Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Pope Benedict's final General Audience was a very personal and warm message of gratitude towards all who collaborated with him in his ministry as Successor of Peter.

He models for us the need for constant gratitude to God for so many blessings, but also, to all who assist us in our daily lives:  family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends, colleagues.  We tend to express our displeasure and dislikes without hesitation, but we are not so quick to thank all who have helped us.

For me, this Lent is a wonderful time to reflect more deeply on God's many gifts in our lives, and especially to thank personally all who accompany us on our faith journeys.  We sometimes look at Lent as a time of privation; but a far more penitential practice is reaching out to one another in expressions of gratitude.

Let's listen to what the Pope said on Wednesday at the Audience:

At this time, however, it is not only God, whom I desire to thank. A Pope is not alone in guiding St. Peter’s barque, even if it is his first responsibility – and I have not ever felt myself alone in bearing either the joys or the weight of the Petrine ministry.

The Lord has placed next to me many people, who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your counsels, your friendship, were all precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my Secretary of State, who accompanied me faithfully over the years, the Secretariat of State and the whole Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in various areas, give their service to the Holy See: the many faces which never emerge, but remain in the background, in silence, in their daily commitment, with a spirit of faith and humility. They have been for me a sure and reliable support.

A special thought [goes] to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I can not forget the Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, the consecrated persons and the entire People of God: in pastoral visits, in public encounters, at Audiences, in traveling, I have always received great care and deep affection; I also loved each and every one, without exception, with that pastoral charity which is the heart of every shepherd, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I carried each of you in my prayers, with a father’s heart.

I wish my greetings and my thanks to reach everyone: the heart of a Pope expands to [embrace] the whole world. I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes present the great family of nations. Here I also think of all those who work for good communication, whom I thank for their important service....
God guides His Church, always sustaining her even and especially in difficult times.  Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the path of the Church and of the world.  In our hearts, in the heart of each one of you, may there always be the joyous certainty that the Lord is beside us, that He does not abandon us, that He is near and embraces us with His love.  Thank you!:

Let's follow his lead:  may our hearts expand to embrace all who journey with us as disciples of Jesus Christ!