Pope Benedict XVI carried a tall, lit candle symbolizing hope into a darkened St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday night at an Easter vigil Mass and held out the Church’s teaching as a beacon to the faithful beset by the “confusions of our age.”
A chant of “Lumen Christi” (Latin for “Light of Christ”) echoed in the cavernous basilica, which was packed with faithful.
Then the vast space began twinkling with light as cardinals and other prelates lit their candles from the flame on the pope’s Easter candle and, one by one, members of the congregation lit their neighbor’s candle in a quick succession of lights.
A light switch was thrown and the Mass began, led by Benedict, dressed in gold and white vestments.
Easter Sunday is Christianity’s most important feast day, when faithful mark their belief in the resurrection of Christ after Jesus’ death by crucifixion.
Benedict said Jesus, like a shepherd, gave guidance to his flock in his days.
“What great compassion he must feel in our time, too, on account of all the endless talk that people hide behind, while in reality they are totally confused,” the pope said.
Benedict prayed that Christians would “shine as lights in the world” amid “the confusions of this age” and amid the search for values to put “order” in our lives.
“The gravitational pull of love is stronger than that of hatred; the force of gravity of life is stronger than that of death,” Benedict said in his homily reflecting on the mystery of Christian belief in the resurrection.
A motif of life overcoming difficult trials figured in Benedict’s Good Friday homily, as he sought to encourage survivors of Italy’s devastating quake to cling to hope and take solace in Easter’s joy.