Sunday, April 8, 2012

VATICAN POPE CALLS FOR PEACE IN EASTER URBI ET ORBI FULL TEXT

RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass this Easter Sunday in St Peter's Square, after which he offered the urbi et orbi benediction - the blessing of the city and the world - which it is tradition for the Pope to give at Easter and at Christmas. The Holy Father delivered remarks to the faithful gathered in the square, focusing on the radical and permanent novelty of Christ's resurrection. Following his address, Pope Benedict offered Easter greetings in more than sixty languages.
Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI's remarks at the Easter urbi et orbi blessing.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world!

“Surrexit Christus, spes mea” – “Christ, my hope, has risen” (Easter Sequence).

May the jubilant voice of the Church reach all of you with the words which the ancient hymn puts on the lips of Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter the risen Jesus on Easter morning. She ran to the other disciples and breathlessly announced: “I have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:18). We too, who have journeyed through the desert of Lent and the sorrowful days of the Passion, today raise the cry of victory: “He has risen! He has truly risen!”

Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity. This is why Mary Magdalene calls Jesus “my hope”: he was the one who allowed her to be reborn, who gave her a new future, a life of goodness and freedom from evil. “Christ my hope” means that all my yearnings for goodness find in him a real possibility of fulfilment: with him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity.

But Mary Magdalene, like the other disciples, was to see Jesus rejected by the leaders of the people, arrested, scourged, condemned to death and crucified. It must have been unbearable to see Goodness in person subjected to human malice, truth derided by falsehood, mercy abused by vengeance. With Jesus’ death, the hope of all those who had put their trust in him seemed doomed. But that faith never completely failed: especially in the heart of the Virgin Mary, Jesus’ Mother, its flame burned even in the dark of night. In this world, hope can not avoid confronting the harshness of evil. It is not thwarted by the wall of death alone, but even more by the barbs of envy and pride, falsehood and violence. Jesus passed through this mortal mesh in order to open a path to the kingdom of life. For a moment Jesus seemed vanquished: darkness had invaded the land, the silence of God was complete, hope a seemingly empty word.

And lo, on the dawn of the day after the Sabbath, the tomb is found empty. Jesus then shows himself to Mary Magdalene, to the other women, to his disciples. Faith is born anew, more alive and strong than ever, now invincible since it is based on a decisive experience: “Death with life contended: combat strangely ended! Life’s own champion, slain, now lives to reign”. The signs of the resurrection testify to the victory of life over death, love over hatred, mercy over vengeance: “The tomb the living did enclose, I saw Christ’s glory as he rose! The angels there attesting, shroud with grave-clothes resting”.

Dear brothers and sisters! If Jesus is risen, then – and only then – has something truly new happened, something that changes the state of humanity and the world. Then he, Jesus, is someone in whom we can put absolute trust; we can put our trust not only in his message but in Jesus himself, for the Risen One does not belong to the past, but is present today, alive. Christ is hope and comfort in a particular way for those Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution. And he is present as a force of hope through his Church, which is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice.

May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights. Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community. May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful sufferings. May the paschal victory encourage the Iraqi people to spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process.

May the Lord, the victor over evil and death, sustain the Christian communities of the African continent; may he grant them hope in facing their difficulties, and make them peacemakers and agents of development in the societies to which they belong.

May the risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favour their reconciliation; may he help the Great Lakes Region, Sudan and South Sudan, and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the glorious Christ grant peace and stability. To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of its citizens.

Happy Easter to all!

AMERICA : EASTER MESSAGE OF CARDINAL WUERL OF WASHINGTON DC

BLOG OF CARDINAL WUERL RELEASE:

Christ is Truly Risen, Alleluia!

April 8th, 2012

Just as the disciples did after the first Easter, we too can shout “Alleluia” with joy, because we have encountered the risen Lord. On this Easter, and every day, Jesus is with us, and brings us new life.
We experienced the joy of that new life in Christ in a special way at the Easter Vigils throughout the Archdiocese of Washington, when more than 1,100 women, men and children became full members of the Catholic Church after being baptized and receiving Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation. Easter is a time for all of us to reflect on the great blessing that we have received by being invited into the Body of Christ – into his family.
Not long ago, on a very rainy night, I was walking from a meeting to dinner. It was raining so hard, that the street was filling with puddles. One of our group came late to dinner and began to describe how he had been soaked by the spray of a passing car. He was wet, his suit was dirty and he went back to the hotel to wash up and put on clean clothes so that he would be fit to come to the dinner table with us. In a way this story is a parable about the experience of Baptism and new life in Christ.
In God’s plan we started out neat and clean. Original sin, like the spray of the puddle, tarnishes us. Like my friend, returning to his room to wash up and change, there is a remedy for us. In Baptism, we have been cleansed and given a new outfit, clothed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the cleansing waters of Baptism and in Confirmation we received a new heart and a new spirit. The gifts of the Spirit make us worthy to come to the table of the Lord.
This new life through the sacraments could only happen in Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Resurrection is meant for you and for me. The words “Christ is risen, Christ is truly risen, Alleluia, Alleluia,” are our words as a result of these sacraments. Not only is Christ risen, but we are risen in him and his new life as part of his new creation.
What joy this brings us! Like the first disciples, like those who became members of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, we have encountered the risen Christ, and we will never be the same. That is why Easter is a day of such great, overwhelming joy. Jesus is risen from the dead and remains near to us. We share a new life in Christ, and we are called to share his Good News. And that is why, on this Easter and every day, we can proclaim, “Alleluia!”
SOURCE http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/

EUROPE : 1000 DAY COUNTDOWN FOR POOR - CAFOD

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT:
CAFOD warns Government as 1,000 day countdown begins | CAFOD, Millennium Development Goals, MDGs,
Catholic aid agency CAFOD has told the Government and the United Nations today, Good Friday, that urgent action is required to agree a new global plan to tackle poverty. Good Friday marks exactly 1,000 days until the start of 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed a decade ago are due to expire.

In a new report, “1,000 Days: an end and a new beginning”, the aid agency hails the progress made in many areas since the agreement of the MDGs, but says that work must begin urgently on designing a replacement framework.

In his foreword to the report, CAFOD Director Chris Bain writes: “We must seek to fill every one of the next 1,000 days with progress towards the outstanding targets. But whatever final achievements are recorded at the end of this period, 2015 must be a beginning not just an end. We must learn the lessons from the MDG process, and ensure that what replaces them is a new framework that builds on – but goes far beyond – the progress achieved by the MDGs.

“But let us be clear: 1,000 days is a tiny amount of time for a challenge of this scale. The British Olympics Association began work on its bid for the 2012 Olympics in 1997, over 2,500 days before the bid was accepted and over 5,000 days before the Games themselves.

“So the 1,000 days milestone is an opportunity but also a grave warning. If we do not start working right now, with the necessary clarity, urgency and resources required to achieve a strong outcome, we will reach 2015 with no effective global plan for tackling poverty: a betrayal of responsibility and an abdication of leadership that will rightly shame our generation.”

The report sets out a 10 point plan for a successful outcome to the post-MDG process. This includes recommendations to put environmental sustainability and extreme poverty at the heart of the new framework, as well as focusing on issues such as tackling inequality and addressing the needs of disabled people, which are not included in the current MDGs.

The report also insists that: “People living in poverty need to be directly engaged in debating and designing the new framework. Civil society leaders who represent these communities should have a seat at the table as decisions are made. Practically and morally, it is no longer possible to impose solutions upon poor people or countries, without their say-so or buy-in.”

CAFOD is the co-chair of the Beyond 2015 campaign, which has brought together 280 civil society organisations from over 70 countries to work on proposals for the post-MDG framework, and is recognised by the United Nations as the leading civil society initiative in this area.

Full copies of the 1,000 Days report are available now from the CAFOD website at: http://www.cafod.org.uk/news/uk-news/1000-days-2012-06-04

AUSTRALIA : EASTER MESSAGE OF ARCHBISHOP HART

ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REPORT:
Archbishop Denis Hart's Easter message Print E-mail

Archbishop Denis-HartThursday 5 April 2012
Dear Friends,
Two thousand years ago God sent Jesus, his Son, to share our human nature. He lived, taught, suffered and died and, remarkably, he conquered death and rose again. Easter is a passage through suffering and death to life, a glimpse of the final destiny offered to every human being.
This Easter we are conscious of families suffering through difficult economic times, of the burdens placed on the people of northern Victoria, Queensland and Fiji through floods, of the cries of broken families, of those burdened with illness or loneliness.
As Christians gather to celebrate Easter we remember the hope that Jesus brings of eternal life through truth, justice and love. We are invited to go forward with courage, to know that hope is never absent in our struggles because God is always with us.
Jesus invites us to face the challenges of modern living, to be there for those around about us, to make a contribution to our society, where human life is respected, people’s talents are acknowledged, and the free use of our gifts is placed at the service of others. Jesus’ gift of himself at Easter reminds us that life is always filled with hope of what we can achieve and how we can give of our talents for others, as he gave his all on the Cross.
May these days of Easter be moments when we value each other and are there for them as Jesus is always there for us.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.


Photo by Fiona Basile/Kairos Catholic Journal
SOURCE : ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE

ASIA : HOLY LAND : 20000 AT PALM SUNDAY CHURCH SERVICE

ASIA NEWS REPORT:
Mgr Antonio Franco talks about Easter for Christians in the Holy Land. More than 20,000 people took part in Palm Sunday services. Checkpoints in the territories and the war in Syria have discouraged pilgrims. At the Holy Sepulchre, many visitors are tourists, few are believers. In Jordan, Catholics and Orthodox celebrate Easter on the same date following the Julian calendar.


Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - "The witness of faith by Christians in the Holy Land is vital for the small communities that dot the Arab world at a time of shocks and a resurgent radical Islam," said Mgr Antonio Franco, nuncio to Israel and Palestine. Speaking to AsiaNews on the occasion of Holy Week, he said, "We need trust and hope so that faith in Christ will help Christians in the Holy Land and the Arab world to face their difficulties, full of love for the life Christ sacrificed for us."

Despite violence elsewhere in the region, especially Syria, this year Holy Week was relative calmer than in previous years, the prelate said. On Palm Sunday, more than 20,000 people took part in the traditional procession from Bethphage to Jerusalem, twice as many as in 2011.

"There were no disturbances along the way. Someone put up banners calling for an end to Israel's occupation of the territories, but the function went off without a hitch and with great devotion," the nuncio explained.

Still, few of the pilgrims were Palestinian Christians, whose movements are restricted by Israeli checkpoints.

Recently, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Holy Land, announced that in 2013 Catholics and Orthodox in Israel and Palestine will celebrate Easter on the same day, following the Julian calendar.

The desire to enhance ecumenical ties between the two communities is the main reason for the change, but so is the pastoral concern for the fate of mixed couples, which are numerous in the Holy Land.

The Easter season is already jointly celebrated in Jordan, Mgr Franco explained. Catholics and Orthodox will in fact celebrate Easter next week on the east bank of the Jordan River as well as in some communities in the Palestinian Territories.

Compared to past years, holy sites are less crowded this year, said Fr Athanasius Macora OFM, former director of the Christian information Center (CIC) who currently monitors the Holy Sepulchre.

"There are many foreign tourists in the streets of Jerusalem but few of them are pilgrims coming to the Holy Land to pray in the sites of Jesus' Passion," he said. (S.C.)

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Nuncio-in-Holy-Land:-Easter-between-checkpoints-and-war-24447.html

AFRICA : NIGERIA : GOOD FRIDAY - CHURCH COLLAPSE - KILLS 8

VANGUARD REPORT: By Demola Akinyemi,   — It was Easter tragedy. Christians and sympathisers were thrown into mourning in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, as no fewer than eight people, among them two children, were feared dead in a retreat organised by a high profile church.
The incident was said to have occurred at the church's Camp site located at Eyenkorin on the outskirts of the state capital in the early hours of Good Friday.
Further checks showed that the incident was as a result of rainstorm which caused a pillar at the camp to collapse and fell on the worshippers.
In another tragedy, a pastor with the church, who had gone to donate blood for the victims, was also killed.
The pastor, who was riding n a motorcycle, was said to have run into an oncoming vehicle. He died on the way to the hospital.
Storm had accompanied the rainfall in Ilorin. The rain, which lasted for about two hours, began at about 12.30 a.m.
Contacted, the state police command spokesman, Dabo Ezekiel, only confirmed the death of the pastor and claimed that several others only suffered injuries.
Sources at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital confirmed that three of the victims were brought in dead (BID) along with one woman and two children.
According to the source, "three of the victims were brought in dead apart from the two children and a woman who were in critical conditions." Two others died while receiving treatment, one of them inside the theatre, added the source .
Also,a family source to one of the victims claimed, in a telephone chat, said the casualty figure rose to seven, yesterday afternoon, taking the death toll to five adults and two children.
The source lamented the fate of the pastor who had rallied round to help the injured.
Meanwhile, no pastor from the church was available to comment at the time of filing this report as journalists were referred to one Wing Commander Cindar(rtd), said to be the Chief Security Officer of the Camp.
Confirmed the incident but denied that any life was lost. He claimed that the victims were recuperating at the hospital.
SOURCE: VANGUARD

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE EASTER SUNDAY APRIL 8, 2012

Apr 08, 2012 - Easter

Acts 10: 34, 37 - 43
34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality,
37 the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;
40 but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest;
41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
43 To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

Psalms 118: 1 - 2, 16 - 17, 22 - 23
1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!
2 Let Israel say, "His steadfast love endures for ever."
16 the right hand of the LORD is exalted, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!"
17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.
22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.
23 This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

Colossians 3: 1 - 4
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
3 For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
John 20: 1 - 9
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag'dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
2 So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."
3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.
4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first;
5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying,
7 and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.
8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;
9 for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

TODAY'S SAINT : APRIL 8 : ST. JULIA BILLIART

St. Julia Billiart
FOUNDRESS
Feast: April 8


Information:
Feast Day:April 8
Born:12 July 1751 at Cuvilly,France
Died:8 April 1816 at Namur, Belgium
Canonized: 22 June 1969 by Pope Paul VI
Patron of:against poverty, bodily ills, impoverishment, poverty, sick people, sickness
Foundress, and first superior-general of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, born 12 July, 1751, at Cuvilly, a village of Picardy, in the Diocese of Beauvais and the Department of Oise, France; died 8 April, 1816, at the motherhouse of her institute, Namur, Belgium. She was the sixth of seven children of Jean-François Billiart and his wife, Marie-Louise-Antoinette Debraine. The childhood of Julie was remarkable; at the age of seven, she knew the catechism by heart, and used to gather her little companions around her to hear them recite it and to explain it to them. Her education was confined to the rudiments obtained at the village school which was kept by her uncle, Thibault Guilbert. In spiritual things her progress was so rapid that the parish priest, M. Dangicourt, allowed her to make her First Communion and to be confirmed at the age of nine years. At this time she made a vow of chastity. Misfortunes overtook the Billiart family when Julie was sixteen, and she gave herself generously to the aid of her parents, working in the fields with the reapers. She was held in such high esteem for her virtue and piety as to be commonly called, "the saint of Cuvilly". When twenty-two years old, a nervous shock, occasioned by a pistol-shot fired at her father by some unknown enemy, brought on a paralysis of the lower limbs, which in a few years confined her to her bed a helpless cripple, and thus she remained for twenty-two years. During this time, when she received Holy Communion daily, Julie exercised an uncommon gift of prayer, spending four or five hours a day in contemplation. The rest of her time was occupied in making linens and laces for the alter and in catechizing the village children whom she gathered around her bed, giving special attention to those who were preparing for their First Communion.
At Amiens, where Julie Billiart had been compelled to take refuge with Countess Baudoin during the troublesome times of the French Revolution, she met Françoise Blin de Bourdon, Viscountess of Gizaincourt, who was destined to be her co-laborer in the great work as yet unknown to either of them. The Viscountess Blin de Bourdon was thirty-eight years old at the time of her meeting with Julie, and had spent her youth in piety and good works; she had been imprisoned with all of her family during the Reign of Terror, and had escaped death only by the fall of Robespierre. She was not at first attracted by the almost speechless paralytic, but by degrees grew to love and admire the invalid for her wonderful gifts of soul. A little company of young and high-born ladies, friends of the viscountess, was formed around the couch of "the saint". Julie taught them how to lead the interior life, while they devoted themselves generously to the cause of God and His poor. Though they attempted all the exercises of an active community life, some of the elements of stability must have been wanting, for these first disciples dropped off until none was left but Françoise Blin de Bourdon. She was never to be separated from Julie, and with her in 1803, in obedience to Father Varin, superior of the Fathers of the Faith, and under the auspices of the Bishop of Amiens, the foundation was laid of the Institute of the Sisters of Notre Dame, a society which had for its primary object the salvation of poor children. Several young persons offered themselves to assist the two superiors. The first pupils were eight orphans. On the feast of the Sacred Heart, 1 June, 1804, Mother Julie, after a novena made in obedience to her confessor, was cured of paralysis. The first vows of religion were made on 15 October, 1804 by Julie Billiart, Françoise Blin de Bourdon, Victoire Leleu, and Justine Garson, and their family names were changed to names of saints. They proposed for their lifework the Christian education of girls, and the training of religious teachers who should go wherever their services were asked for. Father Varin gave the community a provisional rule by way of probation, which was so far-sighted that its essentials have never been changed. In view of the extension of the institute, he would have it governed by a superior-general, charged with visiting the houses, nominating the local superiors, corresponding with the members dispersed in the different convents, and assigning the revenues of the society. The characteristic devotions of the Sisters of Notre Dame were established by the foundress from the beginning. She was original in doing away with the time-honored distinction between choir sisters and lay sisters, but this perfect equality of rank did not in any way prevent her from putting each sister to the work for which her capacity and education fitted her. She attached great importance to the formation of the sisters destined for the schools, and in this she was ably assisted by Mother St. Joseph (Françoise Blin de Bourdon), who had herself received an excellent education.
When the congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame was approved by an imperial decree dated 19 June, 1806, it numbered thirty members, In that and the following years, foundations were made in various towns of France and Belgium, the most important being those at Ghent and Namur, of which the latter house Mother St. Joseph was the first superior. This spread of the institute beyond the Diocese of Amiens cost the foundress the greatest sorrow of her life. In the absence of Father Varin from that city, the confessor of the community, the Abbé de Sambucy de St. Estève, a man of superior intelligence and attainments but enterprising and injudicious, endeavored to change the rule and fundamental constitutions of the new congregation so as to bring it into harmony with the ancient monastic orders. He so far influenced the bishop. Mgr. Demandolx, that Mother Julie had soon no alternative but to leave the Diocese of Amiens, relying upon the goodwill of Mgr. Pisani de la Gaude, bishop of Namur, who had invited her to make his episcopal city the center of her congregation, should a change become necessary. In leaving Amiens, Mother Julie laid the case before all her subjects and told them they were perfectly free to remain or to follow her. All but two chose to go with her, and thus, in themid-winter of 1809, the convent of Namur became the motherhouse of the institute and is so still. Mgr. Demandolx, soon undeceived, made all the amends in his power, entreating Mother Julie to return to Amiens and rebuild her institute. She did indeed return, but after a vain struggle to find subjects or revenues, went back to Namur. The seven years of life that remained to her were spent in forming her daughters to solid piety and the interior spirit, of which she was herself the model. Mgr. De Broglie, bishop of Ghent, said of her that she saved more souls by her inner life of union with God than by her outward apostolate. She received special supernatural favors and unlooked-for aid in peril and need. In the space of twelve years (1804 - 1816) Mother Julie founded fifteen convents, made one hundred and twenty journeys, many of them long and toilsome, and carried on a close correspondence with her spiritual daughters. Hundreds of these letters are preserved in the motherhouse. In 1815 Belgium was the battlefield of the Napoleonic wars, and the mother-general suffered great anxiety, as several of her convents were in the path of the armies, but they escaped injury. In January, 1816, she was taken ill, and after three months of pain borne in silence and patience, she died with the Magnificat on her lips. The fame of her sanctity spread abroad and was confirmed by several miracles. The process of her beatification, begun in 1881, was completed in 1906 by the decree of Pope Pius X dated 13 May, declaring her Blessed. [Note: She was canonized in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.]
St. Julie's predominating trait in the spiritual order was her ardent charity, springing from a lively faith and manifesting itself in her thirst for suffering and her zeal for souls. Her whole soul was echoed in the simple and naove formula which was continually on her lips and pen: "Oh, qu'il est bon, le bon Dieu" (How good God is). She possessed all the qualities of a perfect superior, and inspired her subjects with filial confidence and tender affection.

(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)
SOURCE: EWTN.COM

VATICAN : POPE : EASTER HOMILY - JESUS IS RISEN - FULL TEXT

RADIO VATICANA REPORT: “Light makes life possible. It makes encounter possible. It makes communication possible. It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible.” Because this is true, “The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general.” These were just some of the words Pope Benedict XVI addressed to the faithful in his homily during the Easter Vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, on the night separating Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, for which the light of Christ, risen from the dead, is a central theme: beginning in silence and darkness, the paschal fire is lit, and with it the Easter Candle, the light of which begins as a far-off flicker, before spreading until it splits the night with the brilliance of a thousand torches.
Below, please fin the full text of Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the Easter Vigil Mass

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“On Easter night, the night of the new creation, the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol: the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch as it is burnt up. It gives light, inasmuch as it gives itself. Thus the Church presents most beautifully the paschal mystery of Christ, who gives himself and so bestows the great light”, said Pope Benedict XVI Saturday evening as he led a congregation of thousands in the Great Easter Vigil, in St Peter’s Basilica.

Since early morning pilgrims had patiently queued for entrance to the basilica beneath foreboding skies, with many more following the liturgy on giant screens in the square. In his homily Pope Benedict drew on the first act of the Easter vigil; when a basilica shrouded in dark slowly flickers to life as the flame of the newly inscribed and blessed Pascal candle passes through the central nave, lighting the candles of the faithful, to the chant “Lumen Christi”. And then the singing of the Easter proclamation, the Exultet.

He said this ancient hymn reminds us that “in the candle, creation becomes a bearer of light”. But it also serves “as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world”.

During the ceremony the Holy Father welcomed 8 adults into the Church from Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Albania, Cameron, Turkmenistan and the United States of America. He said “The Lord says to the newly-baptized: Fiat lux – let there be light. God’s new day – the day of indestructible life, comes also to us. Christ takes you by the hand. From now on you are held by him and walk with him into the light, into real life. For this reason the early Church called baptism photismos – illumination”.

“The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil. The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general. If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other “lights”, that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk. Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment? With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify. Faith, then, which reveals God’s light to us, is the true enlightenment, enabling God’s light to break into our world, opening our eyes to the true light”.

Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Easter Vigil Holy Saturday, 7 April 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Easter is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more. He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death. He has taken mankind up into God himself. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50). On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: “Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God” (CCL II, 994). A new dimension has opened up for mankind. Creation has become greater and broader. Easter Day ushers in a new creation, but that is precisely why the Church starts the liturgy on this day with the old creation, so that we can learn to understand the new one aright. At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word on Easter night, then, comes the account of the creation of the world. Two things are particularly important here in connection with this liturgy. On the one hand, creation is presented as a whole that includes the phenomenon of time. The seven days are an image of completeness, unfolding in time. They are ordered towards the seventh day, the day of the freedom of all creatures for God and for one another. Creation is therefore directed towards the coming together of God and his creatures; it exists so as to open up a space for the response to God’s great glory, an encounter between love and freedom. On the other hand, what the Church hears on Easter night is above all the first element of the creation account: “God said, ‘let there be light!’” (Gen 1:3). The creation account begins symbolically with the creation of light. The sun and the moon are created only on the fourth day. The creation account calls them lights, set by God in the firmament of heaven. In this way he deliberately takes away the divine character that the great religions had assigned to them. No, they are not gods. They are shining bodies created by the one God. But they are preceded by the light through which God’s glory is reflected in the essence of the created being.

What is the creation account saying here? Light makes life possible. It makes encounter possible. It makes communication possible. It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible. And insofar as it makes knowledge possible, it makes freedom and progress possible. Evil hides. Light, then, is also an expression of the good that both is and creates brightness. It is daylight, which makes it possible for us to act. To say that God created light means that God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love. Matter is fundamentally good, being itself is good. And evil does not come from God-made being, rather, it comes into existence through denial. It is a “no”.

At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: “Let there be light”. The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus’ passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed. Now it is the first day once again – creation is beginning anew. “Let there be light”, says God, “and there was light”: Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us.

But how is this to come about? How does all this affect us so that instead of remaining word it becomes a reality that draws us in? Through the sacrament of baptism and the profession of faith, the Lord has built a bridge across to us, through which the new day reaches us. The Lord says to the newly-baptized: Fiat lux – let there be light. God’s new day – the day of indestructible life, comes also to us. Christ takes you by the hand. From now on you are held by him and walk with him into the light, into real life. For this reason the early Church called baptism photismos – illumination.

Why was this? The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil. The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general. If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other “lights”, that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk. Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment? With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify. Faith, then, which reveals God’s light to us, is the true enlightenment, enabling God’s light to break into our world, opening our eyes to the true light.

Dear friends, as I conclude, I would like to add one more thought about light and illumination. On Easter night, the night of the new creation, the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol: the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch as it is burnt up. It gives light, inasmuch as it gives itself. Thus the Church presents most beautifully the paschal mystery of Christ, who gives himself and so bestows the great light. Secondly, we should remember that the light of the candle is a fire. Fire is the power that shapes the world, the force of transformation. And fire gives warmth. Here too the mystery of Christ is made newly visible. Christ, the light, is fire, flame, burning up evil and so reshaping both the world and ourselves. “Whoever is close to me is close to the fire,” as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said. And this fire is both heat and light: not a cold light, but one through which God’s warmth and goodness reach down to us.

The great hymn of the Exsultet, which the deacon sings at the beginning of the Easter liturgy, points us quite gently towards a further aspect. It reminds us that this object, the candle, has its origin in the work of bees. So the whole of creation plays its part. In the candle, creation becomes a bearer of light. But in the mind of the Fathers, the candle also in some sense contains a silent reference to the Church,. The cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.

Let us pray to the Lord at this time that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world (cf. LG 1). Amen.

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