means that it has somehow entered your mind: physically it has remained where it was, but within you it has imprinted almost an intellectual portrait of itself. Do you, on the other hand, love St Mark's bell tower? That means that portrait, from within, pushes you and bends you, almost carries you, makes you go in your mind towards the bell tower which is outside. In a word: to love means travelling, rushing with one's heart towards the object loved. The Imitation of Christ says: he who loves "currit, volat, laetatur", runs, flies and rejoices (1.III, c V, n 4).

To love God is therefore a journeying with one's heart to God. A wonderful journey! When I was a boy, I was thrilled by the journeys described by Jules Verne ('Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea', 'From The Earth To The Moon', 'Round The World In Eighty Days', etc). But the journeys of love for God are far more interesting. You read them in the lives of the Saints. St Vincent de Paul, whose feast we celebrate today, for example, is a giant of charity: he loved God more than a father and a mother, and he himself was a father for prisoners, sick people, orphans and the poor. St Peter Claver, dedicating himself entirely to God, used to sign: Peter, the slave of the negroes for ever.

The Journey also brings sacrifices, but these must not stop us. Jesus is on the cross: you want to kiss him? You cannot help bending over the cross and letting yourself be pricked by some thorns of the crown which is on the Lord's head (cf St Francis de Sales, Oeuvres, Annecy, t XXI, p 153). You cannot cut the figure of good St Peter, who had no difficulty in shouting "Long live Jesus" on Mount Tabor, where there was joy, but did not even let himself be seen beside Jesus at Mount Calvary, where there was risk and suffering (cf Oeuvres, 140).

Love for God is also a mysterious journey: that is, I cannot start unless God takes the initiative first. "No one", Jesus said, "can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him" (Jn 6:44). St Augustine asked himself: but what about human freedom? God, however, who willed and constructed this freedom, knows how to respect it, though bringing hearts to the point he intended: "parum est voluntate, etiam voluptate traheris"; God draws you not only in a way that you yourself want, but even in such a way that you enjoy being drawn (St Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John, 26.4).

With all my heart. I stress, here, the adjective "all". Totalitarianism, in politics, is an ugly thing. In religion, on the contrary, a totalitarianism on our side towards God is a very good thing. It is written: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Dt 6:5-9). That "all" repeated and applied insistently is really the banner of Christian maximalism. And it is right: God is too great, he deserves too much from us for us to be able to throw to him, as to a poor Lazarus, a few crumbs of our time and our heart. He is infinite good and will be our eternal happiness: money, pleasure, the fortunes of this world, compared with him, are just fragments of good and fleeting moments of happiness. It would not be wise to give so much of ourselves to these things and little of ourselves to Jesus.

Above everything else. Now we come to a direct comparison between God and man, between God and the world. It would not be right to say: "Either God or man". We must love "both God and man"; the latter, however, never more than God or against God or as much as God. In other words: love of God, though prevalent, is not exclusive. The Bible declares Jacob holy (Dn 3:35) and loved by God (Mal 1:2; Rom 9:13), it shows him working for seven years to win Rachel as his wife; "and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her" (Gen 29:20). Francis de Sales makes a little comment on these words: "Jacob", he writes, "loves Rachel with all his might, and he loves God with all his might; but he does not therefore love Rachel as God nor God as Rachel. He loves God as his God above all things and more than himself; he loves Rachel as his wife above all other women and as himself. He loves God with absolutely and superbly supreme love, and Rachel with supreme husbandly love; one love is not contrary to the other because love of Rachel does not violate the supreme advantages of love of God " (St. Francis de Sales, Oeuvres).

And for your sake I love my neighbour. Here we are in the presence of two loves which are "twin brothers" and inseparable. It is easy to love some persons; difficult to love others; we do not find them likeable, they have offended us and hurt us; only if I love God in earnest can I love them as sons of God and because he asks me to. Jesus also established how to love one's neighbour: that is, not only with feeling, but with facts. This is the way, he said. I will ask you: I was hungry in the person of my humbler brothers, did you give me food? Did you visit me, when I was sick (cf Mt 25:34 ff).

The catechism puts these and other words of the Bible in the double list of the seven corporal works of mercy and the seven spiritual ones. The list is not complete and it would be necessary to update it. Among the starving, for example, today, it is no longer a question just of this or that individual; there are whole peoples.

We all remember the great words of Pope Paul VI: "Today the peoples in hunger are making a dramatic appeal to the peoples blessed with abundance. The Church shudders at this cry of anguish and calls each one to give a loving response of charity to this brother's cry for help" (Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 3). At this point justice is added to charity, because, Paul VI says also, "Private property does not constitute for anyone an absolute and unconditioned right. No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need, when others lack necessities" (Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 23). Consequently "every exhausting armaments race becomes an intolerable scandal" (Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 53).

In the light of these strong expressions it can be seen how far we — individuals and peoples — still are from loving others "as ourselves", as Jesus commanded.

Another commandment: I forgive offences received. It almost seems that the Lord gives precedence to this forgiveness over worship: "So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Mt 5:23-24).

The last words of the prayer are: Lord, may I love you more and more. Here, too, there is obedience to a commandment of God, who put thirst for progress in our hearts. From pile-dwellings, caves and the first huts we have passed to houses, apartment buildings and skyscrapers; from journeys on foot, on the back of a mule or of a camel, to coaches, trains and aeroplanes. And people desire to progress further with more and more rapid means of transport, reaching more and more distant goals. But to love God, we have seen, is also a journey: God wants it to be more and more intense and perfect. He said to all his followers: "You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth" (Mt 5:13-14); "You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). That means: to love God not a little, but so much; not to stop at the point at which we have arrived, but with his help, to progress in love."