Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The death of a Christian is not the end of everything, " death opens to life, to eternal life, which is not an infinite duplication of the present time, but something entirely new. Our faith teaches us that true immortality to which we aspire is not an idea, a concept, but a relationship of full communion with the living God: it is being in His hands, in His love, and becoming in Him one with all the brothers and sisters that He created and redeemed, with the whole of creation.. "
"The hope that does not disappoint" of faith was evoked today by Benedict XVI in the Mass celebrated, as every year, in memory of the cardinals and bishops who died during the year. A ritual, celebrated in a packed St Peter's Basilica, which the Pope linked to those of the past few days, the "atmosphere of the Communion of Saints and the commemoration of the faithful departed is present and alive in our hearts". "In particular, visits to gravesides have allowed us to renew bonds with loved ones who have left us; death, paradoxically, preserves what life can not hold. How our deceased lived, what they loved, feared and hoped for, what they rejected, we discover in a very singular way from the graves, which are almost like a mirror of their existence, of their world: they call to us and lead us to re-establish a dialogue which death has placed in crisis. "
" Thus, cemeteries are a kind of assembly point, in which the living meet their dead and with them rediscover the bonds of communion that death could not break. And here in Rome, in those peculiar cemeteries that are the catacombs, we feel, as in no other place, the deep bonds with ancient Christianity, to which we feel so close. As we enter the corridors of the catacombs - as well as those of the cemeteries of our cities and our countries - it is as if we cross an immaterial threshold and enter into communication with those custodied within, their past, made of joys and sorrows, losses and hopes. This occurs because death is still relevant to man today just as then, and even if many things of the past have become alien to us, death is still the same".
"Faced with this reality, human beings of all ages look for a glimmer of light that brings hope, that still speaks of life, and visits to cemeteries also express this desire.."
To the "question of death" the Christian responds with faith, with the "firm hope that is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ." The faith that the cardinals and bishops who have left the earthly life this year had. They were " friends of the Lord, trusting in his promise, even amid difficulties and persecutions, they kept the joy of faith, and now live in the house of the Lord forever, enjoying the heavenly reward, filled with happiness and grace. The pastors whom we remember today have, in fact, served the Church faithfully and with love, facing sometimes costly tests, in order to ensure attention and care to the flock entrusted them. The variety of their skills and tasks, were an example of diligent supervision, of wise and zealous dedication to the Kingdom of God, providing a valuable contribution to the post-conciliar season, a time of renewal throughout the Church. "