Indeed, “It would be foolish to act as if nothing happened” with the abdication of a pope, and much more since it was Benedict XVI. While I am not completely surprised by his gesture of love for the Church, I am saddened that he’s exiting stage left because I have come to rely on him as a credible witness of how to live my Christian life with vigor.
Editorials are flying around faster than the wicked witch: some are very worth reading and some not. One would swear that the commentators have never read a word that Razinger wrote or truly observed a gesture of Benedict XVI. But won’t realize this until you digest what’s said.
Let me offer an editorial from La Repubblica (February 15, 2013) written by Father Julián Carrón, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. “Ratzinger’s Cross” gives reasons of true Hope.
What was capable of filling the entire world with silence, all of a sudden?
That astonished moment destroyed, in one stroke, the images that we normally have of Christianity: a past event, an earthly organization, a group of roles, a morality about things that we should or shouldn’t do… No, all of this cannot give adequate reasons for what happened on February 11th. We must look elsewhere for the explanation.
Therefore, faced with the Pope’s gesture, I wondered: Will anyone ask themselves who Christ is for Joseph Ratzinger, if the bond with Him led him to carry out an act of freedom this surprising, which everyone–believers or not–recognized as exceptional and profoundly human? Avoiding this question would leave the event without an explanation and, what is worse, we would miss the most precious part of what it witnesses to us. It cries out, in fact, just how real the person of Christ is in the life of the Pope, how much Christ must be contemporaneous and powerfully present in order for him to generate a gesture of freedom from everything and everyone, an unheard-of novelty, so impossible for man. Full of wonder, I was then forced to shift my gaze to what made it possible: Who are You, who fascinate a man to the point of making him so free that he provokes the desire for the same freedom in us, too? “Christ in His beauty draws me to Him,” exclaimed another man passionate about Christ, Jacopone da Todi. I haven’t found a better explanation.
Full text: Julián Carrón Ratzinger’s Cross.pdf
You are invited to the book presentation of Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), presented by Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., the Archbishop of Chicago.
A fantasy [that people have] property takes no account of the fact that, for the great majority of mankind, life is a struggle. On those grounds I would see this idea of choosing one’s own path in life as a selfish attitude and as a waste of one’s vocation. Anyone who thinks he already has it all, so that he can take what he wants and center everything on himself is depriving himself of giving what he otherwise could.
Man is not there to make himself, but to respond to demands made upon him. We all stand in a great arena of history and are dependent upon each other. A man ought not, therefore, just try to figure out what he would like, but to ask what he can do, and how he can help. Then he will see that fulfillment does not lie in comfort, ease and following one’s inclinations, but precisely in allowing demands to be made upon one, in taking the harder path. Everything else turns out somehow boring, anyway. Only the man who “risks the fire”, who recognizes a calling within himself, a vocation, and ideal he must satisfy, who takes on real responsibility, will find fulfillment. It is not in taking, not on the path of comfort that we become rich, but only in giving.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
God and the World, p. 258
I met a man this afternoon doing some business with us on marketing and the question of beauty came to the fore. He remarked on how we are among the few clients he has who have concern for beauty, simple sophistication, not foppishness. I recalled for him that beauty is a theological datum; it is such a principled piece of Catholicism that it is shameful of what passes for beauty.
Several years ago I came across a couple of lines of Cardinal Ratzinger’s that speaks of beauty as really, really important. He said, “A theologian who does not love art, poetry, music and nature can be dangerous. Blindness and deafness toward the beautiful are not incidental; they necessarily are reflected in his theology.” In other words, don’t trust a theologian who has no regard for beauty.
Then on FB I noted this quote and image on beauty.
It is one of the notable sadnesses of our time that so many are incapable of fascination with the deeper levels of human beauty, especially those rooted in the spirit, levels that far transcend physical attractiveness. Before lofty human traits some people are more or less apathetic, listless, unmoved, even hardened. And many seem to die as they live.
Thomas Dubay. S.M., The Evidential Power of Beauty, p.64-65.