Yesterday afternoon Pope Benedict XVI spoke at a Mass in honor of the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope John XXIII’s election as Pope. His openness to the Holy Spirit made possible the “truly special gift” of Vatican II to the Church, Benedict XVI said.
Gathered with 3,000 pilgrims from the late Pontiff’s home diocese of Bergamo, Italy, Pope Benedict described him as the “Papa buono” (the good Pope) as he recalled how "the grace of God was preparing a period of commitment and promise for the Church and for society” at the time Bl. John XXIII was elected.
This grace, was able to help the Church flourish because of John XXIII’s openness to the Holy Spirit, said Pope Benedict, as he described how that “fertile soil,” which characterized the late Pope’s whole life, bore the fruits of “harmony, hope, unity and peace, for the good of all humanity.”
Despite the divisions and sharp contrasts of the time surrounding Pope John XXIII’s pontificate, Pope Benedict explained that he “remained a man and pastor of peace, who opened unexpected horizons of fraternity among Christians and of dialogue with everyone, in both East and West."
This approach allowed John XXIII, who was profoundly convicted of the need for belief in Christ and membership in the Church, to bring to fruition the Second Vatican Council, which the Holy Father called "a truly special gift for the Church.”
Speaking about Vatican II, Pope Benedict urged the Church to be “committed to accepting that gift in appropriate ways, continuing to reflect upon its teachings and to translate its practical guidelines into everyday life." Specifically, Benedict XVI pointed to the parish as the place “that we learn to live our own faith solidly. This enables us to keep the rich tradition of the past alive and to re-propose its values in a secularized social environment which is often hostile and indifferent."
The family is also a place where “the Christian precept of love in daily life" is meant to be lived out, Benedict said as he reflected on the late Pope’s care for the family. John XXIII “trustingly gave the parish - a family of families - the task of nourishing the sentiments of communion and fraternity among the faithful,” he reminded.
Pope Benedict closed his words on Bl. John XXIII by turning to one of the Pontiff’s teachings. "Molded by the Eucharist the parish will become a beneficial ferment amidst the widespread consumerism and individualism of our time, reawakening solidarity and opening, in faith, the eye of the heart to recognize the Father, Who is gratuitous love and Who wishes to share his own joy with His children."