11/01/2006, 00.00
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"Eternal life" not a myth but a destiny that gives meaning to everyday situations, says Pope

Human existence yearns for "something greater". Eternity is not beyond this world, but "a new quality given to existence". The Pontiff greets a group that brought the 'Torch of Dialogue' (between Christians and Muslims) from Algeria to Italy following the footsteps of Saint Augustine.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The solemnity of All Saints (today) and the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (tomorrow) are for Benedict XVII the starting point for opening a dialogue with modern man on "eternal life".

In his reflections before the Angelus prayer, in front of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square, the Pope asked: "Does modern man still expect eternal life, or does he consider it as part of a worn out mythology? In this day and age, we are so much absorbed by things of this world that it is sometimes difficult to think about God as a player in history and our lives".

However, he noted, "human existence, by its very nature, tends towards something greater, something that transcends itself. The longing for justice, truth and complete happiness in human beings cannot be suppressed. Faced with the enigma of death, many of us wish and hope of meeting one's dearly departed. Similarly, there is a strong belief in a last judgement that will restore justice and in a final moment when each will receive what they deserve".

Sometimes Christians, too, seem to view "eternal life" as something quantitative, as "a life that lasts forever". In fact, it is "a new quality of life, fully immersed in God's love, one that frees us from evil and death and places us in endless communion with our brothers and sisters who partake in the same Love".

In this sense, the Pope added, "eternity . . . can already be at the centre of one's life here and now, when the soul, through grace, connects with God, its ultimate foundation. Everything passes / God never changes. One Psalm says: 'Though my flesh and my heart fail, God is the rock of my heart, my portion forever'" (Psalm, 73: 26). All Christians, who are called to holiness, are men and women who live solidly anchored to this "Rock", well grounded but with the heart already in heaven, the ultimate home of God's friends."

"Eternal life" is therefore not something detached from everyday life and in the end useless. It is instead "our ultimate and final destiny, which gives meaning to everyday situations".

Benedict XVI ended his reflections on a plea. "Let us revive the joyous feeling of communion with the saints and let us be drawn by them towards the goal of our existence, which is to meet God face to face. Let us pray that this is the inheritance of all dearly departed, not only our own, but also of every soul, especially of those who have been forgotten and need divine mercy. May the Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, guide us in our choice of eternal life in each moment of "the life of the world to come", as the Credo says, a world already inaugurated by the resurrection of Christ, whose advent we can bring forward through our sincere conversion and our acts of charity".

After the Marian prayer, the Pope greeted in various languages the gathering of pilgrims. Among those from Italy, he greeted "the group that is carrying the 'Torch of Dialogue" following in the footsteps of Saint Augustine."

"After living ancient Tagaste in Algeria, the torch reached Hippo Regio, Tunis and Malta. After arriving in Ostia, it went on to Rome from where it will leave for Pavia (northern Italy) where the saint is buried."

"I gladly bless this initiative of the Augustinian Order, and this Torch, symbol of faith and peace."

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See also
Pope: All men called to become saints
Pope: death not followed by abyss of nothingness, for us Jesus opened the gates of eternity
Pope: all saints and all souls remind us that the destiny of man is God
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