Vatican City, Mar 26, 2005 (CNA) - In an emotional Easter message, read at the beginning of the Easter Vigil celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope John Paul II sent his warm Easter greetings to all Christians, and exhorted them to bear witness to the world of the love of the risen Christ.
The Pope’s entire message says:
Dear brothers and sisters!
At the conclusion of the penitential journey of Lent and after having mediated in the past days on the painful passion and dramatic death of Jesus on the cross, we celebrate on this singular night the glorious mystery of his resurrection.
Thanks to television, I can follow from my apartment the evocative Easter Vigil which is presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at St. Peter’s Basilica. I send him my fraternal greetings, and I extend them to the other cardinals, archbishops and bishops who are present. With affection I also greet the priests, religious and faithful gathered around the altar of the Lord, and I am especially mindful of the catechumens who, during this holy Vigil, prepare themselves to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.
This is truly an extraordinary night in which the shining light of the risen Christ definitively overcomes the power of the darkness of evil and death and ignites hope and joy in the hearts of believers.
Beloved, guided by the liturgy, let us ask the Lord Jesus that the world may see and recognize that, thanks to his passion, and resurrection, that which was destroyed is rebuilt, that which was old is renewed and everything returns to its original integrity, more beautiful than before.
I cordially send fervent greetings to all, with assurances I will remember you in prayer so that the risen Lord will bring to each one of you and to your families and communities the Easter gift of his peace. To my sentiments I join my special Apostolic Blessing.
Vatican, March 26, 2005, Easter VigilJOANNES PAULUS II
Vatican City, Mar 26, 2005 (CNA) - During the celebration of the Easter Vigil, which included the reading of a message from Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explained that following of the risen Christ also means having the courage to defend the faith.
The cardinal explained to the faithful gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica the meaning of following Christ. “Our column of fire, our holy cloud is the risen Christ, symbolized by the lit Paschal candle. Christ is the light; Christ is the way, the truth and the life; by following Christ, by having our hearts fixed firmly on Christ, we find the righteous path.”
He added later that, “To follow Christ means above all to be attentive to his word.”
“Participation in the Sunday liturgy week after week is necessary for each Christian in order to enter into a true familiarity with the Divine Word: man does not live on bread alone or on money or careers, he lives on the Word of God, which corrects us, renews us and shows us the true values of the world and society. The Word of God is the true Manna, the bread from Heaven, which teaches us how to live, how to be human.”
Following Christ, Cardinal Ratzinger continued, means being attentive to his commandments, summarized in the double commandment to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Following Christ means having compassion for those who suffer, and having a heart for the poor. It also means having the courage to defend the faith against today’s ideologies. It means trusting in the Church and in her interpretation and application of the Divine Word in our modern-day circumstances. Following Christ means loving his Church, his al body.”
“If we walk in this way we ignite small lights in the world, we break through the darkness of history,” he added.
Referring to the resurrection of the Lord, Cardinal Ratzinger said, “It is not simply the remembering of a past event. On Easter night, in the sacrament of Baptism, the resurrection, the victory over death, takes place today.”
“Jesus,” he continued, “is the resurrection and eternal life; inasmuch as we are united to Christ, we pass today from death to life, we live eternal life already, which is not only a reality after , but something that begins today in our communion with Christ. To pass from death to life—this is the way, the door to which Christ has opened, and to which the celebration of the Easter feast invites us.”
Lastly, the cardinal recalled that, “Biological life is a fragile gift. Even more, in a world characterized by so many evils, it is an ambiguous gift, and it is a true gift only if one can, at the same time, offer a medicine against death, which is communion with invincible life, with Christ.”
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 26, 2005 (CNA) - Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition and Brandi Swindell, National Director of Generation Life announced that starting at 3 PM (EST), individuals will each leave a rose in honor of Terri.
"We are leaving these roses for Michael Schiavo to tell him that Terri life has dignity and worth. Even though Michael has said publicly that she died 15 years ago, on this Easter Sunday we celebrate that Terri is very much alive,” said Rev. Mahoney.
"As a woman, it is troubling for me to see Michael Schiavo continue to treat Terri as if she were his personal property. This Easter we are praying that Michael will be touched by God's love and healing power," said Swindell.
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 26, 2005 (CNA) - Florida Judge George Greer has once again rejected a plea by the parents of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, to keep the 41-year old woman from court-ordered starvation, but her family is still fighting for her life.
Attorneys for Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri's parents described the latest appeal as one of the family's last chances to replace a feeding tube which Greer ordered removed last Friday.
The parents had argued in yesterday's appeal that their daughter was trying to say "I want to live" as the tube was removed.
The Schindler's attorneys have now said that Terri's body is slowly succumbing to starvation and dehydration.
"It's very frustrating. Every minute that goes by is a minute that Terri is being starved and dehydrated to death," said her brother, Bobby Schindler, yesterday. He added that seeing her was like looking at "pictures of prisoners in concentration camps."
But attorneys for the family said on Saturday that "Terri Schiavo has not given up, neither are we." in fact, an All-Writs Petition to the Florida Supreme Court has been filed by David Gibbs on behalf of Bob and Mary Schindler on Saturday afternoon. This is an appeal of today's decision by Judge Greer.
Besides, supporters are still holding on to faint hope that Governor Jeb Bush may intervene to save Schiavo's life.
Many pro-life and Christian groups nationwide have issued pleas to President Bush and Governor Bush that they use their constitutional power to intervene.
Terri's father, exhausted from the over a decade of legal struggling over his daughter told reporters yesterday that, all those people "anxious to see her die are getting their wish - it's happening."