I’ll never forget sitting in class in the Spring of 2011, reading Deus Caritas Est in stunned admiration. It was assigned reading, but I was completely hooked: I was encountering, for the first time, the incredible writing of Pope Benedict. I was getting ever closer to swimming the Tiber, and it was a timely assignment from my Jesuit professor…
I was discovering for the first time what the Catholic Church already knew: that God had given the Keys to a brilliant mind. They called him “God’s Rottweiler” for his bold defense of orthodoxy as a Cardinal, but on the throne of St. Peter, he’s been a gentle teacher. His encyclicals focused on Love and Hope, and he wrote three brilliant volumes about the life of Jesus. He’s been called the “Pope of Christian unity” for his outreach to the Eastern Orthodox, to Anglicans, and to others.
I’ll always think of him as “my” Pope. The first time I received the Holy Eucharist, it was, in the words of the liturgy, “together with your servant, Benedict, our Pope…” He never captured the public’s imagination or the media’s spotlight, but I’ll always be grateful for the hours I’ve spent curled up in a chair with one of his masterful books.
And now he has finished his race.
And so, with love and prayers, we give thanks to the Lord for the many decades of faithful service that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has given the Church. As was said of the bishops of old: “Axios! Axios! Axios!”