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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Dear Friends,
Let us join Pope Francis, Cardinal Cupich and Catholics across the world in praying for the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament will celebrate Mass honoring Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Thursday, January 5, 2023 at 7pm at Queen of the Rosary.

—Fr. Dan

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just a few hours after retired Pope Benedict XVI died in his Vatican residence Dec. 31, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, provided a few early details of what to expect in the coming days.

The 95-year-old pope’s remains will be in St. Peter’s Basilica beginning the morning of Jan. 2 for people to pay their last respects and offer their prayers, he said. The funeral Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will be in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 5 starting at 9:30 a.m. Rome time (7:00pm local time.)

While he did not offer precise details as to what the funeral Mass of a retired pope will look like, Bruni said that Pope Benedict wanted his funeral and related events to be carried out “in a sign of simplicity.”

Bruni also said the retired pope received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick Dec. 28, the day Pope Francis told people Pope Benedict was “very sick” and in need of prayers.

“Ask the Lord to console him and sustain him in his witness of love for the church until the very end,” Pope Francis had said at the end of his general audience.

Before the funeral, Bruni added, all scheduled events at the Vatican were to continue as planned, such as Pope Francis’ evening celebration of vespers and the recitation of the Te Deum Dec. 31.

“At this moment, our thoughts go spontaneously to our dearest Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who left us this morning,” Pope Francis told thousands of people joining him in St. Peter’s Basilica for the evening prayer service.

“With emotion we remember him as such a noble, such a gentle person,” the pope said. “And we feel so much gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the church and to the world; gratitude to him, for all the good he accomplished, particularly for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his retired life.”

The day Pope Benedict “gave” me a message by Kathryn Jean Lopez

As the official invite from the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization put it: “The Holy Father has invited you to be present … in order to receive from him a copy of the message as the representative of women throughout the world.”

The message was a repeat. In 1965, at the end of the council, Pope Paul VI issued “Messages to the People of God” from the Church. Rulers, artists, laborers, and women were among those addressed.

As it was explained to me, Pope Benedict XVI, at the last minute, had the idea to reissue the messages. I didn’t ask him, but I assumed it was because they really hadn’t been communicated the first time around — both because of the fog of the times and a lack of receptivity in the culture.

The message to women he handed me is beautiful and powerful. Some excerpts:

  • “…at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.”
  • “Our technology runs the risk of becoming inhuman. Reconcile men with life and above all, we beseech you, watch carefully over the future of our race. Hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, might attempt to destroy human civilization.”
  • “Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.”

This message is a game changer, and is begging to be convened in Catholic education, in Catholic homes, and to the world. Women don’t need to be anything other than what they are naturally and supernaturally made to be. You can read the entire reflection from Kathryn Jean Lopez here and you can read all seven Vatican II messages for laypeople here:

Statement of Cardinal Cupich on the death of Pope Benedict XVI

Statement of Cardinal Cupich on the death of Pope Benedict XVI

Today we join Pope Francis and Catholics across the world in mourning the death of Pope Benedict XVI who has gone home to the God he served faithfully.

Throughout his life as a scholar and as a churchman, he showed us what it means to fulfill the ancient command to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. As the last pope who attended the Second Vatican Council, he has served as a bridge to the future, reminding us all that the reform and renewal of the Church is ongoing. Resigning in 2013, the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI taught us that belief in God means completely placing our trust in Divine Providence. Today we pray as Pope Francis did earlier this year, “May St. Joseph help us to live the mystery of death in the best possible way. For a Christian, the good death is an experience of the mercy of God, who comes close to us even in that last moment of our life.”

Lord, let your perpetual light shine on your servant Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, and may he rest in peace.

A prayer for the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

A prayer for the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Father, Eternal shepherd,
hear the prayers of your People for your servant Benedict,
who governed your Church with Love.

In your mercy, bring him with the flock once entrusted to his care
to the reward you have promised your faithful servants.

May he who faithfully administered the mysteries
of your forgiveness and Love on earth,
rejoice with you forever in heaven.

In your wise and Loving care,
you made your servant teacher of all your Church.
He did the work of Christ on earth.

May your Son welcome him into eternal glory.

May your servant whom you appointed high priest of your flock
be counted now among the priests in the life of your kingdom.

Give your servant the reward of eternal happiness
and let your mercy win for us the gift of your life and love.

We entrust your servant to your mercy with faith and confidence.
In the human family he was an instrument of your peace and love.

May he rejoice in those gifts for ever with your saints. Amen

The Witness of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

The Witness of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Cardinal Cupich delivered the following homily during a January 2, 2023 memorial Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at Holy Name Cathedral.

For good reasons, many will remember Benedict XVI for his countless incomparable gifts and talents. He had a brilliant mind, wrote elegantly and taught in a way that inspired his students to learn. Yet, today, as we commend this good and faithful servant to God and seek comfort and encouragement for ourselves, God’s word on this feast of Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus bids us to focus on ways Joseph Ratzinger, called to do great things, made witnessing to the Gospel’s call to live in humble service to all his priority. He offered that witness in three ways: through his dedication to scholarship, his unwavering conviction that belonging to a community defines our lives and his radical dependence on the person of Jesus Christ.

I have come to learn over the years that when people think about those who dedicate their lives to scholarship, a quality often overlooked is humility. It takes a good deal of humility to allow your mind to be formed, not by your own musings and opinions, but by others as you interact and dialogue with them. It is a humility that rejects the myth of the self-made man. It is noteworthy that as Benedict expressed gratitude in his last testament for those who contributed to his life, he purposely singled out those who journeyed with him as he learned. “I warmly thank God for … the teachers and pupils He has given me,” he wrote.

Taking up a life singularly dedicated to learning means giving oneself over to the voices of others in the past and in the present. It means ceding all claims of being an autonomous subject. Joseph Ratzinger the great theologian was that humble scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, as we read about in the Gospel, who “like the head of a household [brought] from [the] storeroom both the new and the old.” And so, today we should give thanks for all who enrich humanity through their scholarship, but also be more willing to likewise learn from others, humbly valuing the kind of lifelong learning that comes with dialoguing with people in the past and in the present.

From his earliest years, living in a loving family, Joseph Ratzinger learned the humility of living in community, learned that the authentic life is lived in community, learned that we are connected to each other and that life is to be shared through sacrifice. “I thank my parents,” he wrote in his testament, “who gave me life in a difficult time and who, at the cost of great sacrifices, with their love prepared for me a magnificent home that, like a clear light, illuminates all my days until today. My father’s lucid faith taught us children to believe, and as a trail marker it was always firm in the midst of all my scientific acquisitions. My mother’s deep devotion and great kindness are a legacy for which I cannot thank enough,” he wrote.

Through this family experience, he acquired a humility that became second nature to him, leaving him with the palpable sense of being connected with others. It is no wonder then that when he called the church to take up works of charity in his first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” he reminded us that “love needs to be organized.” These words have their root in all that he learned at home, that for love to be authentic it must connect us to one another, make demands on us but also comfort us as we discover an interdependence that binds us together. It was this humility, acquired in being docile to learning within a community, that gave him the confidence to respond to the great call he received. He learned that he was not alone and thus he could do great things by being the servant of all.

Perhaps one of the most quoted lines of his writings is found in the first paragraph of “Deus Caritas Est”: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” With his keen intelligence, Joseph Ratzinger could have remained comfortable in the world of ideas and theories, but he made himself vulnerable to the point that his encounter with Jesus rather than the safe world of ideas gave decisive direction to his life. Pope Benedict provided a window into the overpowering experience of his relationship with the person of Jesus in his homily for Mass of Taking Possession of the Chair of Peter on the Solemnity of the Ascension in 2005. “Christ’s Ascension,” he said, “is not a journey into space toward the most remote stars.” Rather, by ascending to the Father, Christ “led our human existence into God’s presence … [to the point that] the human being now finds room in God.” And so, by bringing us to the Father as he ascends, Christ is “close to each one of us forever. Each one of us can be on intimate terms with him; each can call upon him. The Lord is always within hearing,” he said. This profound sense of being ever close to the Lord, marked his life to the end. I was not surprised to read this week that his last words reportedly were “Jesus, ich liebe dich” — “Jesus, I love you.” He humbled himself to enter into a trusting relationship, to relate to Jesus not as a lofty idea or an ethical choice but as a person who remained close to him.

The funeral rites in the Christian tradition are designed to do two things: Pray for the deceased and comfort those who mourn. The Scriptures, given to us on this feast day of two great theologians and bishops, Basil and Gregory Nazianzus, help us to do both. They spur us to ask God to now bring to full stature in Christ a man who dedicated his entire life from an early age to building up the Body of Christ. But these Scripture passages also bring us comfort, prompting us to be grateful that we lived in a time when one who was called to be the greatest among us took seriously the Gospel call to humble himself by being the servant of all, even if that meant resigning his office.

May the promise of the Gospel that “whoever humbles himself will be exalted” be fulfilled in him. May he rest in peace knowing of our gratitude and prayers for him.