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. You paved the way Pope Emeritus,Pope Francis will make the road straight for our journey.You will always be in my Prayers.

  2. June Pinger says:

    God bless you always and you remain in my prayers. You made the sacrifice for the church and we are the church. Now your prayers are with us in this penitential period. May we all receive the blessings of a risen Christ and and a renewed love in this year of faith.

  3. kathy trosvik says:

    May God Bless and Keep you, Pope Emeritus. You are the image of Christ Our Lord allowing himself to die for our salvation. The most humble act one can do. May we never forget, Long Live Christ Our King!

  4. Stella says:

    God Bless You Papa emeritus,always in my prayers

  5. Virginia says:

    Dear Papa Bene,
    You are a great pope because you allowed yourself to decrease so He may increase. And you took all the blows, then and now. You have pleased our Lady and abided by her wishes. Thanks so much. Much love.

  6. thank you Pope Emeritus Benedict. In our thoughts and prayers. Everyone talks about all you did for the Church. We will never forget!

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