Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

2/18/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Living Faith

No one should be hungry during the Christmas season

Image of

By Tony Magliano

In early December, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) stopped feeding 1.7 million Syrian refugees. For two weeks these poor, battered fellow human beings who had fled the misery of civil war, and the barbarism of the "Islamic State," were told there is no ... continue reading


HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPE FRANCIS! Beloved Pontiff turns 78 today Watch

Image of Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPE FRANCIS! Today is Pope Francis' 78th birthday and well-wishers celebrated the day singing and dancing for the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Born on December 17, 1936, the man who would become Pope Francis has ... continue reading


Turned into the wild, Pope Francis offers hope to displaced faithful in Middle East Watch

Image of Patriarch Younan said a major focus of their synod was on priestly formation since their communities have faced so much upheaval.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Times are hard and arduous for those who practice their Catholic faith in the Middle East. In a special audience with Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan, along with about 350 of his faithful from the Syriac Catholic Church, Pope Francis offered words ... continue reading


Mary hailed as 'great missionary' who brought Gospel to Americas by Pope Francis Watch

Image of Pope Francis and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis along with thousands of Catholics from across the Atlantic celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Vatican. The Pope celebrated Mass to the sounds and rhythms of many of South America's indigenous peoples. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Your Friday Feel Good Story: Watch what happens when the mic goes out during the American National Anthem at a hockey game in Canada! Watch

Image of Ina  heartwarming gesture of respect, Canadians sing the Star Spangled Banner when the microphone game out before a game featuring a team from the USA.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Here's your Friday Feel Good story! Enjoy your Friday and don't forget to share! During a hockey game in Canada between American and Canadian players, the microphone failed, silencing the singer. Without audio, the Americans would be without their national anthem, but ... continue reading


Irenaeus of Lyon on Eve and Mary

Image of An Icon of Ireneaus of Lyon

By Ireneaus of Lyon

The Lord, coming into his own creation in visible form, was sustained by his own creation which he himself sustains in being. His obedience on the tree of the cross reversed the disobedience at the tree in Eden; the good news of the truth announced by an angel to ... continue reading


Taking the Kingdom by Force: Learning from John the Baptizer Watch

Image of The choice is ours. Just as it was with John the Baptizer. He shows us the way to give away our freedom in love - and then find it anew in the One who truly sets us free. (John 8:36). The kingdom of heaven is still being taken by force. The force of love. The Lord is seeking men and women in this hour who will take the kingdom by force like John the Baptizer.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

John the Baptizer was a man of Joy because he was a man of true humility! Humility is a powerful weapon when wielded by a soldier of love like John. He was a man who understood that life wasn't all about him. He emptied himself willingly and was thus able to ... continue reading


Faith restored in humanity! A random act of kindness changes a woman's life forever during the Christmas season Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While protests are wreaking havoc all around the world, wars are being fought, and people are being brutally killed, the warm sensation and fuzzy feeling of Christmas gets overshadowed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although good deeds and random acts of kindness ... continue reading


Do We Really Believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Life of the World to Come? Watch

Image of Seated at the right hand of the Father, he works unceasingly in the world, to draw men into the Church and through it to join them more closely to himself.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. His salvation is offered extended to all men and women. That salvation is not only about our souls, but about the whole human person. It will only be complete when we are raised from the dead and dwell in the kingdom to come. He ... continue reading


A Christmas gift for suffering South Sudan

Image of The people of South Sudan have the same feeling and love for one another we do. Now is the time for us to extend our arms in compassion.

By Tony Magliano

The world's newest nation is in big trouble. After more than 20 years of civil war between the southern and northern areas of Sudan, the southern part of that country on July 9, 2011, became the independent nation of the Republic of South Sudan.But the situation on the ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 7:10-14
10 Yahweh spoke to Ahaz again and said:11 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 20th, 2014 Image

St. Dominic of Silos
December 20: Benedictine abbot and defender of the faith. Born in Canas, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter