Pastoral letter for the Holy Week 2007

Dear brothers and sisters,

This year I want to anticipate my Easter letter, which is now coming in your hands on Palm Sunday. My desire is that you meditate it from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, I am transmitting to you a very important message.


Palm Sunday is now celebrated as Youth day for the Dioceses (our Diocese, for practical reasons, has moved it to summer time, this year will be for the 5th of August) and the Holy Father assigns a topic for the occasion. This year’s is very important: “love each other as I loved you” (John 13:34). I want it to be a message not only for the youth, but for every body in our community.


The Holy Father starts by asking the question: is love really possible? Everybody want to love and to be loved, but love is not a easy thing, many failed, so many believe that it is an impossible dream, they give up. We instead are invited to rekindle our hope: true love is possible, a faithful love strong and beautiful, bringing peace and joy.


The Holy Father tells us to DARE TO LOVE, because without love life is meaningless. A strong love, a beautiful love can make of our life an offering, offering to God, offering to our brothers and sisters. We become associated with the one who with love conquered hatred and death. Love can transform radically human heart, can unite man and woman, rich and poor, love surpasses every barrier of civilizations. The Holy Father brings us to the fountain of true love, in three steps he shows us how true love has flowed from the eternal fountain to our heart.


(1) God is love, He is the source of love


Within the Holy Trinity of one God this is only exchange of love. The Father begets the son, loves son, the son loves the Father, their love is the Holy Sprits The infinitely marvelous love overflows and creates man, man could see in the universe and in himself the love of God. Unfortunately man was suspicious did not trust God, but God did not give up.


(2) Incarnation of God the Son


True God and true man Jesus is the complete revelation of God’ love. The invisible god has become visible, with blood and flesh, with a human face like one of us. He experiences hunger, thirst and sadness, he has taken the form of a slave like us in order to make us again sons and daughters of God.


While we were still sinners, his enemies. God’s son accepted to die for us on a cross in terrible sufferings. Who can resist to surrender before such great love? The Holy Week is the annual good opportunity for us to contemplate the face of Jesus on the Cross, to see how He loved us till folly.


(3) God does not intend to gain anything by loving us, He is infinite perfection, lacking nothing. Our love would not give him anything. But true love can’t help desiring to be loved by the loved one, i.e. the true growth of the loved one. That is why God wants us to love Him.


Jesus said on the cross: “I thirst.” He thirst for love, to love and to be loved. The command to love the neighbor as one self already existed in the Old Testament. In the Gospel Jesus gives us the new commandment to love our brothers and sisters as He loved us.


For Jesus’ sake we must love all brothers and sisters, with no exception, including our enemy.


While loving everybody, we extend our love in three circles: three gardens where love can blossom and bear fruit.


(1) The Church. Our spiritual family.


During the Easter Vigil Baptismal Rites will be performed by which many new members formally join our big family. We who welcome them should reflect on what kind of family will these new members discover? We hope it’s like the primitive community where love and harmony reigned and generous sharing. But you, our newly born bothers and sisters, must also remember that from now on the quality of the community you belong to will depend on how you build it. Do you want it to be a community where faith is nourished and charity is made to mature? You must pay personally by giving your time and thought, sacrificing some free time program; this is your new family and you want to be an active member. Experience seems to tell that the perseverance and maturation in faith is better guaranteed if you commit yourself to one of those basic active groups in the parish and in the diocese.


(2) There are different charismas in the Church.


Is God calling you to build a family on the marriage between a man and a woman? That is an enterprise of love. Don’t believe those who say that God’s commandment spoils the human happiness. God has created man and woman, two complementary human beings and wants them to know each other, to nurture their mutual exclusive love through self discipline and chastity, and finally to seal their everlasting covenant in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and become instrument of God in transmitting life.


Is God calling you to priesthood or to consecrated life? Answer Him promptly. Your example will be inspiration and encouragement to other young people in search for true happiness.


(3) Well grounded in these two circles love now can flourish in the immense garden of our many relations in social life: in our family, in the school or on the work place or even in our free time.


The purpose in life should not be to gain better position in society, a life’s value is not to be measured according to one’s productivity. The witness of love makes life valuable.


Get to know better the social teaching of the Church, you will see open before you immense possibilities to make love grow: by volunteering in building a society of love, by defending social justice, caring for the weak. Love will make you discover around you people who have not enough to eat, not enough to wear, lonely and abandoned, sick and handicapped, oppressed and marginalized, considered to be a burden and discriminated against. Jesus is there, “love each other as I loved you!”


Saints are successful cases. Mother Theresa seems still living among us. The secret of their success is to go back frequently to the source of love, to draw water form the fountain, perseverant prayer, frequent access to the sacrament of love, by which we are made one with Jesus sacrifice of love on the altar. Saint Mary Magdalene went to show her respect and love to Jesus’ dead body, but she found Jesus in the glory of His Resurrection!


Your bishop

+ Joseph Card. ZEN, SDB