A Quick Note to Benedict on Pope Francis’ Inauguration Day

“Behold, a faithful and prudent steward, whom the Lord set over his household.” – Entrance Antiphon, Joseph, Spouse of Mary, March 19

Dear Benedict, Emeritus Pontiff;

There is so much to thank you for after your decades of service to the Church, but today, on your name day, the feast of St. Joseph, we owe you thanks for the amazing weeks we are living through right now.

Today is the day of the Inaugural Mass of Pope Francis, and though you were not present at the celebration, you were very present in spirit. After all, it was you who made this celebration possible.

Pope BenedictIn your first message as Pope, you called it “very significant” that your pontificate began halfway through the Year of the Eucharist. You called for more “love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus … above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.”

An amazing phrase, that. You told us to love Christ liturgically, through the Church.

You certainly did that this year. You timed your resignation with the liturgical calendar in mind, and that means you timed it with us in mind.

You  made the Lenten season all the more penitential with the sadness of preparing for your departure, and you made Lenten prayers all the more intense, because we were praying for you and for the Church.

Then, when we experienced “sede vacante” in the middle of Lent, it was as if Peter had entered the desert with Christ. But you reminded us that we were supposed to join him there, too.

I think you knew what would happen. And as former dean of the cardinals, you probably guessed that around the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we would experience the joy of the arrival of your successor — connecting our “Habemus Papam” with Laetare Sunday’s “O be joyful, Jerusalem!”

You also foresaw what this new Pope will do for the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter. Celebrating with a new Pope means we will be paying very close attention to his Mass of the Last Supper, the Stations of the Cross, and the Easter Vigil. It will mean the media will pay attention this time, too.

In short, the way you stepped down will end up riveting the world’s attention to Christ, deepening the world’s experience of the Passion, and heightening our joy at Easter.

You, who saw such significance in changing Popes halfway through the Year of the Eucharist, made sure that when we changed popes this time, it was halfway through the Year of Faith.

Were you already planning this when you announced the Year of the Faith? Here’s what you said in October, four months before you announced your resignation:

“I wish to invite my brother bishops from all over the world to join the Successor of Peter, during this time of spiritual grace that the Lord offers us, in recalling the precious gift of faith. We want to celebrate this Year in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified, so as to help all believers in Christ to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing.”

What you did this February made sure we united with the Successor of Peter to reflect intensely on the faith amid profound change.

Nicely done, fellow pilgrim. Thank you.

22 thoughts on “A Quick Note to Benedict on Pope Francis’ Inauguration Day

  1. Leticia Mezl says:

    Thank you Holy Father. I will always have you in my heart and in my prayers. I will never forget the day I received Holy Communion from you on Holy Thursday 2006.

  2. J Quirarte says:

    He is a man blessed with the grace to stand as a silent observer, as well as a potential target, armed with the beautiful humility he displayed through his stirring words and his charitable actions throughout his papacy. It is exciting to be a part of this unique moment in church history and I am eager to engage our new pope’s challenges and to discern the meaning of his wonderful witness. Francis is humble in his bearing, but very bold in setting examples. This transition, through the humble cooperation of both Benedict and Francis, has been a gift. I love Benedict dearly and I will never forget the intellectualism that inspired my search, his quiet spirituality that helped me feel – and share – his closeness with God, as well as his kindness, compassion and gentleness. He was blessed with the pastoral strength necessary to confront the threats against his flock, for our good, and for the good of all Christ’s Holy Church.

  3. Fr. Ramil E. Fajardo says:

    Thank you most Holy Father, from the bottom of my heart.

    You will always have my prayers, and may you please pray for us who still must sojurn in the Sinai Desert for a little while longer!

    Your loving son,

    Ramil E. Fajardo

  4. Susan Abel says:

    BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for this lovely tribute from one of the faithful that will always have a deep love, admiration and gratitude for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

  5. Leslie says:

    Beautiful tribute to our dear Benedict XVI. I love the photo of him that you chose, also. God bless him, and God bless you, Mr Hoopes.

  6. Joannie says:

    I am glad to see some credit being given to the Pope Emeritus in light of the election and installation of the new Pope and mostly in light of the sarcastic and flippant comments coming from even certain Catholic sources. The whole Church owes him gratitude for his own humility ,which seems now to be forgotten because of Francis.

    1. Carolyn says:

      Amen, Joanie. I think we feel more than Benedict though since he in his littleness is closer to Christ :)

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