VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger baptized five adults during the Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, at which he presided on behalf of the Pope.
John Paul II sent a message to the faithful, which was read at the start of the celebration. He assured them that he was following the ceremony from his apartment, and requested prayers so that the people of today might believe in the resurrection of Christ.
“Let us pray to the Lord Jesus that the world may see and recognize that, thanks to his passion, death and resurrection, what was destroyed is reconstructed, what was old is renewed and is more beautiful than before, returning to its original integrity,” stated the text.
The Pope addressed “a special greeting” to the five adults who received the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist. They came from Peru, Italy, Japan and Congo.
“Truly extraordinary is this night, in which the dazzling light of the risen Christ overcomes definitively the powers of darkness of evil and death, and again enkindles hope and joy in the hearts of believers,” said the papal message.
The vigil, which lasted more than three hours, began in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica with the blessing of the fire and the lighting of the paschal candle.
In his homily, Cardinal Ratzinger emphasized that “Christ is the Light; Christ is the Way, Truth and Life; following Christ, keeping our hearts fixed on Christ, we find the good way.”
“To follow Christ means above all to be attentive to his word,” added the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “Participation in the Sunday liturgy week after week is necessary for every Christian precisely to enter into authentic familiarity with the divine word.
“Man does not live only from bread, money or careers, but from the word of God that corrects, renews and shows us the genuine fundamental values of the world and society.”
“To follow Christ implies to be attentive to his commandments, summarized in the double commandment to love God and our neighbor as ourselves,” added the dean of the College of Cardinals.
“To follow Christ means to have compassion for those who suffer, to have a heart for the poor,” he said, “it means to have the courage to defend the faith against ideologies; to have trust in the Church and in the interpretation and application of the divine word for the present circumstances.
“To follow Christ implies to love his Church, his mystical body. If we journey like this, we will light little lights in the world, and dispel darkness in history.”