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Papal Homily at Cardinal Javierre's Funeral

2/20/2007 - 6:10 AM PST

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"The Farewell Is Haloed With Hope and Joy"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered Feb. 2 at Cardinal Antonio María Javierre Ortas' funeral Mass, held in St. Peter's Basilica.

The cardinal, who was born in Spain, was a former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

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FUNERAL MASS FOR CARDINAL ANTONIO MARÍA JAVIERRE ORTAS, S.D.B.

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Altar of the Chair, St Peter's Basilica
Friday, 2 February 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday, the day after the liturgical memorial of St John Bosco, a spiritual son of his, our beloved Cardinal Antonio María Javierre Ortas, departed for Heaven. At the time of his departure, he was surrounded by the unanimous prayer for the repose of his soul that Salesians customarily raise for their deceased confreres and sisters on the very day after the Feast of their Founder.

Today, the Roman Curia, his friends and relatives join his Religious family on the day in which the liturgy commemorates the Presentation of the Lord at the temple.

The words of elderly Simeon as he clasped the Infant Jesus in his arms re-echo on this occasion with special emotion: "Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace -- now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word" (Lk 2:29). This is the prayer that the Church raises to God at nightfall and it is especially important to remember it today, thinking again of our Brother who has reached the end of his earthly life.

"Misercordias Domini in aeternum cantabo". Let us make our own these words from Cardinal Javierre Ortas' spiritual diary, as we accompany him on his journey to the Father's House.

He was born in Siétamo, in the Diocese of Huesca, on 21 February 1921. He was granted the gift of a long life, inspired from his youth by a pronounced missionary spirit. He would have liked, after the example of Don Bosco, to live out his vocation as a Salesian in direct contact with young people in a mission land but Providence summoned him to other offices.

Thus, he was an apostle in the university environment and in the milieus of the Roman Curia. However, he never missed an opportunity to carry out his intense spiritual activity in the essentially theological sphere, as well as in the broader domain of culture, especially by directing groups of professors and Religious and as chaplain to university students.

His was a faithful and generous service to the Church, always willing and cordial. Despite his venerable age, his departure was somewhat unexpected. Impelled by faith, but also by affection for his venerable figure, we are now gathered round the altar of the Lord, preparing to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice for him.

Christ's words that we have just heard in the Gospel ring out: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (Jn 6:51).

This is one of the sayings of Jesus that sums up the whole of his mystery. And it is comforting to listen to it and meditate upon it while we pray for a priestly soul who found in the Eucharist the centre of his life.

Intimate and persevering sacramental communion with the Body and Blood of Christ brings about a profound transformation of the person. The fruit of this inner process, which involves the whole person, is what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians: "Mihi vivere Christus est" (Phil 1:21).

Thus, to die is a "gain", because only by dying is it possible to achieve fully that "being-in-Christ" of which Eucharistic Communion is a pledge on this earth.

Yesterday, I had in my hands several letters that Cardinal Javierre had written to beloved John Paul II in which this privileged reference to the Eucharist appears.

In 1992, when he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, he wrote: "I repeat on this occasion my unconditional desire for service. Your Holiness, I am relying on my sincere efforts to bring to completion the task you have entrusted to me. I imagine it gravitating totally around the EUCHARIST", written in capitals. "Everything is attracted to this barycentre".

Then on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his Priestly Ordination, he wrote in his letter thanking the Holy Father for his good wishes: "At the time of my ordination in Salamanca, the priesthood gravitated entirely around the Eucharist.... It is a joy to relive the sentiments of our ordination, aware that in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of his Sacrifice, Christ actualizes his one Priesthood to the full".

Our beloved late Cardinal is now joyfully ...

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