A 7 Word Summation of Benedict’s Pontificate

During an entire liturgy full of beautiful, sweet and touching moments, there was an especial sweetness to the conclusion of today’s Ash Wednesday mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, which was also the last public liturgy that will be performed by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

Rocco Palmo has the moment, and the video, and his title, quoting Benedict, can appropriately summarize the entire pontificate of Joseph Ratzinger: “Thank you; let us return to prayer…”

Even for two millenia of a very full, yet never boring history, the Catholic Church has never seen a moment like this.

Remember, folks – the “new” St Peter’s Basilica was only opened some three centuries after the last time a Pope resigned.

As prelates and people alike were seen fighting back tears, here are the closing moments of Benedict XVI’s final turn at the Altar of the Confession (homily), a site literally upon the “rock” on which the papacy – and the church it guides – is built….

It was a spontaneous outburst of applause, sustained and warm, for our Holy Father.

It goes on, and on. At about the 2:00 mark, if you close your eyes, it sounds like a steady drenching rain of love.

As an introvert I can tell you: it takes a lot of humility — and a great deal of courage — to stand there and let people love you, as Benedict does. But then, when it seems like the attention has strayed too far from where it belongs, he smiles at the crowd and says, “Thank you; let us return to prayer.”

Ite, missa est.

I am cranky about applause at mass, particularly when it becomes habitual, but when it’s spontaneous — as I have seen happen at a nuptial kiss, or after particularly good sermons — you can’t gainsay it, because you know it’s coming from the heart, as this is.

But Rocco notes that song became spontaneous, as well:

. . . the Sistine Choir burst into Palestrina’s setting of the Roman pontiff’s mandate – Jesus’ exhortation from the 16th chapter of St Matthew’s Gospel….
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Of course, the tail-end of those words now ring the dome of the Vatican Basilica… and roughly a month from now, even before the cardinals’ choice dons the white robes that come with his election, the Conclave’s senior deacon will proclaim those words while standing before Peter’s 265th successor – the new Pope.

Go over to Rocco’s place and watch the video

And do read Benedict’s excellent homily, which is a great kick-off to Lent!

Related:
Tom McDonald captured
some excellent images of the mass, including the one above.

Rebecca Hamilton shares some thoughts

Kathy Schiffer on today’s touching papal audience

Fr. George Rutler: Benedict’s Decision in Light of Eternity

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://dailywoof.wordpress.com Kensington

    Wow, it really *does* sound like rain. And it’s such a beautiful moment when he directs everyone back to the liturgy. O, how I’m going to miss that man. It feels like he only just got here.

  • Adam

    Just a thought: I wonder if the conclave won’t meet, much less make a decision, until the Easter Triduum. I’ve heard that the conclave won’t be able to meet until at least mid-March…and Easter is at the end of the same month. What if we get a new Pope on Easter Sunday? Coincidence, or inspired timing on Benedict’s part?

    (Seriously, I’d like my new Pope as soon as possible…but in His time, not mine!)

  • Christopher

    Ite, missa est.

    [Thanks, wrote this while I was on the phone. Amazed there aren't more typos -admin]

  • Mandy P.

    I watched it on EWTN and welled up several times. It was moving.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Actually I think Rebecca Hamilton caught the perfect quote from that homily that sums up Benedict’s papacy:

    “… the path of power is not the road of God.”

    That’s a quote that is made for Bartlet’s.

  • Victor

    (((And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
    I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”)))

    Dear Anchoress,
    Faithful Catholics are so lucky because all they need is to love GOD (Good Old Dad) with all their heart and if they fail as we all do, they simply return to the Lord, our God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast Love, and relenting in punishment. In other “Words” and long story short, Jesus Christ is a shore free investment that none of U>S (usual sinners) should turn away.

    So what have ya learned from this Ash Wednesday Mass sinner vic?

    Victor, I’ve learned that from Ashes to Ashes and from Dust to Dust,
    If The Good Lord doesn’t want U>S (usual sinners) The Devil must!

    Trust me, myself and i, there’s still hope for him folk cause sinner vic is learning to love
    country music so his spiritual cells can’t all be bad. :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw5kOzGToec

    Go Figure!

    http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=18142394&postID=8505453523132756715

    Peace

  • elmo

    I don’t cry easily but today I cried watching Cdl. Bertone speak to the pope on behalf of the faithful. I loved that moment where he directs us back to prayer — it made me laugh through the tears.

  • elmo

    I don’t cry easily but today I cried watching Cdl. Bertone speak to the pope on behalf of the faithful. I loved that moment where he directs us back to prayer — it made me laugh through the tears. It was so Benedict.

  • Oregon Catholic

    You know, I just can’t reconcile a resignation at the beginning of Lent with humility. After Christmas, yes. After Easter, yes. But look at how his timing has pulled the focus away from Lent and the journey to improve our relationship with CHRIST that we should all be making and instead put it on the pope and the papal election. All of Lent will be consumed by it.

    I know how much you adore him Anchoress but I think a truly humble man would not have interfered with the Church’s focus on Lent for anything less than an incapacitating illness.

    [I don't adore him; I adore God. But I do love Benedict. we can disagree, but Benedict's move has personally intensified my Lenten resolve. Believing he is doing this for the good of the church, because his whole life always has been about doing what is best for the church, I believe he is going to retire to prayer and penance for our sake and the sake of the church. This tells me that if he is doing it NOW...he must believe there is a need for deep and focused prayer for the church. He is using the period of Lent, when we are already inclined to prayer and fasting, to help bring our focused prayer also to the church, her leadership and the movement of the Holy Spirit. These are grave, important things to pray for, and my relationship with Christ is strengthened in particular b/c I am mindfully praying for HIS BRIDE. This can only bring me closer to him. As I said, we can disagree, but it seems to me that the conclusion you are drawing is the earthly one -admin ]


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