Archive for the ‘Benedict XVI’ Category

479699_10200882652894910_1998537882_nMy beloved is a born teacher. In every job he’s ever had, he has made knowledge-transfer a pivotal part of his job performance. He brings his skills into his family life, as a father, as a grandfather, as a husband. At times, his insistence that mistakes and trials are learning opportunities can be a little trying. Note to husbands: If your wife is leaping on one foot around the floor, holding the broken toe she has just sustained from the fall of a heavy wooden bedhead, it is not a good time to lean your head in the window and say: “What have you learned from this experience?”

He’s right, though. (He usually is, God bless him.)  “What have you learned from this experience?” It’s the logical and productive way to look at what happens to us, good and bad.

In a post reacting to widespread debate about Pope Francis’ style, David Schütz invites us to ponder “What can we learn from this experience?”

There was a time when ceremonial grandeur attracted people to the Church. There some societies in which it still does. Unfortunately, our western society is no longer such. While the grandeur of the Church remains very attractive to some of us, there are a lot of others for whom (rightly or wrongly – and I would definitely say wrongly) this grandeur interpreted as a display of wealth in the face of the overwhelming poverty of many in the world. In a word, it spells “hypocrisy”. To many it has become an impenetrable barrier to hearing the message of the Gospel.

Now I know that many of us have suffered the horrors of banality in the last 50 years or so in the Church – where the beautiful has been ditched for the common, and the lowest-common-denominator at that. So I am not talking about that. But we are mistaken if we think that the only kind of beauty that can be put up against such banal ugliness is grandeur. There is beauty in simplicity too. Or, to put it otherwise, simplicity can be as beautiful as grandeur. And attractive.

So, I think Pope Francis has judged that – in order that the Church’s message be heard – a new kind of beauty needs to shine forth from the Church at the highest level: the beauty of simplicity. This is not a criticism of his predecessor, or of those of us who happen to find grandeur attractive.

Also take a look at Darwin Catholic’s post ‘There is not just one way to be Pope’:

It seems to me that John Paul II’s dense intellectualism combined with his oversize and highly charismatic personality was arguably exactly what the Church needed at the time of his pontificate — as we emerged from a time in which it seemed like the roof was coming down and everything was up for grabs. Benedict’s liturgical focus was another thing that the Church desperately needed at the time that he was chosen — and I think that his ability to write deeply yet clearly was also a huge need. If John Paul II’s struggle to incorporate Catholic teaching and a moderl philosophical understanding of the human person were something very much needed in our modern era, I at the same time suspect that Benedict’s books (both his books about the life of Christ and the many books he wrote prior to his pontificate) may actually be read more often by ordinary Catholics in the coming decades than anything that John Paul II wrote.

Similarly, I think that Francis’ intentional simplicity is something that we need to see in our pope at times. This is not to say that Benedict and John Paul were not simple. They were, though in different ways. But while not every saint needs (or should) be simple in the sort of over-the-top way that our pope’s namesake St. Francis of Assisi was, St. Francis nonetheless remains a good saint to have. That it is good that we have St. Francis as an example does not mean that every other saint is the less for not being St. Francis.

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A group of nuns watch a screen in St Peter's square

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Always and forever

The central passages of the last address of Pope Joseph Ratzinger, delievered to a crowd of over 200,000 in St Peter’s Square, Wednesday, February 27, 2013.

Dear brothers and sisters […] In this moment my spirit reaches out to the whole Church scattered throughout the world; and I give thanks to God for the “news” that during these years of the Petrine ministry I have been able to receive about the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and about the charity that circulates in the body of the Church and makes it live in love, and about the hope that opens us and orients us toward the fullness of life, toward our homeland in heaven. […]

At this moment there is in me a great trust, because I know, we all know, that the Word of life of the Gospel is the power of the Church, it is its life. The Gospel purifies and renews, it bears fruit, wherever the community of believers listens to it and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my trust, this is my joy.

When, on April 19 almost  eight years ago, I agreed to assume the Petrine ministry, I held firm this certainty that has always accompanied me.

At that time, as I have already expressed repeatedly, the words that resounded in my heart were these: Lord, what are you asking of me, and why are you asking it of me? It is a great weight that you are placing on my shoulders, but if You are the one who is asking me, at your word I will cast out the nets, sure that you will guide me. And the Lord has truly guided me, he has been close to me, I have been able to perceive his presence every day.

It has been a segment of the journey of the Church that has had moments of joy and light, but also moments that have not been easy; I have felt like Saint Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us so many days of sun and of gentle breeze, days in which the fish have been abundant; there have also been moments in which the waters were agitated and the wind contrary, as in all the history of the Church, and the Lord seemed to be sleeping.

But I have always known that in that boat is the Lord, and I have always known that the barque of the Church is not mine, it is not ours, but it is his and he does not let it sink; it is he who pilots it, certainly also through the men whom he has chosen, because this is how he has wanted it. This has been and is a certitude that nothing can obscure. And it is for this reason that today my heart is full of thanksgiving to God that he has never deprived the whole Church and me as well of his consolation, his light, his love.

We are in the Year of Faith, which I wanted in order to reinforce precisely our faith in God in a context that seems to put him ever more in the background. I would like to invite all of us to renew our firm trust in the Lord, to entrust ourselves like children into the arms of God, certain that those arms support us always and are that which permits us to walk every day even in weariness. I would like that each one of us should feel loved by that God who has given his Son for us and has demonstrated to us his love without limit. I would like that each one should feel the joy of being Christian.

In a beautiful prayer to be recited every day in the morning it says: “I adore you, my God, and I love you with all my heart. I thank you for having created me, made me Christian…” Yes, we are content with the gift of faith; it is the most precious good, which no one can take away from us! Let us thank the Lord for this every day, with prayer and with a consistent Christian life. God loves us, but he is waiting for us to love him too! […]

In these last months I have felt that my powers were diminished, and I asked God with insistence, in prayer, to illuminate me with his light in order to help me make the best decision not for my own good, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its gravity and also of its novelty, but with a profound serenity of spirit. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult and painful decisions, keeping always in view the good of the Church and not of oneself.

Allow me here to return once again to April 19, 2005. The gravity of the decision has lain precisely also in the fact that from that moment on, I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always: the one who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to all, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, completely stripped of the private dimension. I have been able to experience, and I am experimenting it right now, that one receives life precisely in giving it away. Before I have said that many persons who love the Lord also love the successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him; that the pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels secure in the embrace of their communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.

The “always” is also a “forever”: there is no more returning to the private. My decision to resign from the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I am not returning to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences etc. I am not abandoning the cross, but I remain in a new way with the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the authority of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within the enclosure of Saint Peter. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as pope, will be a great example for me in this. He showed us the way to a life that, active or passive, belongs completely to the work of God.

I thank all and each one also for the respect and understanding with which you have received this very important decision. I will continue to accompany the journey of the Church with prayer and reflection, with that dedication to the Lord and to his Bride which I have sought to live every day until now and which I want to live always.

I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the cardinals called to such a significant task, and for the new successor of the apostle Peter: may the Lord accompany him with the light and strength of his spirit. […]

Reproduced from Chiesa. English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

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popesfarewellWriting as I do from one of those Pacific nations that greet the new day ahead of anyone else, I’m heralding the day the See of St Peter falls vacant while in Rome it is still the day before. Nonetheless, the writers of the world have been saying farewell to our Pope in their own ways every since he announced that he was stepping down.

Rather than write my own retrospective on the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, I decided to collect a few for you.

Pat Gohn writes about her debt to him – first for the Catechism, and later for his other writings. Like her, I was an early purchaser of the first English translation of Cardinal Ratzinger’s erudite, lucid, and comprehensive Catechism, and later read other books, addresses, and encyclicals. Through them all, he taught us that the heart – the purpose and essence –  of the faith is a relationship with Love Himself.

Benedict taught that the Catechism, as with all Christian study, ought to move us into greater possession of a relationship with God, the pearl of great price (Mt 13:45-46.)

All of the “truths of faith” are explications of the one truth that we discover in them. And this one truth is the pearl of great price that is worth staking our lives of: God. He alone can be the pearl for which we give everything else. Dios solo basta (“God alone suffices”)—he who finds God has found all things. But we can find him only because he first sought and found us. He is the one who acts first, and for this reason faith in God is inseparable from the mystery of the Incarnation, of the Church and of the sacraments. Everything that is said in the Catechism is an unfolding of the one truth that is God himself—the “love that moves the sun and all the stars.” (Dante, Paradiso, 33, 145) (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism, Ignatius, 1997, p. 33-34.) 

Father de Souza also looks at the Pope’s impact as a teacher – through three encyclicals, but even more in five other ways:

Benedict’s homilies constituted a course in biblical theology, combined with poetic expression and an extraordinary capacity to express the truths of faith in a most accessible manner. Already published in various collections, the homilies of Benedict will be spiritual reading for generations.

Second, and closely associated with his preaching, there were the Wednesday audiences which, over eight years, constituted a course in the Church Fathers, saints, biblical commentary and the art of prayer.

It was surprising to many that Benedict’s Wednesday’s audiences often drew more pilgrims than that of his predecessor. The masterful teaching presented may have been the reason.

Third, returning to form as a professor, there were the great magisterial lectures, echoing the academic tradition of a great scholar addressing an important topic of general interest. There were four great lectures — the September Speeches: the University of Regensburg in 2006, College des Benardins in Paris (2007), the Westminster Parliament (2010), and the Bundestag in Berlin (2011). All were given on September trips of the Holy Father, perhaps prepared with care over the preceding summer months. A fifth great magisterial lecture, at La Sapienza University in Rome, was published, but not given in person due to protests from narrow-minded professors…

Fourth, the great biblical theologian wrote books of academic work — three volumes entitled Jesus of Nazareth. Immensely learned, the trilogy demonstrated that scholarly rigor ought not be opposed to the life of faith. The books, which the Holy Father explicitly insisted were personal works not of his papal magisterium, have had a greater reach and greater impact than any ordinary encyclical could hope to have.

A fifth instrument favored by Benedict was the off-the-cuff format, whether in question-and-answer style, or in extemporaneous remarks.

Whether in his annual meetings with priests, or in his famous Q&A with children preparing for First Communion, the great teacher was often at his best in conversational mode…

Peter Smith points out the upswing in vocations in the United States during this papal reign:

Father Carter Griffin, vice rector at Blessed John Paul II Seminary in Washington, said the Archdiocese of Washington’s new seminary opened its doors in 2011 and is already near capacity.

“Benedict was able to open up new vistas to people,” Father Griffin said. “For them, to see this man of profound faith, love and hope on the world stage has been an enormous benefit on the world and on vocations.”

It’s a scenario that is also playing out at already established seminaries such as Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md.

“We’re experiencing the largest numbers that we have had in years,” said Msgr. Stuart Swetland, who teaches pre-theology to seminarians at the Mount.

Msgr. Swetland said that most of the men he teaches are between the ages of 21-25 and were teenagers when Blessed John Paul II died.

“They are more affected by Benedict,” he said. “I think the young are responding to the fact that he takes them seriously enough to do something beyond themselves.”

Kenneth Whitehead talks about reactions to the Pope and to his resignation:

…And so it went. What must strike a knowledgeable observer is how many of these characterizations, in spite of the confidence with which they have mostly been delivered, are either distortions or are simply not true! …

This kind of critical account of the pope and his papacy, however, is not so much based on what he has actually said and done, but rather upon what his critics think he should have said and done—based on criteria of theirs often far removed from anything resembling authentic Catholicism. He has been weighed in the balance and found wanting by his critics precisely because he has so faithfully and authentically reflected and represented what the Church and the faith truly are; he has been faulted and vilified because he has been such a “good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:21).

Catholics might rightly be disappointed and even dismayed at how their Church and their faith—along with their Church’s supreme leader over the past eight years—could be so ignorantly and even maliciously characterized and misrepresented. It should not be forgotten, however, that “if the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you” (Jn 15:18).

The Anchoress looks ahead to the impact that Pope Emeritus Benedict will have in his new role:

Those who think Benedict has simply lain down his staff do not understand that he lays it down to pick up a flamethrower of sorts. For however long he lives as a monastic, he will be a conduit of prayer, praise, adoration and supplication for the rest of the world. He is taking on huge duty.

In faith he will have delivered the powerful lesson that a life of faith is never without resources, because prayer extends beyond time and space, through darkness and into light.

And perhaps we will need to learn that lesson well, to face our future, together.


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Brendan Malone offers a survival guide for the weeks before we have a new pope.

Headline points: ignore the media hype; be wary of the Catholic hype; don’t get caught up in the St Malachy prophesy hype; the Church has been through far worse – and survived; don’t forget the coming papal election is not a political one; remember, this is a moment of great joy.

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Happy 85th birthday, Pope Benedict. Yesterday, you said:

“Next Thursday, on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of my election to the See of Peter, I ask for your prayers, so that the Lord gives me the strength to fulfill the mission he entrusted to me.”

May God bless you and give you the strength you need to do the work God has given you.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world!

“Surrexit Christus, spes mea” – “Christ, my hope, has risen” (Easter Sequence).

May the jubilant voice of the Church reach all of you with the words which the ancient hymn puts on the lips of Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter the risen Jesus on Easter morning. She ran to the other disciples and breathlessly announced: “I have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:18). We too, who have journeyed through the desert of Lent and the sorrowful days of the Passion, today raise the cry of victory: “He has risen! He has truly risen!”

Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity. This is why Mary Magdalene calls Jesus “my hope”: he was the one who allowed her to be reborn, who gave her a new future, a life of goodness and freedom from evil. “Christ my hope” means that all my yearnings for goodness find in him a real possibility of fulfilment: with him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity.

But Mary Magdalene, like the other disciples, was to see Jesus rejected by the leaders of the people, arrested, scourged, condemned to death and crucified. It must have been unbearable to see Goodness in person subjected to human malice, truth derided by falsehood, mercy abused by vengeance. With Jesus’ death, the hope of all those who had put their trust in him seemed doomed. But that faith never completely failed: especially in the heart of the Virgin Mary, Jesus’ Mother, its flame burned even in the dark of night. In this world, hope can not avoid confronting the harshness of evil. It is not thwarted by the wall of death alone, but even more by the barbs of envy and pride, falsehood and violence. Jesus passed through this mortal mesh in order to open a path to the kingdom of life. For a moment Jesus seemed vanquished: darkness had invaded the land, the silence of God was complete, hope a seemingly empty word.

And lo, on the dawn of the day after the Sabbath, the tomb is found empty. Jesus then shows himself to Mary Magdalene, to the other women, to his disciples. Faith is born anew, more alive and strong than ever, now invincible since it is based on a decisive experience: “Death with life contended: combat strangely ended! Life’s own champion, slain, now lives to reign”. The signs of the resurrection testify to the victory of life over death, love over hatred, mercy over vengeance: “The tomb the living did enclose, I saw Christ’s glory as he rose! The angels there attesting, shroud with grave-clothes resting”.

Dear brothers and sisters! If Jesus is risen, then – and only then – has something truly new happened, something that changes the state of humanity and the world. Then he, Jesus, is someone in whom we can put absolute trust; we can put our trust not only in his message but in Jesus himself, for the Risen One does not belong to the past, but is present today, alive. Christ is hope and comfort in a particular way for those Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution. And he is present as a force of hope through his Church, which is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice.

May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights. Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community. May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful sufferings. May the paschal victory encourage the Iraqi people to spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process.

May the Lord, the victor over evil and death, sustain the Christian communities of the African continent; may he grant them hope in facing their difficulties, and make them peacemakers and agents of development in the societies to which they belong.

May the risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favour their reconciliation; may he help the Great Lakes Region, Sudan and South Sudan, and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the glorious Christ grant peace and stability. To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of all its citizens.

Happy Easter to all!

Pope Benedict XVI, Easter 2012

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Pope Benedict calls us, in these next three days, to recognise that Christ’s love for us is shown by “the total gift of himself on the cross.”

The whole life of Jesus is oriented towards this hour, characterized by two aspects that illuminate each other: this is the hour of  ‘passage’ ( metabasis ) and the hour of ‘love (agape ) until the end’ In fact, it is the divine love, the Holy Spirit of which Jesus is filled, which allows Jesus to ‘pass’ through the abyss of evil and death, and sees him emerge into the new ‘space’ of the resurrection. It is the ‘agape’, the love which brings about this transformation, so that Jesus goes beyond-the limits of the human condition marked by sin and overcomes the barrier that keeps man prisoner, separated from God and eternal life.

By participating in faith in the liturgical celebrations of the Paschal Triduum, we are invited to experience this transformation brought about by agape. Each one of us is loved by Jesus ‘to the end’, that is to the total gift of Himself on the cross when he cried: ‘It is finished!’ (Jn 19.30).

Let us allow ourselves to be touched by this love, to be transformed, so that the Resurrection may really be realized in us. I invite you, therefore, to live the paschal Triduum intensely, and I wish you all a holy Easter!

The Pope made his remarks to 11,000-plus pilgrims who were gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience.

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I’ve added a link on the side bar to the blog Egregious twaddle. H/T Max Lindenman.

Today, she posted on the reasons for her blog name, and included this clip on eloquent silence from Pope Benedict’s message for World Communications Day.

By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible. It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other. Joy, anxiety, and suffering can all be communicated in silence – indeed it provides them with a particularly powerful mode of expression. Silence, then, gives rise to even more active communication, requiring sensitivity and a capacity to listen that often makes manifest the true measure and nature of the relationships involved. When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary. 

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