T THIS TIME, I will share a few reflections on His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. I apologize that these thoughts of mine are not given in the most satisfactory order or with great eloquence. Hopefully they will still be of interest to the reader. They come from the heart.
Pope Benedict XVI is a holy, brave, brilliant servant of Jesus Christ. A few months ago (prior to Benedict announcing his resignation), we included his picture in the banner of our Blog Header. He is pictured at Mass, acting as Subdeacon, holding the Paten and wearing the Humeral Veil. This action by the Subdeacon is done during Solemn Mass, and the history of it is astounding, going back many centuries. Some time ago, I spent close to three weeks researching the liturgical history of this action. I will not share the results here (for obvious reasons), but suffice it to say that showing our Holy Father performing that action at Mass is deeply significant. I would welcome an opportunity at some later date to explain exactly why.
When Pope Benedict XVI writes, I can “hear” his voice in the written words. I can tell he is the author. He speaks to the heart. For instance, which one of us could remain unmoved after reading his Stations of the Cross? At this time, I would merely repeat that he is a brilliant theologian.
I believe his resignation is the perfect end to a truly great Pontificate. By his resignation, he is “leading the way.” He is reminding the popes who will succeed him that men are living longer these days. The average lifespan of a human being today is much greater than in 1913, 1813, 1713, or 1613. Therefore, future popes ought to follow Benedict’s lead when they become so old and feeble they can no longer adequately run the Catholic Church. They should follow Benedict’s lead by reducing the number of trips a Pope makes and concentrate more on running the Church. They should follow Benedict’s lead (when the time is right) by voluntarily renouncing “power” of being the boss of a billion Catholics. How few of our leaders show such humility! They should follow Benedict’s lead by continuing to reform the Liturgy, making sure it is truly sacred.
I believe that Pope Benedict was one of the greatest popes of all time. I was trying to think of a fitting way to honor this great servant of Jesus Christ. To this end, I will now reproduce an amazing article Pope Benedict wrote when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger. This article was written on the occasion of the retirement of Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, the Pope’s older brother. The masterful translation is by Fr. Robert Skeris, who for many years has promoted the teachings of Cardinal Ratzinger in a way very few others have. This article is truly profound, and notice that Pope Benedict does not shy away from the hard questions. Rather, he tackles them head on:
I wish had words of great eloquence to speak at this time. I do not. All I can say is,
“Farewell, great Pope. Farewell, defender of the Holy Doctrine of Jesus Christ. Farewell, humble and saintly man. We love you. Please pray for us.”