The Holy Father Celebrates Mass in Suffrage for the Cardinals and Bishops Deceased This Year
(C) Vatican Media
Pope Francis presided over the Mass at 11:00 am this morning, at the Altar of the Chair in Saint Peter’s Basilica, in suffrage for the Cardinals and Bishops who died this year. In his homily, the Holy Father invited us to “look at adversities with different eyes,” and to trust God who also accompanies us in moments of pain and bitterness and makes hope blossom again. Because, “what seems a punishment, will reveal itself a grace, a new demonstration of God’s love for us.”
Here is a translation of the Pope’s homily.
In the First Reading, we heard this invitation: “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:26). This attitude isn’t a point of departure, but a point of arrival. In fact, the author lands you there at the end of a road, a rocky road, which has made him mature. He comes to understand the beauty of trusting in the Lord, who never fails in His promises.
However, trust in God is not born from a momentary enthusiasm, it’s not an emotion and not even just a feeling. On the contrary, it comes from experience and matures in patience, as happened to Job, who passes from a knowledge of God “by hearsay” to a living, experiential knowledge. And for that to happen, a long interior transformation is necessary that, through the crucible of suffering, leads to being able to wait in silence, namely, with confident patience and a meek spirit.
Patience Is Not Resignation
This patience isn’t resignation, because it is nourished by waiting for the Lord, whose coming is certain and does not disappoint. Dear brothers and sisters, how important it is to learn the art of waiting for the Lord! To wait for Him meekly, confidently, chasing away ghosts, fanaticism, and clamors; guarding especially in times of trial, a silence charged with hope. This is the way to prepare for the last and greatest trial of life: death. However, first, there are the trials of the moment, there is the cross we have now, and for which we ask the Lord the grace to be able to wait there for His salvation, which is coming. Each one of us has a need to mature in this.
In face of life’s difficulties and problems, it’s difficult to have patience and to remain serene. Irritation snakes in and often discouragement appears. So it can happen that one is strongly tempted to pessimism and resignation, to see everything black, to habituate oneself to mistrusting tones and complaints, similar to those of the sacred author that at the beginning says: “Gone is my glory, and my expectation from the Lord” (v. 18). In a test, not even good memories of the past are able to console us, because affliction leads the mind to dwell on difficult moments. And this makes bitterness increase, it seems that life is a constant chain of misfortunes, as the author again admits: I “remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall!” (v. 19).
Hope That Is Born of Bitterness
At this point, however, the Lord brings about a change, precisely in the moment in which, although continuing to dialogue with Him, he seems to touch the bottom. In the abyss, in the anguish of the absurdity, God comes close to save in that moment. And when the bitterness reaches its culmination, hope suddenly blossoms again. It’s awful to arrive at old age with a bitter heart, with a disappointed heart, with a heart critical of new things, it’s very hard. ”But I call this to mind, and therefore take up hope again, “says the prayerful man of the Book of Lamentations.
Take up hope again at the moment of bitterness. In the heart of pain, one who is close to the Lord sees that He discloses the suffering, He opens it, transforms it into a door through which hope enters. It’s a paschal experience, a painful passage that opens to life, a sort of spiritual labor that in darkness makes us come back to the light.
This turning point doesn’t happen because the problems have disappeared, no, but because the crisis has become a mysterious occasion of interior purification.
Prosperity, in fact, often renders us blind, superficial, proud. This is the path to which prosperity leads us. Instead, the passage through trial, if lived in the warmth of the faith, despite its harshness and the tears, makes us be reborn, and we find ourselves different in regard to the past. A Father of the Church wrote that “nothing more than suffering induces to discover new things” (St. Gregory of Nazianzen, Ep. 34). Trial renews one because it makes much dross fall away and teaches one to look beyond, beyond the darkness, and to really see that the Lord truly saves and that He has the power to transform everything, even death.
God Accompanies Us
He lets us go through bottlenecks not to abandon us but to accompany us. Yes, because God accompanies us especially in pain, as a father who makes his son grow well by staying close to him in difficulties without substituting himself for him. And before tears appear on our face, the emotion has already reddened God the Father’s eyes. He cries first, I permit myself to say.
Pain remains a mystery, but in this mystery, we can discover in a new way the paternity of God, who visits us in the trial, and we are able to say, with the author of the Lamentations: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks Him” (v. 25).
Today, before the mystery of redeeming death, we ask for the grace to look at adversities with different eyes. We ask for the strength to be able to dwell in them in meek and confident silence, which awaits the Lord’s salvation, without complaining, without grumbling, without letting ourselves be saddened. What seems a punishment will reveal itself a grace, a new demonstration of God’s love for us.
Witness with Our Life
To be able to wait for the Lord’s salvation in silence — without chatter, in silence — is an art, on the path of holiness. Let us cultivate it. It is precious in the time we are living: now more than ever it’s no use to shout, to arouse clamor, to be embittered; what is useful is that each one witness faith with his life, which is docile and hopeful waiting. Faith is this: docile and hopeful waiting. A Christian doesn’t diminish the gravity of suffering, no, but he raises his gaze to the Lord and under the blows of the trial trusts in Him and prays, he prays for those that suffer. He has his eyes in Heaven, but his hands always stretched out on earth, to serve his neighbor concretely — service also in the moment of sadness, of darkness.
We pray with this spirit for the Cardinals and Bishops who left us in the past year. Some of them died due to COVID-19, in difficult situations that worsened their suffering. May these brothers of ours now be able to savor the joy of the evangelical invitation, the one that the Lord addresses to His faithful servants: “Come, blessed of my Father, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
In this month of November, dedicated in particular to prayer for our dear deceased, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the French Military Cemetery and then went to pray at the tombs of Popes.