VATICAN CITY, 5 NOV 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Basilica the Pope presided at the traditional November Mass for the souls of cardinals and bishops who died over the course of the year. Members of the College of Cardinals concelebrated with the Holy Father.
At the beginning of his homily, Benedict XVI recalled the names of the cardinals who passed away during the last twelve months: Avery Dulles, Pio Laghi, Stephanos II Ghattas, Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, Umberto Betti, and Jean Margeot, expressing his affection for them and for the many archbishops and bishops who also died this year.
"In these our venerated brothers we like to recognise the servants of whom the gospel parable speaks", said the Pope in his homily, "faithful servants whom the master, returning from the wedding banquet, finds watchful and alert; pastors who have served the Church, assuring the necessary care for Christ's flock, witnesses of the Gospel who, in their variety of gifts and tasks, gave proof of assiduous vigilance, of generous dedication to the cause of the Kingdom of God".
Separation from loved ones is painful, observed the Holy Father, and death "is an enigma charged with anxiety". Yet, "for believers, however it comes, it is always illuminated by the 'hope of immortality'. The faith sustains us in these moments full of human sadness and distress".
Commenting then on the First Letter of St. Peter, the second reading of today's Mass, Benedict XVI noted how it encourages us "during our earthly pilgrimage to maintain the prospect of hope, a 'living hope', alive in our hearts, ... because God in His great mercy has regenerated us 'through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead'.
"This", he added, "is the reason we must be 'full of joy', even if we are afflicted by suffering. If, indeed, we persevere in goodness, then our faith, purified by many trials, will one day shine forth in all its splendour and resound to our praise, glory and honour when Jesus appears in His glory".
And the Holy Father concluded: "Here is the reason for our hope, which already brings us to exult 'with an indescribable and glorious joy' as we journey towards the goal of our faith: the salvation of souls".
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