His Holiness Benedict XVI Will Be a Monk and Pray for the Church He Loves
His Holiness Benedict XVI will give us a prophetic witness of monastic life right within the Vatican.
Monks are a seed of the great renewals of the Catholic Church. It is no accident he took the name Benedict. He had just returned from that retreat at Subiaco, the cave where St. Benedict spent three years in prayer. In a General Audience on April 29, 2008 he called Benedict the Patron of His Pontificate. It is no accident he will keep the name Benedict. He will live a monastic vocation right within the heart of the Vatican. How fitting. How prophetic. How beautiful.
Vatican City (Catholic Online) - With the voluntary resignation of a Pope who placed the good of the Church he loves before himself we will soon have our first Pope Emeritus. Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., the director of the Holy See Press Office, announced the title at a Press Conference. He also advised that upon his leaving the papal office he will be referred to as His Holiness, Benedict XVI. He will not wear the ring of Peter and will dress in a simple white cassock.
His choice of the name Benedict was an early sign of how he viewed his pontificate. One of the young priests who commented on his election noted that then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger visited Subiaco before the events in Rome began. He prayed and rededicated himself to the Lord and His Church. Benedict the monk helped to rebuild the Church of his age and spread the influence of Christendom. Pope Benedict XVI laid the seeds for a similar work in the Third millennium during his pontificate.
I remember these words from his first homily: "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!'
He emphasized the work of authentic ecumenism proclaiming: "Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty."
He told us he was, "a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord". He certainly was. Very little fanfare accompanied his resignation. That is because he knows it is not about him. His humble manner reveals the holy heart of a man given over to the Lord. He is a counter cultural symbol in this age of narcissism and self love.
Pope Benedict XVI's work is not over. He has been a rebuilder of foundations. He will go down in history as one of the great popes. His teaching Magisterium will be unpacked for years to come. He dealt with the need for a purification of the Church. Indications are that the groundwork he laid will inform the agenda of his successor.
He is a theologian of the highest order who is able to communicate with simplicity and beauty because he is a man of deep prayer. He will continue to offer his gifts of teaching and writing as he enters into a life of prayer in his own Subiaco, the monastic enclosure in the Vatican. There he will spend the next chapter in contemplative prayer for the Church he loves.
On February 14, Scott Hahn wrote a beautiful article entitled Benedict Will Still Be There for Us Scott drew an interesting connection from a little noticed action taken by Benedict several years ago: "On April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI did something rather striking, but that went largely unnoticed. He stopped at the town of L'Aquila, which had been struck recently with a bad earthquake, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296).But the Pope did much more than say a brief perfunctory prayer.
"Without a word of explanation, after several minutes of prayer, he removed his pallium from around his shoulders and placed it gently on Celestine's glass-encased tomb. A pallium is a sacred garment, like a long, stiff scarf, which happens to be the primary symbol of the pope's episcopal authority as bishop of Rome. And he left it atop Celestine's tomb."
"Fifteen months later, on July 4, 2010, Benedict went out of his way again, this time to visit and pray in the cathedral of Sulmona, near Rome, before the relics of this same saint, Pope Celestine V. Few people, however, noticed at the time. Only now, we may be gaining a better understanding of what it meant. Both acts were more than pious gestures. More likely, they were profound and symbolic actions of a very personal nature, which conveyed a message that a pope can hardly deliver any other way."
"In the year 1294, this man (Father Pietro Angelerio), known by all as a devout and holy priest, was elected pope, somewhat against his will, shortly before his 80th birthday. (Ratzinger was 78 when he was elected pope in 2005.) Just five months later, after issuing a formal decree allowing popes to resign (or abdicate, like other rulers), Pope Celestine V exercised that right. And now Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to follow in the footsteps of this ...
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