Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Papacy is Stewardship, not Ownership

            The chief priests and the Pharisees realized that Jesus was referring to them in this “Parable of the Wicked Tenants” (Cfr. Mt 12: 33-43; 45-46). They wanted to arrest Him there and then. But they were afraid of the crowd who regarded Jesus as a prophet. By contrast, we can immediately learn from this reaction of the Jewish authorities a very important lesson: when someone points out to us our faults, evil deeds or mistakes, we should accept it with humility and strive to change for the better.
            But what do the Jewish authorities understood in the parable? They knew that our Lord compared Israel to a choice vineyard. The landowner was God, who entrusted the vineyard to its tenants, the religious and political leaders of Israel. The chief priests, the Pharisees and the elders, therefore, had the responsibility to produce the expected fruits of faith and good works. They were accountable to the landowner who sent his servants from time to time to collect the fruit. This was the mission of the prophets. But the prophets sent by God were ill-treated and even murdered.
Finally, the landowner sent his son thinking that the tenants would spare Him. But the son was also murdered by those who wanted to keep the inheritance and become owners themselves. Then, “they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him”: a clear reference to Christ’s crucifixion, which took place outside the walls of Jerusalem. Those whom God expects to be faithful stewards of His gifts have become God’s own murderers, maliciously motivated by the ambition to become owners. We are all stewards of God’s gifts. Our apostolates are God’s vineyards entrusted to us. May we learn to behave as authentic stewards of the mission God has given us and reject any pretension or desire to become owners.
Jesus prophesied the punishment of the wicked tenants and that God’s vineyard – the new Israel – would be given to the gentiles. This is a very significant prophecy, which became a reality when St. Peter became the first Pope, the first Bishop of Rome, a gentile nation. The Catholic Church, founded by Christ Himself and is entrusted to St. Peter and his successors, is built on the cornerstone: Jesus, “the stone which the builders rejected”.
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI which took effect at 2:00 A. M. today (March 1, Philippine time; Feb 28, 8PM in Italy) is a living sign of this truth: that the Church rests on its cornerstone – Jesus Christ – and not on the Holy Pontiff. His Holiness, the Roman Pontiff Emeritus, simply witnessed to the truth that the Papacy is simply stewardship, not ownership. He saw that the time has come for a younger and a stronger tenant, who could yield the fruit necessary especially in these very trying times, to take the lead for the good of God’s vineyard. Docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and out of humility and his great love for the Church, the Bishop Emeritus of Rome decided to serve the Bride of Christ in another way – through prayers and sacrifices in the silence of his retirement abode. What a lesson of humility and docility to God’s will!
 Catholics in all ages should see in this historical event, in the light of the Parable of Wicked Tenants, the exhortation of Jesus for us to be faithful stewards of our respective parcel of God’s vineyards. Through faith and good works, let us carry out our apostolate and mission with awareness that our cornerstone is Christ and that we are not indispensable. Let us not fall into the mistake of the Jewish generation in the parable.
As we are on the sede vacante, we should be filled with hope and a sense of security that, despite the difficult moments the Church is facing today – by the way, the Cardinals starting today receive a briefing on the situation of the Church in the world – the Catholic Church is built upon a solid rock: Jesus Christ. In the end, the Church will surely come out triumphant, with God’s grace. As our Lord promised: “Not even the gates of hell could overcome God’s Kingdom on earth”.
We commend ourselves and the whole Church to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of All Christians. Amen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The rich and the poor in us

      A quite superficial understanding of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus would make us think that the rich in this life would suffer in the next, while the suffering poor in this life would be well off. But if we look attentively to some details in the parable, we may discover that it has a deeper meaning.
Not only does Jesus contrasts vividly two characters – the rich man and the poor man – but also He gives us a profound understanding of what it means to be rich or poor. In the parable, the rich is not named. But the poor is: Lazarus. Can we not see in this an obvious parody of the cultural context in which the rich people were the ones having an identity while the poor did not?
When this parable was translated from Greek to Latin, the Latin word used to refer to the rich man is “Dives” (an adjective which literally means “rich”). Since then, the rich man is often named Dives. He is characterized as a person who is concerned so much with the externals of life. There are lots of people today whose concern in life are questions like: “What shall I eat?”, “What shall I wear in the party?”. The mostly asked question during the Oscar’s Red Carpet was: “What are you wearing?” One actress answered, “I’m wearing a Louis Vuitton!”
In this context of the parable, Jesus is saying that “rich” people are those who are concern only with the external, with the superficial, with vanity. Ultimately, this concern for what is superficial manifests a disordered self-love – a selfish trust in oneself. How easy it is, therefore, to become rich even if one does not have any fortune!
On the other hand, the poor man was named Lazarus, a Hebrew name which means “God is my helper”. The anawim, or the poor of Yahweh in the Scriptures were characterized by this total trust. They were poor but God is their helper. Jesus is telling us that to be poor means to trust in God. The rich are those who put their trust in themselves and in superficial things. The poor are those who put their trust in God.
In the First Reading, Jeremiah, the Prophet, says of the rich: “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from Yahweh!” But of the poor who trust in God, the prophet says: “Blessed is the man who puts his trust in Yahweh and whose confidence is in him!”
In the parable, there seems to be no contact between Dives and Lazarus either while they were on earth (Dives was partying; Lazarus was at the gate begging) or in the afterlife (There was a chasm that separates the two). Between disordered trust in oneself and one’s confidence in God, there’s no middle ground.
St. Augustine puts it in a more dramatic way in his book The City of God. He said: “two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, "Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head”. Between these two loves, there is no middle term: either you love God more than yourself or you love yourself more than God.
The rich and the poor can also form a tension inside of each of us. In a heart that is torn by a superficial, selfish love and a sublime trust in God, we can feel even physically this tension. We can at times be as selfish as not even willing to concede that others’ opinion may also be better than ours. Yet, we can also be as trustful in God as to leave our homeland to do the apostolate or mission God is asking us to do. Dives and Lazarus can be two conflicting characters within us. But between the two, there can never be a compromise.

More human, more divine

(A homily given to newly licensed Pharmacists of San Pedro College and the University of Immaculate Conception during their Thanksgiving Mass and Oath-taking Ceremony, February 26, 2013, 13:00, at the Pinnacle Hotel, Davao City.)

The Holy Eucharist is an act of thanksgiving. The Greek noun eukharistiaχαριστία) derives from Greek prefix eu-: “good, well, happy, pleasing” (i.e. eubiotics = the study of living in a healthy state) + the Greek noun kharis: “undeserved kindness, favor or grace”. Hence, eukharisteoχαριστ) is the usual Greek verb used in the New Testament for “to give thanks for any undeserved favor received”.
Today, we thank the Lord in this Eucharistic celebration for the numerous “undeserved graces and blessings” He has bestowed on us – the success that we have reached. We know that we don’t deserve this. Without God’s grace, we could not have garnered what we are enjoying right now!
God can shower us lots of blessings and graces – the gift of understanding and wisdom – because He is the source of wisdom. God is Wisdom Himself. Our intelligence and will are His gifts to us. How we use them in our studies and our profession is our gift to Him. Whenever we use rightly and for the good of our fellowmen these gifts of intellect and will, we glorify God. St. Ireneaus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive”.
Man is fully alive, meaning, is fully human when he exercises to the full the essence of humanity, that is, his intellect and will. When we use our intelligence to attain knowledge and wisdom, to search for the truth of man, the world and God, and to use it for the good of our fellowmen, we act in a more humane way.
Our success today is a living proof that we have used our intelligence to the fullest. Our success simply manifests our becoming more human. And St Josemaria Escriva said, “The more human we become, the more we are capable of becoming divine”. Hence, if we want to be more divine, we have to be more human. We have to exercise our intelligence and will.
The exercise of the will is the most difficult part. It is the nature of the intellect to search for the truth. It is the nature of the will to search for the good. But our will is weakened by the sin of disobedience committed by our first parents – Adam and Eve. We notice in ourselves a tendency to commit sin.
Although weakened, our will has not lost its capacity to move itself towards the good. Besides, God Himself is very willing to supply us with the necessary grace for the rightful exercise of our will. In the First Reading, the Lord says through the Prophet Isaiah: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they be as crimson red, they will be white as wool. If you obey me, you will eat the goods of the earth”.
We see in this that the true exercise of our free will – of our freedom – is in doing what is good. True freedom of the will is not a matter of choice between the good and evil. Freedom is not a choice to do evil. The evil choice destroys freedom. Freedom is choosing only the good. Our will is free when we opt for the good. When we do good, we exercise our free will, hence, we become more human.
The constant doing of what is right and good develops in us the virtues that will, in turn, make it easy to do more good acts. Hence, we must strive to develop virtues like honesty, sincerity, chastity and obedience.
As pharmacists, the exercise of these virtues is very important today as we are confronted with lots of difficulties – moral and legal ones – in the conduct of our profession. The time has come when a Catholic pharmacist who believes firmly that the use of contraception is contrary to what is taught by his faith, will experience a crisis of conscience when he or she is faced with the obligation to sell condoms and abortifacient pills in the pharmacy. (I know of a Spanish couple who had to close their pharmacy because they were compelled by the government to sell products that are contrary to their faith).
My dear pharmacists, if you want to be true Catholics, you must have a conviction. You must have a moral stand. I urge you, STAND WITH THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS, AS TAUGHT BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!
This does not mean, however, that the conduct of our profession is a hindrance to our Catholic faith. Never! In fact, the Church teaches that our profession is our vocation, our way to holiness. But how can it be a way to holiness if it does not conform to the will of God? We want to conform the conduct of our profession to God’s will. It is just that our ambiance – the environment we are in – pushes us to the contrary. What do we do? We strive for coherence between our words and actions, between what we believe and how we act.
Jesus, in our Gospel today condemns hypocrisy. “You shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say”. Inconsistency between your words and actions is a form of hypocrisy. Not only teachers and preachers, like me, must be careful to conform what we say to what we do. Not only priests and educators are urged to walk their talk. Pharmacists, too, must make sure that the conduct of their profession is consistent with the Catholic faith that they profess!
This is our challenge, teachers, preachers and pharmacists alike – a daunting task, but not impossible. For the grace of God is always sufficient for us. “My grace is enough for you”, our Lord tells St. Paul. Si no vives como piensas, acabarás pensando como vives” (If you don’t behave according to how you believe, you’ll end up believing according to how to behave). If our Christian faith will not be translated into good actions, our evil actions will determine our way of believing.
This challenging task of becoming coherent in our faith and actions, especially in the conduct of our profession requires that we exercise well our intelligence and will, and that we submit them to the will of God. Only then will we become more human. And by becoming more human, we become more divine.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us develop coherence between our faith and our profession so that we may little by little grow deeper in our call to holiness.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

From Calvary to Mt. Tabor

          What a change of sight! Last Sunday, we saw Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit to the desert and was tempted by the devil. Today, we see Him going up Mt. Tabor with His close friends, Peter, James and John. Last Sunday, we heard Satan’s persuasive voice, “If you are the Son of God, change this stone into bread!” Today, we hear the Father’s confirmation: “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him!” Last Sunday, we learned how to be strong in facing our own temptations. Today, what is stored for us in Jesus’ Transfiguration?

          The Transfiguration of the Lord is the culminating event of His public ministry, as His Baptism is the starting point, and His Ascension, its end. When Jesus was transfigured, Moses and Elijah showed up. Of all the great figures of the Old Testament, why these two? Like all Asians, the Jews were concrete rather than abstract thinkers.  When they think of the “Torah”, (the first five books of the Bible), or “the Law,” they think of a person – Moses.  When they ponder on the Scriptures’ prophetic writings, what comes to mind is the greatest prophet – Elijah.  When the Jews say “the Sacred Scriptures”, what they have in mind is “The Law and the Prophets”.  In the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah witness to Jesus because all of the Sacred Scripture witnesses to him. The commandments and the promises are all accomplished in the person of our Lord. The love of the Law now becomes the law of Love. The promised salvation becomes a reality.

          In the First Reading, the covenant that God established with Abraham was a very significant move in the implementation of God’s plan of salvation. It was the first in the series of covenants that God would make with the Patriarchs – a series of covenants that would culminate in “the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant”, the Holy Eucharist. In what is called in Hebrew: ברית  בין הבתרים (Brit bein HaBetarim), or “the Covenant of the Parts”, God promised Abraham numerous descendants that would inherit the land of Israel. We see in this promise God’s eternal intention to save mankind through the establishment of a community, the people of God –Israel. Today, the new Israel is the Church, founded by Christ and which subsists in the Catholic Church. Hence, an authentic relationship with God is not only personal but should be communitarian. Those who would like to live their faith only on the individualistic note are in error: God saves within and through His Church!
          By this glorious manifestation of His divinity, Jesus, the Divine Master, who had just foretold His Passion to the Apostles (Matthew 16:21), and who spoke with Moses and Elijah of the trials which awaited Him at Jerusalem, strengthened the faith of his three friends and prepared them to face the terrible struggle which they would witness in the Garden of Gethsemane. By giving them a foretaste of the glory of the Resurrection, our Lord has prepared them to face the “scandal of the Cross”. In this, Jesus teaches us that beyond the sufferings and the crosses of life is the promise of glory: that “there is no glory without sacrifices”. 

 Today, our Lord is also warning us against what St. Paul calls “the enemies of the Cross of Christ”. Who are these enemies of the Cross? Those who are contented with mediocrity; those who love and seek only for what is easy and comfortable; those who think that suffering and sickness has no salvific value; those who neglect and reject God’s law and follow, instead, the human law; those who seek only for quick solutions to problems. Enemies of the Cross of Christ are also those who would say: “Condom is easier to use than self-control”. St. Paul adds: “they are heading for ruin; their belly (meaning, their lower appetite) is their god and they feel proud of what should be their shame. They only think of earthly things”. 

St. Paul, in the Second Reading, exhorts us to “be steadfast in the Lord”. He assures us, citizenship of heaven, when Jesus Christ “will transfigure our lowly body, making it like His own body, radiant in glory, through the power which is His to submit everything to Himself”. But our own transfiguration, like that of Jesus, also passes through the Cross. Today, we need to remind ourselves of this truth as we are always tempted to believe that Christian life is a bed of roses – and roses without thorns. Even the first Pope, Peter, thought of staying permanently on Mt. Tabor. He said, “Master, how good it is for us to be here for we can make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah”. The delights of Jesus’ glorious manifestation of His divinity can also pose a temptation to escape from the normal context of our encounter with the Lord: the ordinary life. We tend to look only for the ecstatic religious experience, for a spiritual consolation, or for a pleasant feeling in the exercise of our devotions. We forget in that the ordinary and even in difficult situations, Christ is also present. 

Jesus brought His closest disciples to Mt. Tabor just when He was approaching the Calvary of His life. If we are intimately close to Jesus, our “Calvaries” of life may also be preceded with “Taboric” experiences – if the Lord wills it. In view of Calvary, God may bring us to Mt. Tabor. St. Augustine says that in view of our desolations, God may let us experience spiritual consolations. If we come closer to Jesus, spiritual consolations and desolations, as described by St. Ignatius of Loyola, are common experiences. But whether in Calvary or in Mt. Tabor, what is important is the presence of Jesus. That’s the only thing that matters!

As we continue to climb up the “mountain” of our Lenten observance, this Second Sunday of Lent, let us ask the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us ask Her to intercede for us before Her Son, so that Jesus Christ may grant us our own transfiguration. May Jesus transform our “Calvary” into “Mt. Tabor”!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Scott Hahn: Resignation shows Pope's servant nature

By Carl Bunderson

.- Pope Benedict's decision to resign as Bishop of Rome shows how the papacy is an office not of power but of service, reflected author and professor Dr. Scott Hahn.

“It seems to me this might be for him, the most humble and obedient act of service that he can render in his own conscience,” Hahn, a professor of Biblical theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, told CNA Feb. 11.

“It's a profound reminder that the papacy is not an office of power, but one of service, and so, if anybody has had a sense of servant-hood, it is Pope Benedict.”

Hahn said that while the decision is a surprise, in retrospect, “we can see the clues.”

He recounted that a friend of his who taught in Rome for some fifty years “in December told a friend of mine and me that he knew, that he had heard, that within three months the Pope would resign.”

“In some ways I'm surprised at how surprised I am,” Hahn said. He pointed out that Pope Benedict had said in a 2010 interview with Peter Seewald that a Pope has “a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.”

Of the 256 Bishops of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI is the third to clearly resign, and the second to do so freely. The previous two were Gregory XII in 1415, who resigned to resolve the Western Schism, and Saint Celestine V in 1294.

Perhaps foreshadowing his decision to step down, Pope Benedict twice visited the relics of St. Celestine while he was Pope. In 2009, he prayed at the tomb and left his own pallium – an episcopal vestment worn over the shoulders – on top of it. And again in 2010, he visited the cathedral of Sulmona to visit the relics of St. Celestine and pray before him.

Hahn noted that he and his family prayed together as soon as they heard of the Pope's decision, but as he considered it, these visits to St. Celestine came to mind.

“I began thinking about it, and when I hearkened back to those two seemingly irrelevant, or unimportant stops...Celestine V has always been an interesting figure in my study of the papacy, and I went and looked at this, and began to realize that this has been on his mind for a long time.”

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger two or three times submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul II, Hahn noted.

“I'm sure the Holy Spirit will be steering the barque of Peter in a wonderful direction, but it is unsettling, because he is a father, and as we think of the Church as a family, there comes a time when a father becomes so old and infirm, that one of the most profound gestures of love might be to hand things over to the next one in line,” he observed.

“You can see this in Scripture too, David stepping down as king and appointing Solomon before he dies.”

Hahn reflected on the deep effect this decision is having on Catholics the world over.

“It's a hard thing to explain to outsiders, the mystery of a family bond that we all share, and how deeply we feel it. But here is a man who is a father figure to us all, and not just in a kind of symbolic way, but inasmuch as we are really united in a new birth, and the flesh and blood of the Eucharist, and this man, we know him to be our father, even more than our natural dads at one level.”

He contrasted the witnesses of Pope Benedict and his predecessor, saying both have something to offer the Church. “On the one hand, it was a profound thing for Blessed John Paul II to show us how to suffer and die.”

“On the other hand, here's a man who began when he was 78... so I think there's something magnanimous about this alternate direction that he's taking. It's not something that strikes a chord with me, there isn't a sliver of me saying, 'oh I'm glad he did it,' but I can see why, and I can see how, our Lord will use it.”

Hahn also discussed the profound thought of Pope Benedict.

“I was devouring this guy's stuff before I was even sure I was gonna become a Catholic. I like Balthasar, de Lubac, Congar, Danielou, and all the rest, but they couldn't hold a candle to this guy.”

Hahn recalled how he submitted the manuscript of his work “Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI” to an evangelical Protestant publishing house, expecting it to be turned down.

“But they didn't, and they picked it up enthusiastically. The editor in chief said, 'I had no idea that your Pope could make the Scriptures come alive, and the Scriptures saturate all of his theology.'”

Pope Benedict, Hahn said, is a man whose thinking, preaching and prayer are all “profoundly biblical.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pope resigns!

Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation last Monday came like a thunderbolt. For the first time in almost 600 years, a reigning pope resigns! The last to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. The actual Pope’s resignation takes effect on February 28 at 8:00 P. M. (March 1, 2 A. M. local time).

Immediately, the pope’s move has caused wide panoply of reactions from all fronts. From the Catholic Church, a general feeling of dismay and sadness has swept the faithful. Everybody is invited to pray for the Pope and for the next pontiff to be elected soon.

Yet, expectedly, together with the dismay of the Catholic faithful is a wide array of comments from detractors and critics of the Catholic Church. Respectable world leaders who have personally met the Pope during his visits to states and countries generally receive the pontiff’s move with utmost respect. Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican Church, for instance, received “with a heavy heart but complete understanding” the news of the Pope’s resignation. German President Joachim Gauck, a Protestant pastor, affirmed that the pope’s decision required “great courage and self-reflection, both of which deserve our respect”.

Even Hans Kung, a Swiss theologian, Catholic priest and known to be Ratzinger’s greatest adversary, has noted that the Pope’s decision deserves respect as it is “understandable for many reasons”. Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor and a daughter of a Protestant pastor, thanked the Pope and said that his decision to resign must be given “the absolute highest respect”. Lord Sacks, Britain’s chief rabbi, hailed the Pope as “a man of gentleness, of quiet and of calm”.

However, some not-so-well-meaning individuals view this development as a rare opportunity to advance their devious attack against the Catholic Church. Critics like Terry Sanderson, the president of the National Secular Society, only show shortsightedness, meanness and obstinate refusal to see goodness where it is flagrant. In his acid-tongued blogspot, Sanderson writes: “Under Ratzinger the Vatican has become despised and resented throughout the world”. Not to mention Richard Dawkins’ tweet, which just shows how very animalistic his view of life and human beings is, these criticisms fail to see deeply what transpired in the Pope’s action.

Now, I would like to highlight three points in the Pope’s declaration that manifest the depth of his decision and the difficult spiritual journey he went through before arriving at such a painful decision. First, he emphasized that he “repeatedly examined my conscience before God”. We can imagine the Pope praying over and over this thought and taking it as material during his daily conversations with God. It is not something that he just arrived at over a cup of coffee with a friend. Or a decision that he chose over the many options that his counselors or spiritual directors have presented to him. Rather, it is something about which he has consulted God for the past few months.

The cardinals who were present during the announcement could hardly believe their ears. It struck them as a complete surprise for no one – not even the Pope’s private secretary and aides – knows about his thoughts. Only the Pope’s brother, Georg Ratzinger, who shortly after the announcement, told the German media that he had been informed of the Pope’s plans some months ago. Georg described the decision as a “part of the natural process”. “My brother would like to have more rest in his old age”, he said.

Secondly, the Pope clearly stated: “I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering”. What comes first to my mind, upon reading this line, are the words of Blessed Pope John
Paul II, who when asked of the possibility of renouncing the papacy, told the media: “I will not step down, because Jesus did not step down from the cross!”

One might easily contrast the actual Pope’s resignation to his predecessor’s heroism. In fact, one could easily see how the latter stands out when seen against the background of the former. But, all comparison is hateful. Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges the heroism of the late Pope John Paul II. He is perfectly aware that the Petrine ministry, being spiritual in nature, must be carried out even to the extreme of reducing it only to prayer and suffering, as the Polish pope did during his last years.

The German pope understands that, somehow, the Polish pope’s heroic stay in the papacy until his death was part of the latter’s papal vocation. But it does not mean that Ratzinger has the same vocation, hence, must also follow suit. After all, each of us has his own calling in life. Was it not Cardinal Ratzinger who said in one of his books, “There are as many vocations as there are human persons”? Thus, nothing hinders the actual Pope to see in his decision – after having examined rigorously his conscience before God – the finger of God.

Lastly, the Pope said: “However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me”.

Pope Benedict XVI saw two contrasting scenarios: on one hand, the real demands of today’s secularized world for a pope with enough physical and mental strength; on the other hand, the Pope’s awareness of his own real limitations. It takes remarkable courage for an 85-year-old man to tell himself: “This is already beyond my capacity”. Most old people find it hard to accept the reality that at advanced age, only the spirit is willing but the body is already weak.

The Pope recognizes both and is courageous and humble enough to accept it. Truly, as Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi commented during the press conference, a few hours after the Pope’s announcement, “the Pope took his decision aware of the great problems the Church faces today... (His decision) showed great courage and determination”. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of the Catholic Church of England and Wales expressed confidence that the Pope’s decision is made “of great courage and characteristic clarity of mind and action”.

A Mexican prelate, Msgr. Oscar Sanchez Barba from Guadalajara (Mexico), described the scenario during the pronouncement in these words: “We were all in the Sala del Consistorio in the third loggia of the Apostolic Palace. After giving the date for the canonization, the 12th of May, the Pope took a sheet of paper and read from it. He just said that he was resigning... The cardinals were looking at one another. Then, the Pope got up, gave his benediction and left. It was so simple; the simplest thing imaginable. Extraordinary. Nobody expected it. Then, we all left in silence. There was absolute silence...”

With great respect at the Pope’s decision and with utmost trust in “the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ”, as the Pope said, why not take the Marian stance of “keeping everything in our heart” in silence and prayer?

Quotations are from PAUL OWEN, “Pope Benedict XVI announces resignation – live reaction”, in «», accessed on February 11, 2013.

"Sacerdotes, 'consagrados en la Verdad'"

Estar inmersos en la Verdad, en Cristo, de este proceso forma parte
la oración, en la que nos ejercitamos en la amistad con Él y aprendemos a
conocerle: su forma de ser, de pensar, de actuar. Rezar es un caminar en
comunión personal con Cristo, exponiendo ante Él nuestra vida cotidiana,
nuestros logros y nuestros fracasos, nuestras fatigas y nuestras alegrías -es un
simple presentarnos a nosotros mismos ante Él. Pero para que esto no se
convierta en un autocontemplarse, es importante que aprendamos continuamente a
rezar rezando con la Iglesia.