'Trust in Providence': Faithful pray for Benedict XVI at special Mass in Rome

In a special Mass for Benedict XVI at the Basilica of St. John Lateran on Friday afternoon, the faithful joined in prayer for the ailing pope emeritus.

The Vicar of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, presided over the liturgy on Dec. 30.

"We want to support Benedict XVI with our confident prayer, to sustain him with all our affection, to express to God the gratitude of this diocese that he loved and cherishes so much and served with selfless love," he said.

"We like to think that he is now being held by the hand of St. Joseph, who helps him to keep God's invitation not to fear always alive."

Benedict XVI, De Donatis said, had always shown great trust in providence.

As a priest, as a theologian, as a bishop, as pope, Benedict had shown "the fortitude and sweetness of faith, the essentiality and simplicity of one who knows that, when one dreams with God, dreams become reality."

"Like St. Joseph, our bishop emeritus always emphasized the primacy of the Word of God over our human words, recalling the great value of silence and listening. He too made us taste, in his pontificate, the new and good wine of love."

"When He wills," De Donatis concluded, "God will approach this brother of ours and say to him, 'Joseph, rise. Joseph, rise.' And it will be Christ and his Mother who will take him with them and lead him to Paradise, where the dream of a lifetime will become the reality of eternity, to us the task of supporting the path of the Pope Emeritus."

The Vatican said earlier on Friday that the condition of the 95-year-old retired pope was unchanged.

"Last night the Pope Emeritus was able to rest well. He also participated in the celebration of Holy Mass in his room yesterday afternoon. At present his condition is stable," the Holy See Press Office said in a statement.

On Thursday, Pope Francis renewed his invitation to pray for Benedict "and accompany him in these difficult hours."

The Lateran basilica is Rome's cathedral and the seat of the bishop of Rome, Pope Francis.