ALL SAINTS: FROM EARTHLY REALITY TO ETERNITY
VATICAN CITY, 1 NOV 2011 (VIS) - "The Solemnity of All Saints is a good occasion to raise our eyes from temporal matters, which are marked by time, to the dimension of God, the dimension of eternity and sanctity", said the Pope before praying the Angelus this morning with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
"Today's liturgy reminds us that sanctity is the primary vocation of all the baptised. In fact Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit is alone holy, loved the Church as His bride and gave Himself for her so as to sanctify her. For this reason, all members of the People of God are called to become saints. ... We are, then, invited to look to the Church not only in her temporal and human guise, which is tainted by fragility, but as Christ wished her to be: a 'communion of saints'. ... Today we venerate this innumerable community of All Saints who, by their different lives, show us the different ways to sanctity, sharing the single common denominator of following Christ and conforming themselves to Him, which is the final goal of our human existence".
Benedict XVI then went on to speak of tomorrow's Feast of All Souls which, he said, "helps us to recall our loved ones who are no more, and all the souls journeying towards the fullness of life in the horizon of the heavenly Church, to which today's Solemnity had raised us.
"From the earliest years of the Christian faith", he added, "the Church on earth, recognising the communion of the entire mystical body of Jesus Christ, piously cultivated the memory of the departed and offered prayers for them. Our prayer for the dead is not only useful but necessary, in that it can not only help them but at the same time makes their intercession for us effective. Visiting cemeteries, while conserving the bonds of affection with the people we loved in this life, reminds us that we all tend towards another life, a life after death. May the sorrow of earthly separation not prevail over the certainty of the resurrection, the hope of achieving the beatitude of eternity".
VATICAN CITY, 2 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Pope celebrated his general audience this morning in the Paul VI Hall, where he welcomed pilgrims from many different countries, focusing his remarks on today's Solemnity of All Souls and the reality of death.
"Despite the fact that death is a subject almost banned from our societies, and there are continuous attempts to remove even the thought of it from our minds, it actually concerns each one of us", Pope Benedict explained. "Faced with this mystery all of us, even unconsciously, seek something that allows us to hope, a sign that can bring consolation, a horizon open to a future".
We are afraid of death because "we are afraid of the void, of departing towards something we do not know". At the same time, "we cannot accept that all the great and beautiful achievements of a lifetime can suddenly be wiped out, that they can fall into the abyss of emptiness. Above all we feel that love calls out for eternity, and we cannot accept that it is destroyed by death in a single moment. ... When we find ourselves towards the end of life, we have a perception that there is judgment of our actions, of how we conducted our life, especially in those dark movements which, with great ability, we often remove or seek to remove from our conscience".
In today's world, the Holy Father went on, "there is a widespread tendency to think that everything must be approached with the criteria of experimental science, and that even the great question of death must be answered, not with faith, but on the basis of empirical data. We are not sufficiently aware, however, that precisely by doing so we have ended up falling into a form of spiritism, in the attempt to have some contact with the world beyond death".
However, for Christians the Solemnities of All Saints and All Souls "tell us that only those capable of recognising great hope in death are also able to live lives founded on hope. ... Man needs eternity; for him any other hope is too brief, too limited. Man is explainable only if there is a Love which overcomes all isolation, even the isolation of death, in a totality which transcends time and space. Man is explainable, he finds his most profound meaning, only if God exists. And we know that God ceased to be distant, that He came close to us".
"God truly showed Himself, He became accessible, He so loved the world 'that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life'. And by the supreme act of love upon the Cross, by emerging Himself in the abyss of death, He conquered death, He rose again and opened the doors of eternity for us too. Christ supports us through the night of death, which He Himself experienced. He is the Good Shepherd, to Whose guidance we can entrust ourselves without fear, because He knows the way, even through the darkness".
"It is precisely faith in eternal life which gives Christians the courage to love this earth of ours even more intensely, and to work to build an earthly future of true and secure hope", the Holy Father concluded.
After greeting pilgrims in a number of languages, Benedict XVI then mentioned the G20 Summit, due to take place on 3 and 4 November in the French city of Cannes "to examine the main problems of the global economy. My hope", he said, "is that the meeting may help to overcome the difficulties which, at the global level, hinder the promotion of truly human and integral development".
The audience concluded with the Our Father and the Pope's apostolic blessing.
VATICAN CITY, 3 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father descended to pray in the Vatican Grottos, where many Pontiffs are buried, and this morning he presided at the traditional November Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the souls of cardinals and bishops who died over the course of the year.
At the beginning of his homily, Benedict XVI recalled the names of the cardinals who passed away during the last twelve months: Urbano Navarrete S.J., Michele Giordano, Agustin Garcia-Gasco Vicente, Georg Maximilian Sterzinsky, Kazimierz Swiatek, Virgilio Noe, Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic, and Andrzej Maria Deskur. He then turned to comment on the passage from the Gospel of St. Mark in which the Apostles were afraid to ask Jesus the meaning of the phrase: "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again".
"In the face of death", said the Pope, "we too cannot but experience feelings and thoughts dictated by our human condition. And we are always surprised and overwhelmed by a God Who came so close to us as not to pause even before the abyss of death. He crossed that abyss and remained in the grave for two days. But here the mystery of the 'third day' arises. Christ assumed our mortal flesh unto its ultimate consequences, that it might be invested with the glorious power of God by the vent of the life-giving Spirit which transforms and regenerates".
"The death of Christ is a source of life because therein God revealed all His love, like an immense cataract. ... The abyss of death is filled with another even greater abyss, the love of God. Thus death no longer has any power on Jesus Christ, nor on those who, by faith and Baptism, are associated with Him. 'If we have died with Christ", St. Paul says, 'we believe that we will also live with him'".
"Only in Christ does this hope have a real foundation", the Holy Father went on. "Before Him it risked being reduced to an illusion, a symbol drawn from the cycle of the seasons. ... However, God's intervention in the drama of human history does not obey any natural cycle, if obeys only His grace and His faithfulness. The new and eternal life is a fruit of the Cross. ... Without the Cross of Christ, all the energy of nature is impotent before the negative force of sin. A beneficial power greater than that which commands the cycles of nature is needed, a Good greater than that of creation itself: a Love which proceeds from God's very 'heart' and which, while revealing the ultimate meaning of creation, renews it and orients it towards its original and ultimate goal".
Benedict XVI concluded: "All this took place in those 'three days' when the 'grain of wheat' fell to earth and remained there the time necessary to fill the measure of God's justice and mercy. And finally it produced 'much fruit', not remaining alone but as the first of a multitude of others. Now, thanks to Christ, ... the images taken from nature are no longer mere symbols, illusory myths; they speak to us of reality".
VATICAN CITY, 3 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Fr. Charles Morerod, rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and secretary general of the International Theological Commission, as bishop of Lausanne, Geneve et Fribourg (area 5,557, population 1,582,447, Catholics 687,192, priests 534, permanent deacons 22, religious 1,222), Switzerland. The bishop-elect was born in Riaz, Switzerland in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1988. He worked in pastoral ministry before gaining a doctorate in theology in 1996. Since then he has worked as a professor of theology at various academic institutes in Switzerland, Rome and U.S.A.
- Msgr. Jose Armando Alvarez Cano of the clergy of Zamora, Mexico, pastor of the parish of "San Pedro" in Paracho and president of the diocesan commission for the permanent formation of the clergy, as bishop prelate of Huautla (area 1,284, population 145,000, Catholics 131,404, priests 23, permanent deacons 1, religious 16), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Jiquilpan, Mexico in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986. He has had experience of pastoral ministry in a number of parishes and spent two years as a "fidei donum" missionary in the diocese of Tacna, Peru.