Permalink to A Humble Worker in the Vineyard of the Lord

A Humble Worker in the Vineyard of the Lord

 

I’m shaken, I’ll admit.

This doesn’t strike me as a particularly propitious moment for the Church. (Or for democracy, the rule of law, and other essential components of what we continue to call civilization.) No doubt Benedict considered this before making his decision, but Paul VI chose not to resign for fear he would set a bad precedent–from then on, this group or that would attempt to pressure his successors into resigning themselves–and it seems to me that Paul VI had a point. And who will succeed Benedict? The more closely I observe contemporary bishops, frankly, the less impressed with them I am (there are exceptions, of course, but still) and I can’t see much reason to suppose that the bishops in the College of Cardinals rises all that far above the general run.

I’m shaken, as I say.

Against all this? I have the example of Benedict himself.

Take a look once again at the two minutes of tape below. Proclaimed pope less than an hour before, an old Bavarian scholar stands on the balcony of St. Peter’s addressing a hundred thousand in the piazza below–and, by television and radio, all the world. He speaks without notes, in Italian. Immediately–you can see this at about 25 seconds–he speaks of his predecessor as “the great” pope John Paul. Then–this takes place at about 40 seconds–he explains how he sees himself in relation to John Paul II: He himself, says Benedict, represents only “a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.”

A humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.

The calm Benedict displayed–the profound serenity–proved then, as during these eight years since, that he believed what he said, and that he believed that was enough.

Say your prayers. Do your work. And leave the rest to the Lord.

Much easier said than done, of course, particularly for someone with as intense an impulse as mine to comment and meddle. But the magnificent life of Josef Ratzinger–for eight years supreme pontiff, and, as of the final day of this month, once again a quiet priest and scholar–proves that it’s worth a very good try.

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  1. Profile photo of Giantkiller Member

    I could not agree more – shaken and moved. A truly great man and Pope.

    • #1
    • February 11, 2013 at 11:29 am
  2. Profile photo of Ursula Hennessey Contributor

    Amen to all you’ve said, Peter.

    (…revealing my own intense impulse to comment and meddle … )

    • #2
    • February 11, 2013 at 11:31 am
  3. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    Peter,

    You have no reason to be shaken. Stirred perhaps, but not shaken. Entrust yourself during this Lent to the care of the favorite spiritual author of Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XII, the some day Doctor of Divine Adoption, the man who introduced the late Blessed John Paul II to the mysteries of the spiritual life, the Irish/Belgian Benedictine Dom Columba Marmion

    Blessed Columba Marmion was born in Ireland and served for several years as a priest in Dublin before finding a vocation to the monastery. Eventually he became Abbot of Maredsous Abbey in Belgium and one of the foremost spiritual masters of the 20th century. His books have been translated into eleven languages and sold some 1.5 million copies. The back cover describes the work thus: “Firmly rooted in the Bible, the Liturgy, and the writings of the Saints and Doctors of the Church, Marmion explores every aspect of Catholic dogma — with penetrating insight — but his great emphasis is on the person o Christ, and the doctrine of Divine Adoption.” 

    • #3
    • February 11, 2013 at 11:35 am
  4. Profile photo of Colin B Lane Inactive

    Peter, 

    Be not afraid. 

    God

    • #4
    • February 11, 2013 at 11:37 am
  5. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    Actually, Peter, I think that this is a good thing. Benedict’s Papacy had entered its twilight, and the Church mice in the Vatican were beginning to stir and to speak on his behalf. His decision is an indication of his awareness that he can no longer shoulder the burden, and it may signal his determination not to allow others to make of him their mouthpiece.

    We must hope and pray that his successor will be a man of real quality. These are trying times, and we are only now beginning to recover from a period of deep corruption.

    • #5
    • February 11, 2013 at 11:50 am
  6. Profile photo of Tennessee Patriot Member

    Maybe they can find one this time who is not pro-socialism and realizes that free people in free nations creates the most “social justice”. The Catholic Church stance on statism is appalling.

    • #6
    • February 11, 2013 at 11:54 am
  7. Profile photo of Douglas Member
    Paul A. Rahe: Actually, Peter, I think that this is a good thing. Benedict’s Papacy had entered its twilight, and the Church mice in the Vatican were beginning to stir and to speak on his behalf. His decision is an indication of his awareness that he can no longer shoulder the burden, and it may signal his determination not to allow others to make of him their mouthpiece.

    We must hope and pray that his successor will be a man of real quality. These are trying times, and we are only now beginning to recover from a period of deep corruption. · 1 hour ago

    I only hope the next Pope can live up to the legacy of the last two. They left some pretty big boots to fill.

    • #7
    • February 12, 2013 at 1:01 am
  8. Profile photo of Frederick Key Inactive

    I think I understand the term “gobsmacked” now.

    I’m a huge admirer of the Holy Father; his Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration is a tremendous work. Have not gotten to the others yet–just have not felt up to the heavy lifting. What an incredible Christian thinker.

    • #8
    • February 12, 2013 at 1:01 am
  9. Profile photo of KC Mulville Member

    Of course, is it out of the question that Benedict would write another theology treatise, or better, a spiritual memoir?

    After all, he’s just resigning from a stressful job – he isn’t dead yet.

    • #9
    • February 12, 2013 at 1:09 am
  10. Profile photo of notmarx Member

    Peter Robinson says: A humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. The calm Benedict displayed–the profound serenity…

    *

    He has the nicest way with him, a quiet radiance. John Paul I admired. I love Benedict. And I trust him, so I’m inclined to believe he’s made the right decision; and as one of his flock, inclined to hope.

    • #10
    • February 12, 2013 at 1:29 am
  11. Profile photo of Rachel Lu Contributor

    I would never accuse Pope Benedict of doing something thoughtlessly, but it’s hard not to feel discouraged. Not just because I love this Holy Father, but because I keep thinking about how no pontiff will again be able to say or do anything controversial without an accompanying chorus of screams about how the pope is out of touch and needs to resign. It’s hard not to feel a little let down.

    • #11
    • February 12, 2013 at 2:34 am
  12. Profile photo of Irene F. Starkehaus Inactive

    Shaken, yes. Pope Benedict’s successor will sig­nal to the Church’s followers that Catholi­cism has either given up and fallen to the despo­tism of moral rel­a­tivism or has steeled itself against the erod­ing tide of human­ism to light the way for those who truly seek to do God’s will dur­ing their time here on earth. For myself, I’m not certain that the Church is prepared to make this stand.

    • #12
    • February 12, 2013 at 2:39 am
  13. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Inactive
    Nanda Panjandrum

    To Rachel Lu & Cranky1: In Whom do we place trust? (Cf. Mt. 16:18)

    • #13
    • February 12, 2013 at 2:47 am
  14. Profile photo of Cornelius Julius Sebastian Thatcher

    Thank you, Peter. Your words put a tightness in my throat that I have not felt since the memorial service for Blessed John Paul II (the Great) at my parish nigh eight years ago. I tremble some for who will next wear the Shoes of the Fisherman, but less so than were the man deciding he must step aside been a cleric of ordinary caliber, instead of one of our Church’s greatest theologians. Let us have faith in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Still, admittedly perhaps more for selfish reasons, I am tinged with sadness to think of what we as a Catholic family will be losing when our Holy Father steps aside. Men such as Karol Wotlya and Joseph Ratzinger are rarely produced, let alone in tandem. One cannot help but feel the time of giants is ending. Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us and the conclave.

    • #14
    • February 12, 2013 at 2:59 am
  15. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Inactive
    Nanda Panjandrum

    CJS. Re #23: Just a reminder, Benedict (he of the ‘good word’) is not yet lost to us. Also, let us not foreclose the action of the Holy Spirit. [Cf. 1 Cor. 2:9-10]

    • #15
    • February 12, 2013 at 3:13 am
  16. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher

    Although my family have been Protestants back to Jan Hus, and it’s not likely we’re coming back anytime soon, I was evangelized by Catholics, attended a Catholic university, have five children, and am ardently pro-life. So I’m hard to pick out of the crowd at the semi-annual KofC sponsored blood drive.

    Anyway, I’ve been admirer of the Holy Father (defending him as required to liberal Catholics) and am sorry to see him go.

    It is admirable that he knows when to hang it up and it is an example that the superannuated politicians (e.g Byrd, Kennedy, Hyde, Thurmond, &tc.) and judges (Marshall, Rhenquist, &tc.) in the US would do well to follow.

    Let not your heart be troubled Peter. God is either in control, or he’s not. And if not, the resignation of a pope is among the lesser of our worries.

    • #16
    • February 12, 2013 at 3:14 am
  17. Profile photo of Western Chauvinist Member
    KC Mulville
    J Climacus:

    Don’t sweat the Papal Election… and let us put our faith in the real Helmsman behind the Church.

    Second that.

    Although, MSNBC has latched on to the key meaning of electing a pope:

    “It’s going to be a watershed moment for the Catholic Church. Where do they go?” asked MSNBC analyst Mike Barnicle. “Do they go right? The pope took the church even more to the right. Or do they come back toward the middle with the American church in their minds?”

    Rarely has MSNBC articulated my fears so precisely.

    • #17
    • February 12, 2013 at 3:31 am
  18. Profile photo of Bereket Kelile Member

    And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    The fate of the church is in Jesus’ hands and there is no reason to worry about what the future will bring. It’s not that we hope in a future victory but that we trust in the victory that has already been won. The Lord will build His church and no one can do anything to stop that. 

    And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

    • #18
    • February 12, 2013 at 3:34 am
  19. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher

    On the lighter side, from my twitter feed:

    • Second resignation in 7200 months. Turmoil in bedrock institution.
    • As soon as the pope discovered Twitter, he just couldn’t keep his head in his day job.
    • #19
    • February 12, 2013 at 3:44 am
  20. Profile photo of Rachel Lu Contributor

    I’m not fearful for the long-term future of the Church as a whole. The Holy Spirit will protect it, as he always has. But of course that doesn’t preclude the possibility of dark days in the interim. There have been plenty of those too. And we rank-and-file have to put up with the fallout as much as anyone else.

    • #20
    • February 12, 2013 at 4:10 am
  21. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Inactive
    Nanda Panjandrum

    Rachel, as “rank and file” under the Crucified, isn’t “putting up with the fallout” what we’re called to do?

    • #21
    • February 12, 2013 at 4:54 am
  22. Profile photo of donald todd Member

    He wasn’t looking for the position and, having now discovered that he lacks the physical strength to continue, he tendered his resignation. I actually think this is wonderful, as in full of wonder. We find a man who loves God and His Church more than he loves being pope. It speaks wonderfully about B16 that in his humility he is able to see that someone more dynamic is required.

    I also believe it is an example. We’ve had some popes whose minds or bodies or both were taxed beyond their ability to do the work properly. B16’s humility might be a boon for his successors and our papas.

    • #22
    • February 12, 2013 at 5:16 am
  23. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Inactive
    Nanda Panjandrum

    DT: As someone with mobility and self-care impairments, I must say that I found PJPII’s example of working with/through disability – and his ability to *receive* assistance with grace – powerful. That said, each person’s situation is different and I admire PBXVI for gracefully making a difficult decision.

    • #23
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:50 am
  24. Profile photo of Irene F. Starkehaus Inactive
    Nanda Panjandrum: Rachel, as “rank and file” under the Crucified, isn’t “putting up with the fallout” what we’re called to do? · 15 hours ago

    What we are called to do and what we would prefer to do are two separate things. Even Jesus asked to have the cup pass from him if it be God’s will. I’m with him on this one.

    • #24
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:14 am
  25. Profile photo of Rachel Lu Contributor
    Nanda Panjandrum: Rachel, as “rank and file” under the Crucified, isn’t “putting up with the fallout” what we’re called to do? · 15 hours ago

    Sometimes. We needn’t, however, look forward to seeing the Church’s enemies celebrate what appears, at least in the interim, to be weakness on her part.

    • #25
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:19 am
  26. Profile photo of Colin B Lane Inactive

    An 85-year-old humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord will prayerfully consider whether he has the human strength remaining to continue efficaciously serving the billion Catholics in his care. A less humble servant may never give it a second thought.

    If that isn’t a proverb, perhaps it should be. God bless Benedict for knowing when it’s time to hang up the Papal cleats.

    The-Papal-cleats.jpg

    • #26
    • February 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm
  27. Profile photo of Peter Robinson Founder
    Peter Robinson Post author
    Paul A. Rahe: Actually, Peter, I think that this is a good thing. Benedict’s Papacy had entered its twilight, and the Church mice in the Vatican were beginning to stir and to speak on his behalf. His decision is an indication of his awareness that he can no longer shoulder the burden, and it may signal his determination not to allow others to make of him their mouthpiece.

    We must hope and pray that his successor will be a man of real quality. These are trying times, and we are only now beginning to recover from a period of deep corruption. · 8 minutes ago

    Very well stated, Paul. Now to start the Veni Creator….

    • #27
    • February 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm
  28. Profile photo of Bereket Kelile Member

    So what becomes of him as he lives out the rest of his post-papal life? I imagine that since there hasn’t been a person alive who can say they used to be the Pope in 600 years it must raise some questions. Will it be awkward at all? I’m asking out of pure curiosity.

    • #28
    • February 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm
  29. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Inactive
    Nanda Panjandrum

    I am moved and stirred by the humility and honesty Benedict has shown here…May each and all of us have such courage! I admit to being dismayed by the political tone of remarks I’ve seen on this thread; such considerations have their time and place – today is not such a time.

    • #29
    • February 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm
  30. Profile photo of J Climacus Member

    If the current crop of bishops is not impressive, neither was the first. One betrayed the Lord, another denied Him (the first Pope even!), another was a tax collector. Nary a man of quality among them, and they were handpicked by the Lord. Yet the Church has endured for more than 2,000 years despite the generally mediocre men at her helm.

    Don’t sweat the Papal Election… and let us put our faith in the real Helmsman behind the Church.

    • #30
    • February 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm
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