Pope Benedict XVI’s farewell Angelus: I will never abandon the Church

(Vatican Radio) “Dear brothers and sisters…The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”, to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this, it is so I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength”. “We will always be close in prayer!”.This was Pope Benedict XVI’s parting message on Sunday, during his last Angelus address. At noon the canons sounded from the Janiculum hill and the great bells of St Peter’s basilica rang out. And as the curtains were drawn from his study windows and the red papal banner unfurled, the ocean of pilgrims waiting below erupted.

They had come in their thousands, pouring into the square since early dawn, men, women and children, old and young, religious and lay Catholics. They held banners, emblazoned with messages of gratitude and farewell for the 85 year old Pope, who had guided them in the faith over the past eight years.

Pilgrims such as a father and his young son from the earthquake devastated city of Aquilla, central Italy, who held aloft a homemade sign, thanking Pope Benedict for having visited the city’s people in their time of need, for his material support and spiritual solidarity. Or the Dominican nuns from the Philippines who had held vigil since dawn praying the rosary. And beside them the young people in their sleeping bags, from Spain, Brazil, Mexico with their banner that read “the gates of hell will never prevail”.

With outstretched arms and visibly moved, Pope Benedict greeted them all, repeating ‘grazie, grazie,’ as he attempted to quieten the crowds. An almost impossible task.

Then, as is tradition, he reflected on the Sunday Gospel, Luke chapter 9, which recounts the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus address:

Dear brothers and sisters!

On the second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy always presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The evangelist Luke places particular emphasis on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as he prayed: his is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John , the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master (Luke 5:10, 8.51, 9.28).
The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection (9:22), offers his disciples a foretaste of his glory. And even in the Transfiguration, as in baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, “This is my Son, the Chosen One listen to him” (9:35). The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, it is highly significant: the whole history of the Alliance is focused on Him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new “exodus” (9:31) , not to the promised land as in the time of Moses, but to Heaven. Peter’s words: “Master, it is good that we are here” (9.33) represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine says: “[Peter] … on the mountain … had Christ as the food of the soul. Why should he come down to return to the labours and pains, while up there he was full of feelings of holy love for God that inspired in him a holy conduct? “(Sermon 78.3).
We can draw a very important lesson from meditating on this passage of the Gospel. First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wanted on Tabor, instead prayer leads us back to the path, to action. “The Christian life – I wrote in my Message for Lent – consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love “(n. 3).
Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”, to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity.
I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School. I thank everyone for the many expressions of gratitude, affection and closeness in prayer which I have received in these days. As we continue our Lenten journey towards Easter, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the Redeemer, whose glory was revealed on the mount of the Transfiguration. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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15 Responses to Pope Benedict XVI’s farewell Angelus: I will never abandon the Church

  1. Biltrix says:

    Reblogged this on Biltrix.


  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Pope Benedict XVI has demonstrated an extraordinary coherence in his thought and actions throughout his brief pontificate, and a great sense of timing in all his teaching. To time his final appearance with the Sunday Gospel narrative of the Transfiguration is an act of liturgical genius.

    I see that the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School were present and I should think that moment will stay with them for the rest of their lives. What a great honour to be mentioned in the last words of the final public address. Catholicism in England may lack leadership but it does not lack talented laity.


  3. golden chersonnese says:

    I see HH was still rather restrained in his farewell to his flock. I hope he shed a little tear, at least inside.


  4. johnhenrycn says:

    “…the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School were present…”
    If his son is still there, I’ll bet that our old nemesis, Charles Utley, is over the moon, and well he should be, eh?


  5. johnhenrycn says:

    “I hope he shed a little tear, at least inside.”

    Men don’t cry, GC, especially German men. Well, maybe on the inside 😉


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    …neither should big girls…


  7. johnkonnor72 says:

    …thanks for standing up and unifying the course of the barque of Peter….keeping the many headed hydra of aberrant moral philosophies at bay …hope you have a good rest pope benedict..


  8. Toad says:

    Religion aside(!! Only kidding!) for a moment – is there nobody else out there on CP&S who believes the Pope’s resignation is a disaster for the Church, and could hardly have come at a worse time (not that there is ever likely to be a good time for a papal resignation) ?

    By all means, like JohnK here, let’s wish the dear old chap “..a long, happy and healthy – and, above all, well-earned – (loud applause) retirement, Ben – now you will have ample have time to devote to your hobbies, I believe one of yours is rose growing…, and can work at bringing down your appallingly-high handicap at last!” (Jovial cries of Hear! Hear!, etc, sound of spoons banging on table etc., etc.,)
    Toad has sat through several hundred of those. Chaired a few himself.

    Meanwhile, offstage and uninvited, the somber voice of Cardinal Dziwisz, former Secretary to John Paul II, is heard gloomily intoning, “One does not come down from the cross.”

    (If Toad was Eccles, he’d probably point out to JohnK that “many headed hydra” is tautological. But he’s not, so he won’t.)


  9. golden chersonnese says:

    johnkonnor, that was very appealingly put indeed.

    Toad, I’ve been poking about looking for Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches that might have abdicated also. There are some not too long ago and those churches seem to be bumping along as usual. Patriarch Maximus V of Constantinople abdicated after about two years in 1948 and lived for another 24 years after that. Patriarch Constantine VI abdicated after a few dozen days in 1925 and died five years later.

    The Patriarch of the Syriac Catholics, Ignatius Moses I Daoud, resigned in 2001 after just three years and became Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches until 2007.

    For all of the above Patriarchates, dying with ones boots on seems to be the norm, but the occasional early retirement of a patriarch doesn’t seem to do too much damage.

    Anyway, it’s fun watching all those loonies in the media carrying on.


  10. Toad says:

    “Anyway, it’s fun watching all those loonies in the media carrying on.”

    Ah, but Gelnod what you fail to grasp, evidently, is just what the Media Loonies are “carrying on” about:
    Catholicism! Gay Marriage nightmares! Popes Jumping Ship In Mid Voyage! Pedophilia! Vatican Financial Scandals Involving The Mafia! Blackmailing Butlers! Top UK Cardinal Accused Of All Kinds (well one kind) Of Naughtiness! (And why just now, in that case?)

    And just think – the Media didn’t invent a single one of these stories, despite what some on here would have you believe. They didn’t need to. People phoned them in.
    The Media just has “fun” reporting them.
    So, remember, while you are having fun watching the Loony Media, the Loony Media is having even more fun watching Catholics like you, deplorable as that no doubt is.

    But anyway, the bottom line (if you’ll pardon the expression) is that everybody is happy – and having fun!
    (What! Aren’t they? Why not? They should be!)

    It all almost makes me want to be back to the newsroom.
    Not! Just kidding!


  11. golden chersonnese says:

    Oh of course, Toad. Factions and cliques in a large institution. What a revelation. Do you think they are going to get any more huge scoops like that? Some people within are homosexual. Who’d have thunk it? Goodness, I’m sure we’ve never had this sort of thing ever before.

    Mark Shea (he who writes “markticles”) thinks that the media exist mainly to sell more beer and shampoo. What an innocent he is.


  12. Toad says:

    The Media exists solely to provide employment for Loonies like Toad.

    ….Who would otherwise have to get a proper job.


  13. Toad says:

    i>”Do you think (The Media) are going to get any more huge scoops like that?” ..queries Gloned

    Can’t figure out if that is a rhetorical question, or not.
    Give us a clue.

    However, I’m not suggesting – if that’s what you’re trying to get at – that any of this knockabout is, in any way, novel.
    Just funny.


  14. kathleen says:

    is there nobody else out there on CP&S who believes the Pope’s resignation is a disaster for the Church, and could hardly have come at a worse time....” asks Toad.

    I think “disaster” is not the right word. Pope Benedict XVI is a highly intelligent and insightful leader, who is all too well aware of the many threats and challenges (that he called “the wolves”) facing the Church today. He has written and spoken superbly to the worldwide Church, warning, chiding, encouraging and teaching us to face these many problems and difficulties with the armour and weapons of Faith and Reason, the Catholic virtues, and the Sacraments. He has renewed many time-old traditions that had been swept away in the hurricane that rushed through the Church in the aftermath of Vatican II. His legacy will remain with us, and the profound beauty and importance of this will probably only become clear in time to come.

    He has come to a time when he realises (probably with great anguish) that physically and mentally he is incapable of retaining the tremendously high standard of fitness and vitality needed to fulfill the mission to carry the barque of Peter through these troubled waters we are steering through today. It is his love of the Church that has brought him to this decision to hand over to a younger, healthier, more energetic leader. In no way can it be seen as cowardly or weak: quite the contrary.

    The anterior Pope’s witness to remain “on the Cross” to the bitter end, Bl. John Paul II, was a beautiful lesson in itself, but there were problems in the Church at that time that he could not tackle….. mainly that of the sex scandals. Pope Benedict is surely well aware of the danger of the same happening under him – that he should be unable to handle the many demands on him – were he to hang onto the papacy at all costs.

    His decision to stand down is an amazing act of humility and wisdom. But yes, we shall all shed many a tear to see him go.


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