Take courage and trust in the promise of Christ. This was the message Pope John Paul II conveyed to his cardinals this morning at a mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica.
During the mass, held for the entire College of Cardinals, 30 new cardinals each received their cardinal's ring - "a sign of dignity, solicitude and communion" with the See of Peter. The new cardinals were installed yesterday at the Consistory in St. Peter's Square.
In his homily, the Pope told the cardinals they should not be surprised if they experience fear and discouragement, for Jesus had forewarned his disciples of this. Instead, they should seek comfort in the promise of Christ: "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (Jn 16:33)
Personal prayer, and in particular the prayer of others for us, infuses us with strength and courage, he said. "I have experienced its comfort," he confided.
"And it is also one of the reasons that I wanted the 25th year of my pontificate to be dedicated to the holy Rosary," he said, "to underline the primacy of prayer, particularly contemplative prayer, done in spiritual union with Mary, Mother of the Church."
The Pope reminded the cardinals that the prime mission of the Church is to announce the Good News to the community of the faithful and to all people, without exception.
"Unity and openness, communion and mission: this is the breath of the Church," he said.
The Pope thanked the cardinals for the support they promised him yesterday at the Consistory. In the service of unity and mission, the Pope said he "avails himself in a particular way to the collaboration of the cardinals," whose College mirrors the universality of the Church, he said.
"Let us draw close to Christ, living rock!" he urged the cardinals. "Let us announce to all the wonder of his love, without fear or hesitation because he assures us: Take courage; I have overcome the world."