It has been a while since The Catholic Man has posted on this blog. A blog-post was initially supposed to be released on December 31, 2022. However, out of respect for the passing of Pope-emeritus, Benedict XVI, this blog-post will be postponed until after his Funeral Mass on January 5, 2023. The blog-post, interestingly, was to mention of his works. In lieu of that, I share my tribute reflection to him, titled Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI: A Lifelong Pilgrim. An excerpt will be shared here, but the rest of it can be found on my personal blog.
Just hours before the See of Peter went into a state of “sede vacante” on Thursday February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI from the central loggia of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, said that, after a few hours he would no longer be Supreme Pontiff, but “simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.” In 2018, marking the fifth anniversary of his resignation, the Pope-emeritus in a letter to the senior correspondent of Corriere della Sera newspaper, Massimo Franco, reiterated similar sentiments, “I can only say that with the slow decline of my physical forces, interiorly, I am on a pilgrimage towards Home.”
This theme of being a pilgrim is one that seemed prominent in Benedict XVI’s Pope-emeritus years. Perhaps too simple of a concept for a world-renown theologian? I would argue not so. It is perhaps with his background as a theologian that he understood very well what it meant to be a pilgrim. To be a pilgrim requires one to first of all, be on a journey, and second, a realization of where the journey is headed. A pilgrim needs an end destination, and Benedict realized very well that that end destination was the Heavenly Jerusalem, the place where he would eventually meet God face-to-face.
As a theologian, he strived wholeheartedly to be a “cooperator of the truth,” hence his episcopal motto, “Cooperatores Veritatis,” and in that search and collaboration with truth, his own faith in God was strengthened for the pilgrim journey. It is in understanding, deciphering and sharing theology that he understood that, “faith is nothing less than being interiorly seized by God, something which guides us along the pathways of life. Faith draws us into a state of being seized by the restlessness of God and it makes us pilgrims who are on an inner journey towards the true King of the world and his promise of justice, truth and love.” (Epiphany 2013 Homily) It is in God alone that one finds rest (cf. Ps 62:1), finds truth (cf. Jn 14:6), and love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16). Pope Benedict affirmed this for himself in his Spiritual Testament he signed in 2006, in which he said, “I have seen, and see, how, out of the tangle of hypotheses, the reasonableness of faith has emerged and is emerging anew. Jesus Christ is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life – and the Church, in all her shortcomings, is truly His Body.”