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Catechesis with Saint John Paul II, Papa Woytyla

Wisdom and teaching given by our beloved Papa Woytyla at the Wednesday General Audiences during his 26½ years as Bishop of Rome. Beginning with his reflections on the assassination attempt on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, 13th May 1981.

The themes of JPII's catechesis were:
Human Love in the Divine Plan (129 audiences: September 1979 - February 1983, pause during the Jubilee of the Redemption, May - November 1984)
Catechesis (7 audiences - December 1984 - early 1985)
God the Father and Creator (60 audiences: March 1985 & August 1986)
Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour (97 audiences:  August 1986 - April 1989)
The Spirit, Giver of Life and Love (82 audiences: April 1989 - July 1991)
The Church (137 audiences: July 1991 - August 1995)
Mary, Mother of God (70 audiences: September 1995 - November 1997)
The History of Salvation (119 audiences: November 1997 - March 2001)
The Divine Office, Bible Readings

You can subscribe to this Totus2us podcast here on iTunes or here on the RSS feed. Plus you can download the free mp3 audio recordings individually by right clicking on the blue play buttons.

Many thanks to Connor Flanagan for the gift of his music (track Sweet Maria on the podcasts about Mary).

The Assumption of Mary in the tradition of the Church       

JPII: "4. Looking at the mystery of the Virgin's Assumption it is possible to understand the plan of divine Providence relative to humanity: after Christ, the Verb Incarnate, Mary is the human creature who realises first the eschatological ideal, anticipating the fullness of happiness, promised to the elect through the resurrection of bodies.

In the Assumption of the Virgin we can also see the divine will to promote woman.

By analogy to that which happened at the origin of the human race and of the history of salvation, in God’s project the eschatological ideal was to be revealed not in an individual, but in a couple. Thus in heavenly glory, beside Christ risen, there is a woman raised up, Mary: the new Adam and the new Eve, the first-fruits of the general resurrection of the bodies of all humanity.

The eschatological condition of Christ and that of Mary certainly should not be placed on the same level. Mary, the new Eve, received from Christ, the new Adam, the fullness of grace and of heavenly glory, having been raised up through the Holy Spirit by the sovereign power of the Son.

5. Although succinct, these notes allow us to shine light on the fact that the Assumption of Mary reveals the nobility and dignity of the human body.

Faced with the profanation and debasement to which modern society frequently subjects, in particular, the female body, the mystery of the Assumption proclaims the supernatural destiny and dignity of every human body, called by the Lord to become an instrument of holiness and to participate in his glory.

Mary entered into glory because she welcomed the Son of God in her virginal womb and in her heart. By looking at her, the Christian learns to discover the value of his own body and to guard it as a temple of God, while waiting for the resurrection.

The Assumption, a privilege granted to the Mother of God, thus constitutes an immense value for the life and destiny of humanity."

The Assumption of Mary, a truth of faith      

JPII: "So it was that in May 1946 with the encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae Pius XII initiated a broad consultation, questioning the Bishops and, through them, the clergy and the people of God, about the possibility and opportunity of defining the bodily assumption of Mary as a dogma of faith. The feedback was widely positive: only six responses out of 1181 showed any reservations about the revealed character of this truth.

Citing this data, the Bull Munificentissimus Deus affirms: "The universal consensus of the Church's ordinary Magisterium provides a certain and solid argument to prove that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven ... is a truth revealed by God, and should thus be firmly and faithfully believed by all the children of the Church" (AAS 42 [1950], 757).

The definition of the dogma, in the wake of the universal faith of the people of God, definitively excludes every doubt and postulates the express adherence of all Christians.

After having underlined the Church’s actual faith in the Assumption, the Bull recalls the scriptural basis for this truth.

The New Testament, while not explictly affirming the Assumption of Mary, offers a foundation because it strongly emphasizes the perfect union of the Holy Virgin with the destiny of Jesus. This union, which is manifested from the prodigious conception of the Saviour, with the participation of the Mother in the mission of the Son and, above all, in her association with his redemptive sacrifice, cannot fail to demand a continuation after death. Perfectly united to the life and salvific work of Jesus, Mary shares in his heavenly destiny in soul and body.

4. The aforementioned Bull Munificentissimus Deus, by making reference to the participation of the woman of the Proto-gospel in the struggle against the serpent and by recognizing in Mary the New Eve, presents the Assumption as the consequence of Mary’s union with Christ’s redeeming work. In this regard it affirms: "Consequently, just as the glorious Resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the ultimate trophy of this victory, thus it was necessary that the combat undergone by the Holy Virgin, united to her Son, should end with the glorification of her virginal body" (AAS 42 [1950], 768).

The Assumption is therefore the culmination of the struggle which engaged the generous love of Mary in the redemption of humanity and is the fruit of her unique participation in the victory of the Cross."

Pope Saint John XXIII      

JPII: "Pope John was a great gift of God to the Church. Not only because – and this would have been enough to make his memory imperishable - he linked his name to the greatest and most transforming event of our century: the convening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, intuited by him, as he had to confess, as through a mysterious and irresistible inspiration of the Holy Spirit; not only because it celebrated the Roman Synod, and wanted to start the revision of the Code of Canon Law. He was a great gift of God because he made the Church feel alive to the man of today. He was, like the Baptist, a Precursor. He indicated the ways of renewal in the great wake of Tradition, as I fully developed in my speeches in Sotto il Monte and Bergamo. He wanted "to be the voice" (Jn 1, 23) so as to prepare for Christ a new advent in the Church and in the world. In his Easter message of 1962 he had wished to say: "It is still Peter, in his most recent, humble successor who, surrounded by an immense crown of bishops, with trepidation but confidence, addresses the multitude. His word comes up from the end of twenty centuries, and it is not his: it is that of Jesus Christ, Verb of the Father and redeemer of all the peoples, and it is still he who shows to humanity the best ways that lead to coexistence in truth and justice".

This voice shook the world. By his simplicity and directness, by his humility and discretion, by his courage and his strength. By means of this voice the Word of Christ was clearly heard: in his call to truth, to justice, to love and to freedom, by which relations between men and between peoples were inspired, according to the lines of the great encyclical Pacem in Terris: it was heard in his underlining of both the values of the person, a unique and unrepeatable nucleus in whom the glory of the Face of God creator and redeemer is directly reflected, and also those of the family, the fundamental social nucleus for the life of society and of the Church, to whom her own children are offered as a sign of hope and of promise, especially in priestly and religious vocations; it was heard in his reproposal to men of the ways of prayer and of holiness. "There came a man, sent from God, and his name was John"."

The Rosary is a privileged occasion      
to pray with the Mother of God

JPII: "At the end of October I desire, together with you brothers and sisters, to take a look at the simplicity and, at the same time, the depth of this prayer, to which the most holy Mother in a particular way invites us, spurs us and encourages us. Reciting the Rosary, we penetrate the mysteries of the life of Jesus, which are contemporaneously the mysteries of his Mother. This is felt very clearly in the joyful mysteries, beginning with the annunciation, through the visitation and the birth in the night in Bethlehem, and then through the presentation of the Lord, ending with the finding in the Temple, when Jesus was twelve years old. Although it may seem that the sorrowful mysteries do not directly show us the Mother of Jesus - with the exception of the last two: the way of the cross and the crucifixion - how can we nevertheless think that the Mother was spiritually absent, when her Son suffered in such a terrible way in Gethsemane, at the scourging and the crowning with thorns? And the glorious mysteries are also mysteries of Christ, in which we find the spiritual presence of Mary - first among them all the mystery of the Resurrection. Speaking of the ascension, Holy Scripture does not mention the presence of Mary - but how could she not be present, if immediately after we read that she was in the Upper Room with the apostles themselves, those who had just before hailed Christ as he ascended to heaven? Together with them Mary prepares for the coming of the Holy Spirit and participates at Pentecost in his descent. The last two glorious mysteries orientate our thoughts directly towards the Mother of God, when we contemplate her assumption and coronation in heavenly glory.

The Rosary is a prayer regarding Mary united to Christ in his salvific mission. It is at the same time a prayer to Mary, our best mediator before the Son. And finally a prayer that in a special way we recite with Mary, just as the apostles prayed together with her in the Upper Room, preparing themselves to receive the Holy Spirit.
" (28.10.1981)

Forgiveness is a grace      
and a mystery of the human heart

JPII: "Christ has taught us to forgive. Forgiveness is also indispensable for God for Him to put questions in the human conscience, to which He awaits a response in all interior truth.

At this time, when so many innocent men perish at the hands of other men, a special need appears to impose itself to approach each one of those who kill, to approach with forgiveness in the heart together with the same question that God, Creator and Lord of human life, put to the first man who had made an attempt upon the life of his brother and had taken - had taken that which belongs only to the Creator and Lord of life.

Christ taught us to forgive. He taught Peter to forgive "as many as seventy times seven" (Mt 18, 22). God himself forgives when man answers the question put to his conscience and his heart with the whole inner truth of conversion.

Leaving to God Himself the judgment and the sentence in their definitive dimension, we do not cease to ask: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
(21.10.81)

The event in May: a great divine test  

JPII: "All this should be kept in mind by those who come to Rome, to the "apostolic memories", those who return in the footsteps of St Peter and St Paul. I too am a pilgrim here. I am a foreigner, who through the will of the Church had to remain here and assume succession in the Roman See following after so many great Popes, Bishops of Rome. And I too feel deeply my human weakness - and thus with trust I repeat the words of the apostle: "virtus in infirmitate perficitur", "power is manifested in weakness" (2 Cor 12, 9 ). And thus with great gratitude to the Holy Spirit I think of this weakness, that He has allowed me to experience on the day of 13th May, believing and humbly trusting that it was able to serve for the strengthening of the Church and also for that of my human person.

This is the dimension of the divine test, that is not easy for man to unveil. It is not easy to talk about it with human words. However there is need to talk about it. This great grace needs to be confessed with deepest humility before God and the Church, for it became my portion in that period, in which the whole People of God was preparing for a particular celebration of Pentecost, dedicated this year to the remembrance of the First Council of Constantinople after 1600 years - and even the Council of Ephesus - after 1550 years.

In Ephesus then for the benefit of the whole Church echoed anew the truth about Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who through the work of the Holy Spirit was made true man, conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary and born of her for the salvation of the world. Mary is thus true Mother of God (Theotokos).

When then together with you, dear brothers and sisters, I ponder upon the grace received together with the threat to my life and the suffering, I turn in a particular way to Her: to the one whom we call also "Mother of divine Grace". And I ask that this grace "be not in vain in me" (cf 1 Cor 15, 10), just as with every grace that man receives: everywhere at any time. I ask that with every grace that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit pours out with abundance, this strength may be born that grows in our weakness. I ask that the testimony of Truth and Love may also grow and expand, to which the Lord has called us."
(14.10.81)

The Assassination Attempt, 13 May 1981      
Like Peter, I have experienced the efficacy of the prayers of the Church

JPII: "It is thus. I have become even more indebted to everyone. I am indebted to those who directly contributed to saving my life and have helped me return to good health: to the professors and doctors, the nursing sisters and lay staff at the Gemelli Hospital. I am at the same time indebted to those who have surrounded me with this extended wave of prayer all around the world. I am indebted.

And once again I became indebted to the Most Holy Virgin and to all the Patron Saints. Could I forget that the event in St Peter's Square took place on the day and at the hour on which more than sixty years earlier the first apparition of the Mother of Christ to the poor peasant children is remembered at Fatima in Portugal? Because, in everything that happened to me on that day, I felt her extraordinary maternal protection and care, which has proved stronger than the deadly bullet.

Today is the memorial of the Mother of the Holy Rosary. The whole month of October is the month of the Rosary. Now, at a distance of almost five months, with the gift of meeting you anew, dear brothers and sisters, in the Wednesday audience, I desire that these first words I address to you are words of gratitude, of love and of even deeper trust. Just as the Holy Rosary is and remains always a prayer of gratitude, of love and of trusting request: the prayer of the Mother of the Church.

And I encourage and invite you all, once again, to recite this prayer, especially during this month of the Rosary."
(7.10.81)