"The Church is alive -was his greeting that April 24, 2005. because Christ is alive, because he is risen indeed". The Church is alive and young, he pointed out. The Church lives with that youthfulness of the risen Christ. For this reason, he said he had no other program than to put himself at the service of the listening to God so that He may continue to lead the Church.
That same certainty, Benedict XVI showed on that day, with trust and joy, verifying and confirming that he has been heard: "I can say that the Lord has really guided me, he has been close to me, I have been able to perceive his presence on a daily basis".
As one who has well experienced the path of Gospelmaking flesh in his life the ministry of PedroIt has been a part of the Church's journey, which has had moments of joy and light, but also moments that have not been easy; I felt like St. Peter with the apostles in the boat on the lake of Galilee.The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breezes, days when the fishing was abundant; there have also been times when the waters were rough and the wind was contrary, as in all the history of the Church, and the Lord seemed to sleep. But I always knew that in that boat was the Lord. Mr. and I have always known that the boat of the Church is not mine, it is not ours, it is his. And the Lord does not let it sink; it is he who steers it, certainly also through the men he has chosen, because that is what he has willed. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish".
Giotto, Navicella (1605-1613), St. Peter's Factory, Vatican City
Experience, testimony and gratitude: "And for that my heart is full of gratitude to God, because he has never let the whole Church or me lack his consolation, his light, his love".
He now addresses those who listened to him in that audience and all of us who take up his words. And he tells us why he proclaimed the Year of Faith: "precisely in order to strengthen our faith in God in a context that seems to reduce him more and more to the background". He wants to transmit to us his experience through his testimony, and also to move us to the trust cheerful and prayer He is also grateful for the work and support, the respect and understanding of those who have surrounded and surround him.
As a matter of course, the theological depth comes to him: "Yes, the Pope is never alone; now I experience him once again in a way so great that it touches the heart. He speaks of the many people who have written to him, not as to a prince or a personage they do not know: "They write to me as brothers and sisters or as sons and daughters, feeling a bond with me". family very affectionate". For this reason, he assures us that he has vividly experienced the reality of the Church as a living body in Christ and the family of God: "Here you can touch with your hand what the Church is - not an organization, an association with religious purposes or an association with religious purposes, but an organization that is a living body in Christ. humanitariansbut a living body, a communion brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, which unites us all. Consequence: "To experience the Church in this way, and to be able almost to touch with one's hand the power of its truth and its loveThis is a reason to rejoice, at a time when so many speak of her decline. But we see how the Church today is alive".
He then refers to his insistent prayer, during the last few months, to ask God for light, in order to make the right decision. And he affirms that he took this step "with full awareness of its importance and also of its novelty, but with a profound serenity of spirit".
From this, simple and dense lessons also follow: "To love the Church also means to have the courage to take decisions I have always had the good of the Church at heart and not the good of myself". In the course of these years," he continued, "I have been able to experience, and I am experiencing it right now, that one receives life precisely when one gives it"; because the successor of Pedro (because he is the common father of the family of God on earth), "he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to everyone and everyone belongs to him". And he confirms that, also in his case, there is no turning back; that he does not intend to abandon the cross, and as a sign of this he will remain in the Vatican precincts: "I will continue to accompany the journey of the Church with the prayer and reflection, with the surrender to the Lord and to his WifeI have tried to live every day so far and I would like to live forever".
It's day at the Vatican square and after asking for sentences for himself and for those who have the duty of electing a new Pope, invoking Mary, he said goodbye Benedict XVIas if he were saying to us - as Bishop Javier Echevarría- "I will not leave you orphans..." (Jn 14:18). And not without exercising, at the last minute, his duty to confirm the faithful in unity and faith:
"Dear friends, God guides his Church, sustains her always, even and especially in difficult moments. Let us never lose this vision of faithwhich is the only true vision of the path of the Church and of the world. May in our heart, in the heart of each one of you, there always be the joyful certainty that the Lord is at our side, that he does not abandon us, that he is close to us and that he covers us with his love. Thank you.
Benedict XVI's last word, above all with his life, is one of gratitude, like a grain of wheat that becomes fruitful (cf. Jn 12:24).
Mr. Ramiro Pellitero Iglesias
Professor of Pastoral Theology
Faculty of Theology
University of Navarra
Published in "Church and new evangelization".