John Paul II Faces Death With Serenity

«Salvifici Doloris» Reveals Attitude

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 1, 2005 ( Facing the nearness of death, the Vatican confirmed that John Paul II is «serene.»

In his Apostolic Letter «Salvifici Doloris,» published in 1984, John Paul II reveals the key to his serenity.

He states in the document that the resurrection of Christ sheds an entirely new light on what otherwise is the fear of departure from this life.

Death, the Pope writes, «is often awaited even as a liberation from the sufferings of this life. At the same time, it is not possible to ignore the fact that it constitutes as it were a definitive summing-up of the destructive work both in the bodily organism and in the psyche.»

«But death primarily involves the dissolution of the entire psychophysical personality of man. The soul survives and subsists separated from the body, while the body is subjected to gradual decomposition according to the words of the Lord God, pronounced after the sin committed by man at the beginning of earthly history: ‘You are dust and to dust you shall return’ (Genesis 3:19),» he adds.

«Therefore, even if death is not a form of suffering in the temporal sense of the word, even if in a certain way it is beyond all forms of suffering, at the same time the evil which the human being experiences in death has a definitive and total character,» he says.

«By his salvific work, the only-begotten Son liberates man from sin and death,» and «by his resurrection begins the process of the future resurrection of the body,» he states.

«Both are essential conditions of ‘eternal life,’ that is of man’s definitive happiness in union with God; this means, for the saved, that in the eschatological perspective suffering is totally blotted out,» the Pope writes.

«As a result of Christ’s salvific work, man exists on earth with the hope of eternal life and holiness,» says John Paul II in the document.

«And even though the victory over sin and death achieved by Christ by his Cross and resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life, nor free from suffering the whole historical dimension of human existence, it nevertheless throws a new light upon the dimension and upon every suffering: the light of salvation. This is the light of the Gospel, that is, of the Good News,» he says.

«At the heart of this light is the truth» proposed by Christ in the Gospel of St. John (3:16): ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,» he states.

«This truth radically changes the picture of man’s history and his earthly situation,» he says.

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