The Pope expressed this concern to 15,000 attendees at today's general audience, which he dedicated to reflect on Psalm 29(30), a hymn of thanksgiving for deliverance from death.
Speaking in St. Peter's Square, he said that the Fathers of the Church had warned about "this temptation that insinuates itself in times of well-being, and they saw in the trial a divine call to humility."
"No one asks for help if he does not recognize his need," the Holy Father said, quoting a passage from a letter of Bishop Fulgentius of Ruspe (467-532).
The Pope noted: "After having confessed the temptation to pride that he had in the time of prosperity," the Psalmist recalls the trial that followed. He does so with strong words addressed to the Lord: "When you hid your face I was struck with terror."
Thus the papal meditation was a reflection on that absence of God so typical in the public life of societies enjoying well-being, and the dismay experienced by human being when confronted with the fact that "sooner or later" death will prevail.
"Yet, despite everything, the aspiration to victory was maintained and became, in the end, a hope of resurrection," the Holy Father said.
"The satisfaction of this powerful aspiration was fully assured with the resurrection of Christ, for which we can never thank God enough," he added.
Thus, the Psalm shows that "we must never be ensnared by the dark confusion of despair, when it seems that everything is lost," the Pope explained. "Of course, one must not fall into the illusion of being able to save oneself, with one's own resources."
John Paul II was continuing his series of reflections on the Psalms and canticles of the Liturgy of Vespers, the Church's evening prayer. Other reflections may be consulted in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.