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Online Edition - Vol. IX, No. 6: September 2003

October 16, 1978 - October 16, 2003

Catholics to Celebrate Holy Father's Silver Jubilee

"Open wide the doors to Christ"

With these words, proclaimed during his homily during the first papal Mass of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II set the theme for one of the longest reigns of any pope in history -- following one of the shortest, the 34-day pontificate of Pope John Paul I.

"Open wide the doors to Christ. To His saving power, open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development", the new pope enjoined. "Be not afraid. Christ knows what is in man: He alone knows". The homily was heard by the 300,000 people who attended the Mass on October 22, 1978 -- and by many millions who watched it on television.

"Open wide the doors to Christ" would be repeated many times during the following years -- and the pope repeated them again as he closed the Holy Doors of St. Peter's at the end of the Jubilee Year 2000, and the beginning of a new millennium.

On October 16, 2003, Pope John Paul II will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his succession to the See of Peter. Bishops from around the world have been invited to the celebration.

This date, too, concludes the Year of the Rosary that the Holy Father inaugurated by releasing an Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, introducing new "luminous mysteries" of Christ's life.

"Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ", he wrote. "Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ" (RVM 15).

On October 19, the pope will beatify Mother Teresa of Calcutta, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, whose apostolate to the destitute in India endeared her to the entire world, and set an example of steadfast commitment to "open the doors of Christ" to the poorest of the poor. (There are reports that the Holy Father may canonize her at the same time.)

Two days later, October 21, the leaders of the world's English-speaking bishops' conferences will convene at a meeting called by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to discuss issues concerning liturgical norms, relations of the Holy See with bishops, and translation of liturgical texts. (See related story in this issue.)

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O Cross, Hail to our only hope!"On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.... By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted. O Crux, ave spes unica!"

-Pope John Paul II ­ Homily on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14, 2003, Bratislava, Slovakia, at the beatification of Slovakian martyrs

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 The Year of the Rosary -- October 16, 2002-2003

"The Rosary does, indeed, 'mark the rhythm of human life', bringing it into harmony with the 'rhythm' of God's own life, in the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our destiny and deepest longing".

- Pope John Paul II
Rosarium Virginis Mariae
October 16, 2002

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