Celebrating the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

January 3, 2023
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Pope emeritus Benedict’s last words were addressed to Jesus – ‘Lord I love You’. Archbishop Gänswein recounts Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s last words spoken during the night several hours before he died. It was precisely his seeking Jesus, “the beloved”, that was the distinguishing hallmark of Joseph Ratzinger’s priestly service, as Pope Francis himself recalled in 2016. We are grateful for the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and especially his writings on Jesus.

Pope Emeritus Benedict’s last words remind us that Mary Ward’s last words were said to be ‘Jesus’. Another fond and deep connection with Mary Ward was the fact that as a child, Benedict was a pupil in a Mary Ward school in his native Bavaria – below is an excerpt from a reflection that he himself wrote about our foundress, the Venerable Mary Ward.

Homily on the Fourth Centenary of the birth of Mary Ward 23rd February 1985…

“Mary Ward had a deep understanding of this ecclesiological dimension of Jesus’ message. Even when she saw her work destroyed by the authority of the Church she remained obedient, remained, in a rebellious age, firmly anchored in the Catholic Church. She understood, not only intellectually but with her heart, the saying of Jesus: “One man sows and another reaps” (Jn 4:37). Such is the hope and the patience of the saints: they sow in the field of the Church not for a brief personal success but for the age to come. They know that they themselves live on the sowings of others; the grain of wheat which dies for us becomes fruit for all ages. Thus with peace and the confidence of faith, they entrust their seed to the holy soil of the Church of God. So Mary Ward suffered much from the Church authorities who failed to understand her charism. But she knew, all the same, that it was only in the womb of the Church that the seed confided to her by the Lord would find a place of security and fecundity because only in then permanent communion of disciples can be found the field which lasts throughout the ages, where one sows and another reaps but nothing remains without fruit. Outside this field one could have great personal success, but all these rapid successes in the end are nothing but passing moments and death. The fruit of life can develop and increase only by patient maturing in the right soil.

The Church caused Mary Ward great suffering but at the same time the Church was, and remained for her, her surest consolation and peace, the ground of all ages, the guarantee of the truth of the promise: one sows and another reaps.”

We pray in thanksgiving for the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.