- Benedict XVI - earthquakes - Easter - Italy - Vatican
REUTERS - Pope Benedict led the world’s Catholics into Easter on Saturday night, urging them to rise the above “confusions of this age” by following Church teachings.
The German-born pontiff, marking the fourth Easter of his pontificate, began the Easter eve service in the atrium of a darkened St Peter’s Basilica, where he carved the Greek letters Alpha and Omega on a large candle.
The basilica became a sea of flickers as thousands of people gathered inside the largest church in Christendom lit candles before the lights were turned on.
The gesture symbolises the darkness in the world after Christ’s death and the light of resurrection.
“God’s creation ... begins with the biblical command: ‘Let there be light’. Where there is light, life is born, chaos can be transformed into cosmos,” the pope said.
In his sermon, the pope noted that in Jesus’s time, many followers were so confused “amid the contradictory messages of that time, they did not know which way to turn”.
“What great compassion (Jesus Christ) must feel in our own time too—on account of all the endless talk that people hide behind, while in reality they are confused,” the pope said. The night mass was the last event in a hectic week before Sunday’s main Easter service.
The ceremonies commemorate Jesus Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, and mark the climax of the Christian calendar.
The pope listened on Friday to meditations on the tragedies and disasters that test faith, during a Good Friday procession in Rome. The ceremony took place hours after Italians buried victims of Monday’s devastating earthquake.
The pontiff offered a special prayer for quake survivors, asking they find hope, despite a disaster that killed at least 293 people and left almost 40,000 homeless.