Paul VI
On the Centenary of his Birth

You are necessary to us,
Our Redeemer

The 1955 Lenten Pastoral Letter which Giovanni Battista Montini, named archbishop of Milan a few months before, wrote for the archdiocese of Saint Ambrose
     And now I will tell you something that we all already know but on whose fundamental importance and inexhaustive fruitfulness we do not meditate enough; and it is this: that Jesus Christ is necessary to us. Do not say that this is the usual theme: it is ever new. Do not say that it is familiar: it is inexhaustible.

Of all the propositions of self-definition that Christianity could use, given its admirable oneness and doctrinal coherence, this one seems to me, at this time, to be the best because of its intrinsic importance and also because of the potential response to it at this moment in the world of souls and events.
     "We have everything in Christ", Saint Ambrose exclaims. "Christ is everything for us. If you wish to heal your wounds, he is the physician. If you are burning with fever, he is the fountain. If you are oppressed by iniquity, he is justice. If you need help, he is strength. If you fear death, he is life. If you desire heaven, he is the way. If you run from the darkness, he is the light. If you seek food, he is nourishment".
     Yes, Christ is everything for us. And it is the duty of our religious faith, the need of our human conscience to recognize this, to confess and to celebrate. Our destiny is bound to him, to him is bound our salvation.
     O, Christ, our one mediator, you are necessary to us: to come into communion with God the Father; to become with you, who are the Only Son and Our Lord, his adopted children; to be regenerated in the Holy Spirit.
     You are necessary to us, O sole true master of the hidden truths indispensable to life, to know ourselves and our destiny, and the way to reach it.
     You are necessary to us, Our Redeemer, to discover our wretchedness and heal it; to grasp the concept of good and evil and the hope of holiness, to deplore our sins and to be forgiven.
     You are necessary to us, O first-born brother of the human race, to re-discover the true reasons for fraternity among men, the foundations of justice, the treasures of charity, the supreme good of peace.
     You are necessary to us, O great sufferer of our pain, to know the sense of suffering and to give it a value of expiation and redemption.
     You are necessary to us, O conqueror of death, to deliver us from despair and from negation and to give us the certainties that do not eternally betray.
     You are necessary to us, O Christ, O Lord, O God-With-Us, to learn true love and to walk in the joy and strength of your charity, along the road of our wearisome way, until the final encounter with you, so loved, with you, so awaited, with you, so blessed in the centuries.