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Thursday, November 3, 2011


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".
HML/ VIS 20111103 (550)

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