Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

2/18/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Benedict XVI is not resigning because of a decision he himself has made, but in compliance with the will of God as he has discerned it.

If we can begin to grasp who the Church is (yes, not what but who), her mission and her nature and her purpose, her crucial importance in the grand scheme of things, and her role in the most beautiful and sublime plan ever conceived, then we can begin to see beyond the surface and into the depths of not only Pope Benedict but truth itself. Then we can begin to understand why the Holy Father would resign, and what his resignation means for the Church and the entire world.

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/18/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI resignes, resignation of pope, benedict's resignation, the Holy Father, Catholic Church, love of Christ, Christ and his Church, F. K. Bartels


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- There is little that more plainly uncovers a failure to see the Holy Father for who he is, to understand him and to grasp the magnitude and importance of the position to which he as been called by God, than hearing what people have to say about his plans to resign from the papacy, scheduled to take effect on the 28th of February.

The comments range from, "It must be political," to bewilderment over all the hubbub concerning an "old guy with a soft voice who says nice things and waves at lots of people." Others express shock over the fact that Benedict should do something that has not been done in a long while. Still others are convinced that this is it, their time has finally come: a new pope is on the horizon who will usher the Church into the era of modernity; then, they hope, the old dogmatic constants that have long plagued free intellectual discourse and free living can be cleared out by the prevailing winds of unbridled change.

Many of these remarks also betray a severe failure to understand the nature of the Catholic Church; and if one does not understand the Church, one cannot for a moment hope to understand the man at her helm who occupies the Chair of Peter.

If we can begin to grasp who the Church is (yes, not what but who), her mission and her nature and her purpose, her crucial importance in the grand scheme of things, and her role in the most beautiful and sublime plan ever conceived, then we can begin to see beyond the surface and into the depths of not only Pope Benedict but truth itself. It is no exaggeration to say that we are not living fully human lives if we misunderstand, disregard, reject or heedlessly ignore the Church.
 
That statement can be made in virtue of the nature of the Church. In reality, the Church is the plan for the world born in the Father's heart from out of eternity. She is not "a plan" but the plan. Before the dawn of time, the Father desired to call together a holy people, a convocation of men and women in Christ. That convocation is the Catholic Church (see CCC 760). The Church is of such indescribable beauty and profound importance that the Son of God chose to die a horrifyingly brutal death on a Roman cross for her sake. From the Savior's pierced side flowed forth the Church.

It is God's plan that humanity be drawn into the arms of mother Church, receive her words of truth and sacraments of life in free and loving obedience to Christ, and enter into everlasting communion with himself. The Church brings to reality God's plan to gift humankind with divine love. The Church is, then, the goal. The Church is the ultimate destiny and reality for humankind because as we enter into full communion with her, we become members of Christ's one body. We are a people who were created for the Church, because we are a people created in and through and with Christ.

Given the supreme importance and worth of the Church, it is both interesting and highly unfortunate how quickly and easily people will accept nearly any incorrect opinion about her, dismiss her, ignore her, reject her. Often, the most trivial daily events command far more attention than the Church God willed should exist. I am reminded of the Israelites in the desert. God had liberated them from Egyptian slavery and guided them through the Red Sea in order to bring them into the promised land and make them his holy people. You would think that they -- and all of us -- should want to be God's chosen people. Nevertheless, the Israelites, in distrust, seemed unable to stop grumbling about their empty bellies.

In order to understand Pope Benedict, we must first understand the Church. If we want to see into the reality of his resignation, we must first see into the reality of holy mother Church. In order to do that, you must die to self. Christ and his Bride, the Catholic Church, must become the most important thing in your life. While the journey is not easy, it is filled with the fruits of the Spirit and the aroma of everlasting divine love. It is a new dimension of life, one that turns things around, illuminates them, unveils the true meaning of things and the purpose of life in brilliant color.

Here we arrive at the key to understanding why Pope Benedict would resign. To love Christ is to love his Church. The two cannot be separated because the Church cannot live apart from Christ and Christ chose to give his life on the cross for the Church. To love Jesus Christ is, then, to do what he did: it is to die to self for the love of the plan of the Father, which is the Church. Pope Benedict's resignation can only be understood in that context. It can only be grasped through the sublime lens of authentic love for Christ, his Church and the Father's will. In fact, the reality of what our Holy Father is doing is unveiled through the cross of Christ. It is in contemplating the sacred crucified body of our Beloved that the light begins to flood in.

Pope Benedict is, then, not resigning because of a decision that he himself has made. Rather, he is complying with the will of God as he has discerned it. As the Vicar of Christ, as a faithful man of God and a man of the Church, the Holy Father is saying "yes" to God's will, as did the sweet Virgin Mary at the Annunciation and to the cross of her Son. Pope Benedict, in an act of humility that we would all do well to imitate, is doing exactly what he believes is best for the body of Christ -- not, on the other hand, what he thinks is best for himself.

Perhaps this one sentence from Pope Benedict's encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est sums it up: "Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ" (33). Pope Benedict is decreasing so that Christ may increase and his Church may continue to flourish.

Having said all that, I am compelled to say how much I will greatly miss Pope Benedict XVI. How his pearls of wisdom I have so often read and cherished in my heart, how his profound insight, the beauty of his words, the softness of his humble voice -- a voice that issues forth from a razor sharp intellect -- and his benevolent demeanor will be missed. Further, among all his words, I will always cherish his numerous wise and edifying messages tempered with hope:

"The life and work of all believers should bear constant witness to the transcendent, point to the invisible realities which lie beyond us, and embody the conviction that a loving, compassionate Providence guides the final outcome of history, no matter how difficult and threatening the journey along the way may sometimes appear."

I am also compelled to say, and remind myself, that Pope Benedict is not leaving; he is resigning. As Christians, although we may lose sight of one another or no longer hear the voice of those we love, we are never apart for we live always together as Christ's one body. As Pope Benedict embraces the sublime life of contemplative prayer and silence, he will be praying for me and for you, for the holy community of the Church and for the entire world, and we will be praying for him. We will be together. As one. Always.

-----

F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows the Catholic Church transmits the fullness of truth and offers the fullest means of salvation; therefore his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More Living Faith

5 tips for Catholics to stay positive Watch

Image of Stay positive by following five simple tips (WikiMedia Commons).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Do you - or someone you know - struggle with maintaining a positive attitude? Are people less inclined to spend time with you due to your poor attitude? Are you tired of wallowing in negativity? Try these simple tips to change the course of your life forever! LOS ... continue reading


Why are these transparent wires being put up in cities around the world? Watch

Image of Eruv lines are set up in cities around the world to make life easier for Orthodox Jews.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Members of an ultra-conservative religious denomination are stringing transparent wires around many urban neighborhoods, all for religious reasons. These nearly invisible wires form webs in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. What are these wires and ... continue reading


'[D]on't ignore us:' Pope Francis explains the difference between knowledge and real love Watch

Image of Knowing about God is not the same as loving Him (Vanvick/Wordpress).

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

On Wednesday Pope Francis said that just because someone is an expert in God's law and a strict adherent to the rules doesn't necessarily mean they know how to love and serve others. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's not automatic that whoever frequents the ... continue reading


Miracle in the Philippines: Tribe converted to Christianity after hearing Gospel and watching 'Passion of the Christ' Watch

Image of Manobo tribe embraces Jesus (tikbo).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Manobo tribe of the Philippines were taught the Gospel and viewed Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" film, which led several to convert to Christianity. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to missionaries from Christian Aid Mission, nearly the entire ... continue reading


'I just couldn't believe it:' Oklahoma officers seize Christian charity money Watch

Image of Christian rocker stripped of charity money after being accused of engaging in drug activities.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Christian rock band Klo & Kweh was driving through Oklahoma when they were pulled over for a broken headlight. What happened next was a shock that rippled throughout the Christian community. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to <a ... continue reading


Pope Francis decrees instances of miracles and martyrdom Watch

Image of Pope Francis spoke of saints on Tuesday.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

On Tuesday, Pope Francis spoke of several men and women worthy of canonization. He included miracle attributions and stories of martyrdom. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis received a private audience with Cardinal Angelo ... continue reading


Christians deserve equal protection too! - Christian baker case may go to Supreme Court Watch

Image of Christian bakers should not be forced to participate in someone else's sin.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The case of a pair of bakers who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple, may go all the way to the Supreme Court and resolve the apparent infringement of their First and Fourteenth Amendments. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The attorney for Aaron and ... continue reading


Pope Francis writes moving letters to prisoners Watch

Image of Prisoners in Velletri receive letters from the Pope.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Inmates at Italian prison Velletri wrote Pope Francis letters earlier this year - and received personal replies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, the prisoners gave their letters to Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the Bishop of Albano, during a ... continue reading


3 inspirational reminders of hope for Catholics facing darkness Watch

Image of (Photo by: AJGIEL)

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Tears roll down my face as a sea of blankets threaten to pull me completely under. I fight to stay afloat while the darkness continues to pull me down like a thousand needles hooked to anchors. Terrifying thoughts run rampant through my fragile mind, "what's the point ... continue reading


Christian persecution: Why women have it worse Watch

Image of Women suffer more persecution than men - regardless of their religion (Reuters).

By Loredana Vuoto (CNA/EWTN News)

A recent global survey reveals that the rise of radical Islamic extremism is the primary reason for the persecution of Christians around the world - and many of the victims are women. Santa Ana, CA (CNA/EWTN News) - "Unfortunately, more and more women are the target of ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 16:1-10
1 From there he went to Derbe, and then on to Lystra, where there was a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:1-2, 3, 5
1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,2 ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:18-21
18 If the world hates you, you must realise that it hated me before it ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 30th, 2016 Image

St. Pius V, Pope
April 30: Pope from 1566-1572 and one of the foremost ... Read More