The destination of Mary assumed is a reality founded on the love of God, taught the Pope on Sunday. The Christian promise of heaven, he said, brings great joy and encourages believers to work for the construction of the "world of God."
Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the intimate atmosphere of the pontifical parish of St. Thomas of Villanova for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the town of Castel Gandolfo. During the celebration, attended by parishioners and a select few military, civil and religious leaders, the Holy Father spoke of the destination of Mary as she was taken from earth.
He explained that in the Assumption, "we believe that Mary, as Christ her Son, defeated death and triumphs already in the celestial glory in the totality of her being, 'in body and soul'."
Expanding on the idea of the "celestial glory" to which Mary arrived, Pope Benedict noted that people today are conscious that by "'heaven' we are not referring to just any place in the universe, to a star or something similiar" but "to something much bigger and more difficult to define with our limited human concepts.
"With this term 'heaven'," he said, "we wish to assert that God, the God made close to us, does not abandon us even after death, but has a place for us and gives us eternity…”
He explained that in order to understand this we can look to our own lives and the way loved ones live on in our hearts after they die but only as a "shadow" because also this memory is destined to expire with the death of those who conserve it.
"God, on the other hand," he taught, "does not ever pass and we all exist in accordance with His love. We exist because he loves us, because he has thought of us and he called us to life. We exist in the thoughts and in the love of God. We exist in all of our reality, not only in our 'shadow'."
The serenity, hope and peace of man is founded on God's thought and love, Benedict XVI explained, "he does not survive just in a 'shadow' of ourselves, but in Him, in His creative love, we are protected and introduced with all our life, with our being in eternity."
"It is His love that defeats death and gives us eternity, and it is this love that we call 'heaven' ..."
This is a truth, concluded the Pope, "that should always fill us with profound joy:" the Christian promise of eternal life in heaven, "not just any salvation of the soul in an imprecise beyond."
This gives Christians "a strong hope in a bright future and opens the way towards the realization of this future," he added.
"We are called, as Christians, to edify this new world," he said, "to work so that it might become one day the 'world of God,' a world that surpasses all that we ourselves can build. In Mary assumed in heaven, fully participating in the resurrection of the Son, we contemplate the realization of the human creature according to the 'world of God.'
"We pray that the Lord makes us understand how much our life is precious to His eyes; (that He) reinforces our faith in eternal life; that he makes us men of hope, who work to build a world open to God, men full of joy, who know how to see the beauty of the future world among the worries of daily life and live, believe and hope in this certainty."
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