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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

  /   Saturday December 31, 2022  

The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI definitely makes for a sad ending to 2022. He was one of my biggest heroes in the Catholic Church. I have the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club mug from before he was elected pope, which says “putting the smackdown on heresy since 1981.”  I think I have the t-shirt also.  When I was a new Catholic in the 1990s, I thought of him as some kind of theological fuddy-duddy. As I learned more of the fullness of the faith, I realized he was really one of the true defenders of the Faith.

By the early 2000s, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, I really thought it would be great if he became the next pope.  However, I figured he wouldn’t because of his age. Just before the conclave, I remember that he gave a speech warning about the “Dictatorship of Relativism,” and some media person remarked that he just disqualified himself from the papacy.  Then, I was waiting, and occasionally refreshing the webpage on a news site.  Finally, much to my surprise, a bar with a red background appeared at the top of my screen saying that “Cardinal Ratzinger is the new pope.”  It was a dream come true!

I very much loved his emphasis on focusing on God himself.  The Church is not a social work institution, though we do that kind of work, but the Body of Christ.  It is ultimately Jesus Christ himself whom we must seek and whom we must serve.  From what I remember, he wrote his Introduction to Christianity to help correct the errors of some theologians who were leaning towards some kind of socialist understanding of Christianity.

One great example of his focus was his book entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy. It was one of the best books on the Mass I have ever read.  Solid formation on what the Mass is and how it should be celebrated is still probably the most difficult thing to come by.  I dare say there are people with advanced degrees in liturgy who have things completely wrong. There were people spouting off stuff like how the churches needed to be that semi-circle shape so that we see each other and see Christ in one another.  This essentially de-emphasized God himself and made the focus more on “the community.”

Before I read the book, I found it strange that he advocated the priest turning around and facing the same direction of the people (often called “having his back to the people,” but this is a misunderstanding).  However, when I read what he wrote, I became completely convinced that this is how Mass should be celebrated. We, the priest and the people, are moving together towards God.

There is a lot that could be said about this holy man whom we had as pope for eight years.  Now, he has gone to be with the Lord whom he served so well.  Eternal rest, grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.

Category: Catholic, Response

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