33 Years Ago Today: Papa Luciani on Faith and the Church

Thirty-three years ago today, during his weekly general audience, Pope John Paul I spoke of faith.

Here are a few snippets for thought:

That is what faith is: to surrender to God, but transforming one’s life…. Augustine has told of the journey of his faith…. “One must say: ‘Yes, Lord! At once!’ This is faith. To respond to the Lord generously…. [Faith] is not just a question of believing in the things that God revealed, but in him who deserves our faith, who has love us so much and done so much for our sake…. the truths of faith are of two kinds: some pleasant, other unpalatable to our spirit. For example, it is pleasant to hear that God has so much tenderness for us, even more tenderness than a mother has for her children, as Isaiah says….. Other truths, on the contrary, are hard to accept. God must punish, if I resist. He runs after me, he begs me to repent and I say, “No!” I almost force him to punish me. This is not agreeable…. It is clear that Jesus and Christians, Jesus and the Church are the same thing: indissoluble, inseparable… We must accept the Church, as she is… The Church is also a mother…. If mother is sick, if my mother by chance should become lame, I love her even more. It is the same, in the Church…. our affection for the Church must never fail.

You can read the entire address in English at:


His comment about the inseparability of Jesus and his Church, how faith is an adherence to the person of Jesus and thus a loving adherence to the Church is so necessary for us to appreciate in today’s world. Too many of us discard the Church (in whatever way we experience her) if the Church is “lame” because of imperfections and sin. You can see this in individuals who abandon parishes for another one that is perceived as more to their liking, or people who claim faith in Jesus but reject the Church.

Our faith is not a Jesus vs the Church thing. It is a Jesus and the Church reality. If and when we begin to see Jesus in the actual lives of our neighbors, and our own, we will begin to see the seamless Body of Christ in all its marvelous parts. We will embrace the Church as we embrace Jesus.

Luciani returned again to the theme of the maternal qualities of God’s love earlier in his discourse (not transcribed here) and then uses the powerful example of our love for our earthly mothers to illustrate the love we need have for the Church.

Luciani lived this reality in his own life.  He was truly a man of faith, and a man of the Church.

Papa Luciani, pray for us!

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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