Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fr. Perrone on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

This photo captured by Tony Gentile/Reuters, will be most remembered.
Archbishop George Gänswein removes the papal coat of arms following today's Angelus

Today was the second from last Angelus by Pope Benedict XVI.  You can read his message on spiritual combat at Vatican Radio.

Below is what Fr. Perrone wrote in the Grotto News this weekend on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  I offer the text here because the online PDF is only available for a limited number of weeks.

My next post will feature iPhone video of his homily today, which did not really focus as much on Pope Benedict XVI as it did on the readings and his continuing discussion on Sacrosanctum Concilium.  He offered a few thoughts on the resignation, but referred people to this, below.  I hope to have that homily fully uploaded by morning, so check back.

There’s no way I could evade the topic of the out-of-the-blue announcement of the Pope’s abdication of the papal office, effective at the end of this month. I chose the term thoughtfully, though without any disrespect intended. To abdicate is ‘to renounce the throne,’ but it can also convey a sense of abandonment, a coloring of the word that reflects well my feeling of loss, not unlike that experienced upon notice of someone’s death. There’s a sorrow with an unsettling sense of apprehension over the vacancy of the papal chair that has been occupied these several years by the stabilizing hand of Benedict XVI. Perhaps it would be unfair, given the Pope’s delicate and declining state of health, to say that stepping aside and out of the papal office is somewhat like a father announcing his departure from his family. The selfish question I ask is, Who will take care of us now? It’s not that I doubt the resourcefulness of the same Holy Spirit who provided Benedict for the Church seven years ago. It’s only that I know some of the papabile (possible candidates for the papacy) are a source of no little concern to me were they to be elected pope. That’s my visceral, reflexive response to the news, though I’m ashamed to admit that it’s near kin to a lack of faith, or a lack of hope.

I realize that I feel this way only because of the profound appreciation I have had for this extraordinary Pope with his abundant talents. Having stood in the shadow of the bigger-than-life figure of his predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict had not been expected to measure up well to his great height. And yet in a short number of years he accomplished a huge amount of good for the Church that will be felt for long years, maybe even centuries, to come. I need only mention my deep gratitude to him for restoring almost without restriction the more ancient form of celebrating the Mass, sacraments and blessing formulae of the Church. Had Papa Ratzinger passed by that opportunity I doubt whether these venerable rites and ceremonies would ever have been able to make a comeback. In which case not only would we have had to limp along in a more tenuous connection with our liturgical past but the means for renewing the ‘new’ liturgy, in the light of longstanding tradition, would be practically out of reach. But I speak here only of one–to me the most important one–of his accomplishments. He brought the light of his great erudition to bear upon his theological writings and addresses which have a unique clarity and insight, delightfulness and scholarship, originality and tradition rolled into them.

One other thing that was special about this Pope was a geniality which stemmed from a deep culture and an intense prayerfulness. Holiness and kindliness emanated in a warm and expressive personality. This is not something ‘put on’ as many counterfeiters are taught to do in learning social skills or mastering business techniques for a ‘sell.’ This is the real thing, the stuff saints are made of.

There are many other things one might add to these few. (How can I omit to mention that he’s a musician-pope, perhaps a firstof-its-kind in history?) And then there’s Benedict’s genuine concern for the salvation of souls, not only of Catholics but of other Christians and of Jews. This is not, as many wrongly think, a kind of syncretizing ecumenicism that would neutralize doctrines in order to accommodate the lowest common denomination. Pope Benedict held out the hand of friendship to those outside the Church because he was the vicar of Christ, the Savior who wills the salvation of all men.

I had hopes that in many of the Pope’s initiatives he would soon take the next step, particularly in regard to the sacred liturgy. Would he soon celebrate the old Mass himself with all the pomp of papal splendor–even just one time? Would he order an end to hand Communion, or require kneeling to receive Communion, or order that all Masses be celebrated towards God (eastward) rather than towards the people? Alas, these were not to be so. My fear is that some of his reforms may not be furthered by his successor, or perhaps even be trimmed back by him. But there goes that lack of trust again... We need now to pray for a worthy successor to Benedict, or rather, successor to Saint Peter, a representative of Christ and a good shepherd for us, a feeble and easily meandering flock.

Fr. Perrone

P.S. Our indulgenced year with Saint Theotonius is about to come to an end on Monday. The Order of the Holy Cross will mark the conclusion of this year with a concelebrated Mass tomorrow (Monday) evening at 7:00 p.m

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