VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Christ’s followers are not exempt from trials, said Benedict XVI at a Mass commemorating the cardinals and bishops who have died this year.
The love of Christ, however, can help to lighten the burden, the Pope said in his homily today in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Mass concelebrated with the members of the College of Cardinals present in Rome.
The Eucharistic celebration for the repose of the souls of recently deceased prelates is a papal custom for the month of November, and Benedict XVI was visibly moved on his first occasion to preside over such a Mass.
“For a long time I have formed part of the College of Cardinals, of which I was also dean for two and a half years,” he said. “Therefore, I feel especially united to this community, which I had the honor to preside over in the unforgettable days following the death of our beloved Pope John Paul II.”
Commenting on the readings of the liturgy, the Holy Father said: “Whoever puts himself at the service of the Lord and passes his life in ecclesial ministry is not exempt from trials; on the contrary he faces the most insidious ordeals, as the experience of the saints amply shows.”
“But,” he added, “living in fear of God frees the heart from all fear and immerses it in the depths of his love.”
The Holy Father said that “whoever trusts in Jesus places his faith in God himself.”
“Jesus,” he continued, “in fact, is true man, but in him we can have full and unconditional faith,” as “he is in the Father and the Father in him.”
“In this sense, God has really come out to meet us,” said the Pope.
Benedict XVI continued: “We human beings need a friend, a brother to take us by the hand and accompany us to ‘the Father’s house,’ we need someone who knows the way well.
“And God, in his ‘superabundant’ love, has sent his son, not only to show us ‘the way,’ but also to follow it himself.”
The Pope named five cardinals who died this past year: Juan Carlos Aramburu, archbishop of Buenos Aires; Jan Pieter Schotte, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops; Corrado Bafile, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes; Jaime Sin, archbishop of Manila, Philippines; and Giuseppe Caprio, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
The College of Cardinals currently has 180 members, including 112 electors who could vote in a conclave.