33 Years Ago Today: Papa Luciani on Love

In his General Audience on September 27, 1978 Pope John Paul I spoke of Pope John XXIII’s “third lamp of sanctification” which is charity.

He began with a prayer his mother taught him:

My God, with all my heart above all things I love You, infinite good and our eternal happiness, and for your sake I love my neighbor as myself and forgive offenses received. Oh Lord, may I love you more and more.

Luciani prayed this prayer, he said, several times each day. He takes this prayer, from his  mother and uses it to give structure to his thoughts about love.

Here are some excerpts from his address:

To love God is therefore a journey with one’s heart to God. A wonderful journey! … The journeys of love for God are far more interesting. You read them in the lives of the Saints. St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast we celebrate today, for example is a giant of charity: he loved God more than a father and a mother, and he himself was a father for prisoners, sick people, orphans and the poor….

The Journey also brings sacrifices, but these must not stop us. Jesus is on the cross; you want to kiss him?… Love for God is also a mysterious journey; that is, I cannot start unless God takes the initiative first… St. Augustine asked himself: but what about human freedom? God, however, who willed and constructed this freedom, knows how to respect it, though bringing hearts to the point he intended… God draws you not only in a way that you yourself want, but even in such a way that you enjoy being drawn (St. Augustine, Tractates of the Gospel of John, 26.4).

With all my heart…That “all” repeated and applied insistently is really the banner of Christian maximalism. And it is right: God is too great, he deserves too much from us for us to be able to throw to him, as poor Lazarus, a few crumbs of our time and our heart. He is infinite good and will be our eternal happiness: money, pleasure, the fortunes of the world, compared to him, are just fragments… It would not be wise to give so much of ourselves to these things and little of ourselves to Jesus…

Above everything else.We must love “both God and man’; the latter, however, never more than God or against God or as much as God. In other words, love of God, though prevalent, is not exclusive…..

And for your sake I love my neighbor.Here we are in the presence of two loves which are “twin brothers” and inseparable…. Only if I love God in earnest can I love them as sons of God….the seven corporal works of mercy… the list is not complete and it would be necessary to update it… it is not longer a question of this or that individual; there are whole peoples….Consequently, “every exhausting armaments race becomes an intolerable scandal” (Paul VI, Populorum Progessio, 53)…

Lord, may I love you more and more.Here, too, there is obedience to a commandment of God, who put thirst for progress in our hearts….That means, to love God not a little, but so much; not to stop at the point at which we have arrived, but with his help, to progress in love.

Read his entire address at:


Of course one does not really know, but I cannot help but think that Luciani, despite saying apparently to others that his pontificate would be short-lived, also had planned a lengthy one. He seems to be setting some foundations which he would have used as the basis for a complete structure of his teachings and thoughts. He weaves into this address the thoughts of Pope John XXII and Pope Paul VI, seems to be opening the doors to future references to global matters such as socioeconomic issues, and looking to St. Augustine for theological rooting. Just my interpretation… if any of you out there are better versed in this, I would love to hear you perspective.

Papa Luciani, pray for us!

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Papa Luciani (Pope John Paul I), Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.