A Humble Shepherd - Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I went to a Mass in Thanksgiving of Pope Benedict’s papacy yesterday at the Cathedral downtown Cincinnati (conveniently located a block from my office!). In his homily, Archbishop Schnurr relayed a few personal anecdotes about the Holy Father. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the archbishop was working for the USCCB as the general secretary and met then-Cardinal Ratzinger. On his subsequent visits to Rome he would see Cardinal Ratzinger walking around St. Peter’s Square, speaking with the faithful. Instead of walking around in his cardinal getup (black cassock with scarlet piping, a scarlet fascia or sash, and a scarlet zucchetto) which would invariably draw a lot of attention, Ratzinger would walk amongst the people in a simple black cassock. He would happily play photographer for unknowing tourists who thought they were asking a kindly parish priest to take their picture :) Twenty years later when Archbishop Schnurr met Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, the Holy Father recalled meeting +Schnurr in the USCCB office.

This guy wasn't fooled by Cardinal Ratzinger's simple cassock!
I love Archbishop Schnurr's story. It illustrates perfectly how humble the Holy Father is. I vividly recall at my first papal liturgy being struck by how small and humble the pope was. In fact, I was in such a haste to get a picture that I missed him the first time he walked past me amidst the bishops surrounding him because he was shorter than most of them and he kind of blended in among the other mitres. I was looking towards the very end of the procession expecting to see him there, walking apart from the rest. I have great affection for Pope Benedict. Unlike Pope John Paul II, whom I became familiar with after his death and papacy, I followed along with Pope Benedict during my reversion to the faith at the end of high school and paid attention with great interest to his papacy and writings (especially during the last few years). I saw Pope Benedict in person 6 or 7 times during three trips to Rome. Each time I seemed to make it progressively closer to being near him physically (the last time I was seated on the same stage as him), and joked that perhaps on my 4th trip I'd get to kiss his ring ;) My favorite B16 moment was on Easter Sunday in 2011. My friend Sr. Mariana Rose and I had great seats in the front section and along the center aisle. As the Holy Father came up the aisle on the Popemobile, he looked directly at me. I managed to snap the below picture. At the risk of sounding cheesy, let me just say I don't remember much else about that moment except our gazes meeting and being overwhelmed with so much love for this humble "servant of the servants of God." 

No zoom, I could have reached out and touched him.
Also check out my friend Erin's blog - she has attended all of the papal events since the Holy Father announced he would renounce the papacy and has been blogging about her experiences in Rome and posting lots of pictures. Click here to read her blog.

Finally, check out this tribute video Lifeteen.com made...and grab a kleenex (or the whole box if you inherited the Blankenberger crying genes, God bless my dear mother). Let us give thanks for Pope Benedict's humble servant leadership and for his fidelity to the church and to Jesus Christ, and let us pray for our next pope!!

"Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.” - Pope Benedict XVI



Auntie C said...

I inherited those same genes, and am proud to say only 2 tissues!!!
When in Rome...

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