This evening, Bishop Peter Moran, the Bishop of Aberdeen, will celebrate a special Mass for Pope John Paul II in St Mary's RC Church, Inverness at 7pm.
In his homily this evening, Bishop Moran will reflect on the life of Pope John Paul II and give thanks for his leadership, his teaching and his example .
Tomorrow (Wednesday 6 April 2005) Bishop Moran will celebrate Mass in the St Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Aberdeen at 7pm.
The full text of Bishop Moran s homily appears below:
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Sermon by Bishop Peter A. Moran (Bishop of Aberdeen) at Mass for Pope
John Paul II in Inverness (5th April 2005) and Aberdeen (6th April 2005)
When believers gather in the aftermath of a death, as we gather this evening, they do more than merely remember the one who has died.
They come to comfort those who are grieving for their loss
They come to thank God for his gifts, given to the deceased and used during the life now ended.
But they also come to renew and declare their faith in the Resurrection “ Christ s resurrection and ours, and to pray, in that faith, for the one who has passed away.
The mourners on this occasion are to be counted in hundreds of millions. Pope John Paul was such a world figure that not only Catholics everywhere, but many not of our Church, feel his death as a personal loss. Only those well into their thirties or older will remember any other Pope but John Paul II. Through television, people who have hardly visited a church, let alone visited Rome, had seen his face and heard him speak in their living-rooms. At the famous inter-faith meeting in Assisi, and on many other occasions, he reached out to people of other faiths. The world is a little emptier, a little poorer, perhaps even a little colder, for his passing. We need to find comfort in grieving together.
Karol Wojtyla had immense and varied gifts, and this evening we thank God for them. A strong and athletic physique, and great psychological strength to match it. Academic ability of a high order. Notable skills as a writer and a speaker. A truly astonishing fluency in many languages. A likeable, open personality capable of reaching out to a wide range of ages and cultures. And a deep, strong, prayerful faith.
Those gifts were nurtured and grew in a devout family which knew the sadness of the early deaths of his brother, his mother and his father. Those gifts were developed and exercised against a background of repression under an intolerant regime. This man laboured in a quarry, studied in secret, and escaped deportation only because he happened to be praying in a basement when they came for the men and the boys.
As a seminary professor, as Archbishop of Krakow and as Pope John Paul he wrote, discussed, taught and preached untiringly, presenting the timeless principles and precepts of the Faith at many different levels to many different audiences. He championed life from its first beginnings to its natural end. He championed the freedom of nations and of the individual. He worked for reconciliation between different faiths. From his very first days as Pope in 1978 he established the weekly sermons from his window overlooking St Peter s Square; he wrote, like Popes before him, Encyclical letters, but his were more numerous and “ something not always acknowledged “ easier reading! Again, almost from his first days, he set himself the travel-schedule which took him all over the world, to talk to people face to face, and almost always in their own language.
Excellent communication however is only the means. The substance of what John Paul offered was the product of a deep, reflective faith founded on meeting God in prayer. Somehow, amid that punishing schedule, he found time both in private and in public, to meditate and pray long and intensively.
Then, in his last years and months, this giant of a man, this sturdy athlete running in the race for the prize of eternal life, found a new means of communication. His illness and his pain were distressing for all of us who felt for him; but his courage in facing them, and his willingness to suffer publicly, became a kind of sermon linking Calvary and Resurrection, a message about the value of a human life however diminished in the world s eyes.
So we thank God for this man s God-given gifts, so untiringly put into use; we thank God for his leadership, his teaching and his example.
However, if all we did this evening was to look back, as though death was the end and all that was left was memories, we would be disloyal to our faith and disloyal to Pope John Paul himself.
Central to our Christian faith is the Resurrection of Christ “ the pivotal event in human history which is what Easter is all about. And from this belief that Christ really did come back from the dead, we derive that sure and certain hope that those who die, even if we grieve for their passing, have entered upon eternal life.
Pope John Paul lived this life as a preparation for the life that lasts forever. As he lay dying, bulletins commented upon his serenity . He knew he was about to cross a threshold, but one which leads not into darkness but into the light of God s presence. It s a threshold each one of us will have to cross when the time comes: this evening we can strengthen each other s faith in the resurrection, as we pray for the Pope crossing that threshold.
But “ does he need our prayers? We may feel confident that Karol Wojtyla has gone straight into God s welcoming presence, to find the company of Our Lady and the saints “ so many of whom he himself has publicly proclaimed. But think of the responsibilities he carried; think of the decisions he has had to make; think of his struggle to remember, amid all the adulation and public acclaim, that he was a creature and a mere man, after all “ and ask yourself if he would be grateful for your prayers for him, as he has so often prayed for you and for all the members of his worldwide flock. May he rest in peace.
+ Peter A. Moran
Bishop of Aberdeen
5th and 6th April 2005