“People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him. True joy is a victory, something which cannot be obtained without a long and difficult struggle. Christ holds the secret of this victory.

You know what came before. It is told in the Book of Genesis: God created man and woman in a paradise, Eden, because he wanted them to be happy. Unfortunately, sin spoiled his initial plans. But God did not resign himself to this defeat. He sent his Son into the world in order to give back to us an even more beautiful idea of heaven. God became man — the Fathers of the Church tell us — so that men and women could become God. This is the decisive turning-point, brought about in human history by the Incarnation.

What struggle are we talking about? Christ himself gives us the answer. “Though he was in the form of God,” Saint Paul has written, he “did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant . . . he humbled himself and became obedient unto death” (Phil 2:6-8). It was a struggle unto death. Christ fought this battle not for himself but for us. From his death, life has sprung forth. The tomb at Calvary has become the cradle of the new humanity on its journey to true happiness.”

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Pope St. John Paul II

Address in the 17th World Youth Day


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Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

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