Wednesday General Audience – The promise of eternal life.

General Audience: Pope speaks about fear of death


 During the general audience, Benedict XVI spoke about death and remembered the faithful departed. COMPLETE TEXT:

Benedict XVI
“Dear Brothers and Sisters, today, the day after the Solemnity of All Saints, the Church invites us to pray for the faithful departed.  This yearly commemoration, often marked by visits to the cemetery, is an occasion to ponder the mystery of death and to renew our faith in the promise of eternal life held out to us by Christ’s resurrection.  

As human beings, we have a natural fear of death and we rebel against its apparent finality.  Faith teaches us that the fear of death is lightened by a great hope, the hope of eternity, which gives our lives their fullest meaning.  The God who is love offers us the promise of eternal life through the death and resurrection of his Son. In Christ, death no longer appears as an abyss of emptiness, but rather a path to life which will never end.  

Christ is the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in him will never die.  Each Sunday, in reciting the Creed, we reaffirm our faith in this mystery.  As we remember our dear departed ones, united with them in the communion of the saints, may our faith inspire us to follow Christ more closely and to work in this world to build a future of hope.

I offer a warm welcome to the priests from the United States taking part in the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  

My greeting also goes to the pilgrimage group from Saint Paul’s High School in Tokyo, Japan.  Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Japan and the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!”

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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4 Responses to Wednesday General Audience – The promise of eternal life.

  1. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    The Pope speaks wisely about fear of death. This may be very much to the point for all of us, possibly next year. I have suggested before that the situation in the Middle East becomes more fragile every day.

    As indicated, the US and Israel increasingly sabre rattle with fake scare stories about Iran. Then, a few days ago, the nuclear weapon state of Israel tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. Israel and the US have a track record of attacking other countries and Iran has an extremist government, just like its enemies. Today, the US and the UK denied reports that they were preparing strikes against Iran.

    The real worry for you and me is that Iran has strong links with China and Russia. No-one knows what they will do if the US/Israel attacks Iran. It is a horrifying prospect, like the Cuban missile crisis, when Kennedy gambled our lives on Armageddon.

    I desperately hope that I am wrong, but I predict that the US will use Israel as a surrogate attacker. When Iran then attacks Israel, the US with the aid of a supine media, will massage public opinion (as before in Iraq) to justify support for ‘plucky little Israel’. Then we’re all in for it.

    So do reread the Pope’s words on fear of death. I have.

    I, for one, become very afraid for our survival.

    Pray for us.


  2. Gertrude says:

    Whatever the future holds for us Whippy, if we die in our beds, or we die as a result of conflict over which we have no control, we each one of us is responsible for preparing for that life that we have been promised by Our Blessed Lord.
    Since death is the one inevitability, and whilst I am sure we would all hope to die peacefully after a
    life well lived, the hour of our death we know not. This is the gist of the Holy Father’s message, that whatever lies ahead, confident in the promises of Our Blessed Lord, we should do our utmost to prepare for that life – that, thanks be to God, through His death and resurrection, has been prepared for us.


  3. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Thank you for that response G, and it is right. You reflect the comments of the Pope, and it is indeed a dignified and mature approach.

    However, some of us, despite our best intentions, may not approach the inevitable with such equanimity, though I deeply wish it were so.

    I’d much rather have your attitude than mine, which is a bed of nails.


  4. Gertrude says:

    Whippy – the fear of death is a natural human emotion. We have always retained an almost primeval fear of what we do not know, and death, for a non-believer in the redemption must be a terrifying prospect, I cannot claim always not to have feared death; it has been a lifetimes work and a great act of faith.
    The Holy Father expanded a little further in his homily for Cardinals that had died in the preceeding year (on All Souls)
    “God’s intervention in the drama of human history does not obey any natural cycle; it only obeys his grace and faithfulness, says Benedict XVI.
    The Holy Father spoke of Christ’s death as the “font of life, for into it God poured all of his love, as in a great cataract, which makes us think of the image of Psalm 41: ‘Abyss calls to abyss, in the roar of your torrents; all your billows and waves have passed over me.'”
    He said the the “abyss” of the love of God filled the “abyss” of death, “such that death no longer has power over Jesus Christ, nor over them who, by faith and baptism, are associated with him.”
    “This ‘living with Jesus’ is the fulfillment of the hope prophesied by Hosea: ‘… and we will live in his presence,'” he added.
    “In truth, it is only in Christ that such a hope finds its real foundation,” the Holy Father continued. “Before [Christ] it ran the risk of becoming an illusion, a symbol taken from the rhythm of the seasons: ‘like the autumn rain, like the spring rain’ (Hosea 6:3).”
    The Pontiff noted that at the time of Hosea’s ministry, the Israelites’ faith was threatened by the naturalistic religions of the land of Canaan.
    Such a faith is not able to save anyone from death, he said. “But God’s intervention in the drama of human history does not obey any natural cycle; it only obeys his grace and faithfulness. The new and eternal life is the fruit of the tree of the cross, a tree that blossoms and bears fruit from the light of the sun of God.”
    It was the cross of Christ that was able to rescue nature from sin, the Pope stated. “A beneficent force greater than that which moves the cycles of nature, a Good greater than that of creation itself: a love that proceeds from the ‘heart’ itself of God and that, while it reveals the ultimate meaning of creation, renews it and directs it toward its original and final goal.”

    I pray that you too will find this peace.


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