Christ Has Deprived Death of Its "Venom," Says Pope

Speaks of Freedom From Fear

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- Those who believe in Christ and live like him "are freed from the fear of death," says Benedict XVI.



"The authentic death, which one must fear, is that of the soul," that is, when mortal sin separates one from God, said the Pope. He delivered this message from the window of his study as he addressed the crowds today gathered below in St. Peter's Square for the midday Angelus.

The Holy Father delved into the Christian vision of death, recalling that "many parishes celebrate the octave of the dead" after All Souls Day.

Benedict XVI noted that is "an appropriate occasion to remember our loved ones in prayer and to meditate on the reality of death, which the 'civilization of comfort' often tries to remove from people's conscientiousness, immersed in the concerns of daily life."

"To die," he said, "in fact, is part of life and not only of its end, but, if we pay attention, of every instant."

Sometimes "the loss of a loved one makes us discover the 'problem,' making us feel death as a radically hostile presence contrary to our natural vocation to life and happiness," the Pope continued.

But now, "Jesus revolutionized the meaning of death," the Holy Father said. "He did so with his teaching, above all by facing death himself. In this way, the Son of God wished to share our human condition to the end, to open it to hope. Ultimately, he was born to be able to die and in this way to free us from the slavery of death.

"Since then, death is no longer the same: It has been deprived, so to speak, of its venom."

Departure

In this way, the Pontiff said, "if in Christ human life is a departure 'from this world to the Father,' the hour of death is the moment in which this departure takes places in a concrete and definite way."

Citing the "Canticle of Creatures" of St. Francis of Assisi, the Holy Father explained that "Those who commit themselves to live like him [Christ] are freed from the fear of death, no longer showing the sarcastic smile of an enemy but offering the friendly face of a 'sister.'"

Thus, Benedict XVI said, "We must not fear the death of the body, faith reminds us, as it is a dream from which we will awake one day.

"The authentic death, which one must fear, is that of the soul, called by the Book of Revelation 'second death.' In fact, he who dies in mortal sin, without repentance, locked in prideful rejection of God's love, excludes himself from the Kingdom of life."

The Pope invited those listening to him to "pray to the Lord for the grace to prepare serenely to depart from this world, when he wills to call us, with the hope of being able to be with him eternally, in the company of the saints and of our deceased loved ones."