"The Hidden Homilies of Pope Benedict  "

Hidden, except for those who were able to listen to them in person: a few thousand out of 1.2 billion
Catholics in the world. Here are the complete texts. Required reading for understanding this pontificate

Easter Vigil  March 22, 2008

Dear brothers and sisters, in his farewell discourse, Jesus announced his imminent death and resurrection to his disciples with
these mysterious words: "I go away, and I will come to you", he said (Jn 14:28). Dying is a "going away". Even if the body of the
deceased remains behind, he himself has gone away into the unknown, and we cannot follow him (cf. Jn 13:36). Yet in Jesus’s
case, there is something utterly new, which changes the world. In the case of our own death, the "going away" is definitive,
there is no return. Jesus, on the other hand, says of his death: "I go away, and I will come to you." It is by going away that he
comes. His going ushers in a completely new and greater way of being present. By dying he enters into the love of the Father.
His dying is an act of love. Love, however, is immortal. Therefore, his going away is transformed into a new coming, into a form
of presence which reaches deeper and does not come to an end. During his earthly life, Jesus, like all of us, was tied to the
external conditions of bodily existence: to a determined place and a determined time. Bodiliness places limits on our existence.
We cannot be simultaneously in two different places. Our time is destined to come to an end. And between the "I" and the
"you" there is a wall of otherness. To be sure, through love we can somehow enter the other’s existence. Nevertheless, the
insurmountable barrier of being different remains in place. Yet Jesus, who is now totally transformed through the act of love, is
free from such barriers and limits. He is able not only to pass through closed doors in the outside world, as the Gospels recount
(cf. Jn 20:19). He can pass through the interior door separating the "I" from the "you", the closed door between yesterday and
today, between the past and the future. On the day of his solemn entry into Jerusalem, when some Greeks asked to see him,
Jesus replied with the parable of the grain of wheat which has to pass through death in order to bear much fruit. In this way he
foretold his own destiny: these words were not addressed simply to one or two Greeks in the space of a few minutes. Through
his Cross, through his going away, through his dying like the grain of wheat, he would truly arrive among the Greeks, in such a
way that they could see him and touch him through faith. His going away is transformed into a coming, in the Risen Lord’s
universal manner of presence, in which he is there yesterday, today and for ever, in which he embraces all times and all places.
Now he can even surmount the wall of otherness that separates the "I" from the "you". This happened with Paul, who
describes the process of his conversion and his Baptism in these words: "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me"
(Gal 2:20). Through the coming of the Risen One, Paul obtained a new identity. His closed "I" was opened. Now he lives in
communion with Jesus Christ, in the great "I" of believers who have become – as he puts it – "one in Christ" (Gal 3:28).

So, dear friends, it is clear that, through Baptism, the mysterious words spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper become present for
you once more. In Baptism, the Lord enters your life through the door of your heart. We no longer stand alongside or in
opposition to one another. He passes through all these doors. This is the reality of Baptism: he, the Risen One, comes; he
comes to you and joins his life with yours, drawing you into the open fire of his love. You become one, one with him, and thus
one among yourselves. At first this can sound rather abstract and unrealistic. But the more you live the life of the baptized, the
more you can experience the truth of these words. Believers – the baptized – are never truly cut off from one another.
Continents, cultures, social structures or even historical distances may separate us. But when we meet, we know one another
on the basis of the same Lord, the same faith, the same hope, the same love, which form us. Then we experience that the
foundation of our lives is the same. We experience that in our inmost depths we are anchored in the same identity, on the basis
of which all our outward differences, however great they may be, become secondary. Believers are never totally cut off from
one another. We are in communion because of our deepest identity: Christ within us. Thus faith is a force for peace and
reconciliation in the world: distances between people are overcome, in the Lord we have become close (cf. Eph 2:13).

The Church expresses the inner reality of Baptism as the gift of a new identity through the tangible elements used in the
administration of the sacrament. The fundamental element in Baptism is water; next, in second place, is light, which is used to
great effect in the Liturgy of the Easter Vigil. Let us take a brief look at these two elements. In the final chapter of the Letter to
the Hebrews, there is a statement about Christ which does not speak directly of water, but the Old Testament allusions
nevertheless point clearly to the mystery of water and its symbolic meaning. Here we read: "The God of peace brought again
from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant" (13:20). In this sentence,
there is an echo of the prophecy of Isaiah, in which Moses is described as the shepherd whom the Lord brought up from the
water, from the sea (cf. 63:11). Jesus appears as the new, definitive Shepherd who brings to fulfilment what Moses had done:
he leads us out of the deadly waters of the sea, out of the waters of death. In this context we may recall that Moses’ mother
placed him in a basket in the Nile. Then, through God’s providence, he was taken out of the water, carried from death to life,
and thus – having himself been saved from the waters of death – he was able to lead others through the sea of death. Jesus
descended for us into the dark waters of death. But through his blood, so the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, he was brought
back from death: his love united itself to the Father’s love, and thus from the abyss of death he was able to rise to life. Now he
raises us from death to true life. This is exactly what happens in Baptism: he draws us towards himself, he draws us into true
life. He leads us through the often murky sea of history, where we are frequently in danger of sinking amid all the confusion and
perils. In Baptism he takes us, as it were, by the hand, he leads us along the path that passes through the Red Sea of this life
and introduces us to everlasting life, the true and upright life. Let us grasp his hand firmly! Whatever may happen, whatever
may befall us, let us not lose hold of his hand! Let us walk along the path that leads to life.

In the second place, there is the symbol of light and fire. Gregory of Tours recounts a practice that in some places was
preserved for a long time, of lighting the new fire for the celebration of the Easter Vigil directly from the sun, using a crystal.
Light and fire, so to speak, were received anew from heaven, so that all the lights and fires of the year could be kindled from
them. This is a symbol of what we are celebrating in the Easter Vigil. Through his radical love for us, in which the heart of God
and the heart of man touched, Jesus Christ truly took light from heaven and brought it to the earth – the light of truth and the
fire of love that transform man’s being. He brought the light, and now we know who God is and what God is like. Thus we also
know what our own situation is: what we are, and for what purpose we exist. When we are baptized, the fire of this light is
brought down deep within ourselves. Thus, in the early Church, Baptism was also called the Sacrament of Illumination: God’s
light enters into us; thus we ourselves become children of light. We must not allow this light of truth, that shows us the path,
to be extinguished. We must protect it from all the forces that seek to eliminate it so as to cast us back into darkness regarding
God and ourselves. Darkness, at times, can seem comfortable. I can hide, and spend my life asleep. Yet we are not called to
darkness, but to light. In our baptismal promises, we rekindle this light, so to speak, year by year. Yes, I believe that the world
and my life are not the product of chance, but of eternal Reason and eternal Love, they are created by Almighty God. Yes, I
believe that in Jesus Christ, in his incarnation, in his Cross and resurrection, the face of God has been revealed; that in him, God
is present in our midst, he unites us and leads us towards our goal, towards eternal Love. Yes, I believe that the Holy Spirit
gives us the word of truth and enlightens our hearts; I believe that in the communion of the Church we all become one Body
with the Lord, and thus we encounter his resurrection and eternal life. The Lord has granted us the light of truth. This light is
also fire, a powerful force coming from God, a force that does not destroy, but seeks to transform our hearts, so that we truly
become men of God, and so that his peace can become active in this world.

In the early Church there was a custom whereby the Bishop or the priest, after the homily, would cry out to the faithful:
"Conversi ad Dominum" – turn now towards the Lord. This meant in the first place that they would turn towards the East,
towards the rising sun, the sign of Christ returning, whom we go to meet when we celebrate the Eucharist. Where this was not
possible, for some reason, they would at least turn towards the image of Christ in the apse, or towards the Cross, so as to
orient themselves inwardly towards the Lord. Fundamentally, this involved an interior event; conversion, the turning of our
soul towards Jesus Christ and thus towards the living God, towards the true light. Linked with this, then, was the other
exclamation that still today, before the Eucharistic Prayer, is addressed to the community of the faithful: "Sursum corda" – lift
up your hearts, high above the tangled web of our concerns, desires, anxieties and thoughtlessness – "Lift up your hearts, your
inner selves!" In both exclamations we are summoned, as it were, to a renewal of our Baptism: "Conversi ad Dominum" – we
must distance ourselves ever anew from taking false paths, onto which we stray so often in our thoughts and actions. We must
turn ever anew towards him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be converted ever anew, turning with our whole
life towards the Lord. And ever anew we must allow our hearts to be withdrawn from the force of gravity, which pulls them
down, and inwardly we must raise them high: in truth and love. At this hour, let us thank the Lord, because through the power
of his word and of the holy Sacraments, he points us in the right direction and draws our heart upwards. Let us pray to him in
these words: Yes, Lord, make us Easter people, men and women of light, filled with the fire of your love. Amen.

Easter Sunday March 23, 2008

"Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum. Alleluia! – I have risen, I am still with you. Alleluia!" Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus, crucified
and risen, repeats this joyful proclamation to us today: the Easter proclamation. Let us welcome it with deep wonder and

"Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum – I have risen, I am still with you, for ever." These words, taken from an ancient version of Psalm
138 (v. 18b), were sung at the beginning of today’s Mass. In them, at the rising of the Easter sun, the Church recognizes the
voice of Jesus himself who, on rising from death, turns to the Father filled with gladness and love, and exclaims: My Father, here
I am! I have risen, I am still with you, and so I shall be for ever; your Spirit never abandoned me. In this way we can also come to
a new understanding of other passages from the psalm: "If I climb the heavens, you are there; if I descend into the underworld,
you are there … Even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as clear as day; for you, darkness is like light" (Ps 138:8,12).
It is true: in the solemn Easter vigil, darkness becomes light, night gives way to the day that knows no sunset. The death and
resurrection of the Word of God incarnate is an event of invincible love, it is the victory of that Love which has delivered us
from the slavery of sin and death. It has changed the course of history, giving to human life an indestructible and renewed
meaning and value.

"I have risen and I am still with you, for ever." These words invite us to contemplate the risen Christ, letting his voice resound in
our heart. With his redeeming sacrifice, Jesus of Nazareth has made us adopted children of God, so that we too can now take
our place in the mysterious dialogue between him and the Father. We are reminded of what he once said to those who were
listening: "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to
whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Mt 11:27). In this perspective, we note that the words addressed by the risen Jesus to
the Father on this day – "I am still with you, for ever" – apply indirectly to us as well, "children of God and fellow heirs with
Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (cf. Rom 8:17). Through the death and
resurrection of Christ, we too rise to new life today, and uniting our voice with his, we proclaim that we wish to remain for ever
with God, our infinitely good and merciful Father.

In this way we enter the depths of the Paschal mystery. The astonishing event of the resurrection of Jesus is essentially an
event of love: the Father’s love in handing over his Son for the salvation of the world; the Son’s love in abandoning himself to
the Father’s will for us all; the Spirit’s love in raising Jesus from the dead in his transfigured body. And there is more: the Father’
s love which "newly embraces" the Son, enfolding him in glory; the Son’s love returning to the Father in the power of the Spirit,
robed in our transfigured humanity. From today’s solemnity, in which we relive the absolute, once-and-for-all experience of
Jesus’s resurrection, we receive an appeal to be converted to Love; we receive an invitation to live by rejecting hatred and
selfishness, and to follow with docility in the footsteps of the Lamb that was slain for our salvation, to imitate the Redeemer
who is "gentle and lowly in heart", who is "rest for our souls" (cf. Mt 11:29).

Dear Christian brothers and sisters in every part of the world, dear men and women whose spirit is sincerely open to the truth,
let no heart be closed to the omnipotence of this redeeming love! Jesus Christ died and rose for all; he is our hope – true hope
for every human being. Today, just as he did with his disciples in Galilee before returning to the Father, the risen Jesus now
sends us everywhere as witnesses of his hope, and he reassures us: I am with you always, all days, until the end of the world
(cf. Mt 28:20). Fixing the gaze of our spirit on the glorious wounds of his transfigured body, we can understand the meaning
and value of suffering, we can tend the many wounds that continue to disfigure humanity in our own day. In his glorious
wounds we recognize the indestructible signs of the infinite mercy of the God of whom the prophet says: it is he who heals the
wounds of broken hearts, who defends the weak and proclaims the freedom of slaves, who consoles all the afflicted and
bestows upon them the oil of gladness instead of a mourning robe, a song of praise instead of a sorrowful heart (cf. Is 61:1,2,3).
If with humble trust we draw near to him, we encounter in his gaze the response to the deepest longings of our heart: to know
God and to establish with him a living relationship in an authentic communion of love, which can fill our lives, our interpersonal
and social relations with that same love. For this reason, humanity needs Christ: in him, our hope, "we have been saved" (cf.
Rom 8:24).

How often relations between individuals, between groups and between peoples are marked not by love but by selfishness,
injustice, hatred and violence! These are the scourges of humanity, open and festering in every corner of the planet, although
they are often ignored and sometimes deliberately concealed; wounds that torture the souls and bodies of countless of our
brothers and sisters. They are waiting to be tended and healed by the glorious wounds of our Risen Lord (cf. 1 Pet 2:24-25) and
by the solidarity of people who, following in his footsteps, perform deeds of charity in his name, make an active commitment to
justice, and spread luminous signs of hope in areas bloodied by conflict and wherever the dignity of the human person
continues to be scorned and trampled. It is hoped that these are precisely the places where gestures of moderation and
forgiveness will increase!

Dear brothers and sisters! Let us allow the light that streams forth from this solemn day to enlighten us; let us open ourselves
in sincere trust to the risen Christ, so that his victory over evil and death may also triumph in each one of us, in our families, in
our cities and in our nations. Let it shine forth in every part of the world. In particular, how can we fail to remember certain
African regions, such as Dafur and Somalia, the tormented Middle East, especially the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon, and finally
Tibet, all of whom I encourage to seek solutions that will safeguard peace and the common good! Let us invoke the fullness of
his Paschal gifts, through the intercession of Mary who, after sharing the sufferings of the passion and crucifixion of her
innocent Son, also experienced the inexpressible joy of his resurrection. Sharing in the glory of Christ, may she be the one to
protect us and guide us along the path of fraternal solidarity and peace. These are my Easter greetings, which I address to all
who are present here, and to men and women of every nation and continent united with us through radio and television.
Happy Easter!

"A priest who saw heaven, hell, and purgatory "

'The death experience of Father Jose Maniyangat'

Fr. Jose Maniyangat is currently the pastor of St. Mary's Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in
Macclenny, Florida. Here is his personal testimony:
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I was born on July 16, 1949 in Kerala, India to my parents, Joseph and Theresa Maniyangat. I
am the eldest of seven children: Jose, Mary, Theresa, Lissama, Zachariah, Valsa and Tom.
At the age of fourteen, I entered St. Mary's Minor Seminary in Thiruvalla to begin my studies
for the priesthood. Four years later, I went to St. Joseph's Pontifical Major Seminary in
Alwaye, Kerala to continue my priestly formation. After completing the seven years of
philosophy and theology, I was ordained a priest on January 1, 1975 to serve as a missionary
in the Diocese of Thiruvalla.
On Sunday April 14, 1985, the Feast of the Divine Mercy, I was going to celebrate Mass at a
mission church in the north part of Kerala, and I had a fatal accident. I was riding a
motorcycle when I was hit head-on by a jeep driven by a man who was intoxicated after a Hindu
festival. I was rushed to a hospital about 35 miles away. On the way, my soul came out from my
body and I experienced death. Immediately, I met my Guardian Angel. I saw my body and the
people who were carrying me to the hospital. I heard them crying and praying for me. At this
time my angel told me: 'I am going to take you to Heaven, the Lord wants to meet you and talk
with you.' He also said that, on the way, he wanted to show me hell and purgatory.
First, the angel escorted me to hell. It was an awful sight! I saw Satan and the devils, an
unquenchable fire of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, worms crawling, people screaming and
fighting, others being tortured by demons. The angel told me that all these sufferings were
due to unrepented mortal sins. Then, I understood that there are seven degrees of suffering or
levels according to the number and kinds of mortal sins committed in their earthly lives. The
souls looked very ugly, cruel and horrific. It was a fearful experience. I saw people whom I
knew, but I am not allowed to reveal their identities. The sins that convicted them were
mainly abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, hatefulness, unforgiveness and sacrilege. The
angel told me that if they had repented, they would have avoided hell and gone instead to
purgatory. I also understood that some people who repent from these sins might be purified on
earth through their sufferings. This way they can avoid purgatory and go straight to heaven.
I was surprised when I saw in hell even priests and Bishops, some of whom I never expected to
see. Many of them were there because they had misled the people with false teaching and bad
After the visit to hell, my Guardian Angel escorted me to purgatory. Here too, there are seven
degrees of suffering and unquenchable fire. But it is far less intense than hell and there was
neither quarreling nor fighting. The main suffering of these souls is their separation from
God. Some of those who are in purgatory committed numerous mortal sins, but they were
reconciled with God before their death. Even though these souls are suffering, they enjoy
peace and the knowledge that one day they will see God face to face.
I had a chance to communicate with the souls in purgatory. They asked me to pray for them and
to tell the people to pray for them as well, so they can go to heaven quickly. When we pray
for these souls, we will receive their gratitude through their prayers, and once they enter
heaven, their prayers become even more meritorious.
It is difficult for me to describe how beautiful my Guardian Angel is. He is radiant and
bright. He is my constant companion and helps me in all my ministries, especially my healing
ministry. I experience his presence everywhere I go and I am grateful for his protection in my
daily life.
Next, my angel escorted me to heaven passing through a big dazzling white tunnel. I never
experienced this much peace and joy in my life. Then immediately heaven opened up and I heard
the most delightful music, which I never heard before. The angels were singing and praising
God. I saw all the saints, especially the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, and many dedicated
holy Bishops and priests who were shining like stars. And when I appeared before the Lord,
Jesus told me: 'I want you to go back to the world. In your second life, you will be an
instrument of peace and healing to My people. You will walk in a foreign land and you will
speak in a foreign tongue. Everything is possible for you with My grace.' After these words,
the Blessed Mother told me: 'Do whatever He tells you. I will help you in your ministries.'
Words can not express the beauty of heaven. There we find so much peace and happiness, which
exceed a million times our imagination. Our Lord is far more beautiful than any image can
convey. His face is radiant and luminous and more beautiful than a thousand rising suns. The
pictures we see in the world are only a shadow of His magnificence. The Blessed Mother was
next to Jesus; She was so beautiful and radiant. None of the images we see in this world can
compare with Her real beauty. Heaven is our real home; we are all created to reach heaven and
enjoy God forever. Then, I came back to the world with my angel.
While my body was at the hospital, the doctor completed all examinations and I was pronounced
dead. The cause of death was bleeding. My family was notified, and since they were far away,
the hospital staff decided to move my dead body to the morgue. Because the hospital did not
have air conditioners, they were concerned that the body would decompose quickly. As they were
moving my dead body to the morgue, my soul came back to the body. I felt an excruciating pain
because of so many wounds and broken bones. I began to scream, and then the people became
frightened and ran away screaming. One of them approached the doctor and said: 'The dead body
is screaming.' The doctor came to examine the body and found that I was alive. So he said:
'Father is alive, it is a miracle! Take him back to the hospital.'
Now, back at the hospital, they gave me blood transfusions and I was taken to surgery to
repair the broken bones. They worked on my lower jaw, ribs, pelvic bone, wrists, and right
leg. After two months, I was released from the hospital, but my orthopedic doctor said that I
would never walk again. I then said to him: 'The Lord who gave me my life back and sent me
back to the world will heal me.' Once at home, we were all praying for a miracle. Still after
a month, and with the casts removed, I was not able to move. But one day while praying I felt
an extraordinary pain in my pelvic area. After a short while the pain disappeared completely
and I heard a voice saying: 'You are healed. Get up and walk.' I felt the peace and healing
power on my body. I immediately got up and walked. I praised and thanked God for the miracle.
I reached my doctor with the news of my healing, and he was amazed. He said: 'Your God is the
true God. I must follow your God.' The doctor was Hindu, and he asked me to teach him about
our Church. After studying the Faith, I baptized him and he became Catholic.
Following the message from my Guardian Angel, I came to the United States on November 10, 1986
as a missionary priest... Since June 1999, I have been pastor of St. Mary's Mother of Mercy
Catholic Church in Macclenny, Florida.
Fr. Jose Maniyangat