Skip to comments.THOSE WHO PRACTICE MERCY DO NOT FEAR DEATH (Weekly Audience)
Posted on 11/27/2013 8:06:21 PM PST by markomalley
The Pope is now concluding his catechesis on the Creed, pronounced during the Year of Faith which came to an end last Sunday. Today's focus, which will also be the theme of next Wednesday's general audience, was the resurrection of the flesh, our death and resurrection in Christ; today he analysed the first element, our death in Christ, and will turn to the aspect of our resurrection next week.
The Pope first thanked the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square over 50,000 participants praising them for braving the cold weather that has affected the Italian capital in these days, and complementing them on their resistance before beginning the catechesis.
There is a wrong way of looking at death, he said. Death affects all of us, and challenges us profoundly, especially when it touches someone close to us, or when it strikes the very young or defenceless in a way that appears 'scandalous' to us. I am always struck by the question, 'why do children suffer? Why do children die?'. If it is understood as the end of everything, death terrifies us; it is transformed into a threat that stops us in our tracks. This happens when we consider our life as a period of time closed between two poles, birth and death; when we do not believe in a horizon that goes beyond that of our present life; when we live as if God did not exist. This concept of death is typical of atheist thought, which interprets existence as a matter of appearing in the world by chance and walking a path towards nothingness. But there also exists a form of practical atheism, which involves living only for one's own interests and for earthly goods. If we allow ourselves to be ensnared by this erroneous view of death, we have no choice other than that of evading death, denying it, or of trivialising it so that it no longer frightens us.
But man's heart - the desire we all have for the infinite, our nostalgia for eternity rebels against this false solution. And so what is the Christian meaning of death? If we look at the most painful moments of our lives, when we have lost someone dear to us we realise that, even in the drama of loss, there rises from the heart the conviction that it cannot all be over. There is a powerful instinct within us that tells us that our life does not end with death.
This thirst for life finds its true and reliable answer in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus not only gives us the certainty of life beyond death, but it also casts light on the mystery of the death of every one of us. If we live united with Jesus, faithful to Him, we will be capable of facing even the passage of death with hope and serenity.
From this perspective, we understand Jesus' invitation to always be ready and watchful in the knowledge that life in this world is given to us also in preparation for the other life, that with the celestial Father. And for this there is a sure way: preparing oneself well for death, staying close to Jesus in prayer, in the Sacraments and also in the practice of charity. Remember that He is present in the weakest and neediest among us. He himself identified with them, in the famous parable of the final judgement, when he says 'Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'. Therefore a sure way is to recover the meaning of Christian charity and fraternal sharing, curing the bodily and spiritual wounds of our neighbour.
Those who live with mercy, he concluded, do not fear death, because they face it directly in the wounds of their brothers, and overcome it with Jesus Christ's love.
Here is the translation of the Holy Fathers continuing catechesis on the Creed during todays General Audience in St. Peters Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning and congratulations because you are brave to be here in this square with this cold [weather]. Many compliments!
I want to bring to a close the catechesis on the Creed, carried out during the Year of Faith, which ended last Sunday. In this and the next catechesis I would like to consider the subject of the resurrection of the flesh, taking two aspects as presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, namely our dying and rising in Jesus Christ. Today I shall pause on the first aspect, to die in Christ.
Usually, among us, there is a mistaken way of seeing death. Death concerns everyone, and it questions us in a profound way, especially when it touches us up close, or when it strikes the little ones, the defenseless in a way that seems to us scandalous. I have always been struck by the question: why do children suffer? Why do children die? If death is understood as the end of everything, it frightens, terrifies, and is transformed into a threat that shatters every dream, every prospect, which breaks every relation and interrupts every way. This happens when we consider our life as a time enclosed between two poles: birth and death; when we do not believe in a horizon that goes beyond the present life; when one lives as if God did not exist. This idea of death is typical of atheistic thought, which interprets existence as finding oneself accidentally in the world and walking towards nothingness. But there is also a practical atheism, which is to live only for ones own interests and earthly things. If we allow ourselves to be taken in by this mistaken vision of death, we have no other choice than that of hiding death, of denying it, or of trivializing it, so that it wont make us afraid.
However, this false solution reveals mans heart, the desire that we all have for the infinite, our nostalgia of the eternal. So, then, what is the Christian meaning of death? If we look at the most painful moments of our life, when we have lost a dear person parents, a brother, a sister, a spouse, a child, a friend -- we remember that, even in the tragedy of the loss, even lacerated by the detachment, the conviction arises in our heart that everything cannot be finished, that the good given and received was not useless. There is a powerful instinct within us, which tells us that life does not end with death.
This thirst for life has found its real and reliable answer in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Resurrection not only gives us the certainty of life beyond death, but it also illumines the mystery itself of the death of each one of us. If we live united to Jesus, faithful to Him, we will be able to face the passage of death with hope and serenity. The Church in fact prays: If the certainty of having to die saddens you, you are consoled by the promise of future immortality. This is a beautiful prayer of the Church! A person tends to die the way they have lived. If my life has been a journey with the Lord, of trust in His immense mercy, I will be prepared to accept the last moment of my earthly existence as the definitive and confident abandonment in his welcoming hands, in the expectation of contemplating his countenance face to face. This is the most beautiful thing that could happen: to contemplate face to face that wonderful countenance of the Lord, to see him as he is, beautiful, full of light, full of love, full of tenderness. We go towards this end: to see the Lord.
Understood in this horizon is Jesus invitation to be always ready, vigilant, knowing that life in this world is also given to prepare for the other life, the one with the heavenly Father. And because of this, there is a sure way: to prepare well for death, staying close to Jesus ( ) with prayer, in the Sacraments and also in the practice of charity. We remember that He is present in the weakest and neediest. He himself identified himself with them, in the famous parable of the Last Judgment, when he says: I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. All that you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me (Matthew 25:35-36.40). Therefore, a sure way is to recover the meaning of Christian charity and fraternal sharing, to take care of the corporal and spiritual wounds of our neighbor. Solidarity in sharing sorrow and infusing hope is the premise and condition to receive in inheritance the Kingdom prepared for us. One who practices mercy does not fear death. Think well of this: who practices mercy does not fear death! Do you agree? Shall we say it together so as not to forget? One who practices mercy does not fear death. And why does he not fear death? Because he looks at it in the face in the wounds of brothers, and overcomes it with the love of Jesus Christ.
If we open the door of our life and of our heart to our littlest brothers, then even our death will become a door that will introduce us to Heaven, to our blessed homeland, toward which we are directed, longing to dwell forever with our Father, with Jesus , Mary and the Saints.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Creed, we now reflect on the resurrection of the body. Christian faith illumines the mystery of death and brings the hope of the resurrection. Death challenges all of us: apart from belief in God and a vision of life as something greater than earthly existence, death appears as wholly tragic; we misunderstand it, fear and deny it. Yet human beings were made for something greater; we yearn for the infinite, the eternal. Christs resurrection not only offers us the certainty of life beyond death, it also shows us the true meaning of death. We die as we live: if our lives were lived in loving union with God, we will be able to abandon ourselves serenely and confidently into his hands at the moment of our death. Our Lord frequently tells us to be watchful, knowing that our life in this world is a preparation for the life to come. If we remain close to him, especially through charity to the poor and solidarity with those in need, we need not fear death, but rather welcome it as the door to heaven and to the joy of eternal life.
Pope Francis (In Italian):
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at todays Audience, including those from England, the Philippines and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke Gods blessings of joy and peace!
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I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the faithful of Ravenna-Cervia, of Trieste and of Concordia-Pordenone, accompanied by their respective Bishops, as well as the directors of the Italian Catholic Weeklies, who have come here for the end of the Year of Faith. I greet the children affected by the Rett Syndrome; the Apostles of Divine Marcy, with the Bishop of Palestrina, Monsignor Sigalini; the spiritual advisers of the Notre Dame Team; the Confraternity of Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome; the members of the Department of Surgery and Medicine of Biocca University of Milan and the students of several schools adherents of the initiative of the Sister Nature Foundation.
In addition, I greet the parishes, the military men and Groups present, in particular the Association City of the Most Holy Crucified of Gravina in Puglia and the delegation of Mayors of the Cities of Saint James of the Marca. I hope that this meeting will awaken in all the desire for a renewed adherence to Christ and his Gospel.
Finally my affectionate thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds.
Next Sunday we will begin the liturgical season of Advent. Dear young people, prepare your hearts to receive Jesus the Savior; dear sick, offer your suffering so that all will see in Christmas the encounter of the Christ with fragile human nature; and you dear newlyweds, live your marriage as the reflection of the love of God in your personal story. Thank you.
The purpose of liberalism is to deny mercy. That's why it claims all good for itself, to try to hide its absolute darkness.
I don't think this Pope is a collectivist. I think he's trying to wake people up to the idea that capitalism is not the bottom line of life, and that it needs to be tempered with spiritual principles. In that, he is fighting the very essence of collectivism, which is the denial of mercy under every possible condition.
And of course, he is also right in a very straightforward way, because the wages of sin is, indeed, death. To those who deny mercy, mercy will be deinied.
Big government destroys free will and free will is the gift of God to every man. Just think of the millions that have been been duped by communists into thinking that the ends justify the means, and think of democide wrought by big tyrannical government. Every man of God must make a man’s exercise of conscience an absolute priority. God cannot love the contrived act of a deluded slave.
Capitalism has done more to free people and give them the oportunity to better themselves and be the kinds of people they want to be,
more than ANY OTHER “ism” ever tried or still in use.
We hardly have unregulated, unrestrained capitalism in this country. We are regulated to death at multiple levels just to start a simple business. Capitalism is hardly running amok, unchecked, and out of control, taking advantage of all these poor people who have to live under it.
If he was really hitting the proper target, he’d say that the problem is GREED rather than “capitalism”. Greed exists in ALL systems because every person has a heart that is wicked and needs to be controlled. Capitalism has better ways to deal with excessive, obnoxious greed, than communism, fascism, nationalism, etc.
“I don’t think this Pope is a collectivist. I think he’s trying to wake people up to the idea that capitalism is not the bottom line of life, and that it needs to be tempered with spiritual principles.”
Hammer meet nail head LOL! Spot on!
I completely agree about the over-regulation of business, and the benefits of capitalism to restrain and control greed.
But I think too few people acknowledge the difference between multinationals and small businesses. They are routinely lumped together as “capitalism,” but they are as different as bumblebees and locusts. To call both “insects” and be done with it is to completely miss what they actually do.
Multinationals have reached nation-state influence and power. Multinationals are what most people - and by this, I include the pope - who are against “capitalism” are referring to. And realistically, while multinationals constantly claim to be the backbone of business success, they are actually the destroyers of the very competition that makes capitalism so successful. As well, multinationals benefit the most from crushing business regulations and totalitarian political enforcement, because they alone are big enough to be able to pay for all of it and still thrive.
To multinationals, creating hostile business environments through political oppression IS “business” - their REAL business, no matter what they happen to actually be selling. To not understand this means... well, it means you’ll never be hired by a multinational for an executive position!
And of course, that means multinationals are best served by progressive/liberal/Leftist/socialist/communist governments, because internally they already ARE such entities, and externally, such governments are literally constructed to serve their interests. Remember, “pure” communism is a fantasy, because there always has to be somethng outside of the communist structure actually providing value and creating wealth, for the communist structure to parasite off of. That’s why fascism will always be the actual reality, and fascism is the merger of multinationals and governments in a mutually self-serving relationship.
This is just how it works from a power perspective, like watching gears turn. They all interact with each other in a sealed, self-protective system, going around and around and around. That’s also why multinational CEOs and executives typically go back and forth between corporate and government positions in their careers - it’s the same work. They just do time on both sides of the self-balanced equation.
That is some very interesting analysis. Thank you for offering some genuinely thought-provoking information.
**Those who live with mercy, he concluded, do not fear death, because they face it directly in the wounds of their brothers, and overcome it with Jesus Christ’s love.**
So true that we face it every day. Yesterday as we wound up taking delivery calls for Thanksgiving meals, I received the information that one of our parishioners had died suddenly. In fact, he was scheduled to come in and help do some of the Thanksgiving cooking for over 1200 people.
He was on dialysis, and I guess his kidneys just gave out on him. But he was a superb chef and did a lot of cooking for our parish. He was also an integral part of our Sunday morning fellowship (coffee and donuts after Masses.)
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
what you’re describing is fascism, crony capitalism, nepotism. plenty of elements of it in the descriptions.
Yes, that is exactly what I am describing. But my point is that the mulinational is the mechanism by which people have escaped negative feedback for their greed. As corupt as politicians are, there are still (nominally) courts, laws and elections to keep them from going completely out of control. Of course, neutralizing those restraints literally defines the Democrats, but bear with me, my point is that those restrainst are there.
Small business also experiences restraints on greed through the mechanism of competition. Go too far, and someone else will exploit the business loophole you created with your greed, and flank you. That intense competition is what is the real driving force behind the positive capitalist improvement on a civilization. The real way people vote is with money - screw them over, and they buy what they want somewhere else, and your business fails.
Enter the multinational. Which is really just saying, enter the business of owning businesses. In fact, the business of owning so many businesses that it becomes a small country, able to manipulate the political agenda and laws to its advantage.
As a result (and as planned), competition dries up, except from other multinationals, and then that's hendled by secret (or not so secret) non-competition deals. And so, greed runs amuck, with nothing to hold it back. Next stop - political collectivism, with all of it's horrors and destructions.
It's like an equation - the variables have to be balanced on both sides. And on one side, you have this giant collectivist political power. What balances it, reinforces it, and works with it? Multinationals. It's a two-headed creature.
And greed is it's god.
Those who are assured of their salvation through their faith in the cross, do not fear death.