Benedict the Builder “Be Not Afraid”
By: Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
“Habemus Papem”, “We Have a Pope!” the Cardinal announced. Pope Benedict XVI stepped forward onto the balcony overlooking St. Peters Square calling himself “…a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.” The applause was uproarious. The joy filled not only that Square but the hearts of millions throughout the entire world who had prayed for this moment. He continued “… that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, we go forward.”
Then the questions began. All of them related to one singular question “Where will he lead us?”
Our morning papers and television commentaries were besieged with alleged “answers”. They ranged from ecstatic commentary to morose complaint, depending, as if often the case, on the speaker or writers positions on the so called “hot button” issues that the dominant media culture seems to be obsessed about. However, like his beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI is not so obsessed. In fact, he approaches the world in an entirely different way. That way is the ever ancient but ever new way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as lived, loved, proclaimed and taught by the Catholic Church for two millennia. He, like John Paul, cannot be fit into the tired labels that so many try to fit him into. He is simply a faithful Catholic Christian.
I must admit, I was overcome with joy, gratitude and profound hope for the future when I heard the news while I was visiting with a priest friend in Richmond, Virginia. We were immersed in an intense conversation when another friend, a Bishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, an ecclesial community not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, called me on my cell phone. “Have you heard?” he asked, “Habemus Papem, We have a Pope!” he proclaimed, hardly able to contain his own joy.
My priest friend and I immediately turned the television on and, with the entire world, witnessed history. One day later, I realize just how significant it was that a Christian from another community told me, a Catholic Deacon, the “we” have a Pope. I believe it is only the beginning of the movement of the Holy Spirit, under this pontificate, toward the coming full communion of the whole Christian Church.
What has occurred in the last two weeks is nothing short of miraculous. First, the eyes of the entire world turned to Rome while the giant, John Paul the Great, who had taught us all how to live, showed us how to embrace suffering with selfless love and offer it in union with Jesus Christ for the world. Will we ever forget his last great message, given without words, when he stepped up to the window and was unable to even speak? Yet, we knew what he was saying. He had been reduced to love. His last blessing to us all also reduced the world to tears.
Then, he showed us how to welcome death. He demonstrated the truth of the Christian claim by greeting death as a friend, the doorway to the fullness of communion with the eternal God. In an event of historic magnitude, through the use of the very “new technologies” that Pope John Paul had not only embraced himself but had written about several months before, the whole world became a participant in the events occurring in that square. There, the Catholic Christian Church, in all of the beauty of its ancient but ever fresh worship, commended Pope John Paul II to God.
We mourned together, we wept together and we drew strength from the loving presence of the God who filled those precious hours with supernatural grace. For those moments, it seemed as though the world stood still. It was also during that profound passing of Pope John Paul II, that then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger spoke these words:
“ None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the Church and the world) We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us.”
I believe that one of the fruits of that very blessing is the selection of his friend, confidante, trusted theologian and beloved brother, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to occupy the Chair of Peter. I also believe that Pope Benedict XVI will be a builder.
The plans laid by the Divine Architect, the Holy Spirit, for the Rebuilding of the Church and, through her, for the renewal of human culture, were placed on paper by his beloved friend and benefactor, John Paul II who left behind a treasury of extraordinary work in the encyclicals, exhortations, letters and allocutions that he authored.Now, Benedict the ...
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