Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Church ... Brings Man Into Contact With God"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2011 ( Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict
XVI's homily at the Easter Vigil, held tonight in St. Peter's Basilica.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The liturgical celebration of the Easter Vigil makes use of two eloquent signs.
First there is the fire that becomes light. As the procession makes its way
through the church, shrouded in the darkness of the night, the light of the
Paschal Candle becomes a wave of lights, and it speaks to us of Christ as the
true morning star that never sets – the Risen Lord in whom light has conquered
darkness. The second sign is water. On the one hand, it recalls the waters of
the Red Sea, decline and death, the mystery of the Cross. But now it is
presented to us as spring water, a life-giving element amid the dryness. Thus
it becomes the image of the sacrament of baptism, through which we become
sharers in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yet these
great signs of creation, light and water, are not the only constituent elements
of the liturgy of the Easter Vigil. Another essential feature is the ample
encounter with the words of sacred Scripture that it provides. Before the
liturgical reform there were twelve Old Testament readings and two from the New
Testament. The New Testament readings have been retained. The number of Old
Testament readings has been fixed at seven, but depending upon the local
situation, they may be reduced to three. The Church wishes to offer us a
panoramic view of whole trajectory of salvation history, starting with
creation, passing through the election and the liberation of Israel to the
testimony of the prophets by which this entire history is directed ever more
clearly towards Jesus Christ. In the liturgical tradition all these readings
were called prophecies. Even when they are not directly foretelling future
events, they have a prophetic character, they show us the inner foundation and
orientation of history. They cause creation and history to become transparent
to what is essential. In this way they take us by the hand and lead us towards
Christ, they show us the true Light.

At the
Easter Vigil, the journey along the paths of sacred Scripture begins with the
account of creation. This is the liturgy’s way of telling us that the creation
story is itself a prophecy. It is not information about the external processes
by which the cosmos and man himself came into being. The Fathers of the Church
were well aware of this. They did not interpret the story as an account of the
process of the origins of things, but rather as a pointer towards the
essential, towards the true beginning and end of our being. Now, one might ask:
is it really important to speak also of creation during the Easter Vigil? Could
we not begin with the events in which God calls man, forms a people for himself
and creates his history with men upon the earth? The answer has to be: no. To
omit the creation would be to misunderstand the very history of God with men,
to diminish it, to lose sight of its true order of greatness. The sweep of
history established by God reaches back to the origins, back to creation. Our
profession of faith begins with the words: "We believe in God, the Father
Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth". If we omit the beginning of the
Credo, the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small. The
Church is not some kind of association that concerns itself with man’s
religious needs but is limited to that objective. No, she brings man into
contact with God and thus with the source of all things.

Therefore we
relate to God as Creator, and so we have a responsibility for creation. Our
responsibility extends as far as creation because it comes from the Creator.
Only because God created everything can he give us life and direct our lives.
Life in the Church’s faith involves more than a set of feelings and sentiments
and perhaps moral obligations. It embraces man in his entirety, from his
origins to his eternal destiny. Only because creation belongs to God can we
place ourselves completely in his hands. And only because he is the Creator can
he give us life for ever. Joy over creation, thanksgiving for creation and
responsibility for it all belong together.

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