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Thanksgiving Mass for Blessed John Paul II: Defender of the Human Person

By Vatican Information Service
May 3rd, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

His life was a constant prayer that lovingly embraced all who inhabit our planet, created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore worthy of the greatest respect; redeemed by Christ's death and resurrection the human person is therefore truly become the living glory of God.

VATICAN CITY, (VIS) - At 10:30 Monday morning in St. Peter's Square, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., secretary of state, presided over the thanksgiving Mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. The liturgical texts were those of the new Blessed.

The celebration included music performed by the Choir of the Diocese of Rome, with the participation of Warsaw's Polish Union of Choirs and the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice. Preparation for the holy rite began at 9:30am with the reading of poems by Blessed John Paul II in alternation with pieces performed by the orchestra and choir. Before Holy Mass, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, addressed those present.

"The dialogue of love between Christ and the human person characterized the entire life of Karol Wojtyla ...", Cardinal Bertone said in his homily. "We all recall how, on the day of his funeral, during the ceremony there was a moment when the wind shut the book of the Gospels placed on the coffin. It was as if the wind of the Spirit wanted to signal the end of the spiritual and human existence of Karol Wojtyla, illumined by the Gospel of Christ. With this Book he discovered God's plan for humanity and for himself, but he also learned of Christ, His face and His love, which was always a call to responsibility for Karol".

"He was a man of faith, a man of God," the cardinal emphasized. "His life was a constant prayer that lovingly embraced all who inhabit our planet, created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore worthy of the greatest respect; redeemed by Christ's death and resurrection the human person is therefore truly become the living glory of God. Thanks to the faith that he expressed, above all, in prayer, John Paul II was a true defender of the dignity of every human person and not a mere activist for political or social ideologies".

"But his prayer was also a constant intercession for the entire human family, for the Church, for each community of believers throughout the earth. ... Weren't these - his prayers, prayers tied to so many sorrowful events in his own and others' lives - what gave rise to his concern for peace in the world and for the peaceful harmony among the peoples and nations?" the cardinal secretary of state asked.

"Today we give thanks to the Lord for having given us a Pastor like him. A Shepherd who know how to read the signs of God's presence in human history and to announce Him through his great acts in the world, in every language. A Pastor who had ingrained within him a sense of mission, of the commitment of evangelization, and of announcing the Word of God everywhere".

"Today we give thanks to the Lord for having given us a Witness like him, so credible, so transparent, who taught us how to live in Faith and how to defend Christian values, beginning with life, without anxiety or fear; how one should bear witness to the faith with courage and coherence, giving expression to the Beatitudes in everyday experience".

The cardinal invited those present to give thanks to the Lord for "having granted us a Pope who knew how to give the Church not only a universal reach and unprecedented moral authority at an international level, but also, especially with the celebration of the Great Jubilee in 2000, a more spiritual, more biblical vision, more focused on the word of God. A Church capable of renewing itself, initiating a 'new evangelization', intensifying ecumenical and inter-religious links, and also rediscovering the way towards a fruitful dialogue with the new generations".

"And finally", he concluded, "we give thanks to the Lord for having given us a Saint like him... he was a man of truth as he was inseparably bound to He who is the Truth... His was a holiness lived, especially in the last months and weeks of his life, in total fidelity to the mission that had been assigned to him, until death... He knew that his physical weakness demonstrated ever more clearly Christ's work in history. And, offering his suffering to Him and to the Church, he gave us all a final, great lesson in humanity and in abandoning oneself to the arms of God".

Cardinal Bertone concluded by inviting those present to sing "a hymn of glory to God for the gift of this great Pope: a man of faith and prayer, Pastor and Witness, Guide in the transition between two millennia" and thanked Benedict XVI "who wished to elevate his predecessor to the glory of the altars".

At the moment of the offertory, six people presented to the celebrant a saddle produced by the Polish Post Office and the Vatican Post Office, a bas-relief from the Association of Mercy and a portrait of Blessed John Paul II by the municipality of Zakopane.

More than 250,000 faithful entered the Vatican Basilica yesterday to pray before the remains of the new Blessed. The basilica remained open until 3:00am and reopened at the end of today's Mass. At 5:30pm today the last Rosary will be recited before the coffin of John Paul II. The basilica will then be closed and, in a private ceremony, the coffin will be placed in the Chapel of St. Sebastian, which is located to the left of Michelangelo's statue of the Pieta.

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