Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

3/2/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

For me, John Paul II and Benedict XVI go hand in hand. They are a team. John Paul II is the architect, and Benedict is the engineer.

As of 8:00 p.m. Rome time on Thursday, February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI's resignation became effective. I know there is a silver lining in all of this, but, just the same, I cannot ignore the sadness I feel.

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/2/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, Pope, Benedict, Ratzinger, resign, abdicate, Catholic Church, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - As of 8:00 p.m. Rome time on Thursday, February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI's resignation became effective. I know there is a silver lining in all of this, but, just the same, I cannot ignore the sadness I feel. We all handle sadness in our own way. In my case, it has spurred me to reflection.

It was not so long ago that I was thinking about Pope Benedict XVI's advancing age, and how sad I would be to lose him. A few days later, we got the shocking news: He was going to resign at the end of the month and devote the remainder of his life to prayer and contemplation. My jaw dropped. But when I realized this might allow him to do more writing, the corners of my mouth slowly turned upward.

It is through Benedict XVI's writing that I have come to know, admire and love him. He has fed my mind and heart in a way that no other has, and I will never be able to thank him enough for this wonderful gift he has given me.

Before I can describe this gift more precisely, I need to step back in time when Blessed John Paul II was the Pope. During this time, I was still searching for answers to life's greatest questions, questions like: What is the meaning of life and suffering, where do I come from, does my life have a purpose?

Worldly knowledge could not provide adequate answers to these questions. It's attempts were either incomplete, vague or unrelated to my actual experience of life. Then John Paul II came along with his towering theology, The Theology of the Body. George Weigel described it as "one of the boldest reconfigurations of Catholic theology in centuries."

We are composed of body (matter, flesh) and spirit. This is what makes us human. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that God is ". . . an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange" (221).

According to John Paul II's theology, God inscribed this vocation of love in our bodies by creating us male and female and by calling us to become "one body" (Gn 2:24). This enables us to image God's love and participate in His work of creation. Love by its nature is not static or self-absorbed. It desires communion and therefore continually reaches out beyond itself.

This is what Jesus did for his bride the Church (Eph 5:25-32). So this imaging is communal, sacrificial and Eucharistic; and while this imaging is profoundly evident in marital love, it is also evident in the priesthood (and religious life in general). 

In his theology, John Paul II not only described my actual experiences, he showed me how they pointed to the answers I sought. In the process, he helped me see the great dignity of our humanity and its ultimate destiny. This experience gave me a beautiful vision for human life, and it inspired me.

John Paul II gave me an intellectually satisfying vision, but I was the product of a secular, postmodern world that vehemently renounced the Christian faith and just about anything seen as traditional. Although he gave me a destination, I did not know how to get there. I felt lost in modernism's maze. It was at this point that Benedict XVI helped me: He showed me how to get out of the maze.

For me, John Paul II and Benedict XVI go hand in hand. They are a team. John Paul II is the architect, and Benedict is the engineer. John Paul II showed me the world through a telescope; Benedict XVI showed it to me through a microscope. Of course, there is much overlap between the two men. These categories are not meant to pigeonhole them, or my personal experience of them.

It seems to me that Benedict XVI has never feared going against modern secular ideology and its minions. His fearlessness was evident when he spoke about the "many winds of doctrine" and the "dictatorship of relativism" before the conclave in 2005 where he was picked to fill the shoes of John Paul II. He did it again in his speech at the University of Regensburg in 2006, and throughout his pontificate. But this was nothing new for Benedict XVI.

I suppose I first began to appreciate his unique ability and courage when he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I recall a series of books, perhaps three in all, by Peter Seewald. They were interviews with the future pope. Seewald did not hold back. He asked Ratzinger many tough questions about our faith and the Church.

What most impressed me about these interviews was how Ratzinger did not flinch or back away from anything. He gave straight, clear, knowledgeable answers. And all the while, his tone was gentle and charitable. In a world filled with tortured reasoning, lies and manipulation, he was a breath of fresh air.

I also watched him tackle the most thorny criticisms of our faith and the most difficult doubts of our age in his writings. For instance, in his book, Introduction to Christianity, he asks, "What is the meaning and significance of the Christian profession 'I believe' today, in the context of our present existence and our present attitude to reality as a whole?" (47). Then he proceeds to answer the question with the skill and agility of an athlete. 

To really appreciate who Benedict XVI is and what he has to offer, you would have to spend some time reading his books. Nevertheless, perhaps you can get some sense for the kind of arguments he untangled if we take a quick look at what Benedict XVI has said about the crisis in modern scholarship and the interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Word of the Lord, and in his trilogy, Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict XVI reminds us that the Scriptures were written by a faith-filled community under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the Scriptures must be interpreted with this view in mind. Modern scholarship not only attempts to divorce the text from its proper context, but it approaches the Scriptures with certain preconceived notions that are inimical to the faith.

For instance, a fundamental premise underlying much modern scholarship of the Scriptures is that the "Divine does not intervene in human history." This premise completely negates the message and meaning of the Scriptures, and it largely explains many of the false and confusing statements we hear today. For instance, we often hear that the Eucharist is not the true Body and Blood of Jesus, or Jesus did not physically rise from the dead, but only in the hearts and minds of his disciples. Clearly, these statements are fundamentally flawed.

We may not all have the same needs, but this was precisely what I needed, and Benedict XVI gave it to me. Seeing how deftly and honestly he reasoned, helped strengthen my faith against the buffeting winds of doctrine, and it showed me that these winds were mostly hot air. He also gave me the confidence to navigate out of the maze created by the secular, postmodern world and to strive for the vision that John Paul II gave me. This was the gift Benedict XVI gave me.

I thank you for your gift, Benedict XVI. Please know that you will always be in my prayers and in my heart. Although I am sad you resigned, I know that your life of prayer and contemplation will be of great service to the Church, and I hope you will continue to write.

 
-----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


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


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


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


Comments


More Europe

Italian teenager miraculously survives being stuck underwater for 42 MINUTES Watch

Image of Italian boy [not pictured] survives being under water for 42 minutes.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A teenage boy from Italy has miraculously survived being stuck underwater in a murky canal for 42 minutes, although he will have to have is right like amputated below the knee over circulatory problems. Identified only as Michael, the half-German teen reportedly jumped ... continue reading


Poland to take in persecuted Christian families from Syria Watch

Image of A Christian cross and candles are seen on Pilsudski square in Poland to remember and honor the death of Polish leaders in 2010.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The massive amount of persecution against Christians in Syria has led Poland to announce they are willing to take Christian families in. To start off, the Christian nation will initially welcome 60 families, but they are open to the possibility of resettling more ... continue reading


SOCCER WORLD STUNNED: Federation Internationale de Football Association's corruption 'systematic and deep rooted' Watch

Image of Members of the FIFA executive committee are led away by officers through the side exit of the hotel, with many using bed sheets to shield themselves from the public eye as they were placed in unmarked police cars.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Federation Internationale de Football Association or FIFA has been plunged into chaos after Swiss authorities arrested seven high-ranking officials at a five-star Zurich hotel. Two separate corruption investigations were launched. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Vatican Bank expands its profits 20 times over after period of scandal Watch

Image of The pontiff has made reforming the bank, accused of financial skulduggery, one of the priorities of his papacy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican Bank, just a few short years ago was plagued with scandal and intrigue. Ordered by Pope Francis to clean up its act in late 2013, the Vatican Bank has bounced back - to the tune of doing 20 times as well as it had done previously. An upside is ... continue reading


Pope canonizes first Arabic-speaking saints in church's history Watch

Image of Sister Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, born in Jerusalem in 1847, opened girls' schools, fought female illiteracy and co-founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was seen as a gesture of goodwill to Christians living in the Middle East. Pope Francis described Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as an "angel of peace" before canonizing two 19th century nuns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sisters Mariam Bawardy and ... continue reading


Israel incensed as the Vatican recognizes the state of Palestine Watch

Image of Both the United States and Israel oppose recognition, arguing that it undermines U.S.-led efforts to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian deal on the terms of Palestinian statehood.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The decision is an extremely unpopular one for Israel - the Vatican has recognized the State of Palestine in a new treaty. The treaty concerns the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory. It's a dramatic demonstration of the turnaround in the ... continue reading


Grandfather transforms three-bedroom home into stunning replica of Sistine Chapel Watch

Image of It took Robert Burns three times as long to complete his work as it took painter Michelangelo to complete his masterpiece in Rome.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It took 12 long years, but Robert Burns of Brighton, England has finally completed his dream project of turning his three-bedroom home into a replica of the Sistine Chapel. The 67-year-old former interior decorator was inspired by Renaissance painters and ... continue reading


Is the Holy See taking action against Medjugorje?

Image of

By Matt C. Abbott

Catholic Christians who are familiar with the alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, might be interested in the following developments. Although a definitive judgment has yet to be announced by the Church-a commission formed by the ... continue reading


Venus de Milo - a prostitute? New evidence offers intriguing new theories Watch

Image of A San Francisco-based designer has recreated the sculpture as a spinner, which was a pursuit popular with idle prostitutes in ancient Greece.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Sometimes what is missing fills in an otherwise incomplete story. There is new evidence suggesting that the model for the famous Venus de Milo statue may have been a prostitute. A new 3-D reconstruction suggests that the statue was spinning yarn in the manner ... continue reading


The mystery behind 'the Devil's Bible': Europe's largest surviving manuscript Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Europe's largest surviving manuscript, the Codex Gigas, is commonly referred to as "the Devil's Bible' by many who are left baffled by the mysterious text. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The manuscript, held in the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, is ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 51:12-20
12 And therefore I shall thank you and praise you, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:8, 9, 10, 11
8 The precepts of Yahweh are honest, joy for the ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:27-33
27 They came to Jerusalem again, and as Jesus was ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 30th, 2015 Image

St. Joan of Arc
May 30: St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On ... 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