Humble and Holy: Benedict XVI Offers His Final Words From the Chair of Peter
I have felt, and I feel even in this very moment, that one receives one's life precisely when he offers it as a gift.
Here, one can touch what the Church is - not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one's hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline.(His Holiness Benedict XVI)
His Holiness Benedict XVI
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - We offer below the complete text of the final words offered by His Holiness, Benedict XVI, to the massive crowd who gathered in St. Peter's square for this extraordinary and historic even on February 27, 2013, the day before he voluntarily lays aside his office as Successor of Peter, Servant of the Servants of God.
How privileged we are to have lived during the service of this wonderful treasure of a Pope. How privileged many of us were to have also lived during the apostolic ministry of his friend and predecessor of such fond memory, Blessed John Paul II.These are historic moments with eternal consequence, for those with the eyes of living faith.
We ask all of our readers around the globe to pray for His Holiness, Benedict XVI, as he moves forward to a life of monastic prayer on behalf of the Church which he loves.I have offered some reflections on this next chapter of his continued service here.
Please, pray for the Cardinal electors who will soon gather to choose his successor. That they would listenclosely to the Holy Spirit who always guides the Church of Jesus Christ. That they would have the courage this pregant moment in Church history requires. Pray for the Holy Church of Jesus Christ as she continues her mission in the Third Millennium of Christian history. Be not Afraid!
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood!
Dear brothers and sisters!
Thank you for coming in such large numbers to this last General Audience of my pontificate. [I am so moved by your presence - when I see you, I see the living church.]
Like the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart the paramount duty to thank God, who guides the Church and makes her grow: who sows His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His people. At this moment my spirit reaches out to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the "news" that in these years of Petrine ministry I have been able to receive regarding the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity that circulates in the body of the Church - charity that makes the Church to live in love - and of the hope that opens for us the way towards the fullness of life, and directs us towards the heavenly homeland.
I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God's, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit. I gather everyone and every thing in prayerful recollection, in order to entrust them to the Lord: in order that we might have full knowledge of His will, with every wisdom and spiritual understanding, and in order that we might comport ourselves in a manner that is worthy of Him, of His, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).
At this time, I have within myself a great trust [in God], because I know - all of us know - that the Gospel's word of truth is the strength of the Church: it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews: it bears fruit wherever the community of believers hears and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my faith, this is my joy.
When, almost eight years ago, on April 19th, , I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I held steadfast in this certainty, which has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: "Lord, what do you ask of me? It a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me" - and the Lord really has guided me. He has been close to me: daily could I feel His presence. [These years] have been a stretch of the Church's pilgrim way, which has seen moments joy and light, but also difficult moments.
I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been - and the Lord seemed to sleep.
Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His - and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church ...
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