Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Pope Benedict

Cardinal Ratzinger chose the name "Benedict" when he was elected Pope. The following passages from a book-long interview with him (Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium, 1997) shed some light on this choice. First, keep these two passages in mind:
From page 16:

Perhaps the time has come to say farewell to the idea of traditionally Catholic cultures. Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the Church's history, where Christianity will again be characterised more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good to the world -- that let God in.
Then this:
From page 264.

No one can be a Christian alone; being a Christian means a communion of wayfarers. Even a hermit belongs to a wayfaring community and is sustained by it. For this reason it must be the Church's concern to create pilgrim communities. The social culture of Europe and America no longer offers these wayfaring communities. This brings us back to the previous question about how the Church will live in this increasingly dechristianized society. It will have to form new ways of pilgrim fellowship; communities will have to shape each other more intensely by supporting eachother and living in the faith.
Now, here is what Ratzinger said about St. Benedict:
From pages 127-28:

Question: Almost up to our days it was taken for granted that artists and intellectuals were also professed members of the Church. For centuries this was in any case no problem. Rapyael, Michelangelo, Bach, great artists, were immensely creative in their willingness to serve the Church. Today, however, artists engage themselves if at all, in Greenpeace or Amnesty International.

Answer: This has to do with the historical process we just described. The public culture of the present day, represented by the media, is a culture characterized by the absence of transcendence, a culture in which Christianity is not seen as a force determining the shape of things. . . . But I am quite sure that the Church will not lack creative energies even in the future. Think of late antiquity, where Saint Benedict probably wasn't noticed at all. He was also a dropout who came from noble Roman society and did something bizarre, something that then later turned out to be the "ark on which the West survived." And in this sense, I think today there are Christians who drop out of this strange consensus of modern existence, who attempt new forms of life. To be sure, they don't receive any public notice, but they are doing something that really points to the future.
And this:
From pages 269-70:

The genuine reformers of the Church who have helped her to become simpler and at the same time to open a new access to salvation have always been the saints. Just think of Benedict, who, at the end of antiquity, created the form of life [i.e., monasticism] thanks to which the Church went through the great migrations.

4 Comments:

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A wonderful book indeed! =)

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