Skip to main content


Benedict XVI On the Meaning of Death

11/6/2006 - 5:45 AM PST

Advertisment

With Christ, "It Has Been Deprived of Its 'Venom'"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

During these days that follow the liturgical commemoration of the dead, many parishes celebrate the octave of the dead, 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, in fact, is part of life and not only of its end, but, if we pay attention, of every instant. Despite all the distractions, 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.

Jesus revolutionized the meaning of death. He did so with his teaching, above all by facing death himself. "Dying he destroyed death," says the liturgy of the Easter season. "With the Spirit that could not die, Christ defeated death that was killing man," wrote a Father of the Church (Melito of Sardis, "On Easter," 66). 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. The Letter to the Hebrews says: "that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone" (2:9).

Since then, death is no longer the same: It has been deprived, so to speak, of its "venom." The love of God, acting in Jesus, has given new meaning to the whole of man's existence and in this way, has also transformed death. If in Christ human life is a departure "from this world to the Father" (John 13:1), the hour of death is the moment in which this departure takes places in a concrete and definite way.

Those who commit themselves to live like him are freed from the fear of death, no longer showing the sarcastic smile of an enemy but offering the friendly face of a "sister," as St. Francis wrote in the "Canticle of Creatures." In this way, God can also be blessed for it: "Praise be to you, my Lord, for our Sister Bodily Death." 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" (cf. 20:14-15; 21:8). 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.

Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy and of St. Joseph, let us 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.

[At the end of the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

I follow with profound concern the news on the serious deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip and I wish to express my closeness to the civilian populations suffering the consequences of the violence.

I ask you to join me in my prayer so that Almighty and Merciful God will illuminate the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, as well as those nations that have a particular responsibility in the region, so that they will commit themselves to halt the bloodshed, to multiply the initiatives of humanitarian help, and favor the immediate resumption of a direct, serious and concrete negotiation.

[In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today's Angelus, especially the students and teachers from the Arcus College of Heerlen, Holland. During this week following All Souls Day, we remember in a special way our deceased brothers and sisters. With firm confidence we pray that all who have gone before us in faith may share fully in the victory of Christ over death. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a blessed Sunday!

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org  CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Pope, Benedict, Death, Christ, Angelus

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
Someone may ask: How are dead people raised, and what sort of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 56:10-12, 13-14
In God whose word I praise, in Yahweh whose word I praise, in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:4-15
With a large crowd gathering and people from every town finding ... Read More

Saint of the Day

September 20 Saint of the Day

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions
September 20: Feastday: September 20 The evangelization of Korea began ... Read More