By Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, Cap.

What I appreciate most about Pope Benedict XVI, a virtue that he has manifested throughout his life, is his quiet humility. He has never been a boisterous man wherein he pushed himself into the limelight. Rather, his calm, unassuming presence brought to every situation a reassuring strength that all would be done well and in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s will. This quiet humility is founded, not upon Benedict’s intellectual acumen, but upon his firmness of faith in the Gospel, a faith that is expressed in the Church’s magisterial teaching and her ecclesial theological tradition. Benedict is but a humble servant of Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior.

That being said, all would acknowledge, and most would praise, Benedict’s intellectual ability, a gift that is manifested in academic work. To this day, his Introduction to Christianity continues to be read by appreciative students and members of the theological academy. Likewise, his Spirit of the Liturgy is a foundational text for appreciating and understanding the Church’s liturgy that has come down to us through the ages. I am convinced that every priest and seminarian should be required to read and study this work. If such were done, it would help alleviate much of the rancor that exists in our present “liturgical wars.” Much of his sound learning and wise counsel would calmly prevail.

Both before and after his election as Pope, Joseph Ratzinger bore the slings and arrows that were hurled at him by many within and outside the Church. Members of the secular and ecclesial liberal elite media were, and still are, relentless in their criticism and in their characterization of him as an unyielding rigid conservative. However, such rancor towards Benedict merely makes evident the lack of faith among many of his critics, as well as simultaneously highlighting his own steadfastness in the faith. Benedict, as a person, as an academic, as an archbishop, as Pope, and now in his retirement, is a light in the darkness of our present world. His light will continue to shine even when he has passed from this world into his heavenly reward. There, with all of the Saints, he will give glory to God the Father, in union with Jesus, the risen incarnate Son, in communion with the love of the Holy Spirit.

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