Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

2/18/2013 (2 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 (2 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

5 Disney movies you never knew had hidden religious messages Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Disney movies are a well-known and well-loved part of most people's childhood. These stories talk and teach us things, like believing in ourselves and follow our dreams. Recently, the stories inspire courage and kindness, as well as forms of "true love." But viewers ... continue reading


5 excellent tips on how to read the Bible Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Bible is one of the most popular published books ever written in the history of life, but also one of the hardest to read and understand. Unlike most books published today, the Bible contains a lot of statements that are full of dates, metaphors and written to ... continue reading


Unholy political positions in the Holy Land Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

As the minds and hearts of Christians throughout the world focus on the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we naturally think of the Holy Land. Throughout much of history, in the land where the world's savior taught human beings to love one another as ... continue reading


200 Christian teachers denied day off for Good Friday Watch

Image of The 2014-2015 school years are the first time in recent memory that officials scheduled classes during both Good Friday and the Jewish holidays.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Rhode Island school district is being sued over the claim that 200 Christian teachers were denied requests to take Good Friday off from work. The teacher's union claims that the decision denies educators the two religious days that they are afforded in their ... continue reading


For the first time in over 150 years -- Blood of St. Januarius liquefies during Francis' visit to Naples Watch

Image of According to legend, Januarius was allegedly born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the first time in over 150 years, the blood of St. Januarius liquefied in the presence of a pope this past weekend. The phenomenon occurred when Pope Francis visited Naples this past weekend. It was the first time the blood liquefied in the presence of a ... continue reading


Church to Canonize Mom and Dad of St Therese, Show the Holiness of Christian Marriage Watch

Image of Pictured: Louis and Zelie Martin, the Mom and Dad of St Therese
For those called to live their Christian life in a consecrated Christian marriage, it is in the domestic church where progress in the spiritual life finds its raw material. The question we face every day becomes whether we live Christian marriage and family as a Christian vocation by responding to grace.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Louis and Zelie married in France in 1858. They had nine children. Five entered a consecrated or religious life in the Church. We have 218 letters which were written by Zelie.  They record the naturally supernatural pattern of a very real, human and devout ... continue reading


Drinking the Chalice of the Lord: Facing Suffering, Struggle and Failure Watch

Image of All of those who bear the name Christian are invited to follow the path of Jesus' struggle, to walk along with Him on the way of His rejection. We too are invited to climb the mountain of His great saving act of unmerited selfless Divine love. Golgotha beckons.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

James was the son of Zebedee and brother of John. From faithful stock, we see in this encounter that some forms of zeal may indeed be genetic. In fact, the zeal in both of these brothers caused the Lord to name them the Sons of Thunder.(Mk 3:14-17) However, human ... continue reading


7 endangering myths Christians believe about other Christians Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Disheartening isn't it? But it has been observed that Christians are divided among themselves. This is not what God wanted, as expressed by the writings in the Scriptures. However, there are some issues between the believers that makes them not united as they should ... continue reading


Josephs Way: Joseph, Husband of Mary, Model for Christian Men Watch

Image of The Dream of Joseph led to the response of a life given over to God

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In an age that has lost its way, because it has succumbed to the selfish pursuit of illusory pleasure, Joseph needs to be lifted up as a model for men who truly want to follow Jesus Christ. It is time for Christian men to follow his example, and become men again. ... continue reading


Pope tells Nigeria's bishops to form united front against terror group Boko Haram Watch

Image of In addition to addressing various issues, the Pope praised Nigeria, with a population of more than 170 million people, and has experienced strong economic growth.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the emerging African economic powerhouse of Nigeria takes to the polls, Pope Francis, in a stirring message, has urged the country's bishops to build a united front against the Boko Haram terrorist group. Pope Francis' comments came in a letter to 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 50:4-7
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
8 'He trusted himself to Yahweh, let Yahweh set him ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 15:1-39
1 First thing in the morning, the chief priests, ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 2:6-11
6 Who, being in the form of God, did not count ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 29th, 2015 Image

St. Berthold
March 29: Considered by some historians to be the founder of the Carmelite ... 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