Pope celebrates birthday and anniversaryThursday, April 19th, 2012
This week the Pope is celebrating twice - his eighty-fifth birthday on Monday April 16, and the seventh anniversary of his election on Thursday April 19.
On Monday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated to mark the two anniversaries, and with the Pope were members of the College of Cardinals and a group of bishops from the Pope's native Bavaria.
In his homily the Pope highlighted what he called “three signposts” that were in the liturgy on the day he was born and baptised; the feast of St. Bernadette of Lourdes, the feast of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, and Easter Saturday which in the year of the Pope's birth fell on April 16.
He spoke of the poverty that St. Bernadette grew up in and how Mary showed her a source of, “pure, living uncontaminated water, water which is life,” and which gives purity and health. She has been a sign showing me how we should be. With all our knowledge and abilities, which are of course necessary, we must not lose … the simple gaze of the heart, which is capable of discerning the essential,” he said.
The Pope then spoke of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, who lived in the eighteenth century and who wandered from one shrine to another, wishing to do nothing but pray and to bear witness to what is important in this life, viz. God.
Of the life of the saint, who travelled to shrines all over Europe the Pope said, "Only God can eliminate frontiers, because thanks to Him we are all brothers.”
Then speaking of Easter and the Paschal Mystery he said, "The day I was baptised was Easter Saturday. At the time, it was still customary to hold the Easter vigil in the morning, followed by the darkness of Easter Saturday without a Hallelujah. This singular paradox, this anticipation of light in a day of darkness, can almost be seen as an image of the history of our own times.”
The Pope concluded that he is in the final stage of his life journey and does not know what awaits him however, he does know that the light of God exists and that He rose again, and His light is stronger than all darkness.
“That the goodness of God is stronger than all the evil in this world. This helps me to continue with confidence. This helps us to continue, and I would like to thank everyone who, through their faith, continually makes me aware of God's 'yes'", he said.
by Ann Marie Foley