Monday, April 16, 2012

A Monumental Week

Joseph Ratzinger as a boy
"I find myself on the last stretch of my journey in life, and I don't know what is awaiting me. I do know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness and that God's goodness is stronger than any evil in this world, and this helps me go forward with certainty." 
                       -Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 85th birthday today, and this Thursday marks the seventh anniversary of his pontificate. The world is blessed to have such a witness and leader. For readers who don't already know, Pope Benedict XVI is the only Pope to have provided extensive interviews, which were recorded in a book by journalist Peter Seewald. Of the Pope's willingness to sit down for a six hour interview, Seewald writes, "The Church must not hide, was his attitude; the faith must be explained; and it can be explained, because it is reasonable. He impressed me as being young and modern, not a bean-counter, but rather a man who ventures bravely and retains his curiosity. A masterful teacher, and a disconcerting one as well, because he sees that we are losing things that we really cannot do without."  

Seewald's book, entitled Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times was released in 2010. It provides an up-close and personal look at Pope Benedict XVI and his inspiring role as Pope of our times. We would recommend it to Catholics as well as non-Catholics who want to know more about the Church and the Pope. Over the next few days, to commemorate this special week for the Pope, we will post short passages from the book on various topics. Here's a tidbit of what Pope Benedict has to say about when he first became Pope:

"...the thought of the guillotine occurred to me: Now it falls down and hits you. I had been so sure that this office was not my calling, but that God would now grant me some peace and quiet after strenuous years. But then I could only say, explain to myself: God's will is apparently otherwise, and something new and completely different is beginning for me. He will be with me." 

Here is a traditional prayer from the Raccolta that would be especially appropriate for daily prayer this week:

O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervor the sacred Victim of love and peace. 

   Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in union with him. 

   Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. Amen.

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