Long before he came to the Vatican, Joseph Ratzinger was renowned for his prolific writing. He is probably the greatest theologian of his generation, and a remarkably gifted writer.

If Pope Francis is a genius at the prophetic gesture, then Pope Benedict is a genius at the written word. Here is something he wrote about the souls of the faithful departed:

We know that the souls of those who have died are alive in the resurrected body of the Lord.

(When a person is baptised, of course, they’re incorporated into the Body of Christ. They become a member of his body.)

Ratzinger continues:

The Lord’s body shelters them, and carries them towards the common resurrection.

In this body, which we are permitted to receive, we remain close to one another, and we touch each other.

Isn’t that a beautiful thought?

When we visit a person’s grave, we are in the presence of their mortal remains, which are slowly disintegrating. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

But when we receive the Living Body of Christ in the Eucharist, then we encounter the spiritual presence of the saints in Heaven, and the holy souls in Purgatory.

“We remain close to one another, and we touch each other.”