Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Love Pope Benedict XVI {St. Valentine's Day Musing}

Our family's view of Pope Benedict XVI on March 30, 2011, at Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican
One of the most memorable moments of our family pilgrimage to Italy in 2011 happened in sunny St. Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI wheeled past us following his inspirational, thought provoking weekly audience.  We were within a few feet of our Papa as he rolled along toward the sea of faithful visitors crowded in the piazza below, our seats being on an upper platform very close to the chair from which of our Holy Father preached.  If we had been holding a baby, we could easily have secured a Papal kiss!

The thrill of making eye contact with Pope Benedict surpassed any expected excitement or anticipated joy, and I reacted by screaming, "I love you Pope Benedict!" and throwing him several kisses in rapid succession.  I almost certainly caught a glimpse of a papal smirk at my antics.  Would that be too hard to imagine given the fact that I came unglued like a heart-struck teenager suddenly within reach of her pop star hero?

More far reaching than any pop superstar, Pope Benedict XVI has led our Church and taught us well during his pontificate and throughout his lifetime.  Now he is leading us, or perhaps allowing us to be led in a new direction, as he abdicates his position and retires to monastic life in a few short weeks.

This is our family's second pastor in less than a year to make this same sudden and surprise announcement, seemingly out of the blue.  Yet with holy priests like Pope Benedict and our former pastor Father Qui Thac (now knows as Father Marion in his Benedictine habit), what seems like sudden or shocking news to our eyes and ears is actually the manifestation of light given to them as fruits of a profoundly devout prayer life and an intimately personal relationship with our Lord.  In Pope Benedict we are given another fine role model to follow and imitate, teaching us by his example the virtue in letting go of everything and anything when God calls us to abandon ourselves to a closer union with Him.

Pope Bendict's message at our papal audience in 2011 focused on the life St. Alphonsus Ligouri, however the very words he used to describe St. Ligouri could aptly be repeated to sing the praises of our soon-to-be-retired Pope Benedict XVI.  I share the quote Father Z style; my comments in red:
St Alphonsus Maria Liguori {Pope Benedict XVI} is an example of a zealous Pastor who conquered souls {including mine} by preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments combined with behaviour impressed with gentle and merciful goodness that was born from his intense relationship with God, who is infinite Goodness. He had a realistically optimistic vision of the resources of good that the Lord gives to every person and gave importance to the affections and sentiments of the heart, {even love-struck ladies at papal audiences} as well as to the mind, to be able to love God and neighbour. 
St. Peter's Square, Wednesday, 30 March 2011

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