By CINDY WOODEN, CNS | Published April 21, 2005
Dressed in the white and gold vestments of the Easter season, the world’s cardinals ended the official nine-day mourning period for Pope John Paul II with an April 16 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The liturgy was celebrated by 78-year-old Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, who focused on the late pope’s devotion to the Eucharist and the importance he gave to sacramental confession.
In addition to his practice of hearing confessions on Good Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope regularly went to confession, the cardinal said.
“I remember with admiration when, during a work session in his office, after he had a moment of fleeting impatience, he said to us, ‘And, just think, I went to confession this morning,’” Cardinal Medina said.
“Today we offer the holy sacrifice (of the Mass) also in atonement for his noble soul so that the Lord, by means of his most precious blood—the price of our redemption—would purify the soul of his servant from every sin and imperfection, minor as they may be, so that he can be admitted into the presence of the most Holy Trinity in company with the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom he so tenderly loved,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Medina said that anyone who watched Pope John Paul celebrate Mass could see that the pope was “a eucharistic man,” one who fully believed that Jesus was truly present on the altar.
The cardinal said the memorial Mass also was an occasion to praise God for the good works he accomplished through Pope John Paul.
The pope taught “in defense of the Gospel truths,” including truths about the family and about the sacredness of human life from conception to the moment of natural death, he said.
The cardinal thanked God for the pope’s “love for the poor, his concern for peace and justice, his example as a priest (and) his detachment from every material thing.”
Pope John Paul, he said, “suffered in the face of the obstacles, which despite all his efforts, still impede the unity of Christ’s disciples in one church.”
The pope also suffered over the fate of Christians living in the “many parts of the world” where they do not enjoy full religious freedom, he said.
“Truly the heart of John Paul II resembled the heart of Jesus,” Cardinal Medina said.