The Holy Father told about 200 youth gathered for the 25th anniversary of the San Lorenzo Youth Centre on Sunday that while man always retains his dignity whether he is an embryo or in a coma, he is called beyond the limits of medicine to the immortality that only the infinite love of Christ can give.
Pope Benedict was at the center to help begin their 25th anniversary celebrations for the by celebrating Mass for nearly 200 young people who help run the center, which is near St. Peter’s Square.
The San Lorenzo International Youth Centre was inaugurated by John Paul II on March 13, 1983. During a Eucharistic celebration held that day, the then Pope expressed the hope that the center may become "a forge for the formation of authentic young Christians who are capable of bearing coherent witness to the Gospel in today's world."
The Pope began by reading his prepared homily before adding his improvised remarks on the meaning of life and death in light of the Sunday’s Gospel reading, the raising of Lazarus.
"Human beings, though part of this cosmos, transcend it", he said. "Of course man always remains man in all his dignity, even if in a coma or in the embryonic state, yet if he lives only biologically he does not realize and develop all the potential of his being. Man is called to open himself to new dimensions.”
The Pontiff went on to explain the two dimensions. The first is knowledge. In this context he noted how, unlike the animals, "man wishes to know everything, all of reality. ... He thirsts for knowledge of the infinite, he wishes to arrive at the font of life and to drink therefrom, to find life itself.”
This, he continued, leads to the second dimension of love: "Man is not just a being who knows, he also lives in relationships of friendship and of love. Beyond the dimension of knowledge of truth and of being, there also exists, inseparable from it, the dimension of relationships, of love. And it is here that man comes close to the source of life from which he wishes to drink in order to have life in abundance, to have life itself.”
Man also faces a great struggle for life, which is found in science – especially in medicine. However, even if medicine were to find "the prescription of immortality" it would still "be confined within this biosphere.”
"It is easy to imagine what would happen if man's biological life were endless, if he were immortal", the Holy Father added. "We would find ourselves in an aged world, a world full of old people, a world that would leave no space for the young, for the renewal of life. Thus we understand that this cannot be the kind of immortality to which we aspire. ... Drinking from the font of life is to enter into communion with this infinite love which is the source of life.”
The Pope pointed the youth to the teachings of the Fathers of the Church who called the Eucharist "medicine of immortality". In this Sacrament, “we enter into communion with the body [of Christ] which is animated by immortal life and thus we enter, now and always, into the space of life itself."