Cardinal Arinze Remembers Pope as Man of Prayer

«Preached Most by the Way He Celebrated Holy Mass»

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 5, 2005 ( This period after the death of John Paul II is a time for profound prayer, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.

The cardinal, who has been prefect for the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, spoke about his feelings about the Pope’s passing.

Q: What was your personal, initial reaction to the news and what are some of your personal thoughts?

Cardinal Arinze: Upon hearing the official report of the Holy Father’s death, I was shaken. I felt like an electric current was running right through me from head to foot.

My memory of him is of a man of God who prayed, both personal prayer and the official prayer of the Church, well. With reference to the official prayer of the Church, or the Liturgy, the Holy Father preached most by the way he celebrated Holy Mass and other sacraments.

This was very eloquent, whether in St. Peter’s Square or visiting parts of the world, in parish churches or his own private chapel.

I was also very touched by his attention and concern over the document on liturgical norms which our congregation, in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, issued in March 2004. The Holy Father was following this and modifying it so the document would be about the best that could be produced. I was very touched by that.

Q: Cardinal, as you say, Pope John Paul II was a man of deep prayer who tried to promote that aspect of the liturgy. So how are you and your congregation responding in prayer at this time?

Cardinal Arinze: Well, you know, of course that when the Holy Father dies, the heads of the various offices in the Vatican cease their positions until the new pope comes and decides where everyone will be placed, so … what I can answer now is that both myself and the staff of the congregation will be praying, especially through Masses, but not necessarily together.

Everybody’s prayer will be like that person — individual and unique.

At an event like this, prayer is vital. Nothing can take the place of prayer in our faith as a response to God’s call, so that it’s not myself but God directing my prayer via the Holy Spirit — it is my aspiration to God at this time and he will take my words.

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