Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

7/11/2014 (1 year 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 (1 year 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 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 U.S.

Remains of four early leaders of America uncovered in Jamestown with Catholic artifacts Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Under the floor of a Jamestown church, four body remains of the earliest English colonial leaders in America were unearthed. One was identified as Captain John Smith's rival, who researchers speculate to be part of a secret Catholic cell because of some artifacts ... continue reading


BREAKING: Planned Parenthood caught in FOURTH VIDEO showing the horrific practices of selling aborted baby organs

Image of Dr. Savita Ginde, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains' Vice President and Medical Director, standing in the harvesting lab.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Another new Planned Parenthood expose video has been released, making this the second video this week and the fourth revealing hidden camera video in total. The Center for Medical Progress claims to have hours upon hours of footage exposing Planned Parenthood of ... continue reading


AMC movie theaters issue warning to moviegoers urging them to stay vigilant during visit Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A unusual video message is being played at AMC Theaters in Central Florida, urging the audience to keep their eyes open to any bad agendas and malicious or suspicious actions within the establishment. The short film came to be after violent incidents inside movie ... continue reading


A massive 30,000 more immigrants expected to arrive to U.S. before year's end Watch

Image of Illegal immigrants continues to cross the U.S. border.q

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The number of illegal immigrant children and teens in the United States continues to increase. The United Nations and other humanitarian groups predict that a total of 30,000 more are expected to reach the U.S. before the year ends. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


The youngest convicted murders released from jail after 15 years Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At just 12 and 13-years-old, two siblings confessed to killing their father's girlfriend and both were charged with first-degree murder as adults, despite evidence they were sexually abused by a family member. Yesterday, the two first faced the world they once knew. ... continue reading


Satanic statue secretly unveiled in Detroit, drawing Christian protest Watch

Image of Satanists secretly unveiled a nine-foot, one-ton statue of Baphomet, the horned devil god of satanic practice in an undisclosed location in Detroit this past weekend.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Satanists secretly unveiled a nine-foot, one-ton statue of Baphomet, the horned devil god of satanic practice in an undisclosed location in Detroit this past weekend. This has spurred on heavy protest from the city's Christian community. Hundreds gathered at Detroit's ... continue reading


Will Pope Francis be warmly welcomed in the United States? Watch

Image of Pope Francis will be in the United States in September.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will visit the United States for the first time ever in his lifetime during September. However, amid the excitement, the American populace may have lost some warmth towards the pontiff, who they once believed revived the Catholic Church in the country. ... continue reading


Will religious beliefs be acknowledged when Boy Scouts starts allowing gay leaders, volunteers? Watch

Image of Jennifer Tyrrell of Bridgeport, Ohio, a Cub Scout den leader who was kicked out in 2012 for being openly gay, embraces her son Cruz Burns.

By Kevin J. Jones, CNA/EWTN News

The Boy Scouts of America is moving to change its leadership standards in order to allow openly homosexual adult leaders and volunteers. While the organization promises that individual church-affiliated councils can choose their own leaders, at least one critic ... continue reading


THE THIRD VIDEO: The latest and most shocking footage of Planned Parenthood's abortion practices (WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO) Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

First there was a video revealing Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola casually discussing selling aborted baby organs over lunch, and admitting to using partial-birth abortions to get her hands on intact ... continue reading


Planned Parenthood HACKED, private employee information revealed Watch

Image of

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Planned Parenthood's website was hacked by a group of hackers who managed to gain access into Planned Parenthood and acquire the site's databases, including the names and email addresses of employees. These details were released by the hackers to the public. MUNTINLUPA ... 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, Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38
16 Moses did this; he did exactly as Yahweh had ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:47-53
47 'Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... 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