I would like today to pause over my recent visit to India and Georgia. Recalling this trip offers me the opportunity to thank first of all the Heavenly Father, "for whom and through whom all things exist" (Hebrews 2:10). With his help, I was able to accomplish this task of my service to the Gospel and to the cause of Christian unity.
The first stop on my spiritual pilgrimage was the city of New Delhi in India, for the signing and promulgation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, "Ecclesia in Asia". In this document I harvested the fruit of the study and proposals of the Special Assembly for the Synod of Bishops for Asia, which took place in Rome in 1998. India is the cradle of ancient cultures, religions and spiritual traditions, that are continuing to mold the lives of millions of people, in a social context characterized by centuries of a notable degree of reciprocal tolerance. Christianity, which accounts for a considerable part of this history of peaceful relations, has been there since the preaching of the apostle Thomas, according to the Christians of Southern India.
Today this spirit of reciprocal respect has for some become difficult. It was therefore important to reaffirm the lively desire of the Church for a fruitful dialogue among the followers of all religions, that they may bring renewed relations of understanding and of solidarity to the service of the entire human family.
2. The synodal document "Ecclesia in Asia" helps us to understand that this interreligious dialogue and the mandate of the Church to spread the Gospel unto the ends of the earth are not mutually exclusive, but on the contrary, complementary. On the one hand, the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ must always be deeply respectful of the consciences of those hearing it, and respectful of all that is good and holy in the culture and religious tradition to which they belong (cf "Nostra Aetate", 2). On the other hand, freedom of conscience and the free exercise of religion in society are fundamental human rights, rooted in the innate value and dignity of every person. This is recognized in many international documents and accords, including the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man.
I warmly recall the Mass that I concelebrated with numerous Bishops of India and of many countries of Asia in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday, November 7th. Once again I thank Archbishop Alan de Lastic and the Archdiocese of Delhi for their organization of the solemn liturgy, marked by lively and devout participation, and vivified by carefully chosen songs and multicolored traditional, local dances. The theme of the Mass was: "Jesus Christ, True Light of the World, Made Flesh on Asian Soil". In this Eucharistic celebration the Catholic community of India represented, in a certain sense, all Asian Catholics, to whom I have entrusted the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Asia" as a guide for their spiritual growth, on the threshold of the new millennium. I am certain that, with the grace of God, they will know how to be strong and faithful!
3. The second stop on my journey was Georgia, in order to return the visit that President Shevardnadze and His Holiness Ilia II, Patriarch-Catholicos of Georgia, had made earlier to Rome. It was my ardent desire to honor the witness of the Georgian Church over the centuries, and to make new points of contact among the Christians so that, as we begin the third Christian millennium, they will be able to strive together to proclaim the Gospel with one heart and one soul to the world.
Georgia is going through a very important period. While it is preparing to celebrate 3,000 years of its history in a context of refound independence, it is facing great economical and social challenges. However, it is determined to confront these challenges with courage, and to become a reliable member of a united Europe. Christian Georgia has a millenarian and glorious history. It began in the fourth century when the witness of a woman, Saint Nino, converted King Mirian and the entire nation to Christ. From that time on, a flowering monastic tradition gave to this land lasting monuments of culture, civilization and religious architecture. An example is the Cathedral of Mtsketa, which I was able to visit in the company of the Patriarch-Catholicos after our warm, personal meeting.
4. And now, after seventy years of communist repression during which many Orthodox and Catholic martyrs gave heroic witness to their faith, the little but fervent Catholic community of Caucasus is progressively strengthening its life and structure. The joy that I observed among the priests, religious and laity, who gathered in unexpected numbers for the Mass in Tbilisi Stadium, is a sign of sure hope for the Church's future throughout the region. Our meeting in the Church of SS. Peter and Paul in Tbilisi, the only Catholic church which remained open during the time of totalitarianism, was a particularly joyous occasion. I pray that the Catholics of Georgia may always be able to offer their specific contribution to the building up of their homeland.
An intense moment of reflection was the meeting with men and women of the worlds of the culture, science and art, presided over by President Shevardnadze and deepened by the presence of the Patriarch-Catholicos, to reflect on the specific vocation of Georgia, at the crossroads of East and West. As I recalled during this meeting, the century that is about to conclude, marked by many shadows but also characterized by light, bears witness to the indomitable strength of the human spirit, which is able to triumph over those who would suffocate the irrevocable aspiration of man toward truth and liberty.
5. I thank the civil authorities and those in both countries who worked to make this a profitable and peaceful visit. With a moved and grateful heart I think of the bishops, priests, religious and laity of India and Georgia, and I keep an unforgettable memory of them all.
To Mary, Mother of the Church, I entrust those whom I met; to Her I recommend the Church in Asia and in Caucasus, "confiding fully in her ear that always hears, in her heart that always accepts, in her prayer that never fails" ("Ecclesia in Asia", 51).
The judgment which will be passed on all men immediately after the general resurrection is called the General Judgment or the Last Judgment.
The Last or General Judgment will take place at the end of the world, but when that will be, no man knows. "But of that day and hour n one knows not even the angels of Heaven, but the Father only" (Matthew 24:36). After the Asacension angels told the Apostles that Christ will come again as Judge: "This Jesus Who has been taken up from you into Heaven willl come in the same way, as you have seen Him going up to Heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Our Lord predicted that sign will precede the Last Judgment, which He Himself described; He will be the Judge.
(a)The Gospel will be preached in the whole world. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a witness to all nations; and then will come the end" (Matthew 24:14).
(b) There will be a great apostasy from faith; people will lose themselves in evil. "Yet when the Son of Man comes, will He find, do you think, faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). "And as it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. In the same wise will it be on the day that the Son of Man is revealed" (Luke 17:26-27, 30).
(c) The antichrist will appear and work false miracles. St. Paul speaks of "the man of sin - the son of perdition, who opposes and is exalted above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sits in the temple of God, and gives himself out as if he were God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
On the last day these events will take place:
The earth and the Heavens will show signs: the stars will fall. In the Heavens the sign of the Son of Man will appear. It is believed that this sign is the Cross. "…And then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven" (Matthew 24:30).
Jesus Christ, in great power and majesty, accompanied by the angels, will come in the clouds of Heaven. "For as the lightning comes forth from the east and shines even to the west, so also will the coming of the Sonof Man be...And they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of Heaven with great power and majesty" (Matthew 24:27, 30).
The trumpet will sound, and all the dead will spring to life in a moment; they will be instantly reuinted to their souls, and come to judgment. "Behold, I come quickly - to render to each one according to his works" (Apocalypse/Revelation 22:12). "And He will send forth His angels with a trumpet and a great sound, and they will gather His elect from the four winds" (Matthew 24:31).
From these statements we are not to conclude that everybody will perceive the Divine essence at the day of judgment. This cannot happen without completeness of joy; and the wicked can never see God.
The lost souls will "see God" behind some kind of veil so that they do not delight in His divinity; they will have some kind of perception of His Majesty, and recognize His justice.
Although every one is judged immediately after death, it is fitting that there be a general judgment, in order that the justice, wisdom, and mercy of God may be glorified in the presence of all.
Pope Saint Symmachus begins his reign as the 51st successor of Peter. During his sixteen year pontificate he would consolidate Church property refering to it as permanent benefices for the use of the clergy. He also was known for ransoming all the slaves and giving them their freedom. It is Symmachus who is attributed with the first construction of the Vatican Palace.
Pope Honorius III crowns Frederick II of Hohenstaufen Holy Roman Emperor. This would come back to haunt not just the Pope but all of Holy Mother Church in the great struggles between the Guelphs who represented the pro-papal party and the Ghibbelines who were pro-imperial and against the Church.
Death of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the first Catholic president of the United States. He was shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.
Pope John Paul II beatifies 85 martyrs who died for their faith during the persecution of Catholics in the British Isles between 1584 and 1689.
Pope John Paul II beatifies Blessed Cristobal Magellanes and his 24 companion Mexican martyrs along with Blessed Maria de Jesus Sacramentado Venegas.