On the last day of his Bavarian Tour Pope Benedict XVI was greeted with applause and broad smiles as he addressed a gathering of priests and permanent deacons at the famed Cathedral of St. Mary in Freising, Germany. The Pontiff abandoned his prepared text to speak to the men from the heart of an Apostle, telling them to recognize the limits of their own powers and to rely upon the Lord.
After sprinkling those outside with Holy Water, Pope Benedict stepped through the doors of the Cathedral of St. Mary to a standing ovation. The cathedral holds a special significance for him. It was here that he was ordained a priest and here (the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising) that he served as Archbishop. The cathedral also contains the tomb of St. Corbinian, who Benedict has referenced numerous times as a personal patron and inspiration.
A broad smile came across his face as the Pontiff walked toward the altar and took his seat.
The current archbishop welcomed Pope Benedict with the kind words, “with this visit you have strengthened our faith and brought us closer to God…with your visit home you have given us a gift.”
Surrounded by his fellow Bavarians, including his brother and other priests from his ordination class, the Holy Father recalled the feelings he experienced during his ordination when he had laid facedown in that very cathedral. The thought that, like St. Corbinian, who is represented by a bear on Benedict’s coat of arms, great saints came before him and would be with him gave a great sense of peace, the Holy Father said.
A visibly jubilant Pope Benedict then glanced down to his planned speech, slyly grinned, and to the joy of the congregation said, “I have here a whole homily, but I really don’t want to read it!” This was again greeted with applause and smiles.
The Holy Father then began his unscripted testimony with the words, “I only want to reference two points.”
“One, the harvest is great,” he said referencing the sacred scripture reading from the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.
Pope Benedict explained, “the harvest is great - [Jesus] didn’t just mean in Palestine, the great harvest is today…it grows in the hearts of men waiting to be shown the way. It is more than the word, more than hope, it is love.”
“God wants to serve man…He needs man to say yes, so his harvest will reach man,” the Holy Father continued. “Help with this harvest so that we may say, everything must come from God.”
Benedict told the priests and deacons that while Christians are becoming fewer and young people continue to face greater challenges in practicing their faith that they should not get discouraged in their ministry. “Even the Pope thinks, ‘my powers are not enough.’” Sometimes, he said, we must leave it to God and our fellow workers. Sometimes, the Pope continued, you must say, “God, you must do it. Everything comes from You. I believe that here my power ends and the rest I leave to you God. God, do what I cannot do.”
Recalling the theme of his entire trip, Benedict said his second point was simply that, “He who believes is never alone.” This, he said, “is the motto for priests.”
Stressing the importance of unity within the Church the Holy Father closed his discourse with the words, “…he who is a priest is in community with the bishop. This is a reality. We must all work as one, even in doubt or uncertainty. Then in this togetherness our work becomes more joyful and we may better experience Jesus Christ.”
After his meeting at St. Marys, the Pontiff traveled directly to the airport where he would offer a brief farewell before departing for Rome.