[These are excerpts from the Vigil for All Nascent Human Life as celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday, November 27, 2010.]
You who faithfully visit and fulfil with your Presence
the Church and the history of men;
Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb
the miraculous work of the Creator...
Man has an unmistakable originality compared to all other living beings that inhabit the earth. He presents himself as a unique and singular entity, endowed with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of a material reality. He lives simultaneously and inseparably in the spiritual dimension and the corporal dimension.... We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities and limits of our material condition, at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome Him in us.
The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought. Love for all, if it is sincere, naturally tends to become a preferential attention to the weakest and poorest. In this vein we find the Church’s concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences. The Church continually reiterates ... “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care ”.
With regard to the embryo in the womb... This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary’s womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb.
I urge the protagonists of politics, economic and social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture which respects human life...
Ave, verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine!
[The Pope's final words refer to a hymn attributed to Pope Innocent VI (1282-1362). During the Middle Ages it was sung at the elevation of the host during the consecration. Mozart composed this version in 1791 to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.]
AVE VERUM Corpus
Natum de Maria Virgine:
Vere passum, immolatum
In cruce pro homine:
Cuius latus perforatum
Fluxit aqua et sanguine:
Esto nobis praegustatum
Mortis in examine.
HAIL, true Body,
truly born Of the Virgin Mary mild
Truly offered, wracked and torn,
On the Cross for all defiled,
From Whose love-pierced, sacred side
Flowed Thy true Blood's saving tide:
Be a foretaste sweet to me
In my death's great agony.