Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

7/11/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Looking at St Benedict and St Francis will help us see how Pope Benedict and Pope Francis complement one another.

How amazingly providential, then that we now have two popes: Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict! Pope Benedict following the Benedictine way by retiring to a life of prayer, study and work while Pope Francis steps on to the world stage to live the life of activity, reform and renewal. The two popes are meeting today, and I am convinced that when Pope Benedict moves to his hermitage in the Vatican, that the two of them will meet on a regular basis to support one another as brothers in arms.

As a friar, Francis represents the active religious life. As a monk, Benedict represents the enclosed life of prayer. They're like the two sisters of Bethany: Francis is the busy Martha. Benedict, the contemplative Mary. If the church is going to work she needs both. The body of Christ needs both.

As a friar, Francis represents the active religious life. As a monk, Benedict represents the enclosed life of prayer. They're like the two sisters of Bethany: Francis is the busy Martha. Benedict, the contemplative Mary. If the church is going to work she needs both. The body of Christ needs both.

Highlights

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/11/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Benedict, Francis, John Paul, St Francis, St benedict, Fr Dwight Longenecker


GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - (From the Editor in Chief: Popular writer Fr Dwight Longenecker provides a free weekly newsletter on the practical practice of the Catholic faith.  FaithWorks! has articles on prayer, resources for the spiritual life and advice on how to walk more closely with Christ. Go here to subscribe)

*****
The long papacy of John Paul II means that many of us have not lived with a variety of popes. Now, within eight years we have gotten used to three popes, and with the retirement of Pope Benedict, some Catholics are finding it difficult to accept Pope Francis.

It's therefore helpful to remember that in the divine economy the saints all have different parts to play according to their own charisms and personalities. St Therese of Lisieux wrote, "How different are the variety of ways through which the Lord leads souls! Souls are as different as faces!" The variety of saints are like different flowers, trees and shrubs in a garden. Studying the saints helps us understand God's wonderful ways of working in the world. Therefore looking at St Benedict and St Francis will help us see how Pope Benedict and Pope Francis complement one another.

St Benedict was born into a society in chaos. At the end of the fifth century the Roman Empire was crumbling. The Roman world had drifted into decadence, despair and pessimism. The armies had been pulled back and the barbarians were invading. In the midst of the encroaching darkness Benedict established little core communities of radical disciples. Men withdrew from the world with Benedict to live quiet lives of prayer, study and work. Those core communities became the seeds of what flowered into the great civilization we know as medieval Christendom.

As we understand St Benedict we will understand Pope Benedict. Joseph Ratzinger has always been a reserved and scholarly person. When he was elected pope he admitted that he had been looking forward to retiring to a little house to live with his brother in obscurity. When he took the name "Benedict" Joseph Ratzinger was doing more than identifying with his predecessor Benedict XV. He was also doing more than identifying the great saint who is the patron of Europe and the founder of the Benedictine order.

By taking the name Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger was also embracing a monastic way of looking at the world. Despite being on the world stage as pope, Benedict XVI was always essentially a reserved, scholarly and retiring man. We should not be surprised that he made history by retiring from the papacy. With hindsight we can see that it was on the cards from the beginning of his papacy.

What gifts did Benedict XVI bring to the Petrine Office? He brought the Benedictine love of beauty and tradition in the liturgy. He contributed the Benedictine love of study, scholarship and teaching. He brought a quiet, studious and prayerful mood to the papacy. He brought reverence and respect and a depth of dignity to the celebration of Mass and the church's work in the world. Anyone who has visited a Benedictine monastery will notice this same mood reflected in the papacy of Benedict.

What about St Francis? Francis was also born into a church in chaos. In the twelfth century the Catholic Church was besieged by corruption from within and threatened with persecution from without. St Francis came on the scene with his famous vow of poverty, a life of joyful simplicity and an outgoing personality. Francis also followed the religious life, but it was lived out not in a Benedictine monastery, but in the burgeoning cities and in wandering through the world.

As we saw St Benedict alive in Pope Benedict, so we are already seeing, (and can expect to see more of) St Francis alive in Pope Francis. The two are not contradictory, but complementary, and the way to see how they work together is to see the big picture of the different gifts these two saints bring to the church, and therefore the different gifts each Pope will bring to the church.

As a friar, Francis represents the active religious life. As a monk, Benedict represents the enclosed life of prayer. They're like the two sisters of Bethany: Francis is the busy Martha. Benedict, the contemplative Mary. If the church is going to work she needs both. The body of Christ needs both.

How amazingly providential, then that we now have two popes: Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict! Pope Benedict following the Benedictine way by retiring to a life of prayer, study and work while Pope Francis steps on to the world stage to live the life of activity, reform and renewal. The two popes are meeting today, and I am convinced that when Pope Benedict moves to his hermitage in the Vatican, that the two of them will meet on a regular basis to support one another as brothers in arms.

Finally, there is a lesson for the whole church in the two popes: we all need to run on the path of God's commandments on these two legs: the contemplative and the active. We desperately need more time in prayer, more time in contemplation, more time with God. Then we also desperately need to get up off our knees and move forward to not only "talk the talk" but to "walk the walk" in the great adventure of following Christ the Lord.

-----

Fr Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary church in Greenville, South Carolina.Visit his blog, listen to his radio show, subscribe to his weekly newsletter and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com Join Fr Longenecker during Lent for a Blobble Study. That is a Bible study on a blog. On his blog, Standing on My Head he will lead readers through a study of Mark's gospel. There will be a reading from the gospel each day with a short reflection. Then the combox is open for comment and discussion. His latest book is The Romance of Religion --Fighting for Goodness, Truth and Beauty

---


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 U.S.

A Christian Woman's Cry and Promise: I Will Not Be Dissuaded Watch

Image of Do not misunderstand me. This is not arrogant boasting or a finger-wagging -I told you so! I don't say this to you, the culture, out of spite or snickering glee, but with a heavy heart that longs to see such a dismal future averted. Yet I know that even if the darkness closing in on us is not lifted, then the Church will suffer through it, be purified by it, and will be there, still standing, when souls come in need of healing and hope again. God is not mocked, and He is not dead.

By Jennifer Hartline

I am sad for my country, and for the world. I grieve for the immorality that has become so commonplace and celebrated. I grieve for the family -- father, mother, and children -- as I watch it crumble and be slowly erased from our collective understanding. I ... continue reading


Know your rights, ACLU declares as 'Black Spring Has Begun' Watch

Image of State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby speaking live across the world, announced criminal charges against the officers in the death of 25-year-old Grey.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

After the great tragedy of widespread rioting in Baltimore following the death of young black man Freddie Gray while in police custody, there is hope. The six police officers suspected in his death - three white and three black, now immediately face homicide ... continue reading


Chinese, Indian immigrants in United States taking away lead set by Mexico Watch

Image of Mexico and China in 2012 had been tied for top-sending country, with Mexico at 125,000 and China at 124,000.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In spite of its next-door proximity to the United States, Mexico has lost the lead in send immigrants to the United States. Both China and India have increasingly been sending immigrants to American shores to work and live. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Former terror suspect among two gunmen shot, killed by police at Texas anti-Islam event Watch

Image of Thirty-year-old Elton Simpson, along with his 34-year-old roommate Nadir Soofi, above, were shot dead by police at an anti-Islamist art contest near Dallas, Texas Sunday night.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thirty-year-old Elton Simpson, along with his 34-year-old roommate Nadir Soofi was shot dead by police at an anti-Islamist art contest near Dallas, Texas Sunday night. Both men were shot dead by police after they fired upon an unarmed security guard in the ... continue reading


Obamacare, State Sovereignty, and the Heckler's Veto at the Supreme Court

Image of An artist rendering of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court. Cameras are not allowed during arguments.

By Edwin Meese III & J. Kenneth Blackwell

Refusing to give effect to Congress's law would usher in an era where courts routinely let presidents rewrite statutes whenever the words Congress adopts does not produce outcomes the president likes. It will permanently cede legislative power to the executive ... continue reading


Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas on What it Means to be a Crusader Today

Image of Atonement Academy, the Parish School of Our Lady of the Atonement Parish Church in San Antonio, Texas.

By Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

When Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade in 1095, he envisioned it as a defensive action, designed to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims and to protect the lives of Christians living there and of pilgrims going there.  It is interesting that what ... continue reading


Vast majority of Americans fear further racial unrest come the summer months Watch

Image of Asked to choose between two possible explanations for recent events, 60 percent of blacks said they reflected

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to a poll, a vast majority of Americans fear further racial unrest come the long, hot summer months. A whopping 96 percent of those surveyed feel that there will be further demonstrations and rioting later this year. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


New study pinpoints most 'racist' areas in America -- and it's not where you think it is Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New research suggests that areas in the northern part of the United States have higher mortality rates for black Americans and the people were found to be more racist. Researchers from the University of Maryland, found that areas with more people Google searching the ... continue reading


Crazed, bloody man caught on tape attempting kidnap Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jessica Corrales, a 24-year old victim of assault, ran for cover with her mother and niece inside the City Hall at the California desert town of Hesperia as a crazed guy covered in blood chased after them. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - In the cell phone ... continue reading


New Black Panther Party's national leader compares their 'war' to the Founding Fathers' accomplishments Watch

Image of  We have to love ourselves enough to be willing to die or kill to save our babies and to save a black nation that is dying before our eyes,

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New Black Panther Party's national leader, Hashim Nzinga, said that they are "willing to die or kill to save our babies and to save a black nation that is dying before our eyes," during the week's broadcast for the "Black Power Radio." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:1-6
1 Then some men came down from Judaea and taught the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:1-8
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 6th, 2015 Image

Bl. Edward Jones
May 6: Blessed Edward Jones and Anthony Middleton, Martyrs Edward Jones ... 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