Pope John Paul I walks at the Vatican in 1978. Pope Francis has advanced the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul I with a decree recognizing his heroic virtues. CNS file photo/L'Osservatore Romano

The Smiling Pope's contagious joy in his anecdotes

  • November 16, 2017
During his brief pontificate in 1978, Pope John Paul I delivered 19 speeches, many of which included folksy stories and examples from his own life.

Here is a sampling of quotes from those talks:

On faith: “My mother told me when I had grown up a bit, ‘As a child you were very sick. I had to carry you from one doctor to another and often stay up all night with you. Do you believe me?’ How could I have said, ‘Mamma, I don’t believe you’? — ‘Yes, I believe what you said, but I believe especially in you,’ and so it is with faith. It is not a matter of believing only the things God reveals, but also of believing in Him who loved us so much.”

On nonbelievers: “As a bishop I was very near those who do not believe in God. I got the idea that these people fight not against God but against the mistaken idea they have of God.”

On humility: “The Lord counselled us to be humble. Even if we’ve done great things, say ‘We are useless servants.’ Our tendency, however, is quite the opposite — to put ourselves on display.”

On the elderly: “As bishop of Venice, now and then I went to nursing homes. Once I came upon an elderly sick lady.

“‘How’s it going, Ma’am?’

“‘Well, I eat alright and it’s warm enough.’

“‘Well, then, are you a happy lady?’

“‘No,’ she said crying. ‘My daughter-in-law and my son never come to see me. I want to see my grandchildren.’

“Food and heat are not enough. There’s the heart. We must also see to the needs of the heart.”

On defects in the Church: “If a mother is sick, or if my mamma becomes lame, I love her all the same. The same goes for the Church. If there are — and there are — defects and shortcomings, our affection for the Church must never lessen.”

On free will: “Once a man went to the car dealer to buy a car. The dealer told him, ‘Look, the car is well equipped. Treat it well with premium gas and oil.’ But the buyer said, ‘ No, I can’t even stand the smell of gas and oil. I’ll lubricate the engine with marmalade.’ ‘Do as you please,’ said the dealer. ‘But don’t complain to me if you wind up in a ditch.’ 

“The Lord does something similar with us. He gave us these bodies enlivened with a soul and free will. He said, ‘This mechanism is worth something, treat it well.’”

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