There is something that draws me to Pope Benedict XVI, something that draws me to him even more than I was drawn to Pope John II. I am not entirely sure that I can put it into words, but I will do what I can.
The more that I read the current Holy Father and watch him as he carries out his ministry the more attracted I am to him. I feel somehow connected to him. Much of what he says resonates deeply within me; what he says I know to be true.
It seems to me that John Paul II was a philospher to his core, and philosophers have never much attracted me. Benedict, on the other hand, seems to be a poet to his core and this shines marvelously through his homilies, speeches and books.
There is a mark of quiet confidence about Pope Benedict, and yet it is a confidence that also clearly needs direction from time to time. If you watch carefully, you can see the Holy Father look toward Archbishop Marini, the papal master of ceremonies, with a child-like look that seems to ask, "What do I do now?" And then Benedict confidently strides away.
Pope Benedict has described himself several times as the Lord's beast of burden, an image I find particularly appealing and one to which I relate well. The Holy Father will do all that is asked of him even if he would rather retire to the mountains. It is, perhaps, this resolve to lay his own desires aside that draws me to him.
He has been called the "smiling Pope" by some because Benedict always has a warm and genuine smile ready to radiate his love. There is also a quiet humor to him, never boisterous or over-the-top, but always present nonetheless. He knows the seriousness of his mission but he takes himself none too seriously.
I cannot help but think - and truly believe - that if the Holy Father and I knew each other that we could quite easily be very good friends. I should very much like to sit down with Pope Benedict for a brief visit or even a good game of chess.
This Holy Father inspires me deeply and never ceases to teach me new things or to remind me of old things, all the while keeping the focus on Christ Jesus.
Ad multos annos, Heilege Fater!