Benedict XVI Homilies 21069
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I address my cordial greeting to each one of you. In particular, I greet the Cardinal Archpriest of this Basilica and his collaborators, I greet the Abbot and the Benedictine monastic community; I also greet the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The commemorative year for the birth of St Paul ends this evening. We have gathered at the tomb of the Apostle whose sarcophagus, preserved beneath the papal altar, was recently the object of a careful scientific analysis. A tiny hole was drilled in the sarcophagus, which in so many centuries had never been opened, in order to insert a special probe which revealed traces of a precious purple-coloured linen fabric, with a design in gold leaf, and a blue fabric with linen threads. Grains of red incense and protein and chalk substances were also found. In addition, minute fragments of bone were sent for carbon-14 testing by experts unaware of their provenance. The fragments proved to belong to someone who had lived between the first and second centuries. This would seem to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition which claims that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul. All this fills our hearts with profound emotion. In recent months, many people have followed the paths of the Apostle the exterior and especially the interior paths on which he travelled in his lifetime: the road to Damascus towards his encounter with the Risen One; the routes of the Mediterranean world which he crossed with the torch of the Gospel, encountering contradiction and adherence until his martyrdom, through which he belongs for ever to the Church of Rome. It was to her that he also addressed his most important Letter. The Pauline Year is drawing to a close but what will remain a part of Christian existence is the journey with Paul with him and thanks to him getting to know Jesus, and, like the Apostle, being enlightened and transformed by the Gospel. And always, going beyond the circle of believers, he remains the "teacher of the Gentiles", who seeks to bring the message of the Risen One to them all, because Christ has known and loved each one; he has died and risen for them all. Therefore let us too listen to him at this time when we are solemnly beginning the Feast of the two Apostles who were bound to one another by a close bond.
It is part of the structure of Paul's Letters always in reference to the particular place and situation that they first of all explain the mystery of Christ, they teach faith. The second part treats their application to our lives: what ensues from this faith? How does it shape our existence, day by day? In the Letter to the Romans, this second part begins in chapter 12, in which the Apostle briefly sums up the essential nucleus of Christian existence in the first two verses. What does St Paul say to us in that passage? First of all he affirms, as a fundamental thing, that a new way of venerating God began with Christ a new form of worship. It consists in the fact that the living person himself becomes adoration, "sacrifice", even in his own body. It is no longer things that are offered to God. It is our very existence that must become praise of God. But how does this happen? In the second verse we are given the answer: "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God..." (Rm 12,2). The two decisive words of this verse are "transformed" and "renewal". We must become new people, transformed into a new mode of existence. The world is always in search of novelty because, rightly, it is always dissatisfied with concrete reality. Paul tells us: the world cannot be renewed without new people. Only if there are new people will there also be a new world, a renewed and better world. In the beginning is the renewal of the human being. This subsequently applies to every individual. Only if we ourselves become new does the world become new. This also means that it is not enough to adapt to the current situation. The Apostle exhorts us to non-conformism. In our Letter he says: we should not submit to the logic of our time. We shall return to this point, reflecting on the second text on which I wish to meditate with you this evening. The Apostle's "no" is clear and also convincing for anyone who observes the "logic" of our world. But to become new how can this be done? Are we really capable of it? With his words on becoming new, Paul alludes to his own conversion: to his encounter with the Risen Christ, an encounter of which, in the Second Letter to the Corinthians he says: "if anyone is in Christ, he is in a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come" (2Co 5,17). This encounter with Christ was so overwhelming for him that he said of it: "I... died..." (Ga 2,19 cf. Rm 6). He became new, another, because he no longer lived for himself and by virtue of himself, but for Christ and in him. In the course of the years, however, he also saw that this process of renewal and transformation continues throughout life. We become new if we let ourselves be grasped and shaped by the new Man, Jesus Christ. He is the new Man par excellence. In him the new human existence became reality and we can truly become new if we deliver ourselves into his hands and let ourselves be moulded by him.
Paul makes this process of "recasting" even clearer by saying that we become new if we transform our way of thinking. What has been introduced here with "way of thinking" is the Greek term "nous". It is a complex word. It may be translated as "spirit", "sentiments", "reason", and precisely, also by "way of thinking". Thus our reason must become new. This surprises us. We might have expected instead that this would have concerned some attitude: what we should change in our behaviour. But no: renewal must go to the very core. Our way of looking at the world, of understanding reality all our thought must change from its foundations. The reasoning of the former person, the common way of thinking is usually directed to possession, well-being, influence, success, fame and so forth. Yet in this way its scope is too limited. Thus, in the final analysis, one's "self" remains the centre of the world. We must learn to think more profoundly. St Paul tells us what this means in the second part of the sentence: it is necessary to learn to understand God's will, so that it may shape our own will. This is in order that we ourselves may desire what God desires, because we recognize that what God wants is the beautiful and the good. It is therefore a question of a turning point in our fundamental spiritual orientation. God must enter into the horizon of our thought: what he wants and the way in which he conceived of the world and of me. We must learn to share in the thinking and the will of Jesus Christ. It is then that we will be new people in whom a new world emerges.
Paul illustrates the same idea of a necessary renewal of our way of being human in two passages of his Letter to the Ephesians; let us therefore reflect on them briefly. In the Letter's fourth chapter, the Apostle tells us that with Christ we must attain adulthood, a mature faith. We can no longer be "children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine..." (Ep 4,14). Paul wants Christians to have a "responsible" and "adult faith". The words "adult faith" in recent decades have formed a widespread slogan. It is often meant in the sense of the attitude of those who no longer listen to the Church and her Pastors but autonomously choose what they want to believe and not to believe hence a do-it-yourself faith. And it is presented as a "courageous" form of self-expression against the Magisterium of the Church. In fact, however, no courage is needed for this because one may always be certain of public applause. Rather, courage is needed to adhere to the Church's faith, even if this contradicts the "logic" of the contemporary world. This is the non-conformism of faith which Paul calls an "adult faith". It is the faith that he desires. On the other hand, he describes chasing the winds and trends of the time as infantile. Thus, being committed to the inviolability of human life from its first instant, thereby radically opposing the principle of violence also precisely in the defence of the most defenceless human creatures is part of an adult faith. It is part of an adult faith to recognize marriage between a man and a woman for the whole of life as the Creator's ordering, newly re-established by Christ. Adult faith does not let itself be carried about here and there by any trend. It opposes the winds of fashion. It knows that these winds are not the breath of the Holy Spirit; it knows that the Spirit of God is expressed and manifested in communion with Jesus Christ. However, here too Paul does not stop at saying "no", but rather leads us to the great "yes". He describes the mature, truly adult faith positively with the words: "speaking the truth in love" (cf. Ep 4,15). The new way of thinking, given to us by faith, is first and foremost a turning towards the truth. The power of evil is falsehood. The power of faith, the power of God, is the truth. The truth about the world and about ourselves becomes visible when we look to God. And God makes himself visible to us in the Face of Jesus Christ. In looking at Christ, we recognize something else: truth and love are inseparable. In God both are inseparably one; it is precisely this that is the essence of God. For Christians, therefore, truth and love go together. Love is the test of truth. We should always measure ourselves anew against this criterion, so that truth may become love and love may make us truthful.
Another important thought appears in this verse of St Paul. The Apostle tells us that by acting in accordance with truth in love, we help to ensure that all things (ta pánta) the universe may grow, striving for Christ. On the basis of his faith, Paul is not only concerned in our personal rectitude nor with the growth of the Church alone. He is interested in the universe: ta pánta. The ultimate purpose of Christ's work is the universe the transformation of the universe, of the whole human world, of all creation. Those who serve the truth in love together with Christ contribute to the true progress of the world. Yes, here it is quite clear that Paul is acquainted with the idea of progress. Christ his life, his suffering and his rising was the great leap ahead in the progress of humanity, of the world. Now, however, the universe must grow in accordance with him. Where the presence of Christ increases, therein lies the true progress of the world. There, mankind becomes new and thus the world is made new.
Paul makes the same thing clear from yet another different perspective. In chapter three of the Letter to the Ephesians he speaks to us of the need to be "strengthened... in the inner man" (Ep 3,16). With this he takes up a subject that earlier, in a troubled situation, he had addressed in the Second Letter to the Corinthians."Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day" (2Co 4,16). The inner person must be strengthened this is a very appropriate imperative for our time, in which people all too often remain inwardly empty and must therefore cling to promises and drugs, which then result in a further growth of the sense of emptiness in their hearts. This interior void the weakness of the inner person is one of the great problems of our time. Interiority must be reinforced the perceptiveness of the heart; the capacity to see and to understand the world and the person from within, with one's heart. We are in need of reason illuminated by the heart in order to learn to act in accordance with truth in love. However, this is not realized without an intimate relationship with God, without the life of prayer. We need the encounter with God that is given to us in the sacraments. And we cannot speak to God in prayer unless we let him speak first, unless we listen to him in the words that he has given us. In this regard Paul says to us: "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge" (Ep 3,17 ff.). With these words Paul tells us that love sees beyond simple reason. And he also tells us that only in communion with all the saints, that is, in the great community of all believers and not against or without it can we know the immensity of Christ's mystery. He circumscribes this immensity with words meant to express the dimensions of the cosmos: breadth, length and height and depth. The mystery of Christ has a cosmic vastness; he did not belong only to a specific group. The Crucified Christ embraces the entire universe in all its dimensions. He takes the world in his hands and lifts it up towards God. Starting with St Irenaeus of Lyons thus from the second century the Fathers have seen in these words on the breadth, length and height and depth of Christ's love an allusion to the Cross. In the Cross, Christ's love embraced the lowest depths the night of death as well as the supreme heights, the loftiness of God himself. And he took into his arms the breadth and the vastness of humanity and of the world in all their distances. He always embraces the universe all of us.
Let us pray the Lord to help us to recognize something of the immensity of his love. Let us pray him that his love and his truth may touch our hearts. Let us ask that Christ dwell in our hearts and make us new men and women who act according to truth in love. Amen!
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I address my cordial greeting to you all with the words of the Apostle by whose tomb we stand: "May grace and peace be multiplied to you" (1P 1,2). I greet in particular the Members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the numerous Metropolitans who will receive the pallium today. In the opening prayer of this solemn day we ask the Lord that the Church may always follow the teaching of the Apostles from whom she first received the announcement of the faith. The request we address to God at the same time calls us into question: are we following the teaching of the great founder Apostles? Do we really know them? In the Pauline Year that ended yesterday, we endeavoured to listen anew to him, the "teacher of the Gentiles", hence to learn anew the alphabet of faith. We endeavoured to recognize Christ with Paul and through Paul, and thus to find the way to an upright Christian life. In the Canon of the New Testament, in addition to the Letters of St Paul, there are also two other Letters under the name of St Peter. The first ends with an explicit greeting from Rome, which, however, appears under the apocalyptic pseudonym of Babylon: "She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings" (1P 5,13). By calling the Church of Rome "likewise chosen", he sets her within the great community of all the local Churches in the community of all those whom God has gathered, so that in the "Babylon" of this world's time they might build up his People and introduce God into history. St Peter's First Letter is a greeting addressed from Rome to the Christendom of all epochs. It invites us to listen to "the teaching of the Apostles", which shows us the way to life.
This Letter is a very rich text that wells up from the heart and touches the heart. Its centre is and how could it be otherwise? the figure of Christ who is illustrated as the One who suffers and loves, as Crucified and Risen: "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten.... By his wounds you have been healed" (1P 2,23f.). Then starting from the centre that is Christ, the Letter is also an introduction to the fundamental Christian Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist and a discourse addressed to priests in which Peter describes himself as a fellow priest with them. He speaks to Pastors of all generations as one who was personally made responsible by the Lord for tending his sheep and has thus received a specific priestly mandate. So what does St Peter tell us precisely in the Year for Priests about the priest's task? First of all he understands the priestly ministry as being based totally on Christ. He calls Christ the "Shepherd and Guardian of... souls" (1P 2,25). Where the Italian [and the English] translation speak of "Guardian", the Greek text uses the word episcopos (bishop). A little further on, Christ is described as the chief Shepherd: archipoimen (1P 5,4). It is surprising that Peter should call Christ himself a Bishop, Bishop of souls. What did he mean by this? The Greek term "episcopos" contains the verb "to see"; for this reason it is translated as "guardian", in other words "supervisor". Yet external supervision, as might befit a prison guard, is certainly not what is meant here. Rather it means watching over, from above seeing from the lofty position of God. Seeing from God's perspective is seeing with love that wants to serve the other, wants to help him to become truly himself. Christ is the "Bishop of souls", Peter tells us. This means: he sees us from the perspective of God. In seeing from God's viewpoint, one has an overall vision, one sees the dangers as well as the hopes and possibilities. From God's perspective one sees the essential, one sees the inner man. If Christ is the Bishop of souls, the objective is to prevent the human soul from becoming impoverished and to ensure that the human being does not lose his essence, the capacity for truth and love; to ensure that he becomes acquainted with God; that he does not get lost in blind alleys; that he does not end in loneliness but remains altogether open. Jesus, the "Bishop of souls", is the prototype of every episcopal and presbyteral ministry. To be a Bishop, to be a priest, means in this perspective to assume the position of Christ. It means thinking, seeing and acting from his exalted vantage point. It means starting from Christ in order to be available to human beings so that they find life.
Thus the word "Bishop", is very close to the term "Shepherd"; indeed the two concepts become interchangeable. It is the shepherd's task to feed and tend his flock and take it to the right pastures. Grazing the flock means taking care that the sheep find the right nourishment, that their hunger is satisfied and their thirst quenched. The metaphor apart, this means: the word of God is the nourishment that the human being needs. Making God's word ever present and new and thereby giving nourishment to people is the task of the righteous Pastor. And he must also know how to resist the enemies, the wolves. He must go first, point out the way, preserve the unity of the flock. Peter, in his discourse to priests, highlights another very important thing. It is not enough to speak. Pastors must make themselves "examples to the flock". (1P 5,3). When it is lived, the word of God is brought from the past into the present. It is marvellous to see how in saints the word of God becomes a word addressed to our time. In such figures as Francis and then again, as Padre Pio and many others, Christ truly became a contemporary of their generation, he emerged from the past to enter the present. This is what being a Pastor means a model for the flock: living the word now, in the great community of holy Church.
Very briefly, I would like to call your attention further to two other affirmations in the First Letter of St Peter which concern us in a special way in our time. There is first of all the sentence, today discovered anew, on the basis of which medieval theologians understood their task, the task of the theologian: "in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you". (1P 3,15). Christian faith is hope. It paves the way to the future. And it is a hope that possesses reasonableness, a hope whose reason we can and must explain. Faith comes from the eternal Reason that entered our world and showed us the true God. Faith surpasses the capacity of our reason, just as love sees more than mere intelligence. But faith speaks to reason and in the dialectic confrontation can be a match for reason. It does not contradict it but keeps up with it and goes beyond it to introduce us into the greater Reason of God. As Pastors of our time it is our task to be the first to understand the reason of faith. It is our task not to let it remain merely a tradition but to recognize it as a response to our questions. Faith demands our rational participation, which is deepened and purified in a sharing of love. It is one of our duties as Pastors to penetrate faith with thought, to be able to show the reason for our hope within the debates of our time. Yet although it is so necessary thought alone does not suffice. Just as speaking alone does not suffice. In his baptismal and Eucharistic catechesis in chapter 2 of his Letter, Peter alludes to the Psalm used by the ancient Church in the context of communion, that is, to the verse which says: "O taste and see that the Lord is good!" (Ps 34: Ps 34,8 1P 2,3). Tasting alone leads to seeing. Let us think of the disciples of Emmaus: it was only in convivial communion with Jesus, only in the breaking of the bread that their eyes were opened. Only in truly experienced communion with the Lord were they able to see. This applies to us all; over and above thinking and speaking, we need the experience of faith, the vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith must not remain theory: it must be life. If we encounter the Lord in the Sacrament, if we speak to him in prayer, if in the decisions of daily life we adhere to Christ then "we see" more and more how good he is; then we experience how good it is to be with him. Moreover the capacity to communicate faith to others in a credible way stems from this certainty lived. The Curé d'Ars was not a great thinker; but he "tasted" the Lord. He lived with him even in the details of daily life, as well as in the great demands of his pastoral ministry. In this way he became "one who sees". He had tasted so he knew that the Lord is good. Let us pray the Lord that he may grant us this ability to taste, and that we may thus become credible witnesses of the hope that is in us.
Lastly, I would like to point out another small but important statement of St Peter. Right at the beginning of his Letter he tells us that the goal of our faith is the salvation of souls (cf. 1P 1,9). In the world of language and thought of the Christianity of today this is a strange, and for some, perhaps even shocking assertion. The word "soul" had fallen into discredit. It is said that this could lead to a division of man into spiritual and physical, body and soul, whereas in reality he would be an indivisible unit. In addition, "the salvation of souls" as a goal of faith seems to indicate an individualistic Christianity, a loss of responsibility for the world overall, in its corporeity and in its materiality. Yet none of this is found in St Peter's Letter. Zeal for the witness in favour of hope and responsibility for others characterizes the entire text. To understand what he says on the salvation of souls as a destination of faith, we must start from another angle. It remains true that the lack of care for souls, the impoverishment of the inner man, not only destroys the individual but threatens the destiny of humanity overall. Without the healing of souls, without the healing of man from within there can be no salvation for humanity. To our surprise, St Peter describes the true ailment of souls as ignorance, that is, not knowing God. Those who are not acquainted with God, or at least do not seek him sincerely, are left outside true life (cf. 1P 1,14). Yet another word from the Letter could be useful to understand better the formula "salvation of souls". "Purify your souls by obedience to the truth" (cf. 1P 1,22). It is obedience to the truth that purifies the soul and it is coexistence with falsehood that pollutes it. Obedience to the truth begins with the small truths of daily life that can often be demanding and painful. This obedience then extends to obedience without reservations before the Truth itself that is Christ. This obedience not only purifies us but above all also frees us for service to Christ and thus for the salvation of the world, which nevertheless always begins with the obedient purification of one's own soul through the truth. We may point out the way towards the truth only if by obedience and patience we let ourselves be purified by the truth.
And now I address you, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, who will shortly receive the pallium from my hands. It was woven from the wool of lambs which the Pope blesses on the Feast of St Agnes. In this way it also recalls the lambs and sheep of Christ, which the Risen Lord entrusted to Peter with the task of tending them (cf. Jn 21,15-18). The pallium recalls the flock of Jesus Christ which you, dear Brothers, must tend in communion with Peter. It reminds us of Christ himself, who, as the Good Shepherd, took the lost sheep, humanity, on his shoulders to bring it home. It reminds us that he, the supreme Pastor, wanted to make himself the Lamb, to take upon himself from within the destiny of us all; to carry us and to heal us from within. Let us pray the Lord that he will grant us to be just Pastors following in his footsteps, "not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it... eagerly... examples to the flock" (1P 5,2f). Amen.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, a few days after the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul and the conclusion of the Pauline Year, my wish to reopen the Pauline Chapel for worship is fulfilled. We have taken part in solemn celebrations in honour of the two Apostles in the Papal Basilicas of St Paul and St Peter. This evening, to complete them, as it were, we gather in the heart of the Apostolic Palace, in the Chapel desired by Pope Paul III and designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, the place of prayer reserved for the Pope and the Pontifical Family. The paintings and decorations adorning this chapel particularly the two large frescoes by Michelangelo Buonarotti which were the last works of his long life are especially effective in encouraging meditation and prayer. They depict the conversion of Paul and the crucifixion of Peter.
The eye is first drawn to the faces of the two Apostles. It is evident from their placement alone that these two faces play a central role in the iconographic message of the Chapel. But, aside from their positioning, they immediately attract us "beyond" the image: they call us to question and lead us to reflect. First of all, let us dwell a moment on Paul: why is he portrayed with such an elderly face? It is the face of an old man, whereas we know and Michelangelo also knew it well that the calling of Saul on the road to Damascus occurred when he was about 30 years old. The artistic choice takes us outside pure realism; it makes us go beyond the simple narration of events to introduce us to a deeper level. The face of Saul-Paul which is that of the artist himself, who by then was old, troubled and in search of the light of truth represents the human being in need of a greater light. It is the light of divine grace, indispensable in order to gain a new perspective from which to perceive reality, oriented towards the "hope laid up for you in heaven", as the Apostle writes in the initial greeting of the Letter to the Colossians which we have just heard (Col 1,5).
The face of Saul fallen to the ground is lit from above, by the light of the Risen One and, despite its dramatic nature, the figure inspires peace and instils a sense of security. It expresses the maturity of a man illuminated from within by Christ the Lord, while around him a flurry of events occurs in which all of the figures seem to be within a vortex. The grace and peace of God have enveloped Saul, they have internally conquered and transformed him. It is the same "grace" and the same "peace" that he was to announce to all his communities on his apostolic journeys, with the maturity of one who has aged not in years, but spiritually, a gift from the Lord himself. Therefore, in Paul's face we can already perceive the heart of the spiritual message of this Chapel: the wonder, that is, of Christ's grace which transforms and renews mankind through the light of his truth and his love. This is what constitutes the newness of conversion, the call to faith which finds its fulfilment in the mystery of the Cross.
From Paul's face let us pass to that of Peter, depicted at the moment when his inverted cross is being hoisted up and he turns to look at the onlooker. This face too surprises us. Here the age represented is the correct one, but it is the expression that amazes and questions us. Why this expression? It is not an image of suffering, and Peter's body communicates a surprising degree of physical vigour. The face, especially the forehead and eyes, seems to express the state of mind of a man confronting death and evil. There is a bewilderment, a sharp, projected gaze that seems almost to search for something or someone in the final hour. And the eyes also stand out also in the faces of those surrounding him. Agitated glances emerge, some even frightened or confused. What does all of this mean? It is what Jesus had predicted to his Apostle: "When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not want to go". And the Lord had added: "Follow me" (Jn 21,18 Jn 21,19). In this precise moment the culmination of the sequela is reached: the disciple is no longer with his Master, and now tastes the bitterness of the cross, of the consequences of sin that separates from God, of all the absurdity of violence and falsehood. If one comes to this chapel to meditate, one cannot escape the radicalism of the question posed by the cross: the Cross of Christ, Head of the Church, and the cross of Peter, his Vicar on earth.
The two faces on which our gaze rests are opposite each other. One might therefore imagine that Peter's face is actually turned towards the face of Paul, who in turn does not see but bears within him the light of the Risen Christ. It is as though Peter, in the hour of supreme trial, were seeking that light which gave true faith to Paul. It is in this sense, then, that the two images can become the two acts of a single drama, the drama of the Paschal Mystery: Cross and Resurrection, death and life, sin and grace. The chronological order of the events portrayed might be inverted, nevertheless the plan of salvation emerges, the plan that Christ realized in himself by bringing it to fruition, as we have just sung in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians. For those who come to pray in this chapel, and above all for the Pope, Peter and Paul become teachers of faith. With their witness they invite us to go deeper, to meditate in silence upon the mystery of the Cross, which accompanies the Church until the end of time, and to absorb the light of the faith. It is thanks to this light that the apostolic Community can extend to the ends of the earth the missionary and evangelizing action entrusted to it by the Risen Christ. Solemn celebrations with the people are not held here. This is where the Successor of Peter and his collaborators meditate in silence and adore the living Christ, present above all in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the Sacrament in which the whole work of Redemption is concentrated: in Jesus as Eucharist we can contemplate the transformation of death into life, of violence into love. Hidden beneath the veils of the bread and the wine, we recognize through the eyes of faith the same glory that was manifested to the Apostles after the Resurrection. It is the same glory that Peter, James and John contemplated as a foretaste on the mountain, when Jesus was transfigured before them: a mysterious event, the Transfiguration, which the large painting in this Chapel by Simone Cantarini presents anew with unique force. In fact, however, the entire chapel the frescoes of Lorenzo Sabatini and Federico Zuccari, the decorations of numerous other artists brought here on another occasion by Pope Gregory XIII all of it flows together into a single, unique hymn of the triumph of life and grace over death and sin, in a symphony of worship and of love for Christ the Redeemer that is highly evocative.
Dear friends, at the end of this brief meditation, I would like to thank all those who have cooperated so that we may once again enjoy this completely restored sacred place: Prof. Antonio Paolucci and his predecessor Dr Francesco Buranelli, who, as Directors of the Vatican Museums, have always had this extremely important restoration at heart; the various specialists who, under the artistic direction of Prof. Arnold Nesselrath, worked on the frescoes and on the rest of the Chapel's decorations and, in particular, the Master Inspector Maurizio de Luca and his assistant, Maria Pustka, who directed the work and themselves worked on the two murals of Michelangelo, availing themselves of the consultation of an international commission composed of scholars of notable fame. My recognition goes likewise to Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo and his collaborators at the Governorate, who devoted special attention to the work. And naturally I extend a warm and dutiful "thank you" to the praiseworthy Catholic patrons, Americans and others, as well as to the Patrons of the Arts, generously committed to the protection and appraisal of the cultural patrimony of the Vatican, who made possible the result we admire today. May the expression of my most cordial gratitude reach each and every one of you.
We shall shortly be singing the Magnificat. May Mary Most Holy, Teacher of prayer and of adoration, together with Sts Peter and Paul, obtain abundant graces for those who are gathered in faith within this Chapel. And this evening, thankful to God for his wonders, and especially for the Death and Resurrection of his Son, may we lift up to him our praise also for this work that reaches its completion today. "To him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ep 3,20-21).
Benedict XVI Homilies 21069