25 February 2013

The Once and Future Pope

An interview with Pope Benedict in English? Whaaat? Yes. Well, yes, an interview with Cardinal Ratzinger, if we're getting real specific. The video was sent to me early this morning.

What a way to wake up, huh? The use of English was kind of a shocker at first, since usually I hear him in Italian. He does revert to it at one point to be more precise with a Bible passage and to explain something, at which point an translator is provided, so no worries.

Some notable parts and my thoughts (though the entirety is worth watching/listening to):

12:43-13.15: "The liturgy is living catechesis... Much is dependent from authentic liturgy... You can see the sacrifice of Christ is here... Liturgy is very important. I think the way to learn God is praying."

There are so many connections in the Mass to the last days of Christ and to Heaven. Each movement of Father at Mass, each responsory prayer, each motion we make ourselves should point to and remind us about those connections and about why we bother to go to Mass at all.

19:47-20:11: "When I go in St. Peter's square and so on I can see everyday people from different parts of the world knowing me and saying, 'Thank you, Father. We are thankful that you are doing this difficult job.'... Even many Protestant friends say to me, 'What you are doing is helpful also for us because it's defending also our faith...'"

I so want to be able to thank Pope Benedict in person (though I doubt anything could come out of my mouth then besides, "Uh...Hello. Your Holiness." Provided it would happen in the next couple of days. Digressing.). How much more difficult has his job been now? It is awesome that he makes mention of Protestants, because it reminds me that, as different as Catholicism and Protestantism are, they are not entirely different. Pope of Christian unity, anyone?

21:29-23:54: "I think we have to remember that our Lord said to us: "Within the fields of the Church there will be not only wheat, but chaff...." Therefore he announces to us a community, a church in which scandals and sinners will be present. We must remember that St. Peter, prince of the apostles, was a great sinner, but the Lord wanted precisely the sinner Peter as the rock of the church. Thus he has already indicated to us not to expect great saints of all the Popes; we must also expect there to be great sinners among them. He announces to us that in the fields of the Church there will be much chaff. This should not surprise us if we consider all of church history. There have been other times at least as difficult as ours with scandals and so forth. All we have to do is think of the 9th century, the 10th century, the Renaissance.
Therefore, looking at the words of the Lord, at the history of the Church, we can relativise today's scandals. We suffer. We must suffer. Because they, that is, the scandals, made so many people suffer. Certainly, we must do all we can to avoid that these things happen in the future. But on the other hand, we know that the Lord sat at the table with sinners. This is the definition of the church: the Lord sits at the table with sinners. Therefore we can not be amazed if it is like this. We can not despair. Contrary, the Lord said, 'I am not here only for the just but for sinners.' We must feel certain that the Lord truly, even today, seeks sinners in order to save us."

The Lord sits at the table with sinners. When was the last time we consciously and purposefully sat with sinners, got down on their level and didn't cringe or complain? Today's Gospel reading says, "Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.'" How do we treat others? Do we see the sin in our lives as quickly as we claim to see the sin in theirs? 

25:42-28:46: "The second point is more specific why in this time it [the scandals] was so often and was more than in past times. And I think the essential point is a weakness of faith. Because only if I'm in confidence personal with the Lord, if the Lord is for me not an idea but the person of my deepest friendship, if I know personally the Lord,...if for me faith is a reality and the ground of my life,...the Lord will help me in these temptations. If the faith is not every day realized, if the faith is weak and begins only to be an hypothesis so it's not fundament(al) of your life and so again, all these problems. So I would say the essential point is for me weakness of the faith and not a sufficient presence of the faith in the Church. [...]
I think the first point is relearn, reconvert to a deeper faith and education of faith, I think in the last forty, fifty years, was not so clear, the validity of the moral teaching of the Church... These ideas that we do not have a clear moral teaching. [...] I think two things are essential: conversion to profound and deep faith with a life of prayer and sacraments and clear moral teaching and conviction of this teaching."


29:04-30:08: "Look to the Lord is the first point. He is always present and He is always near to us. And look also to the saints of all the times...But also find the not-canonized saintly persons who are really the heart of the church."
In times of distress, we always have the Lord. How odd it is that I so easily forget that.

42:21-42:50: "Yes, I had decided to retire in '91, '96, 2001, because I have said I could write some books... But form the other hand, seeing the suffering Pope I cannot say to the Pope: 'I will retire! I will write my books!' I have to continue."

Now, you can say to the Pope: "I will retire! I will write my books!"! Funny how that works out.

42:59-44:01: "The great danger [of the Church at this time] is that we would only be a social association and not founded in the faith of the Lord... So I think the danger in this time with all these activities and external visions is to underestimate the importance of faith and to lose the faith....The great hope is that.... we can see that the sacramental presence of the Lord in Eucharist is an essential gift for us and gives us also an possibility to love others and work with others."

This danger is one all should be wary of: we should not go to Mass and hold to the faith for any person or reason other than God. Social events within the Church are not intrinsically bad, but they should never distract us from the reason and necessity of our faith. The center of our faith is Christ and the center of the Mass is the Eucharist.

(37:25 just makes me laugh: mention of a future Pope...while the future Pope is sitting right there and you're interviewing him! Cracks me up.)

Any other awesome videos/interviews with Pope Benedict/Cardinal Ratzinger floating around out there? Let me know in the comments!

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