There’s no doubt that our Holy Father’s decision has brought forth a wave of doubts, confusion, mixed emotions, and perhaps sadness as well.
Today, together with an interesting commentary by Fr. Robert Barron on Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy, we would like to offer some 15 keys that can help you to maintain an authentic Catholic approach towards what’s to come.
The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI
Faith in the Mind
- The Pope has explained the reasons for renouncing his Pontificate in this document. Let’s not be rash in firing off all sorts of personal interpretations and speculation. Conspiracy theories and other shocking intrigue offered by ‘experts’, who are called in by the media to speak about something they don’t really know much about, should be taken for what they are worth–usually not much– and no more.
- John Paul II did not renounce his pontificate, in spite of his failing strength, because he discerned that was not what God was asking of him in that particular moment. Benedict XVI did so, on the other hand, because after examining his conscience before God, he discovered that it was the Lord’s Plan for both him and for the Church. The reason for the Pope’s resignation, beyond his failing strength or his age, is to be found in his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of this, no one in the future can call for the Pope’s resignation based on such and such an incapacity. This decision will always be between God and his Vicar.
- The Church is the body of Christ. Christ is her head and it is the Holy Spirit who guides her. Regardless of the Church’s frailty, this truth will always stand firm. God is greater than our sins.
- The Church is the People of God and we are all part of it. Now is not a good moment to judge past decisions or plan new strategies for the future. Now is the time for us to be united in one heart and to look forward to the future with hope and in communion. If you want to change the Church, as Mother Teresa said, start with yourself.
- Reflections on the next Pope are interesting but shouldn’t be given excessive weight. We can have such discussions only in so far as it is clear the most important thing to do is to pray for the Cardinals and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide and continue to bless the Church. It’s important that we give a positive testimony to those who struggle to understand this process.
Faith in the Heart
- The sadness that we may experience at the Holy Father’s decision must not become an obstacle to the joy and hope that must fill our hearts as we turn our eyes towards the new stage upon which the Church will soon embark.
- Within a short time we will have a new Pope at the ship’s prow guiding the Church, and a man of God, with the experience of having exercised the Petrine ministry himself, praying from the stern. Surely that is a wonderful motive for hope!
- The Pope must not be turned into an idol. It is a great blessing when a Pontiff is also a man of God but we mustn’t forget that he is still a human being who is, therefore, both fragile and a sinner. Our obedience and attention to him don’t depend on his human qualities or his moral integrity but on his condition as Christ’s Vicar on Earth.
- Don’t get attached to any one candidate, and don’t let the secular media make you think that if one of them is elected, everything will turn out fine, whereas if another is chosen then everything will go wrong. Firstly, because the Holy Spirit can change your plans. And secondly, because the Holy Spirit has been changing their plans since John XXIII (and even before that).
Faith in Action
- Pray a great deal that the Holy Spirit will enlighten the Cardinal Electors and that they will be docile instruments of his movements. This is the best way of participating in this crucial time for the life of the Church.
- Read the document in which the Pope formally renounces his Pontificate and explain it to whoever asks you about it.
- Pray for this new stage in Benedict XVI’s life.
- Don’t share or tweet dubious information about the Pope, the conclave or the Cardinals. Take advantage, instead, of this time to get to better know the Cardinals and various members of the Church that carry out these positions of authority and service.
- Keep informed through a good Catholic news agency. We recommend CNA (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/), Zenit (http://www.zenit.org) or Aleteia (http://www.aleteia.org).
- Let’s make the most of the fact that Lent is starting and offer our prayer, fasting and almsgiving for our beloved Church.
Pope Benedict XVI Resources
- Whats With The Lion? Things We Can Learn About St. Jerome Through ArtSome saints are instantly recognizable when you spot them, others remain in hazy anonymity. You know St. Therese when you see her, pristine Carmelite habit surrounding a bouquet of roses, austere and a little saccharine, she stands out in crowd. Peter with his keys, Paul with his sword, Catherine and her wheel, Dominic with his … Read more
- How Do I Know What God’s Will Is When Both Choices Are Good Things?Every day, we face numerous choices, many of eternal consequences. When our hearts and minds are ordered toward God, these choices are usually between two goods. We could read to our children, or pray the rosary. We could spend Saturday afternoon serving at the soup kitchen, or go to confession. We could go … Read more
- Christifideles Laici – Join Us As We Study This Important Apostolic ExhortationWe are all familiar with the dynamics of being part of a family. There are moments of joy and occasional misunderstandings. Some may feel burdened with the majority of responsibilities, while others may feel overlooked and unable to contribute their skills. There are times of distance, but also joyful reunions that strengthen the bond. In … Read more
- One Cause For Sainthood You Should Know AboutServant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun Fr. Kapaun was named a “Servant of God” in 1993, which is the official beginning of the opening of a cause for canonization, for sainthood in the Catholic Church. Of course, the saints are the blessed in Heaven who dwell with God in Paradise. There are countless unnamed saints, … Read more
- What St. Padre Pio Can Teach Us About Enduring TrialsPadre Pio is one of the most beloved saints in Catholic history. Many know him for having the stigmata or for his ability to bilocate and read hearts in the confessional. The stories of his miracles are inspiring and remind people of the power of God and His Church. But even more important than the … Read more