Loading
February 25, 2013
Benedictine individuality
By Jason Godin *

By Jason Godin *

Pope Benedict XVI ends his eight-year pontificate on February 28. The decision by the Holy Father to step aside has resulted in a range of responses. Some recollections reflect high admiration for a humble man. As the day has drawn nearer, other reports share in the silly speculation about who is the odds-on favorite cardinal to replace him.

Understandably the decision draws attention. No Holy Father has resigned in some 600 years. But as important as the event assuredly is within the view of yesterday, the final official act by Benedict XVI teaches us just as much for today and tomorrow. Early 21st century culture celebrates an individuality that rejects tradition, favors no limits while exploring the full sensual spectrum, and calls to accomplish all in the here-and-now. The pontificate of Benedict XVI, from its beginning to the end, teaches a new kind of individuality.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger emerged before a world audience as Benedict XVI in 2005. For the millions of Catholics born during the dusk of the Cold War, the word “pope” had only one face – and one known the world over at that – in their lifetime. John Paul II had reigned for nearly 28 years. The old adage about filling big shoes seemed appropriate as people heard words from the new pope about simple service in the Lord’s vineyard. If the shoes of the fisherman had been boats, John Paul II, in the minds of many, had left Benedict XVI two huge yachts to fill. No simple task and certainly no easy position to ever really “be yourself,” to be sure.

Yet Benedict found ways to do it “his way” and, importantly, in ways that never wavered in genuine testimony to “the way, the truth, and the life” of Christ (John 14:6). The Holy Father endured with rugged love criticisms thrown at him. For example, he acted like a white-clad John Wayne following his Regensburg Lecture in September 2006 on the origins of Islamic jihadism. Rather than combat hateful replies quickly and with wounded bitterness, Benedict offered opportunities to join him in long conversation, deep prayer and genuine civility moving forward.

His deep intellect attracted faithful admirers, too. Benedict loved to write and wrote a lot of works out of that love. Good luck trying to find a book that doesn’t have the name Joseph Ratzinger or Benedict XVI as the author the next time you look for Catholic books at any noteworthy bookstore or online bookseller. One could make a similar remark about John Paul II. Such prolific production, however, yielded unique styles. The Polish romantic discussed every dimension of the question before answering. The German technician answered the question directly before explaining all the supporting evidence. Both men and their works rightfully share a place in the echelon of great theologians and, perhaps in time, the pantheon of great popes.

Benedict XVI steps aside not at the hour of his death but by a choice made during the twilight of his life. The current captain of the bark of St. Peter stands down willingly. A new successor of St. Peter will assume the helm in the weeks ahead. But whoever it is does so informed by Benedictine individuality, where terms respect traditions, limits lead to evangelization and new life, and accomplishments are measured in centuries.

Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. You can find him on Facebook here.

« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
17

Liturgical Calendar

April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 13:1-15

Gospel
Date
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
Second Reading:: 1 Cor 11:23-26
Gospel:: Jn 13:1-15

Homily of the Day

Jn 13:1-15

Homily
Date
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: