7 Nov 2011
Faith in Life Eternal gives us hope to improve the world - Pope Benedict XVI - All Souls
At his weekly general audience on 2nd November, addressing pilgrims from various different countries, Pope Benedict XVI focused his remarks on the Solemnity of All Souls and the reality of death.
"Despite the fact that death is a subject almost banned from our societies, and there are continuous attempts to remove even the thought of it from our minds, it actually concerns each one of us", Pope Benedict explained. "Faced with this mystery all of us, even unconsciously, seek something that allows us to hope, a sign that can bring consolation, a horizon open to a future".
We are afraid of death because "we are afraid of the void, of departing towards something we do not know". At the same time, "we cannot accept that all the great and beautiful achievements of a lifetime can suddenly be wiped out, that they can fall into the abyss of emptiness. Above all we feel that love calls out for eternity, and we cannot accept that it is destroyed by death in a single moment. ... When we find ourselves towards the end of life, we have a perception that there is judgment of our actions, of how we conducted our life, especially in those dark movements which, with great ability, we often remove or seek to remove from our conscience".
In today's world, the Holy Father went on, "there is a widespread tendency to think that everything must be approached with the criteria of experimental science, and that even the great question of death must be answered, not with faith, but on the basis of empirical data. We are not sufficiently aware, however, that precisely by doing so we have ended up falling into a form of spiritism, in the attempt to have some contact with the world beyond death".
However, for Christians the Solemnities of All Saints and All Souls "tell us that only those capable of recognising great hope in death are also able to live lives founded on hope. ... Man needs eternity; for him any other hope is too brief, too limited. Man is explainable only if there is a Love which overcomes all isolation, even the isolation of death, in a totality which transcends time and space. Man is explainable, he finds his most profound meaning, only if God exists. And we know that God ceased to be distant, that He came close to us".
"God truly showed Himself, He became accessible, He so loved the world 'that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life'. And by the supreme act of love upon the Cross, by emerging Himself in the abyss of death, He conquered death, He rose again and opened the doors of eternity for us too. Christ supports us through the night of death, which He Himself experienced. He is the Good Shepherd, to Whose guidance we can entrust ourselves without fear, because He knows the way, even through the darkness".
"It is precisely faith in eternal life which gives Christians the courage to love this earth of ours even more intensely, and to work to build an earthly future of true and secure hope", the Holy Father concluded.