At the General Audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday, 19 April,
the anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's election, the Holy Father
commented on his first moments as Pope and reflected on the lingering
joy of the Resurrection in the Octave of Easter. The following is a
translation of the pope's Catechesis, which was given in Italian.
In the joyful atmosphere of Easter, on the anniversary
of his election as Supreme Pontiff, Benedict XVI renews his conviction:
'I am not alone'
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the beginning of today's General Audience which is taking place in
the joyful atmosphere of Easter, I would like to thank the Lord together
with you. After calling me, exactly a year ago, to serve the Church as
the Successor of the Apostle Peter
thank you for your joy, thank you for your applause
he never fails to assist me with his indispensable help.
How quickly time passes! A year has already elapsed since the
Cardinals gathered in Conclave and, in a way I found absolutely
unexpected and surprising, desired to choose my poor self to succeed the
late and beloved Servant of God, the great Pope John Paul II. I remember
with emotion my first impact with the faithful gathered in this same
Square, from the central Loggia of the Basilica, immediately after my
That meeting is still impressed upon my mind and heart. It was
followed by many others that have given me an opportunity to experience
the deep truth of my words at the solemn concelebration with which I
formally began to exercise my Petrine ministry: "I too can say with
renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in
truth I could never carry alone" (L'Osservatore Romano English
edition, 27 April 2005, p. 2).
And I feel more and more that alone I could not carry out this task,
this mission. But I also feel that you are carrying it with me: thus, I
am in a great communion and together we can go ahead with the Lord's
mission. The heavenly protection of God and of the saints is an
irreplaceable support to me and I am comforted by your closeness, dear
friends, who do not let me do without the gift of your indulgence and
your love. I offer very warm thanks to all those who in various ways
support me from close at hand or follow me from afar in spirit with
their affection and their prayers. I ask each one to continue to support
me, praying to God to grant that I may be a gentle and firm Pastor of
Paschal Mystery: core of the faith
The Evangelist John says that precisely after his Resurrection Jesus
called Peter to tend his flock (cf. Jn 21:15, 23). Who could have
humanly imagined then the development which was to mark that small group
of the Lord's disciples down the centuries?
Peter, together with the Apostles and then their successors, first in
Jerusalem and later to the very ends of the earth, courageously spread
the Gospel message, whose fundamental and indispensable core consists in
the Paschal Mystery: the Passion, the death and the Resurrection of
The Church celebrates this mystery at Easter, extending its joyous
resonance in the days that follow; she sings the alleluia for Christ's
triumph over evil and death.
The celebration of Easter in accordance with a date on the calendar,
Pope St Leo the Great remarked, reminds us of the eternal feast that
surpasses all human time. Today's Easter, he noted further, is the
shadow of the future Easter. For this reason we celebrate it, to move on
from an annual celebration to a celebration that will last for ever.
The joy of these days extends throughout the liturgical year and is
renewed especially on Sunday, the day dedicated to the memory of the
Lord's Resurrection. On Sunday, as it were, the "little Easter" of every
week, the liturgical assembly gathered for Holy Mass proclaims in the
Creed that Jesus rose on the third day, adding that we wait for "the
resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come".
This shows that the event of Jesus' death and Resurrection
constitutes the centre of our faith and that it is on this proclamation
that the Church is founded and develops.
St Augustine recalled incisively: "Let us consider, dear friends, the
Resurrection of Christ: indeed, just as his Passion stood for our old
life, his Resurrection is a sacrament of new life.... You have believed,
you have been baptized; the old life is dead, killed on the Cross,
buried in Baptism. The old life in which you lived is buried: the new
life emerges. Live well: live life in such a way that when death comes
you will not die (Sermo Guelferb. 9, 3).
Impossible to see and not believe
The Gospel accounts that mention the appearances of the Risen One
usually end with the invitation to overcome every uncertainty, to
confront the event with the Scriptures, to proclaim that Jesus, beyond
death, is alive for ever, a source of new life for all who believe in
This is what happened, for example, in the case of Mary Magdalene
(cf. Jn 20:11-18), who found the tomb open and empty and immediately
feared that the body of the Lord had been taken away. The Lord then
called her by name and at that point a deep change took place within
her: her distress and bewilderment were transformed into joy and
enthusiasm. She promptly went to the Apostles and announced to them: "I
have seen the Lord" (Jn 20:18).
Behold: those who meet the Risen Jesus are inwardly transformed; it
is impossible "to see" the Risen One without "believing' in him. Let us
pray that he will call each one of us by name and thus convert us,
opening us to the "vision" of faith.
Faith is born from the personal encounter with the Risen Christ and
becomes an impulse of courage and freedom that makes one cry to the
world: "Jesus is risen and alive for ever".
This is the mission of the Lord's disciples in every epoch and also
in our time: "If, then, you have been raised with Christ", St Paul
exhorts us, "seek the things that are above.... Set your minds on things
that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Col 3:1-2). This does
not mean cutting oneself off from one's daily commitments, neglecting
earthly realities; rather, it means reviving every human activity with a
supernatural breath, it means making ourselves joyful proclaimers and
witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ, living for eternity (cf. Jn
20:25; Lk 24:33-34).
Dear brothers and sisters, in the Pasch of his Only-begotten Son, God
fully revealed himself, his victorious power over the forces of death,
the power of Trinitarian Love. May the Virgin Mary, who was closely
associated with the Passion, death and Resurrection of the Son and at
the foot of the Cross became the Mother of all believers, help us to
understand this mystery of love that changes hearts and makes us
experience fully the joy of Easter, so that we in turn may be able to
communicate it to the men and women of the third millennium.