Address on Modern Culture and Eternal Life

Without God, Man Is Fearful, Says John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2002 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II’s address at midday today, before his recitation of the Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Yesterday we celebrated the annual liturgical commemoration of all the faithful deceased. A choral invocation was raised from the Church worldwide to the God of life and peace, so that he would welcome into his Kingdom of infinite light all souls, especially the most abandoned and in need of his mercy.

Christian prayer for the dead, which characterizes the entire month of November, can only take place in the light of the resurrection of Christ. Indeed, the Apostle Paul says: «If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain. … If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep» (1 Corinthians 15:17,19-20).

More than ever, today’s world has a need to rediscover the meaning of life and death in the perspective of eternal life. Outside of it, modern culture, born to exalt man and his dignity, is paradoxically transformed into a culture of death, because, without the horizon of God, he finds himself as a prisoner in the world, overwhelmed by fear, and, unfortunately, gives way to multiple personal and collective pathologies.

2. In this connection, I am pleased to quote a text of St. Charles Borromeo, whose liturgical memorial we celebrate tomorrow. «May my soul — he wrote — never cease to praise the Lord who never ceases to lavish gifts. It is a gift of God if, from being a sinner, you are called to righteousness; a gift of God if you are sustained so that you will not fall; a gift of God of you are given the strength to persevere until the end; the resurrection of your dead body will also be a gift, so that not a hair of your head will be lost; glorification after the resurrection will be a gift of God; and, lastly, it will also be a gift of God to be able to praise him continually in eternity (Homily, Sept. 5, 1583).

While I invite you to meditate on these illuminating thoughts of the holy archbishop of Milan, I take the opportunity to express my gratitude to all those who, recalling the feast of St. Charles, have sent me good wishes for my name day. I am especially grateful for your assurance of prayer, which I return sincerely, invoking abundant heavenly graces for all.

3. Let us now turn to Mary Most Holy, and ask her to sustain our prayer particularly for the repose of the deceased. In this Year of the Rosary, let us follow assiduously the school of the Virgin, to contemplate with her the mystery of Christ, dead and risen, hope of eternal life for every man.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the conclusion of the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

Today we all shared spiritually in the sorrow of the community of San Giuliano di Puglia, so stricken by the tragic loss of many of its children.

Once again I wish to say to those dear families that the Pope is near to them and that he prays for them, imploring the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, the consolation of Christian faith and of hope.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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