I have never met the Pope, nor do I ever think I'll have the opportunity to have a private audience with him, but there remains a deep love and reverence in my heart for the Chair of St. Peter and the man who humbly accepts this calling. To be honest, it was difficult for me to get accustomed to Pope Benedict XVI. I so loved Pope John Paul II and lacked the faith to believe that someone could actually fill his shoes. Through my ignorance, I was humbled. His first encyclical was on Love. His writings are beautiful, touching, and quite easy to read (JPII was a philosopher - not what I would call your average Sunday lounge-around reading). Here are a few examples of Pope Benedict's writings:
"Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me."
"Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and his needs, including material needs."
"One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now."
"If reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification."
"Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave."
“Truth is not determined by a majority vote.”
“We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God.”
“Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity. When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves. This is what the saints have always done, spreading the light of the Lord ... and transforming the world into a welcoming home for everyone.”
“Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.”
"An upright life always involves sacrifice, renunciation. To hold out the promise of a life without this constant re-giving of self if to mislead. There is no such thing as a successful life without sacrifice. If I cast a glance back over my whole life, I have to say that it was precisely the moments when I said yes to renunciation that were the great and important moments of my life" Homily, Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord - April 5, 2009.
When the pope announced his resignation, I found it interesting how secular media became theologians and experts of Catholicism overnight. Conspiracy theories flew wildly, speculations of the pope being "forced" out of office were being examined. When I heard of his resignation, I immediately was touched by his humility, by the truth with which he spoke, and by his faith. Our society, specifically the U.S., has trouble in understanding such humility. Why on earth would the leader of over 1 billion faithful step down of his own free will? It's difficult to wrap our heads around that, but not for those who trust in the workings of the Holy Spirit to discern the paths for their lives. Our beloved pope is aging and he made this beautiful decision while he still had all of his faculties. He now will continue to serve the Church within a capacity that best suits the needs of the faithful.
I am thankful to have witnessed this piece of history and thankful for the catechetical opportunity this has given our family. Now, my prayers are with the Conclave as they discern. I look forward to "meeting" our new Holy Father.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.