FIRST ANGELUS WITH THE FAITHFUL
Pope John Paul II
HISTORY OF SALVATION BEGINS WITH THE VIRGIN MARY'S "FIAT"
It was about 13.20 on Sunday 22 October. The celebration of the Mass for the beginning of John Paul II's ministry as Supreme Pastor had just ended. The echo of the last impressive burst of applause had not yet faded. The most painstaking reporters counted forty-seven of them in the course of the celebration. The people in the Square begin to disperse slowly. Others, and so many had been here for over four hours, showed no sign of wanting to go away. It was a magic moment, almost mysterious, during which they observed the strictest silence, breaking it only to pray. They were still waiting for something. They wanted to see the Pope again for a moment. At 13.25 the window of the Holy Father's private study opened. John Paul II appeared at the window, smiling. It was an unusual hour for the recitation of the "Angelus", but John Paul II wished to follow faithfully the lines laid down by his predecessors. So here he was to recite the "Angelus Domini" with the faithful at 13.30. Before the prayer the Holy Father delivered the following address.
I wish to resume the magnificent habit of my Predecessors and recite the "Angelus" together with you, dear Brothers and Sisters. The solemn Mass for the inauguration of my ministry as Peter's Successor has just ended. To live intensely this historic moment, we had to make the profession of faith in common, which we recite every day in the Apostles' Creed: "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church", and in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed: "I believe the Church to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic."
All together we became aware of this marvellous truth about the Church, which the Second Vatican Council explained in two documents: in the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium and in the pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, on the Church in the modern world.
Now, we must go even deeper. We must arrive at this moment in the history of the world, when the Word becomes flesh: when the Son of God becomes Man. The history of salvation reaches its climax and, at the same time, begins again in its definitive form when the Virgin of Nazareth accepts the announcement of the Angel and utters the words: "fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" (Let it be to me according to your word). (Lk 1:38)
The Church is, as it were, conceived at that moment. So let us go back to the beginning of the mystery. And in it let us embrace once more the whole content of today's solemnity. In it let us embrace the whole past of Christianity and of the Church, which has found her centre here, in Rome. In it let us try to embrace the whole future of the pontificate, of the People of God and of the whole human family, because the family begins with the Father's will, but is always conceived under the Mother's heart.
With this faith and with this hope let us pray.
After the recitation of the prayer in Latin, with an expression in Polish slipped in, John Paul II, before leaving the window, wished to address another word to the large numbers of young people who, after having been present at the ceremony, were still in the Square, acclaiming the Pope.
"You are", John Paul II says, "the future of the world, the hope of the Church. You are my hope." It was then 13.40. John Paul II was reluctant to turn away from the magnificent image that the Square still offered. But it was getting late and he added: "We must close now, for it is time for lunch: for you and for the Pope." And then a final word in Polish to the thousands of Poles present: "Czas no obiad" (It is time for lunch).
Weekly Edition in English
2 November 1978, page 2
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