Pope: Death Makes One Face Reality

Celebrates Mass for Deceased Cardinals and Bishops

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- When facing death, one is forced to face reality and recognize things for what they are, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope said this Monday upon presiding in St. Peter's Basilica at the traditional November Mass for the souls of cardinals and bishops who died over the course of the year. Members of the College of Cardinals concelebrated with the Holy Father.

During the homily the Pontiff recalled the names of the 10 cardinals who passed away during the last 12 months: Stephen Fumio Hamao, Alfons Maria Stickler, Aloísio Lorscheider, Peter Poreku Dery, Adolfo Antonio Suárez Rivera, Ernesto Corripio y Ahumada, Alfonso López Trujillo, Bernardin Gantin, Antonio Innocenti and Antonio José González Zumárraga.

"God is the true wisdom that never ages," the Holy Father said. "He is the authentic wealth that does not decay, he is the joy to which the depth of each human heart aspires."

He said death "forces us to look reality in the face, it compels us to recognize the transience of what appears so great and strong to the eyes of the world. In the face of death all reasons for human pride fall away, and what is really worthwhile emerges."

Not God

Benedict XVI reminded those present that death awaits all of us: "In a word, none of us is God. To recognize this difference between us and him is the primary condition for being with him and in him. It is also a condition for becoming like him, but only by welcoming the grace of his free gift.

"If God, loved us freely, we too can (and therefore must) [...] make of ourselves a free gift for others.

"In this way we know God as we are known by him [...] and we pass from death to life like Jesus Christ, who defeated death with his resurrection thanks to the heavenly Father's glorious power of love."

In closing, the Pope said the deceased bishops and cardinals "passed from death to life because they chose Christ [...] and consecrated themselves to the service of others. And therefore, even if they have to accept their share of redress due to human frailty -- which marks us all, helping to keep us humble -- their faithfulness to Christ allows them to enter into the freedom of the children of God."

He added, "Let us pray that we, pilgrims upon the earth, always keep our hearts and eyes turned toward the final goal to which we all aspire, the house of the Father, heaven."