Tribute to Benedict XVI by Father LM de Blignières

Tribute to Benedict XVI by Father LM de Blignières

For the Church, for almost half a century, in counterpoint to relativism, selfishness and despair, Benedict XVI was a Christian epiphany of Truth, unity and joy.

Cooperator of Truth

What is most striking in the career of Benedict XVI is his concern to open to men the path of truth, in the difficult context of modernity. For this, he understood the stakes. He measured the loss of the metaphysical dimension of intelligence. He saw the decline of Creation theology, which sees in nature and the human body a message of God’s wisdom.

This perspective animated his doctrinal presentation of the faith. From the conferences on catechesis in Lyon and Paris in 1983, to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium in 1992 and 2005. She explains her insistence on the harmony of faith and reason. From Veritatis Splendor and Fides et Ratio (on which he collaborated in 1993 and 1998), to the speeches at Ratisbonne and the Bernardins in 2006 and 2008, passing through the marvelous conference at the Sorbonne in 1999 on Christianity as religio vera.

In our era of vacillation and doubt, he reminded a Europe that is sinking into nihilism of the relevance of natural law, respect for man and creation, and the need to “make faith visible as alternative that the world awaits after the failure of the liberal experiment and that of the Marxist type” (1).

I remember the day when I told him that it was thanks to the love of the Truth which transpired in his works, that I had rediscovered the hierarchical communion… It seems to me that he was sensitive to it.

Thank you, Benedict XVI, for having been, for me and for so many others, an attractive embodiment of the love of Truth.

Unity Crafter

All his life, Benedict XVI was sensitive to unity as a fruit and as proof of the Truth. This concern was linked to his concern for the continuity of the magisterium which is its guarantor. It made him quickly distance himself, after the optimism of the renewal expected from the Council, with regard to those who saw in it the occasion for a revolution, a super-dogma and an absolute beginning. This explains the founding of Communio to challenge Concilium.

This concern for true unity is the light that guided his actions. First his opposition as theologian, then as archbishop of Munich, to los von Rom (the estrangement from Rome). Then his refusal of the unprecedented rupture introduced by the prohibition of ancient rituals.

Benedict XVI was acutely aware that long-term Catholic unity guarantees unity in faith. Then his efforts to remove false conceptions about the nature of the People of God, about relations with other religions, and about ecumenism… notably in the year 2000 by the declaration Dominus Jesus. And, since December 22, 2005, the desire for a reading of Vatican II according to a “hermeneutic of reform in continuity”.

Finally, his fight against the decadence of Christology, by reading Scripture in the analogy of faith. Far from a purely empirical Jesus, Benedict XVI gave back its central place to the title of Son in the metaphysical sense. And he opposed a bureaucratic notion of ecclesial communion, bringing back into honor the reality of the Mystical Body, and filial piety with regard to the Church and its historical being (2).

I remember that day in July 1988 when, in the company of the founding priests of the Fraternity of Saint Peter, I asked him if there was a place in the Church for priests who would never say the new rite and who would never schism. He answered us: “The hand that the Church has held out to Archbishop Lefebvre remains open for those who want to grasp it”.

Thank you, Benedict XVI, for having been, for me and for so many people, an artisan of unity in the Truth.

servant of our joy

A theme constantly present in Benedict XVI is that of eternal life. He reacted against the horizontal reduction of eschatology to the utopia of a “better world” and of earthly peace as the ultimate good, a utopia which has unfortunately become “the true object of hope and the true ethical criterion”. . “Faith in eternal life hardly still plays a role in preaching today”, he lamented, seeing in it “the threat of a radical reduction in the content of our faith” (3 ).

His whole ministry was a hymn to hope in eternal life. Certainly, he faced the cultural and political challenges of the day. But he did it as a “servant of our joy”, according to the definition of his Petrine ministry, given during his enthronement mass. Our deepest joy is in the Kingdom of God, in the mutual charity of Christians, in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount… which are eternal life begun.

Benedict XVI’s own nuance of this service of Christian joy? The beauty. The beauty of the liturgy, of Christian art, of Christian life. By a courageous concern for justice, he restored the rights of the ancient use of the Roman Missal. Because it “must be honored because of its venerable and ancient use” (4), but also because of the beauty of this rite, which conveys sacredness and sustains adoration. “I had forgotten how much the prayers of this Missal lead to adoration”, he said after having celebrated this Mass again in an Ecclesia Dei community.

“Beauty is revealing of God, he said in Barcelona in 2010, because, like Him, a beautiful work is pure gratuitousness, it invites freedom and uproots selfishness”. Love for the beauty of Christian life was evident in the way Benedict XVI fought against what defiled him in the life of the Church. Where did he get the rare courage to always tell the truth about evil and ugliness, from his famous Conversation on Faith in 1985, to measures against moral scandals in the Church, passing through preaching of the Stations of the Cross in 2005?

The answer is in his sensitivity to the beauty of love. In his radiant humility. In his spiritual joy. He knew that evil is never ultimately victorious. When Blaise Pascal speaks of the saints and of Christ, one cannot help thinking of Benedict XVI: “The saints have their empire, their brilliance, their victory, their luster, and have no need of carnal or spiritual greatness. [dans le sens de : intellectuelles]. They are seen by God and angels, not curious bodies or minds. God suffices them. […] It would have been useless for Our Lord Jesus Christ to shine in his reign of holiness, to come as a king, but he did come there with the brilliance of his order. » (5)

“The brilliance of his order”, for Benedict XVI? It is that of Truth in humility. Like a Lamb of God, he touched hearts with the greatness of intelligence combined with the delicacy of love. “Power is lacking in truth, all the more because it is nobler. […] The nobler a truth, the more easily gross realities can push it aside or cover it with ridicule; the more she has to rely on the chivalrous attitude of spirit. » (6)

Thank you, Benedict XVI, for having been, for me and for so many people, a “lover of spiritual beauty” (7) and a servant of our joy.

1. Speech to the Presidents of the Doctrinal Commissions of the European Episcopates, May 2, 1989.

2. Rediscovery to which the speeches of the audiences of Wednesday on the apostles, the Fathers of the Church and the saints contributed.

3. Quoted speech of May 2, 1989.

4. Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007, article 1.

5. Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, Brunschvicg, n. 793.

6. Romano Guardini, The Lord, Paris, Alsatia, 1945, t. 2, p. 253.

7. Rule of Saint Augustine.

Photo credit: DR

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Tribute to Benedict XVI by Father LM de Blignières

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