Benedict has never looked so worn out

This picture from L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO took my breath away. It’s copyrighted, so you have to go to the link.

But be prepared for how worn, thin and unwell Pope Benedict looks.

He is an introvert. Hopefully when he has removed himself from the Throne and has quiet time and solitude, he will recharge a little.

I do not think he will be our monastic prayer warrior for very long. But I am sure that while he is in his monastic phase, we will be helped by it.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Fiestamom

    I just want to bake him some cookies and give him a hug. The 28th is coming too soon, I am going to miss him.

  • Ann

    That photo really is disheartening. However, when you view this video from last week’s meeting with clergy, he still very much has a sparkle in his eyes and wears his good sense of humor as he delivers a brilliant, hour long, off-the-cuff “chat”, as he refers to it, to the priests of the Roman diocese. He seems to have his good days and bad days. Hopefully, he will gather strength in his monastic life.

    I am very happy that he will remain at the vatican as a motor of prayer and support for the next pour soul entrusted to this great and difficult task.

  • Ann
  • Cynara

    Despite the conspiracy theories elsewhere published, I think the poor man is not well. He strikes me as a sensitive soul.
    I thought I was prepared for the animosity in the press this Lent. I am not doing well with it today. It distresses me. And I hardly have the responsibilities of Benedict.
    I think very, very well of him. These unfounded accusations in the Italian press, Cardinal Mahoney’s actions and fall, and the action necessarily taken with Cardinal O’ Brien must be a great strain for our clergy.
    I look forward to the writings he produces in his meditations. I would feel a loss were he unable to do so. God reads my heart on this.

  • Stefanie

    Actually, I love being sobered by this photo. It illustrates what I told the kids at Children’s Liturgy yesterday — that the pope is responsible for the souls of everyone on the planet from his ordination until he steps down from the office of pope. Not just Catholics. Everyone. And he is answerable to God for what he does or doesn’t do that provokes people to accept or reject our Savior. This is why the pope must always speak up against the spiritual darkness tht surrounds so many. Indeed, how many are so far into the spiritual darkness that they have created their own world in that darkness in which the light burns one’s eyes.

    Believe me, any of our good priests could also be photographed , looking just like this photo, after a bone-crunching week when one hears 90% criticism and 10% ‘atta-boy’ compliments. May our priests know how much they are loved.

    How in the world can any one human pope manage it? St. Peter was not even aware of the people of the Americas or ‘deep Africa’ or of Indonesia during his papacy — but had his hands full with the Roman Empire, didn’t he?

    I am glad that our Papa is showing his battle scars and the weariness that comes with the fight. Remember in the Exorcist (original film) when all seemed lost and the mother was sitting with the young priest downstairs and they both looked as if it was impossible to go on? And then the young priest realized wearily that as priest, he was ordained to fight the darkness and he slowly ascends the stairs one more time. This photo reminds me of that. Victory is ahead, but it will be the victory of the cross — which may seem a mockery to many, although it means salvation for all.

  • Yae

    Yes, a victory of the cross as our Holy Father prepares to leave the Chair of St. Peter but will continue onward to the “heights of the mountain” to which he has been called. For a short while perhaps, he will remain our consolation and then, when our Lord Jesus sees fit that Papa Benedict has accomplished his mission here on earth, the Lord will take him home to his eternal reward.
    As time has passed since he first announced his resignation, I am becoming more convinced that it was all designed for a very specific reason. What I mean to say is that in the mystery of God’s tremendous mercy towards us, he has seen fit that before he calls our Holy Father home, he wants to impart the wisdom of our Holy Father, in a very specific way to the next pope to be elected…not by the Holy Father’s writings or by means of any books specifically, but by face to face encounters in prayer and in unity.
    I believe it will be most important that it happen this way…I am no scholar nor an expert, just a humble and hopeful person who believes that to see Pope Benedict as a spiritual father and mentor, while he still lives, and in person, well, I believe the next pope will benefit tremendously and will be encouraged with great joy and with great love to carry upon his shoulder’s the glory of the Church since his will be the next chapter in what may prove to be a decisive and very challenging time in our Church’s history. Long live the Papacy!
    Mother Mary pray for us!

  • Adam

    It could be a lousy shot. You often see those photos in the tabloids at the supermarket–”LOOK WHO’S FAT!!”–and you realize that the subject isn’t necessarily fat, or ugly, but that the camera just caught them at a lousy moment. I think it’s the opposite of why modeling photographers are constantly click-click-clicking at their camera–they’re trying to capture that one ideal split-second where the subject looks right.

    Then again, it could be accurate. I once had to give a presentation in college on Lincoln. I showed the class two photos of him–one pretty youthful, the other pretty worn and wrinkled. I asked them to guess how many years between the photos; most guessed 10, 20. The answer was 5: one was taken at the beginning of the Civil War, the other towards the end. You can also see it in photos of Bush 43 at the beginning of his presidency versus the end–he got considerably thinner, grayer, and more worn. Stress keeps you thin, but it also wears the body down.

    Maybe we should draw some inspiration from the photo and use it to think of the church’s ultimate crossbearer. This Sunday, our priest emphasized in his homily that the crucified Jesus in most churches is a pretty sterilized image. An accurate depiction of Jesus would probably look like his portrayal in Passion of the Christ: bloody, beaten, worn, and on the verge of death. If our Holy Father really is as worn down as he looks in that picture, then he’s probably very conscious of Our Lord’s sufferings.

  • Yae

    I hope you will share this beautiful video with others….I found it very moving and very fitting.

    I know our beloved Papa looks very frail in the picture but just yesterday, Sunday, he looked so happy and so radiant…on fire with the love of God for all to see. Thank you Papa!

  • Ann

    Incidentally, there is no question that the drama of the curia has greatly disappointed Benedict, and probably aged him…but I don’t believe for a minute that it is why he resigned! Looking back, there were so many signs that he has been considering this for a while and was waiting for the right time to do it…Lent. I am convinced that it was the prospect of missing World Youth Day in Brazil that clinched it for him. By having a conclave now, the new pope will have time to prepare in much the same way that he did in Cologne.

    I think that he convened the 3 retired cardinals last year to do the “vatileaks report” so that he could have it ready for the next pope to use as a guide when he reforms and reorganizes the curia (something I believe B16 didn’t think he had time to accomplish in his relatively short pontificate ).

    I even think that the LCWR intervention was done to clear his desk of something that he felt inevitably needed to be addressed, but he didn’t want to leave it for his successor.

    Benedict also wants to show us how important and efficacious prayer is for the life of the Church. When he visited a nursing home last November, he said, “I come to you as Bishop of Rome, but also as an old man visiting his peers” … “It would be superfluous to say that I am well acquainted with the difficulties, problems and limitations of this age…”Do not forget that one of the valuable resources you possess is the essential one of prayer…”The prayers of the elderly can protect the world, helping it, perhaps more effectively than collective anxiety…The Pope loves you and relies on all of you!” He reiterated this notion in his final Angelus prayer yesterday.

    Read the whole thing and give it to an elderly person in your life. It is beautiful and very revealing.

  • Victor

    (((He is an introvert. Hopefully when he has removed himself from the Throne and has quiet time and solitude, he will recharge a little.)))

    Anchoress, I think he looks like that because our Papa has been working overtime for all of U<S (usual sinners) and "IT" is normal for Christians to see how much His Holiness love all of us but "I'M" sure that GOD would never abanden His Apotles. Just watch and see and while you're at "IT" please keep praying for sinner vic also.


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  • C. LaSalle

    Even a younger, healthier man would be worn down by one scandal after another. It must feel very overwhelming at times. I agree with some others in that I sense Pope Benedict is sick. I love and admire him greatly and watching him struggle like this in such a public manner really drives home his virtue of humility and docility to the will of God. It’s a great example for the rest of us.

  • Manny

    Just finished reading this morning’s stations of the cross. It is a burden to be Pope, as that picture clearly shows, but I’ve grown increasingly against his decision to step down. I’m certainly not in his shoes and neither am in a position to advise, but it seems to me that the burden of carrying the cross required him to press on. If there were administrative functions he felt he could not carry out, then appoint a person to oversee them.

    I don’t wish to seem hard. Bless this good man. I do admire him.

    [When First Things comes back up, go check out my column about it. -admin]

  • Eileen

    He looks good, real, and emanates that gentleness and sweetness. Have you not had the opportunity to accompany a soul in their life passage? What an interior photo….I’d say the photographer captured the adorable face of Jesus.

    [Yes, I have "accompanied a soul in their life passage," and it's a beautiful privilege. I just wasn't prepared for how quickly he is moving...-admin]

  • thomas tucker

    Elizabeth, I was in Rome in October for the canonization of St. Kateri and I was shocked at how frail he looked then. I remember thinking that he looked like he doesn’t have long to live. By comparison, he actually looks better in this picture than he did in person.

  • http://bing sam

    God will always guide His Church with such men of a strong character to follow in the footsteps of St.Peter…Blessings we pray for.

  • Manny

    “When First Things comes back up, go check out my column about it. -admin”

    Ok, I read it. All I can say is that we only have a limited amount of options in our course of life. Once B16 accepted the Papacy, he really no longer had the option to be a recluse to a life of prayer, “a house of prayer” as you called it. He took on the cross and no matter how he stumbled with it, he needed to get up or at least get a “Simon the Cyrenian” to help him carry it all the way to Calvary.

    Of course my opinion is predicated that the resignation will set a bad precedent that could have dire consequences for the future church. Hopefully I’m wrong, but the future will tell and the future is long. It’s hard to say what’s best for the church, an immediate administrator to resolve some of the issues of the day or stability in the long run of the future? As I see it, the problem issues of the day can wait a year or two or be mitigated with an administrative help. The possible havoc that can be caused by pressuring Popes to resign might be disasterous. Risk management would lean to staying on and keeping stability.

  • Manny

    “God will always guide His Church with such men of a strong character to follow in the footsteps of St.Peter…Blessings we pray for.”

    That’s nice Sam but history hasn’t always shown that to be the case.

  • Victor

    (((Of course my opinion is predicated that the resignation will set a bad precedent that could have dire consequences for the future church. Hopefully I’m wrong,)))

    With all due respect Man.. you don’t have as much “Faith” in GOD (Good Old Dad) as “I” thought YA did NOW!

    Leave HIM alone sinner vic! Is “IT” not enough that you’ve forced His Holiness out of retirement and have NOW forced HIM to really carry HIS cross and YA know what “I’M” talking about NOW!

    Victor! Victor! Victor! Will YA Eve her, I mean ever simply learn that God will always guide His Church with such men of a strong character to follow in the footsteps of St.Peter…Blessings we pray for NOW! Right folks?

    Go Figure! :)


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