Most people don’t know it, but Pope Benedict XVI really really did not want to be elected pope in 2005. In fact, he wanted to be a Vatican librarian and retire!
When Pope Benedict XVI was elected, he visited the grave of St. Celestine, a pope who also was elected in the very same way — in old age, wanting to retire. In fact, St. Celestine actually even tried to run away after he was elected!
Well, back in 2005 when he was elected, Papa Benedetto visited St. Celestine’s grave the day that he received his new papal pallium (a vestment)– and left it there.
What inspires me about Pope Benedict’s resignation is that I know that he at first did not want to be pope, but that did not stop him from giving God’s call for him to fulfill the “Petrine ministry” his personal 110%! No, 125%.
Just days before he was first elected, and then “Cardinal Josef Ratzinger,” Pope Benedict XVI wrote this meditation for the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum (days before Bl. Pope John Paul II passed away):
Lord Jesus Christ, for our sake you became like the grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies, so that it may bear much fruit (Jn 12:24). You invited us to follow you along this path when you told us that “the one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12:25).
Yet we are attached to our life. We do not want to abandon it; we want to keep it all for ourselves. We want to hold on to it, not to give it away. But you go before us, showing us that it is only by giving away our life that we can save it.
As we walk with you on the Way of the Cross, you lead us along the way of the grain of wheat, the way of a fruitfulness which leads to eternity.
O, the Irony!
Little did Papa Benedetto know that he would be shortly become that “grain of wheat” for all the world… nourishing the Church with Christ as the POPE!
I am so inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s humble fiat when likely everything in him was shaking “no no no!” Papa Benedetto stayed SO faithful while growing so frail (at least, in my opinion– I mean, even seeing him at WYD 2011 at the giant airfiled during that storm– I thought he’d keel over!).
Papa Benedetto ALWAYS strived to follow God’s vocation for him… to listen to His call… and was not hesitant nor afraid to cast his net out, deep into the ocean.
Pope Benedict XVI was a true “fisher of men.”
What is God calling us to do, that we don’t want to do?
For one, as we were baptized “priest prophet, and king,” we’re ALL called to be “fishers of men” one way or another.
Papa Benedetto became pope without wanting to become pope. And man did he catch some souls in that net of his. He lived out his vocation fully… He embraced his vocation– his cross– with love.
I know I could think of a whole slew of things that God probably wants me to do– but I may be frozen, hesitant, afraid. Lazy. Proud. The list goes on.
Yet I pray that I can give my fiat, and walk by faith, not by sight. That I can embrace my vocation, my cross, and all that it entails, with love.
With God’s grace, I pray to be a “fisher of men” with my 125%.
Thank you, Papa Benedetto. You have seen so many of us grow in the Faith from our teen years to our young adult years. WE LOVE YOU!
A young, dashing Pope Benedict XVI! He was our age too once, ya know! Pretty sure he had no idea he’d be pope one day. 🙂
Click here for a cool site, XT3’s, farewell to Papa Benedetto!