Faithful Gather in St. John Lateran Basilica at Holy Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

On Friday, December 30th, in St John's Lateran Basilica, the Cardinal Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome celebrated a Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Cardinals, bishops, bishops’ conferences and faithful around the world continue to offer prayers for Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, has confirmed that Benedict XVI’s health conditions remain stable. Cardinal De Donatis introduced his homily by expressing the prayerful “affection” and “gratitude” of the entire Church of Rome to the Pope Emeritus, who - he noted - loved his Diocese “so much and served (it) with unselfish love.”
Reflecting on today’s Gospel of the Solemnity of the Holy Family, the Archpriest St John's Basilica highlighted the likeness between the “trusting abandonment” to God of Benedict XVI whose baptismal name is Joseph, to that of St. Joseph when fleeing Herod with Mary and Baby Jesus. “We like to think – he said - that our Bishop Emeritus is now held by the hand of St. Joseph who helps him to always keep alive God's invitation not to fear”.

He also emphasized the need for families to restore this loving and trusting relationship with God as they face many worldly challenges today. Cardinal De Donatis recalled Benedict XVI’s words at the World Meeting of Families in Milan, when he said: "I often think of the wedding-feast of Cana. The first wine is very fine: this is falling in love. But it does not last until the end: a second wine has to come later, it has to ferment and grow, to mature. The definitive love that can truly become this ‘second wine’ is more wonderful still, it is better than the first wine”.

 The Cardinal Vicar further noted Benedict XVI’s “great trust in the Providence”: “As a priest, a theologian, a bishop, and as a pope, he expressed, at the same time, the strength and sweetness of faith, the essentiality and simplicity of someone who knows that, when you dream with God, dreams come true”. Moreover, Cardinal De Donatis explained that like Saint Joseph, the Pope Emeritus “has always underlined the primacy of the Word of God over our human words recalling the great value of silence and listening” and during his pontificate “made us taste the new and good wine of Love”.

He cited his first words of the Encyclical "Deus Caritas est", in which Benedict XVI said that being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but “the encounter with an event, a Person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” “Benedict XVI, a humble worker in the Lord's vineyard, is a witness of this encounter , a collaborator of truth and joy, of love for Christ and for the Church.”
A “man of the Word Benedict”, Benedict XVI is also “a man of his word”, showing us right now , as he has done over the past ten years, that “whoever believes is never alone”. With his “tenderness, goodness, humility, meekness, in deep communion with Pope Francis, the Pope Emeritus is a sign of the beautiful face of the Church which reflects the light of Christ's face”, Cardinal De Donatis stressed. “Our prayer today is a sign of vitality and communion in the Church. In a change of epoch, full of hardships and historical facts that have shocked us, we want to testify, as Benedict repeated several times at the beginning of his pontificate, that the Church is alive, she is alive because Christ is alive, he is truly risen.”
Edited from Vatican News