29 June 2006

Viva il Papa!

Tomorrow, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the fifty-fith anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

(I sent my letter of congratulations; have you sent yours? In case you have not, you can e-mail the Holy Father or send a letter through the post to:

His Holiness,

Pope Benedict XVI
The Apostolic Palace

00120 Vatican City

I am serious about this.)

This morning I finished reading his, Milestones: Memoires, 1927-1977, which he wrote while still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

Concerning the day of his ordination he recalls,

We were more than forty candidates , who, at the solemn call on that radiant summer day, which I remember as the high point of my life, responded, "Adsum", here I am. We should not be superstitious; but at the moment when the elderly archbishop laid his hands on me, a little bird - perhaps a lark - flew up from the high altar in the cathedral and trilled a little joyful song. And I could not but see in this a reassurance from on high, as if I heard the words, "This is good, you are on the right way" (99).
That little bird, I expect, sang with joy for the ordination of the future Pope!

At the end of his memoires, the Holy Father refects upon the bear that has included in his coat of arms upon his appointment as the Archbishop of Munich and Friesing, and that he has maintained in his Papal crest. He writes,

The bear that took the place of Saint Corbinian's horse, or rather donky - the bear that became his donkey against its will: Is this not an image of what I should do and of what I am? "A beast of burden have I become for you, and this is just the way for me to remain wholly yours and always abide with you."
What else could I say in detail about my years as a bishop? It is said of Corbinian that, once in Rome, he again released the bear to its freedom. The legend is not concerned about whether it went up into the Abruzzi or returned to the Alps. In the meantime I have carried my load to Rome and have now been wandering the streets of the Eternal City for a long time. I do not know when I will be released, but one thing I do know: that the exclamation applies to me too: "I have become your donkey, and in just this way I am with you" (155-156).
How beautiful and moving is the heart of this humble and prayerful man! On the day of his election as the Supreme Pontiff he referred to himself as "a simple and humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord." How true this is!

Thank you, Holy Father, for continuing to make yourself the donkey of the Lord, and in this way the donkey of the universal Church!

Ad multos annos, gloriosque annos, vivas, vivas, vivas!

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