On 29 May 29 1994 – during the Year of the Family – a month after painfully breaking his hip, St. Pope John Paul II delivered a spectacular Angelus address during which he set aside his notes and spoke off the cuff about suffering, his own suffering (my emphases):
Finally, it is precisely to Mary that we turn our gaze with particular affection, since we’ve come the end of this Marian month, during which we raised up to her motherly heart the desires, petitions and tears of all humanity. Mother of Mercy, may Mary hear the prayers of the Christian community.
And I would wish that, through Mary, my gratitude be expressed today for the gift of suffering I recently gained with this Marian month of May. I want to give thanks for this gift. I understood that it is a necessary gift. The Pope had to wind up in the Gemelli Clinic, he had to be absent from this window for four weeks, four Sundays, he had to suffer: as he had to suffer thirteen years ago, so too again also this year.
I meditated, I thought about all this over again during my hospital stay. And once again I found at my side the great figure of Cardinal Wyszynski, Primate of Poland (whose 13th anniversary of death was yesterday). At the beginning of my Pontificate he said to me: “If the Lord has called you, you must lead the Church into the third millennium.” He himself had led the Church in Poland into its second Christian millennium
This is what Cardinal Wyszynski said to me. And I understood that I have to lead the Church of Christ in this Third Millenium with prayer, with various initiatives, but I saw that that is not enough: it was necessary to lead her with suffering, with the assassination attempt thirteen years ago and with this new sacrifice. Why now, why in this year, why in this Year of the Family? Precisely because the family is threatened, the family is under attack. The Pope has to be attacked, the Pope has to suffer, so that every family and the world may see that there is a Gospel that is, I would say, higher: the Gospel of suffering, by which the future is prepared , the third millennium of families, of every family and of all families.
I wanted to bring these reflections out in my first meeting with you, dear Romans and pilgrims, at the end of this Marian month, because this gift of suffering I owe, and for which I give thanks, to the Most Holy Virgin. I understand that it was important to have this discussion in the sight of the powerful of this world. Again I have to meet with these powerful people of this world and I must speak. With what topics? I am left with this topic of suffering. And I would like to tell them: understand it, understand why the Pope was in hospital again, again in suffering. Understand it, think about it!
I note with interest that this was during the Year of the Family. This was a huge concern for St. John Paul.
You should watch it, even if you don’t understand Italian. John Paul didn’t go off text very often, thanks be to God, but when he did, it was astounding.
Moreover, in the part immediately before what I described, John Paul spoke about the family and its nature.
What a great mystery! It pleases me to point this out especially to families, in this year specially dedicated to them. In the Trinity, in fact, you find the original model of the family. As I wrote in the letter to families, the divine “We” constitutes the eternal model of this specific human “we” constituted by one man and one woman who reciprocally give each other in a communion that is indissoluble [it can’t be broken] and open to life [it can’t be purposely sterile and, thus, it can’t be between persons of the same sex] (cf Letter to Families 6).