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 July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Europe

Not London, New York or Paris: Luanda, Angola the most expensive city on Earth for... Watch

Image of According to Mercer's annual Cost of Living survey, places Luanda as by far the priciest city for foreign workers to live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's nowhere as well known as New York, Paris or London - but Luanda, Angola remains the most expensive city by far for expatriates to live in. Luanda ranked as the most expensive city to live in for the third time in a row. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Discovery of purported 'Nazi gold train' taken seriously in Poland Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The declarations from a German man and Polish man of discovery a long-lost Nazi train filled with gold and other treasures is being taken seriously by Poland's deputy culture minister. He says he is "convinced" the train exists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Abandoned truck holds over 20 dead migrants in Austria Watch

Image of Truck found abandoned carrying the bodies of more than 20 dead migrants

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A police manhunt takes place after the discovery of an abandoned truck containing the bodies of migrants attempting to cross Austria's border. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Austrian police report up to 50 migrants suffocated in the back of a refrigerated food ... continue reading


Vatican involvement in Ashley Madison Web site leak disproven Watch

Image of At first glance, the claim seems questionable - why would top Church officials sworn to celibacy sign up for a Web site for married people, and no less one that promotes adultery?

By CNA/EWTN News

Early this week, a leak of personal data from millions of users of Ashley Madison, a Web site designed to arrange extramarital affairs, wreaked havoc on and off the internet. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - At least two suicides have been reported in conjunction ... continue reading


Four-star General reveals horrendous WWII scenes in never-before-seen photographs (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Four-star General Charles Day Palmer detailed the fights in Western Front during World War II by taking snapshots of the bombed-out cities and lifeless bodies. He kept personal photos of the battlefields in Germany and France and is now releasing them to the public for ... continue reading


Brainwashed teenage girl taken away from radical jihadi parents Watch

Image of Judge Anthony Hayden, pictured, today compared the radicalization of the 16-year-old girl, known as B as similar to that as child sex abuse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 16-year-old girl in East London has been removed from her home after a judge ruled that she was being radicalized by her parents with Islamic State propaganda. The straight-A student, known only as "B" was stopped last year when she tried to fly to Syria to ... continue reading


HEROISM - AND EXTREME COWARDICE: American service members disarm terrorist aboard train - as train's staff lock themselves in office, denying help Watch

Image of U.S. serviceman Spencer Stone answering reporters' questions at the U.S. embassy in Paris this past weekend.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was an example of high heroism - undercut with a despicable act of cowardice and selfishness. As an Islamic militant from Morocco threatened life and limb a high-speed train bound for Paris with a Kalashnikov, American service members with a British man were ... continue reading


Afghan man rips up Koran sparking threatening riot in overcrowded German refugee camp Watch

Image of A riot sparked in a refugee camp in Germany, leaving 15 civilians injured.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A riot broke in an overcrowded German refugee camp shelter after an Afghan man damaged the Koran and threw pages of it in the toilet. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - One resident from an overcrowded German refugee camp tore up a Koran and dumped pages ... continue reading


Legendary lost Nazi train loaded with gold treasure found by two men Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A train commandeered by the Nazis - reportedly loaded with gold, gems and valuable art vanished into a system of secret tunnels in the Polish countryside as the Germans fled advancing Soviet forces at the end of World War II. That story has gone down in Polish ... continue reading


Stalking Prince George: William and Kate condemn paparazzi photographers inappropriately hanging around play area Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

After finding paparazzi photographers hiding near the play area of the two-year-old prince, Kensington Palace has released a stern letter from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge condemning the inappropriate action harming the privacy of their toddler. William and Kate ... 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, First Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:1, 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13
1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 31st, 2015 Image

St. Raymond Nonnatus
August 31: Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain. He was delivered ... 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