Many wonderful articles have already been published in reference to the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict. I can only affirm much of what I have read as to his scholarship, and the dignity with which he conducted the Office of the Papacy. To have such a renowned theologian as pope makes one think of Pope Gregory the Great who like Pope Benedict would have preferred the quiet of the monastery to the heavy weight of the chair of Peter.
Neither Gregory or Benedict had it easy. Tumultuous waves rocked the barque of Peter during Gregory’s time as the Roman Empire continued to crumble and the Lombards made their steady advance. Pope Benedict XVI endured the storms of the collapsing Western culture, lamenting that the lights were going out in Europe and he warned us of the “dictatorship of relativism” that we now know all too well.
Surely, if the lights were going out in the dying West, the Church must all the more be as a lighthouse in the deepening dark. I was certain that Pope Benedict was just the man the Lord could use. But Pope Benedict also sensed the wolves were near, and asked us to pray that he not flee from them. Sadly, as we know, for reasons of his own, he chose to step aside. I cannot doubt that he thought it best for the Church, but I must still lament the loss of his light in a world sinking into deeper darkness and murky confusion. It is zero-dark thirty for the Western world we once called Christendom. And we, the Church, called to be the light of the world, are terribly divided and caught in a morass of scandal, ambiguity and confusion.
I can only ask God to receive Pope Benedict XIV into the arms of His mercy and permit his prayers for us to be like a ray of light shining past the barrier of death on a gloomy and storm-tossed world. Permit my informal cry like a son to his father: “Papa Ratzi pray for us! And we too prayer for your repose, dear and Holy Father.”
Sometimes when you struggle to cry, humor has a role in releasing sorrow and also pent up joy. In that vein, I’d like to include a short video I put together many years ago that celebrated the photogenic quality of Pope Benedict. His face is wonderfully expressive. I hope you might enjoy a one minute diversion down memory lane as a moment too of prayer.
I also put together another video of the Pope as a pilgrim and world traveler set to Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Enjoy a toe tapper of a song with photos showing the Pope’s far flung travels.
Family watching television, c. 1958. National Archives and Records Administration. Evert F. Baumgardner. Images of American Political History. Posting online by Dr. William J. Ball. All images are believed to be in the public domain.