I read John Allen’s (National Catholic Reporter) piece today in which he describes Francis’ message in one word: mercy. He also said Benedict’s was “faith and reason”. I’ve been thinking about that along with the continued adulation of Francis because I obviously missed the whole message of Benedict. Everything he did for me, including the faith and reason arguments, was to bring the Lord. His message of “friendship with Jesus”, his own witness of faith, his journey which I continuously witness even now as a living martyrdom, given constant accusations and media assaults all confirm this interpretation to me. But perhaps the most important piece of evidence for me are his last three books. In them his argument is that Christ brought God to us for He was God – true man, true God. Yes, he argued you can know this through reason but really – that’s not the power of his words, nor are all the erudite sources and arguments. Benedict XVI scared others, including his brothers, because of his faith that Christ was Lord, that God exists and we are God’s creatures. He brought and brings us God in his words.
He constantly reminded us that we are children of God and because of this we have a relationship that requires active participation. Active participation with our neighbor was part of the message but the more insistent Benedict message was we need to actively participate in our relationship with God through prayer and sacraments. Hundreds of years from now, Benedict will still be read and the truth of the spiritual benefits of his sacrifices will be known. Until then, I think we should all nurture our relationship with God, our triune God, who loves and created us. Our God who has mercy on us if we know enough to ask and our God who expects us to pay that mercy forward.
Without Benedict, there can be no Francis. Just like without John Paul there could be no Benedict, etc. The tendency right now is to dismiss Benedict. It is a press tactic but it suits the purposes of those who don’t want God in our presence. Social Gospel themes are easier to tolerate than Gospel themes. People don’t want to remember God.
Tonight, I pray for Francis. Benedict is. And I also pray to the Lord to thank him for all he has done for me.
Prayer for the pope from here:
V. Let us pray for Francis, the Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.
R. And upon your son whom you have anointed.
Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
And a reminder of what Benedict said but from St. Theresa of Avila from here:
“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”
Glory Be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.