God Loves a Cheerful Giver
1. "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7). With these words of St Paul, I would like to welcome all those present. I greet the members of the board of directors of the foundation, led by its chairman. Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, whom I thank for his introductory speech. I cordially greet Cardinal Adam J. Maida, Archbishop of Detroit, Archbishop Jozef Kowaiczyk, Apostolic Nuncio in Poland, Bishop Stanislaw Ryiko, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, Adjunct Prefect of the Papal Household and Vice-Chairman of the board. I greet in particular the friends and benefactors of the foundation present here. I also extend my greeting to those who were unable to come and who support the foundation with generosity, both spiritually and materially.
2. I began with the words of St Paul, addressed as an encouragement to the faithful of the Church of Corinth who organized the material support of the Jerusalem community. The Apostle writes: "Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.... He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God" (2 Cor 9:7-11). The Apostle's hymn of "thanksgiving to God" for the generosity of people of goodwill is constantly raised in the Church. I do the same today by offering to God all that the foundation has done in the span of 17 years as a result of the goodness and generosity of friends from all over the world.
I know what a great contribution the society has made to spreading Christian culture. I am thinking here not only of the publications financed by the foundation, but particularly of the great assistance it offers young people who undertake studies in various fields, both in Poland and abroad. This assistance is of great importance, especially today, when new opportunities are available to our brothers and sisters in neighbouring countries, while at the same time new challenges confront them. It is a most valuable long-term investment that constantly increases when those who have won scholarships, after completing their studies, devote their skills to the service of others. Equally valuable are the experiences of the young Polish from abroad who come to Rome during their summer vacation, to become aquainted with the Christian roots of Polish and world culture. Thus thousands of pilgrims from Poland, from various European countries and from other continents find in the Casa Polacca not just hospitality, but also spiritual care and assistance. Thanks to this service they can more easily benefit from the fruits of their pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles. There is yet another service that deserves mention today. Through the foundation, the documentation of this Pontificate is being collected. Over the past 20 years we have witnessed many events in the life of the Church and of the world which, through the will of divine Providence, form our history and our daily existence. It is right that the memory of these signs of God's love should be preserved for future generations, so that they too may share in our thanksgiving for the graces this period has brought us.
3. These are just a few of the areas of activity in which the foundation can be involved thanks to your generosity and that of people of goodwill throughout the world. I hope that Apostle's words will be fulfilled: that those who benefit from this service will "long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" (2 Cor 9:14-15). I believe that this work not only brings external fruits, but also inwardly shapes individuals and entire societies. According to the Apostle's words, "a cheerful giver", one who wholeheartedly shares with others, "not reluctantly or under compulsion", becomes enriched in every way", deserves the love of God and abounds in his graces, and in this way will "increase the harvest of [his] righteousness". This goodness and righteousness give rise to a keen sense of solidarity with others that unites various human groups. Your presence here is an eloquent proof of this. You come not only from the countries of Europe, but also from North and South America, and even from distant Indonesia. In various parts of the world, new groups of Friends of the Foundation are set up, establishing new contacts and forming a large community of people who are eager to join this group. Let us give thanks to God today for the grace of this union in goodness.
4. The new plaques, on which many of your names and those of other donors have been engraved, were blessed yesterday. This is an external sign of gratitude towards those who respond so generously to the foundation's needs. However, it is well known that there are countless numbers who give the foundation their prayers, their sufferings and often their "widow's mite". I would also like to remember them here with deep gratitude. May the good Lord repay them with all his graces.
By coming to the aid of the foundation that bears my name, you express your dedication and goodwill towards the Pope. I am most grateful to you for this. I reciprocate your kindness, commending to God in prayer all who sustain me in my Petrine ministry. Please convey my thanks and cordial greetings to your loved ones, to the members of the groups of Friends of the Foundation and to all those who are in any way involved with this work. I cordially bless you all.
Here is the English-text of the second part of the Holy Father's address:
I warmly welcome the members of your foundation on the occasion of your meeting in Rome. Your visit comes shortly after the 20th anniversary of the election of this son of Poland to the See of Peter, and I take the occasion to thank you for your spiritual closeness during these years. The foundation was established in order to foster the rich spiritual values which are so much a part of Poland's millennial Christian culture. I am most grateful for your support of this worthy enterprise and your efforts to ensure its future through the establishment of a perpetual endowment fund.
Strengthening the bond between faith and culture is an essential feature of the Church's mission, and particularly so in this period leading up to the third Christian millennium. The new evangelization calls not only for a renewed appreciation of the great cultural heritage which shaped Poland's past, but also a personal commitment on the part of all believers to building a modern society inspired by the same profound human and spiritual values. During my last Pastoral Visit to Poland I emphasized that "Upon our perseverance in the faith of our fathers, upon the fervour of our hearts and the openness of our minds depends in fact whether the future generations will be led to Christ by the same testimony of holiness that has been left to us by St Adalbert, St Stanislaus and Queen St Hedwig" (Krakow, Angelus Discourse, 8 June 1997).
Dear friends, I pray that your support of the foundation will bear abundant fruit for the renewal of Christian life and the advancement of God's kingdom. I entrust all of you to our Lady of Czestochowa, whose familiar face accompanies us on our pilgrim way. © L'Osservatore Romano, Editorial and Management Offices, Via del Pellegrino, 00120, Vatican City, Europe, Telephone 39/6/698.99.390.
© L'Osservatore Romano, Editorial and Management Offices, Via del Pellegrino, 00120, Vatican City, Europe, Telephone 39/6/698.99.390.
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