On the death of Benedict XVI who began the Petrine ministry by saying: "Pray for me so that I don't flee in fear before the wolves"
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IN THE DEATH OF BENEDICT XVI WHO BEGAN THE PETRINE MINISTRY BY SAYING: "PRAY FOR ME SO THAT I DO NOT FLEE IN FEAR BEFORE THE WOLVES"
Among the many things that are being said about Joseph Ratzinger in these hours, I think this is the most true and flattering: «He served the Church but did not use It».
- Church news -
Ivano Liguori, Ofm. Capp..
Sui mass media are multiplying these days ― and will continue to multiply in the next few days ― comments from characters and personalities, together with an army of characters in search of an author, who do not know the foundations of Catholicism, its ecclesiology, its specific liturgy and its domestic law. In fact, speaking of the "funeral of the Pope" is a purely popular expression, so to speak. And this has always been, not only in the case of Benedict XVI. When the Roman Pontiff dies, the funeral is not celebrated for the Pope but for the one who was. In the past, after death, the so-called "rite of the hammer" took place. The dean of the College of Cardinals struck three blows on the forehead of the deceased with a gavel pronouncing the phrase «The Pope is really dead» (the Pope is really dead). Then he no longer called him by the name assumed at his election to the sacred throne, but with his first name. This thing has a very deep meaning: the pontificate ceases with death, does not survive it.
The ritual of the gavel was last performed in 1922 to the death of Benedict XV. Afterwards, when in 1939 Pius XI died, the then dean of the College of Cardinals Eugenio Pacelli, who will become his successor with the name of Pius XII, he did not use the gavel, rite that has since fallen into disuse. However, it is good to clarify on this occasion that we have always celebrated the funeral of the one who was Roman Pontiff, who ceases to be such at the moment of death to return to the man he was before the election. While in fact an episcopal and a presbyter remain such forever, by virtue of the indelible Sacrament they have received and which therefore crosses death itself, the Roman Pontiff, that his power instead he received it juridically and not sacramentally [cf.. WHO], it ceases to be such with death, for this reason he is called with his first name. That of Benedict XVI is an even more particular case, because he ceased to be the Roman Pontiff 10 Years ago, with his free, legitimate and valid act of renunciation of the Petrine ministry.
Among many things that are being said about Joseph Ratzinger in these hours, I think this is the most true and flattering: «He served the Church but did not use It». He truly served the Church - "a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord" - as the 19 April 2005 immediately after his election to the throne of the Prince of the Apostles. Then a few days later, the 24 April, during the Holy Mass for the beginning of the Petrine ministry he pronounced a sentence in the homily that we understood only several years later, even if today it remains to understand its true meaning to the end: "Pray for me so that I don't flee in fear before the wolves" [cf.. WHO].
This service he had no alternations but was constant: both as Pontiff and as cardinal and bishop and even before that as a priest; both as a theologian and as a student of the mystery of God who has always loved, investigated and defended in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The unanimous and intellectually honest consensus of those who knew him personally - some of whom are non-believers or blatantly non-Catholics - directs the heart of the Christian faithful towards this evaluation of merit, thus leaving to God the inevitable frailties of a man who has indeed committed errors precisely because of those heights of dignity to which he was subjected, as we already see present in the life of the blessed apostle Simon Peter.
After the great and impetuous John Paul II, the Lord has chosen a meek pastor - perhaps too meek for the historical moment in which he was called to hold the Petrine office - but who has never abdicated the search for the Truth which, before being a speculative path, represents a true and concrete person, it is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, true God and true man, Savior of the world.
Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, he was the minister of Truth understood as a person of Christ, very rare commodity these days between “high” and “low” clergy. A truth that was affirmed even when it seemed inconvenient for the Catholic Church, said above all when it could scandalize someone and risked losing followers: the «you want to leave too?» [GV 6,67] it is still valid today, compared to "all gentlemen»?
A truth truly told with parrhesia even when this would have meant martyrdom and persecution, especially when it was necessary to undertake a path of recovery made up of so much purgatory that would have closely affected both priests and religious and high prelates whose scandals and lives in dissonance with the Gospel could no longer be tolerated and mercy kindly, if not with the firm intention of a serious renewal of life and a return to conversion, without prejudice to the dutiful reparation before the world and before God.
The value and depth of Benedict XVI it is essentially this and there is little else to add: it is the thickness of the Truth and it is right to remind everyone today, tell us priests, engrave it in the minds of the faithful, in an ecclesial moment of extreme fragility in which the Terni fevers of papolatria have affected many and where in these hours we are witnessing the vomiting selfie fair with the late Pontiff in the expectation of earning a few more loyalty or career points.
I social they swarm reactions to his death, becoming the extremely revealing social basins of that fatuous and incongruous depth of modern man and of the modern clergy. We alternate in exaggerated praise uttered by the most improbable characters who wanted to follow the convenience of the moment by abandoning Joseph Ratzinger when he was no longer useful for achieving their personal interests. They went from the cappamagna to the migrants, from pectoral crosses in gold to the wooden ones of the barges, from the noble simplicity and sobriety of the liturgy to the unadorned sloppiness of the pioneers of the new God-forgetting inclusive worship, from the austere architectural order of St. Peter's Square to the dejections between Bernini's columns of a poor church and that's it.
At the same time we witness the dance of the hyenas, to some who enjoy pathological satisfaction for his death - often the same ones who defend rights and inclusiveness - and who now rail against the memory of the Pontiff perceived immediately and without appeal as the “enemy number one” to be knocked down. To be knocked down yes, just as the uncomfortable truths that keep us up at night must be broken down, as we see the devil do with Jesus in Capernaum: "enough! What do you want from us, Jesus of Nazareth? You come to destroy? I know who you are: the saint of God!» [cf.. LC 4,31-37].
Today systematically erase the Truth and truths has become the new mantra of intelligentsia dominant, of those who define themselves as custodians of human wisdom and who should have been able to dialogue with the theologian Pope and frantically seek an encounter with the Truth but did not. He preferred that Thursday 17 January 2008 reject all: "it just is! what do you want from us, you came to ruin us?» An opportunity to be able to give birth to the Truth in the pluriformity of positions of thought, instead transformed into an ideology with the cry of #NEW at La Sapienza University. Twelve years later, many of those proud and titled dissidents of the truth have made a career and are enjoying the prestigious and glittering human success, something the humble man does not desire and does not seek because he knows well that «Vanity of vanities, all is vanity».
Mysteriously God reveals and challenges the dominant conceptions present in the world through the simple and humble workers of his vineyard. Joseph Ratzinger was, a Pope who embodied that «semeion antilegomenonof the Gospel of Luke, that is, that sign placed there by God and which many have rejected. Only those who have had the wisdom of the heart have understood correctly, understood and now lives the time of silence. Let us live these days in prayer for Pope Benedict XVI, for the Church, for the current Pope Francis. Facts like these are extremely rare and it would be foolish to label them outside a vision of divine Providence and wisdom that is not immediately understandable. We leave the literature to others fantasy and the amphibologies on Benedict XVI. We are interested in his person, his example, his ministry which today is more eloquent dead than alive and which perhaps will still have the merit of bringing many children's hearts back to their fathers. All the rest, for good and for bad, in sizes and limits, in strengths and weaknesses history will judge him coldly and impartially, when it will be and when it will be, if it will be …
Laconi, 2 January 2023
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The Fathers of the Island of Patmos
“I think Joseph Ratzinger, during his long earthly existence, in the great choices of life he always obeyed the Lord. (There is no greater praise than this, that can be paid to a man at the moment of his departure). ”
So writes Leonardo Lugaresi: