Perhaps like me, you are suffering under this pontificate, the credibility of which and even the validity of which remains widely disputed, with what some might call 'Francis fatigue'. Let's face it, this pontificate, or anti-pontificate, or whatever it is, has been a war of vitriolic attrition against faithful, devout souls as well as the lukewarm and the lost. Perhaps like me, the last few years, so often a wake-up call to holiness of life has been a Vatican and civil government-driven excuse for self-indulgence, sadness, at times despair and simply clinging to the Faith of our Fathers by your finger tips. Benedict XVI himself posited that the future of the Church would be little else but this, until at last all things are restored in Christ, in a victory that can only be claimed by Himself and particularly the Immaculate Heart of His Blessed Mother.
The death of Benedict XVI should be, as it has been, a much needed wake-up call to unity around his central petrine teachings, steeped not only in the Church post-Vatican II but also the Christ of the Gospels and the Fathers of the Church. It should lead us as well to reflect on his Christian virtues and ultimately to his entire outlook on life and man's place in relation to God, man's need for and buried desire for God, buried as it is, under so many earthly pursuits, ambitions and desires, both sordid and worthy. We all know them, we all experience them, we all fall prey to them and we hopefully all know that before the Triune God, they are as nothing. God alone suffices, God alone matters, it is before God, alone, that we will be standing in need of mercy at our Judgement. Benedict XVI knew this. Francis, I fear, does not know it at all.
The men who Benedict praised and esteemed were and remain good men, though he respected most if not all men, such was his gentlemanly approach to all. These were men such as Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Zen, Cardinal Muller, Cardinal Brandmuller, Cardinal Muller, Cardinal Sarah and other men of integrity of life. All such men, of course, have been driven away by Francis from the circles of Vatican influence and power and don't we know it. What unites these men, as well as others, priests, bishops, cardinals and lay faithful with Benedict XVI, is a communion of fidelity to the Truth. Such men are the servants of the Truth. The servants of the Truth have been driven away from the centre of ecclesiastical power and yet their voice still appeals and at times resounds, as does Benedict's, to modern man and woman, even those entangled in worldly matters.
I know that Benedict XVI's legacy will be one that will continue to mystify even his most ardent supporters and friends. His resignation remains shrouded in mystery even while he maintained publicly that there was nothing mysterious about it. I myself took comfort while he was alive in knowing that a Catholic Pope resided somewhere in the Vatican, somehow holding back somewhat the rising tide of evil by his love for the Faithful, by his prayers and sacrifice, by his isolation and crucifixion, as if by his mere presence in Rome, he offered some kind of silent rebuke to what Pope Francis is doing to the Church by way of deception and slight of hand. I never stopped feeling linked to Benedict, in communion with Benedict. The transition from praying for Pope Benedict XVI the man (as I and many of you have done daily for a long time) to Pope Benedict XVI the soul has not been and will not be an easy one. We are allowed to mourn and we are allowed to feel bereaved by the death of a Pope, and especially by the death of a Pope who we know was close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whether we understand or even excuse his decision to resign the ministry of the papacy or the governance of the Church of God.
We cannot, however, lose hope, and the transitus of Benedict XVI from Earth to, please God, Eternal Life, should not dismay us so as to be a cause for the diminishment of our hope. Please God, the Church has or will have another powerful intercessor for the Church Militant on Earth. For a day, for a week, perhaps for a month, the scandalous pontificate of Pope Francis is eclipsed by Pope Benedict's death and, we pray, birth to life eternal. The death of Benedict XVI is unlikely to stop Francis from doing what Francis has been employed to do to the detriment of souls and the Church on Earth, but Saints can speak in death and speak from the grave, since the grave is not their true resting place. Their true place of rest is Heaven and from there they can thunder. Let us entrust to the tender and most Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ the soul of our dear Holy Father, Benedict XVI and I pray that his life, his exemplary way of life, his noble soul, his virtuous manner and humility of spirit continue to inspire us to put aside the passing glories of this world and to put on Christ, the only way, the only truth and the only life worthy of the name.
Benedict XVI's achievements were many as reigning and active Pope. Let us implore God that we may have him as an intercessor in Heaven, before the Throne of grace, where greater and more marvellous deeds are accomplished than we can fathom. His papacy was, though successful in many ways, nothing short of a Crucifixion. His retirement, also, can have been nothing short of a Crucifixion. To witness your Successor trample upon your work must have been a spiritual and psychological agony for Benedict. Many priests, though fewer Bishops, have seen and will see their own work destroyed in the months and the years to come because of who is governing the Church on Earth and will see it all destroyed in the Name of the One Who accomplished the good works in them. The Church of God is being and will be further crucified.
Many priests, cardinals, bishops and even lay faithful will cut a public figure like that of a lonely corpse, like Benedict XVI in death, surrounded by both friends and enemies on all sides. Let us be in life, what Benedict XVI was in both life and in death, a living rebuke to those who wish to dismantle the work of God in the Church and in our souls. Let us treat people in the gentle and kindly way he treated people, in imitation of our Lord, for even his fiercest enemies he treated lovingly. Let us entrust ourselves always to Jesus and to Mary and those we love and find hard to love also. The followers of Jesus in His own time on Earth were promised rejection and worldly disappointment, not great prestige and plaudits. Let us entrust his dear soul to God and ours also, that even if we cannot or do not follow his kindly, prayerful way of life, that we will at least strive to do so. Even though we will never experience the burden of Office that he had, let us at least bear in meekness and in charity and in humility the burden of life under Francis, as he did. Let us suffer for the love of God, just as he did. His enemies are secretly glad that they have buried Benedict XVI, and they will try to bury his teachings too, his legacy also, but they cannot bury his spirit, or ours, if our spirit is the spirit of Christ, the Risen One.