It’s been on my mind to write a farewell post since the day Pope Benedict XVI dropped what we now know to be the ecclesiastical announcement of the past 600 years. I can tell you exactly the place and time when I learned of Blessed John Paul II’s entrance into glory, and years from now, I will be able to recollect how I awoke out of sleep to read about Benedict’s resignation on my Smartphone. When Cardinal Josef Ratzinger was elected to the Chair of St. Peter, it was an ecstatic day for many of my friends and I who knew of his work in the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith.
We hoped for another long papacy, but knew deep in our hearts that might not be the case. Even the words of Pope Benedict XVI should ring out to us, as he said only days after his election – he would be a transitional Pope. Are we that surprised now thinking back at his words from nearly 8 years ago? Honestly, I was surprised, but others who knew the man better than I maybe could see it coming.
Is it a sad day in the Church? Yes – most definitely. Is it a day of hope as well? Yes – most definitely. As Catholic Christians (yes, we are Christians!), we must keep in mind that the Church has seen her fair shake of ups and downs, scandals, and assaults throughout the centuries. What we must remember is that we are still here, we are still strong, and we are not going anywhere. We have at the center, the source and summit of our Christian faith – Jesus Christ in his body, blood, soul, and divinity.
Benedict’s stepping down is yet another notch of history in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. From the small Christian community in Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday, we now have millions of Catholics around the globe in hundreds of countries (just attend a World Youth Day – and that is just the youth of the Church).
The Catholic Church is built upon Peter! Christ promised us that the gates of hell would never prevail against it. The gates of hell have tried, and may try in the future, but mark the words of Our Lord – the Church will always stand firm in the face of evil. Anti-Catholics, which includes fall away Catholics, uncatechized Catholics, general haters of anything religious, atheists, moral relativists, and others throw stones, little pebbles, at the Church. What they lack to see is that we just don’t have a rock, but we have THE ROCK, and Jesus Christ himself set that ROCK in place. In the weeks ahead, another Pope will be elected to the Papacy, and he will be yet another Rock in a long line of Rocks that have extended the centuries (Read Mt 16:13-20).
Holy Father – it’s never easy saying good-bye. But before you leave us, we thank you for your years of service to the Catholic Church as a Priest, Bishop, Cardinal, and Pope. Your words have inspired countless Catholics to deepen their faith during your Pontificate, especially during this Year of Faith. The documents you gave to the universal Church will be read and cherished. Just as your predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, inspired young men to give up their lives for Christ, your countless efforts to increase vocations to the priesthood, and bring a new breed of priests to the Church will not go unnoticed. The magnitude of scholastic work in the area of Scriptural exegesis will not be matched for centuries to come. Your love for the Holy Liturgy has inspired us to bring back sacredness and reverence to the Mass that was misguided in many places throughout the world. Under your Pontificate, we have experienced in the English translation, a renewal of the words professed in the Holy Mass.
Personally, I would like to thank you for the Synod on the Sacred Scriptures, which produced your Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini. As one who has studied the scriptures, it’s a great document that gives us hope in the Sacred Scriptures and the tools to teach it to Catholics in today’s Church. Picking up where Dei Verbum left off was a stroke of genius. You are the Biblical Titan of the modern age!
I would also like to thank you for your recent Synod on the New Evangelization. Although the document for this gathering of Bishops has been put on hold for the time being, the propositions developed by you and Bishops will surely be implemented into the Church soon. You took Blessed John Paul II’s battle cry and developed it into a battle plan for the Catholic Church to win souls. When the souls return, we will have you to thank for it.
As you enter your life of prayer and study, we ask you to pray for us. We know full well that you are in communion with the Holy Trinity. See that the Church is led in the right direction, and that she, yet strong, become even stronger in the years ahead.
We thank you, we love you, and we will miss you. Good-Bye…