Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI: 1 year later, today!

Insight Scoop has a round-up of "Pope Benedict XVI's Rookie Year?"

Hat tip to the American Papist

Amy Welborn remembers the election of Benedict XVI one year ago today:
What was it? The drama was hard to miss, and impossible not to be affected by. A vote, totally in secret, with no exit polls and not a hint of what was happening, by a small group gathered in a chapel in which they Creation and Fall arches above them and the Last Judgment looms above them - as our tour guide in the Sistine Chapel told us, when Michelangelo painted the Last Judgment, no one thought anyone except clerics - the highest clerics in the Church- would ever see it. It was intended for them: Listen to the Lord. Put your own interests aside. There is a great deal at stake here.

And face it: we're talking about the longest-lasting institution in the world, aren't we? Governments, movements, cultures and even empires have come and gone, but the Church has remained, with Peter and his successors at the heart of it, symbolizing unity and continuity.

The drama. The history. The question of who could follow John Paul?

Then came the smoke, and the uncertainty as to its color. Long, long minutes of confusion, and then finally we knew. How did we know? Because of the bells, rung to confirm the vote. Habemus Papam.

Then, most thrilling to me were the people. Streaming into St. Peter's in response to the bells, just as Christians had ordered their lives according to the bells for centuries. They rushed from all over Rome, in this scene that evoked ancient times: they came, not to listen to a radio or watch a film or check the internet - but to glue their eyes to a balcony and see who came out.

And do you remember the announcement? Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez - the "Cardinale - Ratzinger!" with a lovely, memorable, rolling of that "r."
She also reflects on what he means to her and to the Church: In a way, he is the teacher I've been waiting for.
He's the teacher I can attempt, faintly, to model myself after.

There are enormous problems in our Church and in our world. Some of us wish there would simply be some concerted head-knocking to take care of it all. But Benedict knows history, and he also knows what is at the heart of our problems: we have turned from Christ. Even in our Church, our fundamental problem is that too many of us have argued ourself out of serious, commmitted belief in Jesus Christ, modulating and contextualizing it to the point of emptiness. Too many of us have put ourselves at the center of this enterprise rather than Christ. Too many of us have simply sold out to whatever culture that surrounds us, letting it be our Lord, not Jesus Christ.
I couldn't agree more. Pope John Paul the Great began the vital work of reorienting the Church to her fundamental mission: preach Christ Crucified. Pope Benedict XVI continues that work, but he adds a vital dimension to it: turn to the Lord Jesuc Christ once again.

He would see us renew our relationship to one another as Church by uniting in our dedication to Christ. He sees that Catholics have torn themselves apart over internal issues. We've abused the gift of the Second Vatican Council to the point that we've neglected the Gospel. We've so become caught up in the meaning of being Catholic that we've forgotten to truly live as Christians. We've lost our discipleship, in the sense that we no longer live our lives as authentic witnesses to Christ. He no longer sits on the throne of our hearts. Pope Benedict understood that we will preach Christ crucified only if we return to him. We will fully become Church only when we lift up our hearts and minds from our own internecine squabbles and praise him. He has spent a year inviting us to return to the Lord. Praise him for his own example; he has turned to Christ again and again.

I remember the relief and joy I felt when I saw that the conclave had selected Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I truly believed he would be the perfect pope to succeed our beloved Pope John Paul the Great. He truly has been up to now. Not because he is "God's Rottweiler." Not because he would "crack down" on "dissidents" and "schismatics." No: He would shepherd Christ's flock back into the arms of the Good Shepherd. He would help the Church to truly understand the enormous patoral and doctrinal contributions his predecessor had made. He would reassure the Church that Christ remains with us, and that we have only to return to him to find what we're missing.

May he continue to shepherd Christ's Church as he begins the second year of his pontificate. May God continue to bless and keep our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Update: Argent has some amazing pics!