.- Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI gathered with thousands of faithful from around the world in remembering the late John Paul II--a man whom he called a “rock” in the faith. He passed from this life to the next one year ago Sunday.
Thousands of faithful from various countries--most from the late pope’s native Poland--were on hand in St. Peter’s Square Monday afternoon for a Mass marking the first anniversary of the pontiff’s death.
A number of cardinals concelebrated with Pope Benedict, including Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary to John Paul II and now archbishop of Krakow, Poland.
During his homily, Pope Benedict recalled John Paul’s “many human and spiritual gifts”, pointing out that when he died last year, "Passing through the crucible of apostolic labors and of illness, he appeared ever more as a 'rock' in the faith."
"Those who had the opportunity of frequenting him personally”, he went on, “were able almost to touch that pure and solid faith which, if it impressed his inner circle of collaborators, did not fail to spread its beneficial influence, during his long pontificate, throughout the Church in a crescendo that reached its peak in the final months and days of his life."
The Pope described John Paul’s faith as "committed, strong and authentic,” calling it “free from fear and compromise."
He pointed out that it "touched the hearts of so many people, thanks also to his numerous apostolic pilgrimages all over the world, and especially thanks to that final 'journey' of his agony and death."
Recalling the motto of his predecessor’s pontificate "Totus tuus," Benedict stressed that the late Pope's life was "completely oriented towards Christ through Mary."
"This evening," he said, "our thoughts turn with emotion to the moment of the beloved Pontiff's death, but at the same time it is as if our hearts are compelled to look ahead. We hear, resounding in our hearts, his repeated invitations to advance fearlessly down the road of faithfulness to the Gospel in order to be heralds and witnesses of Christ in the third millennium.”
"We remember”, the Pope said, “his incessant exhortations to cooperate generously in creating a more just and united humanity, to be workers for peace and builders of hope."
Concluding, he prayed: "May our gaze always remain fixed upon Christ, 'the same yesterday and today and forever,' Who firmly guides His Church. ... May the strength of Jesus' Spirit be for everyone, as it was for Pope John Paul II, a source of peace and joy."