Monday, January 02, 2023

Benedict XVI lies in state.

I have very few words to say.  I love Benedict XVI and I am sad.  A friend noted that even Jesus wept when Lazarus died - which gives me permission to be sad.

So many are writing about him and all the good he has done for the Church and the People of God, so I would like to say something as well.  Before being elected, he taught me so much, continuing into his papacy and evermore through his writings.  His work in the CDF, his instructions from the Catechism to his many letters lightened my burden, while enlightening my way to follow Christ.  For me his greatness is in his defining Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage.  The instruction in the CDF letters to the faithful and bishops were for me, ratified by his ascent to the Chair of Peter.

So many rejected the clear teaching he proposed, calumniating, detracting and condemning Ratzinger as a cruel homophobe and someone who hated gays.  It was just the opposite.  He proposed Catholic teaching, knowing full well the difficulties involved in today's world.  It has always been so - the Cross stands in contradiction to all the novelties the world offers.  All of us - including Ratzinger - are sinners.  The Church, the Sacraments is our help and support to receive grace and mercy and to follow Christ in fidelity.  As Pope Francis has noted, the Church is a field hospital for the wounded, the lame, sinners who keep trying.  Falling and rising, we follow Christ more closely after every fall.  The commandments - the rules - are meant to guide us, to stabilize us, lest we fall away completely.  To state the truth in charity is never cruel.

The truth sets us free, and if the Son of God frees you, you are truly free.  Every soul, baptized and confirmed in Christ, can live a devout life - by the grace of God.  The CCC clearly states we are called to chastity!  What a great grace!  "By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."  What a grace!  You do not have to do it alone - you can have friends who help and at the same time, disinterested friendship is a condition wherein friends can help to sanctify one another.  We have priests to guide and instruct us, administering the sacrament of penance when we fall.  How much love the Father has shown us, to be reconciled in Christ!  This is the good that Benedict did for me, and I dare say - the Church.

Benedict was a good father, a merciful and kind hearted priest.  He was a brilliant scholar and theologian - with the heart of a father.  I thank him for teaching with such clarity and love, giving such hope and strengthening the faith of many - especially ordinary people like me.