05 December 2010

Pope: You are inscribed in God's name

The good folks at Zenit have provided an English translation of the homily the Holy Father preached at the Mass he celebrated for the repose of the soul of Manuela Camagni, the member of the Memores Domini who looked after the papal residence (with my emphases):

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the last days of her life, our dear Manuela spoke of the fact that on Nov. 29 she would have belonged to the Memores Domini community for 30 years. And she said it with great joy, preparing herself -- that was the impression -- for an interior celebration of this 30-year journey toward the Lord, in communion with the friends of the Lord. The celebration, however, was other than the one foreseen: In fact, on Nov. 29 we took her to the cemetery, we sang that the angels might accompany her to paradise, we guided her to the definitive celebration, to the great celebration of God, to the marriage of the Lamb.

Thirty years journeying toward the Lord, entering the celebration of the Lord. Manuela was a "wise, prudent virgin," she carried oil in her lamp, the oil of faith, a lived faith, a faith nourished by prayer, by conversation with the Lord, by meditation on the Word of God, by communion in friendship with Christ. And this faith was hope, wisdom, and the certainty that faith opens the true future. And her faith was charity, giving herself to others, living in the service of the Lord for others. I personally must be grateful for her willingness to put forth her effort to work in my house, with this spirit of charity, of hope that comes from faith.

She entered the Lord's celebration as prudent and wise virgin, because she lived not in the superficiality of those who forget the grandeur of our vocation, but in the great vision of eternal life, and thus she was prepared for the Lord's arrival.

Thirty years Memores Domini. St. Bonaventure says the memory of the Creator is inscribed in the depths of our being. And precisely because this memory is inscribed in our being, we can recognize the Creator in his creation, we can remember him, see his traces in this cosmos created by him. St. Bonaventure says, moreover, that this memory of the Creator is not only a memory of the past because the source is present, it is also a memory of the presence of the Lord; it's also a memory of the future, because it is certain that we come from the goodness of God and are called to strive for the goodness of God. So an element of joy is present in this memory, the joy that our origin is in God and our call to strive for the great joy. And we know that Manuela was a person deeply penetrated with joy, that joy that comes from the memory of God.

But St. Bonaventure adds also that our memory, as all our existence, is wounded by sin: hence our memory is obscured, covered by other superficial memories, and we can no longer go beyond these other superficial memories, to get to the bottom, to the true memory that sustains our being. Hence, because of this forgetfulness of God, this forgetfulness of the essential memory, our joy is also covered, darkened. Yes, we know that we are created for joy, but we no longer know where joy is, and we seek it in different places. Today we see this desperate search for joy that increasingly moves away from its true source, the true joy. Forgetfulness of God, forgetfulness of our true memory: Manuela was not one who lost her memory, she lived in the living memory of the Creator. In the joy of his relationship, seeing the transparency of God in all creation, even in the daily events of our lives, she understood that joy comes from this memory.

Memores Domini. The Memores Domini know that Christ, on the eve of his Passion, renewed, and more than that, he elevated our memory. "Do this in memory of me," he said, and he thus gave us the memory of his presence, the memory of the gift of himself, of the gift of his Body and his Blood, and in this gift of his Body and Blood, in this gift of his infinite love, we come into contact once again with our memory of the stronger presence of God, his gift of himself. As a Memor Domini, Manuela experienced this living memory, which the Lord gives with his body, and thus renews our knowledge of God.

In the controversy with the Sadducees about the resurrection, the Lord says to those, who do not believe in it: but God calls himself "God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob." The three are part of God's name, they are inscribed in God's name, they are in God's name, in God's memory, and so the Lord says: God is not a God of the dead, He is a God of the living and those who are part of the name of God, who live in memory of God are alive, unfortunately, we humans can retain only a shadow of people we loved in our memory. But the memory of God not only preserves the shadows, it is the origin of life: here the dead live, in His life and with His life they have entered the memory of God who is life. This is what the Lord says to us today: You are inscribed in God's name, you live in God with the true life, you live from the true source of life.

So, in this moment of sadness, we are consoled. And the liturgy renewed after the Council dares to teach us to sing "Alleluia" even in the Mass for the Dead. This is audacious! We feel above all the pain of the loss, we feel above all the absence, the past, but the liturgy knows that we are in the Body itself of Christ and that we live from the memory of God, which is our memory. In this intertwining of his memory and of our memory we are together, we are living. We pray to the Lord that we may feel increasingly this communion of memory, that our memory of God in Christ may become ever more alive, and thus be able to feel that our true life is in him and in him we all rest united. In this sense, we sing "Alleluia," certain that the Lord is life and his love is never ending. Amen.


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