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.”