Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/17/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In some ways, Blessed John Paul was the evangelizer, His Holiness Benedict was the teacher and our Holy Father Francis is the Pastor

This simple man, His Holiness Benedict XVI, chose to celebrate his birthday with his brother - with no fanfare. Notice how he has just gotten out of the picture. I think it speaks volumes about his genuine humility. How refreshing the virtue of humility truly is in an age filled up with so much secualr leadership infected with narcissism.

His Holiness Benedict XVI

His Holiness Benedict XVI

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/17/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: His Holiness benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Holy Father, Papacy, Birthday, Benedicts Birthday, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - His Holiness Benedict XVI turned 86 years old on April 16, 2013. That morning the Holy Father Francis offered Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae and told the faithful:

"Today is Benedict XVI's birthday. We offer the Mass for him, so that the Lord be with him, comfort him, and give him much consolation."

This simple man, His Holiness Benedict XVI, chose to celebrate his birthday with his brother - with no fanfare. Notice how he has just gotten out of the picture. I think it speaks volumes about his genuine humility. How refreshing the virtue of humility truly is in an age filled up with so much secualr leadership infected with narcissism.

Last year, when celebrating Mass on the day of his 85th birthday, Pope Emeritus Benedict opened his heart up in a homily. It offers us insights into who he is. It reveals his personal, living faith, the beauty of his spirit, and his capacity for profound theological reflection. So I offer a few excerpts:

'On the same day I was born, thanks to my parent's concern, I was also reborn through water and the Holy Spirit. First, there is the gift of life that my parents gave me in very difficult times, and for which I thank them.'

'But it cannot be taken for granted that human life in itself is a gift. Can it really be a beautiful gift? Do we know what will befall man in the dark days ahead - or in the brighter days that could come? Can we foresee to what troubles, what terrible events he might be exposed? Is it right to simply give life like this? Is it responsible or too uncertain? It is a problematic gift, if it is left to itself.'

'Biological life is in itself a gift, but it is surrounded by a great question. It becomes a true gift only if, along with it, we are given a promise that is stronger than any evil that could threaten us, if it is immersed in a power that ensures that it is good to be human, that there will be good for this person no matter what the future brings.'

'Thus, with birth is associated rebirth, the certitude that, truly, it is good to be alive, because the promise is stronger than evil. This is the meaning of rebirth by water and the Holy Spirit: to be immersed in the promise that only God can make - it is good that you exist, and you can be certain of that whatever comes. With this assurance I was able to live, reborn by water and the Holy Spirit.'

'Nicodemus asks the Lord: 'How can an old man possibly be reborn?'. Now, rebirth is given to us in Baptism, but we must continually grow in it, we must always let ourselves be immersed by God in his promise, in order to be truly reborn in the great, new family of God which is stronger than every weakness and than any negative power that threatens us. Therefore, this is a day of great thanksgiving.'

'The day I was baptized, as I said, was Holy Saturday. Then it was still customary to anticipate the Easter Vigil in the morning, which would still be followed by the darkness of Holy Saturday, without the Alleluia. It seems to me that this singular paradox, this singular anticipation of light in a day of darkness, could almost be an image of the history of our times.'

'On the one hand, there is still the silence of God and his absence, but in the Resurrection of Christ there is already the anticipation of the "yes" of God, and on the basis of this anticipation we live and, through the silence of God, we hear him speak, and through the darkness of his absence we glimpse his light. The anticipation of the Resurrection in the middle of an evolving history is the power that points out the way to us and helps us to go forward.'

'Let us thank the good Lord for he has given us this light and let us pray to him so that it might endure forever. And on this day I have special cause to thank him and all those who have ever anew made me perceive the presence of the Lord, who have accompanied me so that I might never lose the light.'

'I am now facing the last chapter of my life and I do not know what awaits me. I know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is Risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than any evil in this world. And this helps me to go forward with certainty. May this help us to go forward, and at this moment I wholeheartedly thank all those who have continually helped me to perceive the "yes" of God through their faith.'

I believe that His Holiness Benedict XVI will go down in history as one of the great Popes of Church history. When he was elected, some observers indicated his age would make him some sort of caretaker Pope. His pontificate demonstrated they were absolutely wrong.

In 2005 he stepped onto the balcony overlooking St. Peters Square calling himself 'a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.' That is what he proved himself to be in his years of service to the Lord and His Church. Christian History will record his pontificate with admiration and esteem.

He continued, 'That the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, we go forward."  And we did go forward with him at the helm of the Church.

Benedict XVI knew the great need the Church has for the New Evangelization. He not only proclaimed it he established it formally with its own dicastery within the structure of the Vatican. He also knew the need we had for solid catechetical teaching, so he left a legacy in his magisterial teaching. It will be unpacked for years to come.

He actively participated in the Second Vatican Council and understood the authentic teaching of that Council. Thus, he also understood the way that the Council was hijacked in some circles, disregarded in others and misinterpreted in still others. He worked tirelessly to secure its true interpretation.

He was a voice for orthodox and faithful Catholic Christian faith, practice, worship and life. In his homily prior to the convening of the conclave where he was chosen to fill the Chair of Peter, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger gave this prophetic insight:

'How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking... The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth.'

'Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Eph 4, 14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism.

'Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching, looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today's standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.'

Some tried to misuse this insight to paint him as a man who rejected the modern world. That was nonsense. What he rejected was what he accurately referred to as the dictatorship of relativism. What he proposed was a path - not to the past - but to a future of hope and authentic freedom. He made it crystal clear that the path passed through an encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ as he can be found in the heart of the Church. 

He reminded all of the members of that Church that we all must proclaim that Jesus Christ is still the Way, the Truth and the Life, with both our words and our lifestyle. He insisted that all men and women have a right to 'know the truth' and that only the truth can them free. Then he challenged us to live and proclaim it, no matter what our state in life.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a rebuilder of the foundation stones of the deposit of faith handed down to us from the Apostles. He defended it well and presented it afresh. He knew that the Catholic faith is ever ancient and ever new. He laid a solid foundation for his dear successor named Francis to now build upon.

A theologian and scholar of the highest order, it was mostly because he was a man of deep, personal and intimate prayer. He always reminded me of my favorite definitions of a theologian offered by the early Christian monk, Evagrius of Pontus. Evagrius wrote that "a theologian is one who prays" and "a theologian is one who rests his head on the chest of Christ."  

Benedict's rich teachings to the faithful, as well as his books, will become the source of prayerful reflection and theological instruction for many years to come. They also included some of the finest hagiography, the stories of the saints, which we have had in centuries.

Benedict made Church history, when Motu Propio, he released of the Apostolic Constitution on Groups of Anglicans which has begun the healing of the divided Western Church. The fruits of these Ordinariates will be recounted by future historians as among the most important events in the Third Millennium of Christian history.

He earned the great respect of Patriarchs and leaders of the Orthodox Church and made real, substantive progress toward healing the wounds between Eastern and Western Christianity which will make the Third Millennium a millennium of communion.

He championed the re-christianizing of Europe and, even in the face of hostility, called her to return to her Christian roots in order to find again her greatness. He was an advocate for the New Ecclesial movements, helping with his pastoral oversight to ensure that they are rooted in the heart of the Church and received as a gift and resource for this new missionary age. 

He doggedly defended religious freedom as a fundamental human right. He engaged the Islamic world with great charity and courage on the ground of a dialogue in truth. He began the Courts of the Gentiles outreach engaging atheists and agnostics. 

The Church was truly blessed to have His Holiness XVI at the helm. On his 86th Birthday I ask all of our readers to join me in praying for this man who led the Church with such beauty, simplicity, depth, humility and grace.

In some ways, Blessed John Paul was the evangelizer, His Holiness Benedict was the teacher and our Holy Father Francis is the Pastor. Of course, each of them participated in all three tasks as they exercised their office. However, it was a matter of emphasis, or so it seems to me.

The Lord loves His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. (Matt. 16:18) He has given us such good gifts in the modern popes. Happy Birthday Benedict - and thank you.

---


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 Europe

Construction plan could endanger world heritage site of Stonehenge Watch

Image of Charcoal was discovered at the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Recent construction plans announced by British Prime Minister David Cameron near the prehistoric site of Stonehenge could very well wipe away the single most important historical evidence yet discovered there. Archaeologists have discovered the earliest settlement at ... continue reading


Pope Francis Gives Direction to Charismatic Renewal and New Movements Watch

Image of Pope Francis at the last Pentecost Sunday Mass. Included in the massive crowd were members of the diverse ecclesial movements from around the world.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 22, 2014, Pope Francis addressed a Congress sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It brought together new movements and communities in the Catholic Church - from across the globe. These movements are not only flourishing, but multiplying ... continue reading


If backed into a corner will Putin come out swinging? On the eve of Russia's great depression Europe braces for violent repercussions Watch

Image of Some analysts fear that Russia could default on its foreign debt, even worse, a depression may force Vladimir Putin to take an aggressive and expansionist stance in Europe.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The sharply declining price of a barrel of oil and the harsh sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe have created a perfect storm for Russia's weak economy. The ruble has fallen fast, and the financial crisis that faces Russia is quickly spiraling out of ... continue reading


Singing nun Sister Cristian Scucccia fulfills lifelong dream to meet Pope Francis Watch

Image of Sister Cristina is slated to perform at the Vatican's Christmas concert later this week, along with American punk singer Patti Smith.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Sister Cristina Scuccia, whose cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" has gathered more than four million views on YouTube, has fulfilled her longtime dream of meeting Pope Francis. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Meeting Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, she ... continue reading


Sexual predator nabbed trying to lure teenage girls off social media sites Watch

Image of Prosecutor Mary McCarthy said Wood sent explicit pictures to girls and, in some cases, arranged to meet them. He had full sexual intercourse with five of the girls. Some of the offenses occurred while he was on bail.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yeovil man, in Great Britain has been arrested on numerous sex charges. Twenty-year-old Jacob Wood is accused of grooming "vulnerable" teenage girls for sex through social media sites. Wood has been spared a prison sentence after a judge said it would not ... continue reading


'We may not live through these days': Is Mikhail Gorbachev warning that the crisis in Ukraine could turn into World War III? Watch

Image of Former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who has long been hailed as one of the leading architects in ending the Cold War is now warning that the world may be facing the potential of war if Russian and American leaders are unwilling to back down.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is no secret that relations between the United States-and its allies in Europe-and Russia have chilled to levels unseen since the end of the Cold War over the ongoing civil war in Ukraine. What is surprising is just who is issuing a warning about the potential ... continue reading


Plight of boat people worldwide addressed by United Nations Watch

Image of

By Katie Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Governments must focus on saving lives rather than keeping foreigners out at a time when more people than ever are embarking on risky sea crossings in search of asylum or a better life, the United Nations said on Wednesday. GENEVA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - ... continue reading


Indian, Pakistani accept Nobel Peace Prizes Watch

Image of Both Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, from India accepted their Nobel Peace Prizes in Norway.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

India and Pakistan are longtime international rivals. This didn't prevent a Pakistani teenage advocate for women's education and an Indian child rights campaigner from receiving Nobel Peace Prizes. Both Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, ... continue reading


VATICAN AT RISK OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION as Islamic State smuggles dirty bomb into Europe Watch

Image of Vatican City may be a primary target for the Islamic State's dirty bomb.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A weapons maker for the Islamic State has posted a chilling warning to the world, claiming that a radioactive device, known as a "dirty bomb" has been successfully smuggled into Europe. This suggests that a radiological bombing could be imminent. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'ISIS killers are monsters and cowards,' widow of slain British aid worker says Watch

Image of

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

The widow of a 44-year-old British aid worker David Haines, who was murdered by Islamic State extremists has denounced his killers "cowards." Dragana Haines, whose husband David was killed by the militants in a graphic video posted online last September, says she still ... 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 Samuel 1:24-28
24 When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, ... Read More

Psalm, First Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8
1 Hannah then prayed as follows: My heart exults in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:46-56
46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Chaeromon
December 22: Bishop of Nilopolis, in Egypt. When the persecution was ... 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