Thank you God for B16

As I received the news of Pope Benedict’s announced resignation from the papacy, I was, after the initial shock, overcome by a profound feeling of gratitude for the gift he has given the Church by lending his brilliance to the work Bl. John Paul II — the work of confirming and further developing the ecclesial shape of the reformation effected by the Second Vatican Council.

As with his namesake, the father of Western monasticism, St. Benedict of Nursia, Pope Benedict called for the stabilization of the Church ad intra as a prerequisite for the evangelization of the world ad extra. He called for a tradition-retrieving, vibrant and world-engaging orthodoxy of faith, rooted in the blazing charity of Christ and sustained in its new, outwardly-turned ardor by the sure hope that is within us.

Yesterday, as I prayed over the news I immediately thought of the words Pope Benedict spoke in his first address to the Cardinals who elected him; words that I am certain continue to sustain him in this time of decision:

Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: ‘Do not be afraid!’

5 comments on “Thank you God for B16

  1. […] As I received the news of Pope Benedict’s announced resignation from the papacy, I was, after the initial shock, overcome by a profound feeling of gratitude for the gift he has given the Church by lending his brilliance to the work Bl. John Paul II — the work of confirming Source: Neal Obstat Theological Opining   […]

  2. Anthony Bennett says:

    Dear Tom,

    I’m going to ramble a bit if you don’t mind. 🙂

    What you wrote captures what B16 did so beautifully, especially “He called for a tradition-retrieving, vibrant and world-engaging orthodoxy of faith, rooted in the blazing charity of Christ and sustained in its new, outwardly-turned ardor by the sure hope that is within us.” I wish I could make everyone see this.

    After my initial shock, and after looking up on Wikipedia how many times this has happened, my first thought was that, in part, he’s doing this to spare the Church the heart-rending sadness of another JP2, slowly declining (physically), which opened the door to so many slights by the media about the “ailing Pope” and looking forward to a new one who would “get the Church with the times”. (It really got annoying to hear them say the same thing for years and years.)

    Secondly, I went to read the official statement on the Vatican website, and was struck by this sentence: “..in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary…”. It sounds to me like he’s advocating for a younger Pope, while Morgan thinks he’s advocating for someone better connected pastorally to the people, and less of a “Vatican insider”.

    My only concern is that another orthodox Pope be selected, and not one that gives the World what it wants. Morgan thinks that since all the Cardinals who can vote were either appointed by JP2 or B16, we’re in good hands. I fervently hope so.

    *praying*

    Also, I’m excited about B16 having lots of free time to write us more awesome books. 🙂

    • Great reflections, Anthony! I think your insights both are true, inasmuch as he believes the Church presently requires a pope able to sustain the ‘daily grind’ of papal life, and a pope that is more in touch with the ‘rerum novarum,’ the new things that are thrusting the 21st century ever more rapidly into an uncharted and complex future. He most likely looks at JP2’s example of a suffering, dying pope as a singular heroic witness and not one that is to simply be imitated by every subsequent pope who might face progressive degeneration. Yes, the ‘lame duck’ syndrome for an ailing pope can make for lots of perceived intrigue in the power circles of the church! And, no doubt, there are a host of unknown factors that we may never know that transpired in the privacy of the Vatican and the secrecy of Benedict’s soul. As for publications — my guess is that he will go silent and that anything he writes after 2/28 will be published posthumously. I am certain he would not want to chart the unknown waters of papal resignation and foist on his successor the perception of a dual papal magisterium.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, which are always rich! Praying with you…. Pax.

  3. Having been raised in a Fundamental Protestant arena before coming to Christ is Catholicism, the retirement/resignation of a pastor is not unusual. I was reminded of this when B16 resigned (or did he abdicate?) I was surprised and at the same time overjoyed. Overjoyed may seem like a strange reaction, but let me explain. In my experience, when a Scripture Alone pastor resigns and a new pastor is chosen, the congregation can get an entirely new {{{vibe}}} based on a different interpretation of Scripture from the new leadership. When I heard of B16’s decision, I was joyful that since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever – I knew the Church he established was going to be the same – in faith and morality. This constancy and authority of faith (and morality) was one of my driving reasons for coming to Faith and desiring to be a part of the Christian Catholic Church. Fortunately, the Church does not need to “get with the times” – rather, the times are so far behind the Church they need to sprint even faster in hopes of catching us.
    I pray that the new papal leadership is able to draw richly on Church tradition and continue to cry out “Be not Afraid, Open the Doors Wide to Christ”. ‘Tis not an easy road – or one frequently traveled – but the rewards will last for eternity.

    • The lifetime character of the papacy testifies to the uniqueness of his paternal role in tradition, as well as to the unbroken succession of martyr-popes over the first 2 or so centuries of the papacy. The tradition of ending the papacy in death embedded itself deeply in the Western church, no doubt. But, what you say is powerful — the gift of continuity that the papacy brings, as these men are servants and not masters of our sacred Tradition. Let’s pray for no fear! Amen.

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