S. John Paul II Homil. 877
Sunday, 31 May 1998
1. Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life.
878 With the words of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Church proclaims her faith in the Paraclete; a faith that is born of the apostolic experience of Pentecost. The passage from the Acts of the Apostles, which today’s liturgy has offered for our meditation, recalls in fact the marvels worked on the day of Pentecost, when with great astonishment the Apostles saw Jesus’ words come true. As was mentioned in the passage from St John’s Gospel proclaimed a few moments ago, on the eve of his Passion he had assured them: “I will pray the Father and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you for ever” (Jn 14,16). This “Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14,26).
And the Holy Spirit, coming down upon them with extraordinary power, enabled them to proclaim the teaching of Christ Jesus to the whole world. Their courage was so great, their determination so sure, that they were prepared to do anything, even to give up their life. The gift of the Spirit had released their deepest energies, concentrating them on the mission entrusted to them by the Redeemer. And it will be the Counsellor, the Parakletos, who will guide them in preaching the Gospel to all. The Spirit will teach them the whole truth, drawing it from the wealth of Christ’s word, so that, in turn, they may communicate it to people in Jerusalem and the rest of the world.
2. How can we not give thanks to God for the wonders the Spirit has never ceased to accomplish in these two millenniums of Christian life? Indeed, the event of grace at Pentecost has continued to bear its marvellous fruits, everywhere instilling apostolic zeal, a desire for contemplation, the commitment to live and serve God and our brothers and sisters with complete dedication. Today too, the Spirit sustains great and small acts of forgiveness and prophecy in the Church and gives life to ever new charisms and gifts, which attest to his ceaseless action in human hearts.
An eloquent proof of this is today’s solemn liturgy attended by a vast number of those belonging to movements and new communities, who in these days have held their World Congress in Rome. Yesterday, in this same St Peter’s Square, we enjoyed an unforgettable, festive gathering with songs, prayers and testimonies. We experienced the atmosphere of Pentecost which made visible in a way the Spirit’s inexhaustible fruitfulness in the Church. The movements and new communities, providential expressions of the new springtime brought forth by the Spirit with the Second Vatican Council, announce the power of God’s love which in overcoming divisions and barriers of every kind, renews the face of the earth to build the civilization of love.
3. St Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans, proclaimed a few moments ago: “All who are led by the Spirit of God are Sons of God” (Rm 8,14).
These words suggest a further way of understanding the wonderful action of the Spirit in our life as believers. They open the way for us to reach the human heart: the Holy Spirit, whom the Church calls upon to give “light to the senses”, visits man inwardly and directly touches the depths of his being.
The Apostle continues: “But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you.... For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (cf. Rom Rm 8,9). Contemplating then the mysterious action of the Paraclete, he adds with deep feeling: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery ... but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry ‘Abba, Father!’, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rm 8,15-16). Here we are at the centre of the mystery! It is in the meeting between the Holy Spirit and the human spirit that we find the very heart of what the Apostles experienced at Pentecost. This extraordinary experience is present in the Church born of that event and accompanies her down the centuries.
Under the Holy Spirit’s action, man fully discovers that his spiritual nature is not veiled by corporeity but, on the contrary, it is his spirit which gives true meaning to his body. Indeed, by living according to the Spirit, he fully manifests the gift of his adoption as a son of God.
It is in this context that we find the fundamental question of the relationship between life and death, which Paul touches on when he says: “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rm 8,13). It is exactly so: docility to the Spirit gives man continuous opportunities for life.
4. Dear brothers and sisters, it is a great joy for me to greet all of you who have wished to join me in thanking the Lord for the gift of the Spirit. This totally missionary celebration extends our gaze to the whole world, with a particular thought for the many missionary priests, religious and laypeople who spend their lives spreading the truth of the Gospel, often in the most difficult conditions.
I greet those of you here present: the Cardinals, my Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, the numerous members of the various institutes of consecrated life and apostolic life, the young people, the sick and especially all who have come from so far away for this solemn occasion.
879 I would especially like to mention the movements and the new communities, which had their meeting yesterday and which I see present today in large numbers. Not so large as yesterday, but still large. I extend a special greeting to the How can we not give thanks to God for the wonders the Spirit has never ceased to accomplish? Pentecost has continued to bear its marvellous fruits, instilling apostolic zeal, a desire for contemplation, the commitment to live and serve God and our brothers and sisters with complete dedication. young people who are about to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist.
What exciting prospects the Apostle’s words offer to each of you, dear friends! Through the actions and words of the sacrament of Confirmation, you will be given the Holy Spirit, who will complete your conformity to Christ, already begun in Baptism, to make you adults in the faith and authentic and courageous witnesses to the Risen One. With Confirmation, the Paraclete opens before you a path of continual rediscovery of the grace of adoption as children of God, which will make you joyful seekers of the Truth.
The Eucharist, the food of immortal life, which in a few moments you will taste for the first time, will make you ready to love and serve your brothers and sisters, capable of offering opportunities for life and hope, free from the domination of the “flesh” and of fear. By letting yourselves be guided by Jesus, you will be able to experience concretely the marvellous action of his Spirit, which the Apostle Paul speaks of in the eighth chapter of his Letter to the Romans. This text, whose message is particularly timely in this year dedicated to the Holy Spirit, will be read today with greater attention, as a tribute to what Christ’s Spirit accomplishes in each of us.
5. Veni, Sancte Spiritus!
The magnificent sequence, which contains a rich theology of the Holy Spirit, would also be worthy of meditation, stanza by stanza. Here we will reflect only on the first word: Veni, come! It recalls the waiting of the Apostles after Christ’s Ascension into heaven.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke presents them to us gathered in the Upper Room in prayer with the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts Ac 1,14). What better words than these could express their prayer: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” — the invocation, that is, of the one who moved over the face of the waters at the beginning of the world (cf. Gn Gn 1,2), whom Jesus had promised them as the Paraclete?
The hearts of Mary and the Apostles at those moments were longing for his coming, alternating between ardent faith and the confession of human inadequacy. The Church’s piety has interpreted and passed on this sentiment in the hymn “Veni, Sancte Spiritus”. The Apostles know that the work Christ has entrusted to them is arduous, but decisive for the history of humanity’s salvation. Will they be able to complete it? The Lord reassures their hearts. At every step of the mission that will lead them to proclaim and witness to the Gospel to the furthest corners of the globe, they will be able to count on the Spirit promised by Christ. The Apostles, recalling Christ’s promise on the days between the Ascension and Pentecost, will focus their every thought and sentiment on that veni — come!
6. Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Thus beginning her invocation to the Holy Spirit, the Church makes her own the substance of the Apostles' prayer as they gathered with Mary in the Upper Room; indeed, she extends it in history and makes it ever timely.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Thus she says over and over in every corner of the earth, her fervour unchanged, firmly aware that she must remain in the Upper Room, always awaiting the Spirit. At the same time, she knows that she must leave the Upper Room and travel the world's roads, with the ever new task of bearing witness to the mystery of the Spirit.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus! So we pray with Mary, sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, a most precious dwelling-place of Christ among us, so that she may help us to be living temples of the Spirit and tireless witnesses of the Gospel.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Amen!
880 Sunday, 7 June 1998
1. “Come let us worship the one true God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (Invitatory, Italian breviary). The Liturgy of Hours today begins with these words. They are echoed by those of the Entrance Antiphon of today’s Holy Mass: “Blessed be God the Father and his Only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit: for he has shown that he loves us” (Entrance Antiphon).
These words are a hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity, the great mystery that we celebrate this Sunday.
In fact, all liturgy is a song of praise to the Trinitarian mystery; every prayer is addressed to God the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The most simple invocation, such as the “Sign of the Cross”, is made “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”; and the most solemn liturgical orations end with praise to the Trinity. Every time we raise our minds and our hearts to God, we enter into the Holy Trinity's eternal dialogue of love.
“Praise to the Holy Trinity and undivided Unity. Let us praise God for he has shown us his mercy” (Second Antiphon, First Vespers).
2. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rm 5,5).
When we approach the mystery of the Holy Trinity, we are clearly aware that we find ourselves before the first of those “mysteries hidden in God which, unless they are divinely revealed, cannot be known” (First Vatican Council, DS 3015).
The entire development of divine revelation is directed to the manifestation of God-Love, of God-Communion. This concerns, first of all, the Trinitarian life considered in itself, in the perfect communion that for all eternity unites the three divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. By revealing his love to man, God calls men to share his own life and to enter into communion with him.
To the universal vocation of believers to holiness, each of the three divine Persons makes his own specific contribution: the Father is the source of all holiness, the Son is the mediator of all salvation and the Holy Spirit is the One who animates and sustains the journey of man towards full and definitive communion with God.
In the Office of Readings today we read a significant text from St Athanasius: “Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself” (Second Reading).
3. Dear Brothers and Sisters of St Nicholas of Bari Parish! I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity today to celebrate this liturgical feast with your community. My most cordial greeting to you all! First of all to the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop for the Southern Pastoral Sector of the Diocese, Bishop Clemente Riva, to your zealous parish priest, Fr Lorenzo Meati, together with the parochial vicar, both belonging to the spiritual family of the Oblate Sons of Our Lady of Divine Love.
881 I also greet the priests and women religious who give their generous service to the organizations active in the parish territory, especially to those involved with the Grassi Hospital, the Paraplegic Centre of Ostia and the Italian military barracks.
My greeting is extended to the people of the neighbourhood, with a fraternal thought for the sick and elderly who are unable to join us for the Eucharistic celebration. I wish to be spiritually united with all the inhabitants of Ostia, assuring every individual and every family of my closeness in prayer. I gladly add a thought for the Polish community, which for a long time has been meeting every Sunday in your parish.
4. Yours is a large parish community, which grows even more during the summer season with the arrival of the holiday-makers. Unfortunately, though, the location of the church does not make it as easy as one would hope for the faithful to participate in sacramental life and Christian formation.
Dear brothers and sisters, these current difficulties must not restrain your apostolic action; instead they must act as a further stimulus to increase your efforts to make the community even more alive and missionary.
In view of the third millennium, witness to your faith with courage and consistency, and be directly involved in the work of the new evangelization. Generously continue the programmes of the City Mission, undertaking evangelization activities directed to those who, having a house on the shore, come to spend a few months there, especially during the summer.
Along with this missionary fervour there must be an effort to form young people and to give spiritual guidance to families, the primary cells of the ecclesial community.
As I encourage you to continue in this task, I would particularly like to greet the children who attend catechism classes, as well as the boys and girls, some of whom belong to the Scout group. I extend my greeting to the engaged couples preparing for marriage and to all the young people. As regards young people, how can we fail even now to turn our hearts and minds to the World Youth Day scheduled in Rome for 19-20 August of the Year 2000? The whole diocesan community will have to mobilize itself for that important event, to welcome the many young people who will come from every part of the world for such an extraordinary experience of faith.
It is everyone's responsibility to prepare for the Great Jubilee, because it “certainly involves a special grace of the Lord for the Church and for the whole of humanity” (cf. Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 55).
On this day dedicated to the Holy Trinity, how can we fail to stress that the Holy Year will have as its aim “to give glory to the Trinity, from whom everything in the world and in history comes and to whom everything returns” (ibid.)?
The feast of “Corpus Christi”, with its Eucharistic celebration next Thursday at St John Lateran followed by the now traditional procession, in which I invite everyone to participate, reminds us of the International Eucharistic Congress. This extraordinary spiritual gathering will take place at the same Basilica of St John Lateran precisely on the feast of the Trinity in the Year 2000, to remind everyone that Christ is the only way to approach the Father and that he is present and alive in the Church and in the world.
5. “Glory and honour to God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; glory and praise to him for endless ages” (Third Antiphon, First Vespers).
882 Yes, glory and honour to the Holy Trinity. Let us together raise our song of praise and thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity.
Let us adore the mystery of the hidden presence of God among us, contemplating in silence his saving plan.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Let us make our own the words suggested to us by the liturgy: “Glory and praise to God who is, who was and who is to come”.
1. “You walk through the centuries” (from a Polish Eucharistic hymn).
Today’s Solemnity of Corpus Christi invites us to meditate on the singular path which is Christ's itinerarium salvificum through history, a history written simultaneously from the very beginning by God and by man. Through human events the divine hand sketches the history of salvation.
This is a path that starts in Eden when, after the sin of the first man, Adam, God intervenes to direct history towards the coming of the “second” Adam. The first announcement of the Messiah is present in the Book of Genesis, and from that time mankind's way towards Christ unfolds from generation to generation as it is recounted in the pages of the Old Testament.
Then, in the fullness of time, when the incarnate Son of God sheds his blood on the Cross for our salvation and is raised from the dead, history enters, so to speak, a new and definitive phase: the new and eternal Covenant whose beginning and fulfilment is the crucified and risen Christ. On Calvary, humanity’s path, in accordance with the divine plan, took a decisive turn: Christ is put at the head of the new People to guide them to their definitive goal. The Eucharist, the sacrament of the Lord’s death and resurrection, represents the heart of this spiritual, eschatological itinerarium.
2. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever” (Jn 6,51).
883 These words were proclaimed a few moments ago in this solemn liturgy. Jesus spoke them after the miraculous multiplication of the loaves by the Sea of Galilee. According to the Evangelist John, they herald the saving gift of the Eucharist. The Old Covenant has no lack of significant prefigurations of the Eucharist; the most eloquent of them is the one referring to the priest Melchizedek, whose mysterious figure and unusual priesthood is recalled in today’s liturgy. Christ’s discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum is the culmination of the Old Testament prophecies and, at the same time, foretells their fulfilment at the Last Supper. We know how on that occasion the Lord’s words were a difficult test of faith for those who heard them and for the Apostles themselves.
But how can we forget Simon Peter’s clear and ardent profession of faith when he proclaimed: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6,68-69)!
We are all moved by the same sentiments today, when, assembled around the Eucharist, we think back to the Upper Room where on Holy Thursday the Church spiritually gathers to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist.
3. “In supremae nocte cenae, recumbens cum fratribus ...”.
“On the night of that last supper,
Seated with his chosen band,
He, the Paschal Victim eating,
First fulfils the Law’s command;
Then as food to all his brethren
Gives himself with his own hand”.
With these words St Thomas Aquinas summarizes the extraordinary event of the Last Supper, before which the Church remains in silent contemplation; in a way she immerses herself in the silence of the Garden of Olives and of Golgotha.
884 The Angelic Doctor urges: “Pange lingua, gloriosi Corporis mysterium ...”.
“Sing my tongue the Saviour’s glory,
Of his flesh the mystery sing;
Of the blood, all price exceeding,
Shed by our immortal King,
Destined for the world’s redemption,
From a noble womb to spring”.
The profound silence of Holy Thursday envelops the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The singing of the faithful and, even more so, the other public displays of popular Eucharistic piety seem almost unable to express all their intensity.
4. This is why the Church felt the need for a special celebration in which it would be possible to express with greater intensity her joy at the institution of the Eucharist: thus the Solemnity of Corpus Christi came into being more than seven centuries ago. It is marked by great Eucharistic processions which highlight the “itinerarium” of the world's Redeemer in time: “You walk through the centuries”.
The procession we will make today at the end of Holy Mass eloquently recalls how Christ walked in solidarity with human history. It is significant that Rome is called the “Eternal City”, because she marvellously reflects the different ages of history. She preserves in a special way the vestiges of 2,000 years of Christianity.
The entire Christian community, gathered around its Pastor together with his assistant Bishops, priests, religious and various representatives of parishes, movements, associations and confraternities, will take part in the procession that will lead us from this square to the Basilica of St Mary Major. I address a cordial greeting to all of you.
885 I would like to extend a special greeting to the Cuban Bishops. They have been in Rome for the past few days and have wished to join us today to give thanks to the Lord once again for my recent visit, and to pray for the Spirit’s light and support on the path of the new evangelization. Let us accompany them with our affection and fraternal communion.
5. Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, our thoughts also go to 18 June of the Year 2000, when, here at this basilica, the 47th International Eucharistic Congress will begin. On the following Thursday, 22 June, the Solemnity of of the Body and Blood of Christ, the great Eucharistic procession will start from this square. Then, gathered in our liturgical assembly for the “Statio Orbis” on Sunday, 25 June, we will celebrate a solemn Eucharist with the many pilgrims from all the continents who, accompanied by their Pastors, will gather in Rome for the congress and to venerate the tombs of the Apostles.
In the two years between now and the Great Jubilee, let us prepare, individually and as a community, to reflect deeply on the great gift of the Bread that is broken for us in the Eucharistic celebration. Let us live in spirit and in truth the profound mystery of Christ’s abiding presence in our tabernacles: the Lord stays with us to comfort the sick, to be viaticum for the dying, to give every soul who seeks him in adoration, praise and prayer a foretaste of his sweetness. May Christ who nourishes us with his Body and Blood allow us to enter the third millennium with renewed spiritual and missionary enthusiasm.
6. Jesus is with us, he walks beside us and sustains our hope. “You walk through the centuries”, we tell him, remembering and embracing in prayer all who follow him with fidelity and trust.
Now at the close of this century, as we wait for the dawn of the new millennium, we too would like to join this immense procession of believers.
Let us proclaim with joy and deep faith:
“Tantum ergo Sacramentum veneremur cernui ...”.
“Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! o’er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail.
886 Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.
“Genitori Genitoque Laus et iubilatio ...”.
To the everlasting Father
And the Son who reigns on high
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honour, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.
887 1. “Ego resuscitabo eum in novissimo die” (Jn 6,54) — “I will raise him up at the last day”.
These words of the Lord Jesus reverberate with particular eloquence today in St Peter’s Basilica, which sees us gathered here in sorrow and hope for the funeral of our Venerable Brother, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, called by the Father in the middle of the night last Tuesday.
Divine Providence willed that his funeral should take place on the day after the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, when the Church adores the great mystery of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the dead and risen Christ, the bread of immortal life. John’s text on the “bread of life” has been opened for us like a shining beacon at this moment of grief. “I am the bread of life ... and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.... He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6,48, 51, 54).
What deep comfort these words give us today, as we gaze at the coffin of our dear Secretary of State emeritus: what deep consolation at the thought that he was, and will always be, a priest of Christ, a minister of the bread of life! Every day he was nourished with the Sacrament to which the Lord linked the pledge of resurrection. And every day, for over 60 years, he distributed it to the People of God. Christ’s flesh was given for the life of the world, the Evangelist John reminds us (cf. 6:51), and this recalls the mission of the priest, who is “in the Church for the world”, as the title says of the book containing the homilies and addresses given by the late Cardinal Casaroli during his long and meritorious work as a zealous pastor and distinguished diplomat.
2. “Rogate quae ad pacem sunt Ierusalem” — “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! ... For my brethren and companions’ sake I will say, ‘Peace be within you!’”. “Pax in te!” (Ps 121 :6, 8).
The work of peace! At this time I am pleased to remember our departed Brother as a wise servant of that peace which is the historical expression of the eschatological gift left by Christ to his Church. How can we not recognize and see in him an authentic “peacemaker”, a shining example of those artisans of the “opus iustitiae” whom Jesus calls “blessed ... for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5,9)?
On his 70th birthday, he wanted to open his heart and reveal the guiding principles of the ecclesial service he rendered in the heart of the Holy See. Among them he included a “deep love for the cause of peace and co-operation between nations and within them, sustained by the conviction that it is a question of moral imperatives and a necessity, especially today, for the very survival of mankind” (Agostino Casaroli, Nella Chiesa per il mondo, Milan 1987, p. 494).
He always sought this peace — as the psalm says — particularly “for Jerusalem”, that is, for the Church. Cardinal Casaroli had countless conversations and meetings with representatives of States and national and international organizations, first as Undersecretary and then as Secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, which later became the Section for Relations with States, and eventually as Secretary of State. His constant concern was the defence of the Church’s freedom in fulfilling the mission entrusted to her by the Redeemer. The contacts he made in difficult times with regimes in the communist world should be interpreted in this light; his intention was to ensure the permanence of lawful ecclesial structures in those countries. The chief goal inspiring his action was the good of souls, particularly of the great number of Catholics who had remained faithful to the Church but were in grave danger of gradual dechristianization.
In these sensitive tasks, he was able to give effective and creative expression to that principle of dialogue so dear to the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, whose close collaborator he was, after having worked faithfully with the revered Pontiffs, the Servants of God Pius XII and John XXIII. “Dialogue”, he himself said, “is the high road and supreme method, not only for serving peace, but also for encouraging the effectiveness and success of diplomatic activity”; authentic dialogue, which is “firm in asserting the truth and in defending the right, and respectful towards individuals” (ibid.).
With this service, always motivated by a keen ecclesial spirit, he made an important contribution, acknowledged by all, to the cause of truth and freedom in difficult times for the Church and for humanity. I had the joy of seeing his wise and patient efforts crowned with the opening of the new historical phase signaled by the events of 1989.
3. A few months after the start of my Pontificate, I called Archbishop Casaroli to my side as Secretary of State and shortly afterwards created him a Cardinal. For many years, until he completed his mandate in December 1990, I was able to observe with admiration and be the first to benefit from his loyalty and the variety of his human, pastoral and diplomatic gifts.
888 During my visit 10 years ago to the Diocese of Piacenza, I wanted to go to Castel San Giovanni, his native town, and to enter the parish church where he was baptized, confirmed and ordained a priest. At this time I would like to extend my thoughts and deepest sympathy to his relatives and to his many friends and acquaintances from his native land. But above all, as I did on that happy occasion (cf. Insegnamenti XI, 2 , 1809), I wish to offer my thanks to the Holy Spirit for having given him to the Church in the direct service of the Apostolic See.
I would also like to mention another lesser known, but very edifying aspect of his personality. Although engaged in matters of great importance for the Church and for international relations, since 1943 he constantly devoted himself to pastoral work at the juvenile rehabilitation centre of Casal del Marmo in Rome. He had a close relationship of mutual trust with those young people and their families: they called him informally “Fr Agostino”. Thus he combined his demanding work as a pastor and diplomat with concrete contact with people, especially with “his boys”, who were able to see him for the last time about 10 days ago.
"May they prosper who love you” (Ps 121,6): it is consoling — as the responsorial psalm wishes — to think that the prayers of so many people, who have drawn comfort and hope from his priesthood, are joined to ours today and rise pleasingly to the heavenly Father for the repose of his soul.
4. We trust that the infinitely good and merciful God will welcome into his peace our revered Brother, who leaves us the witness of his human, Christian and priestly virtues, for which we can never forget him.
He who, according to the words of the Apostle Peter we heard a few moments ago, “has given us new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading” (1P 1,3-4), will not fail to bring him into that kingdom for which he dedicated his entire life.
We have been given a sure sign of this hope in Mary most holy, joined to the mystery of the Redeemer and taken up into glory. To her, the Mother and Queen of Apostles, we entrust the soul of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, so that he may attain in the fullness of joy and peace the goal of his faith (cf. 1P 1,9).
All of us, who are bidding this last farewell to our unforgettable Brother, are invited to lift up our gaze, to renew our faith in the resurrection. In our spirit re-echo the words of God in the book of the prophet Ezekiel: “Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves.... And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done it, says the Lord” (Ez 37,12).
S. John Paul II Homil. 877