October 15, 2015, Thursday — Benedict in Prayer

“The Church has always been flawed and divided. Sinner and saints and surviving amongst them. Even Jesus knew it wouldn’t be easy. It was never easy, even during His time. And having Pope Benedict spend his days praying for the Church consoles me. Everyday.” —email last night from a friend

“Halten Sie sich unbedingt an die Lehre!” (“Remain absolutely firm on doctrine!”) —Words attributed to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI last week in an article by British Vaticanist Edward Pentin, revealing the response Pope Benedict is said to have given during the 2014 Synod to a German prelate who asked him what should be done faced with the storm raging in the Church…

In the midst of the apparent confusion of the present Bishops’ Synod on the Family, with private letters from cardinals being published, and tape-recorded conversations being mis-heard by journalists, then published, then (honorably) retracted, would it not perhaps be prudent to do two things:

(1) to take a sort of “time out” from the interminable conversations for a full day, a full 24 hours, dedicated only to silence and prayer, and to the invocation of the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance?

(2) to ask Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who is still living in the Vatican Gardens, hidden from the world, and dedicated to daily prayer for the Church and for all souls in the world, at the end of those 24 hours, to offer his own words of guidance, on this one occasion, to the Church that he led from 2005 until 2013?

When he resigned, Pope Benedict said he felt he no longer had the strength to carry out the Petrine office to which he was elected.

He suggested that he would now carry out a slightly different office, a “Johannine” office. He would stay with St. John at the foot of the cross, beneath the crucified Christ — in whose blood and water, issuing from his side, the Church was born — and next to the Blessed Mother, Mary.

He would carry out the office of John, not of Peter.

Both ran side by side to the tomb on Easter morning to see whether the report of Mary Magdalene, that He was Risen, was true.

John ran faster, and reached the tomb first, then stepped aside, to allow Peter to enter before him.

And both of them saw, and believed, for the corpse of Jesus was not in the tomb.

Perhaps in an act of unprecedented humility, the present Peter, who rules the Church with full and unconditioned authority in order to preserve the deposit of the faith and to save souls (the highest law of the Church) by preaching the Gospel, teaching in harmony with the perennial tradtion, and governing the community of the faithful, could ask the former Peter, who lives in prayerful solitude, in imitation of the mystical closeness of the Apostle John to the Lord, described in the account of the Last Supper, just a few yards from where the Synod is meeting, on the hill behind St. Peter’s Square, in the Vatican Gardens.

In obedience, the former Pope might very well agree.

It might then be that, with his Germanic capacity for clarity, with the charism of office which he experienced, and experiences — both Petrine and Johannine — and with his own humility toward his successor, his brother bishop, Francis, Emeritus Pope Benedict might help bring peace and the sweet reason of the Logos to bear on the proceedings of this Synod, before the gathering concludes.

Here is an account of the moment Pope Benedict announced his resignation. It was first published in the Catholic Herald in England.

“A monsignor sobbed, then silence fell”

An Eyewitness Account of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation (link to source)

by Archbishop Leo Cushley

Posted Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 (so, eight months ago, on the 2nd anniversary of Benedict’s February 11, 2013, resignation)

This is what it was like to witness the moment Benedict XVI became the first Pope to resign in 600 years

February 11 is a holiday in the Vatican. It is the day when the Holy See celebrates the settlement in 1929 of the so-called “Roman Question,” the resolution of the 59-year stand-off between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See after the fall of Rome in 1870 to the Kingdom’s troops and the effective end of the ancient Papal States in central Italy.

By chance it was also the day Pope Benedict XVI chose to resign.

The date had been scheduled for a small consistory, comprising midday prayer and the announcement by Cardinal Angelo Amato of some beati due to be promoted to saints. There had also been a little gentle buzz for some time in the Roman Curia about the Holy Father announcing one or two important changes then, perhaps near the top of the administration, but these kinds of rumours circle like the seagulls around the Vatican’s Belvedere: they come round frequently, make a bit of noise and go away again. In other words, as in most places, nothing happens until it happens.

There was no indication that this day was going to be any different. It was also a holiday, and although the rest of the Curia was enjoying a rest, the few people around the person of the Holy Father, including myself, were to be on duty in the Apostolic Palace’s Sala del Concistoro to welcome him as he went to pray with the cardinals present in Rome and to go through the short ceremony.

As a Prelate of the Anticamera, a kind of aide-de-camp, who assists the Holy Father’s principal guests and makes sure everything goes according to plan when the great and the good come to call, I met the Holy Father before the ceremony began. As usual he came down by a private lift from his apartments with Archbishop Georg Gänswein and Mgr Alfred Xuereb, his two secretaries. He looked well but tired and greeted us in the usual way. As this was a day of particular solemnity, the Master of Ceremonies was present. Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the then-Almoner, was also there.

Once the Holy Father had been readied for the Liturgy of the Hours, we all followed him into the Sala del Concistoro to pray with the waiting cardinals. We sang midday prayer for the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11) then Cardinal Angelo Amato made his announcement regarding those soon to be promoted to the altars. So far so good.

The Holy Father then took the floor. This was the first time I had sat in a consistory, so I had no idea if this was normal or not. He spoke in Latin, so a greater effort than normal was going to be required by all of us – Italian being the normal language of the Curia – so a little strain was evident as we tried to grasp where he was going.

Within seconds it was clear what was happening. This was no ordinary address. He did not speak about the consistory and the soon-to-be saints, or a few changes in administration, or the anniversary of the Lateran treaties, or the end of the historic dispute with Italy. Instead, he made history. I felt my stomach turn over as I realised that here before us was something not seen for centuries: the voluntary resignation of the Roman Pontiff.

It seemed that, in slow motion before me, an assistant television cameraman put his hand to his mouth in a cartoonlike gesture of astonishment, the monsignor sitting next to me started to sob quietly, Archbishop Gänswein’s shoulders seemed to drop. The cardinals leaned forward to make sure they understood precisely what was being said and I found myself checking that my jaw wasn’t dropping open. Then there was silence.


What is the glory of God?

“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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