02 December 2010

Pope: Where no one can accompany us, God awaits us

Manuela Camagni, a member of the Memores Domini who looked after papal residence, was tragically killed Tuesday when she was struck by a car.

Pope Benedict XVI was unable to celebrate her funeral but sent a moving message to her family and friends through his personal secretary, the Reverend Monsignor Georg Ganswein.

The text of his message follows, with my emphases:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would willingly have presided over the funeral of dear Manuela Camagni, but -- as you can imagine -- it was not possible for me. However, communion in Christ allows us Christians a real spiritual closeness, in which we share the prayer and affection of the heart. In this profound bond I greet all of you, in particular Manuela's family, the diocesan bishop, the priests, the Memores Domini, and her friends.

I would like to give here very briefly my testimony of our sister, who has gone to heaven. Many of you knew Manuela for a long time. I was able to benefit from her presence and her service in the papal apartment, in the last five years, in a family dimension. Because of this I wish to thank the Lord for the gift of Manuela's life, for her faith, for her generous response to her vocation. Divine Providence led her to a discreet but precious service in the Pope's house. She was happy about this and took part joyfully in family moments: at Holy Mass in the morning, at vespers, at meals in common and in the various and significant happenings of the house.

Her departure, so sudden, and also the way in which she was taken, have given us great grief, which only faith can console. I find much support in thinking of the words that form the name of her community: Memores Domini. Meditating on these words, on the meaning, I find a sense of peace, because they call to a profound relationship that is stronger than death. Memores Domini means: "those who remember the Lord," namely, persons who live in the memory of God and Jesus, and in this daily remembrance, full of faith and love, they find the meaning of everything, from small actions to great choices, of work, study and fraternity. The memory of the Lord fills the heart with profound joy, as an ancient hymn of the Church says: "Jesu dulcis memoria, dans vera cordis gaudia" [Jesus sweet memory, that gives true joy to the heart].

Hence, because of this it gives me peace to think that Manuela is a "memor Domini," a person who lived in the memory of the Lord. This relationship with him is more profound than the abyss of death. It is a bond that nothing and no one can break, as St. Paul says: "[Nothing] can separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). Yes, if we remember the Lord, it is because he first remembers us. We are "memores Domini" because he is "memor nostri," he remembers us with love of a parent, a brother, a friend, also at the moment of death. If at times it seems that at that moment he is absent, that he forgets us, in reality we are always present to him, we are in his heart. Wherever we fall, we fall into his hands. Precisely there, where no one can accompany us, God awaits us: He is our Life.

Dear brothers and sisters, in this faith full of hope, which is Mary's faith near the cross of Jesus, I celebrated the Mass for Manuela's soul the very morning of her death. And while I accompany with prayer the Christian rite of her burial, I impart with affection to her family, her fellow sisters and all of you my blessing.

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