Well, folks, it’s been quite the week. Besides our annual entrance into Lent on Wednesday, Monday also saw the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI – the first pope to do this in centuries. As we look to the end of Benedict’s pontificate, the “interregnum” (literally, between reigns), the conclave, and, finally, the election of a new pope, it promises to be an exciting month for the Church and for the world.
We’ll do what we can to keep you updated on news as it develops. To start, here are a few great articles, videos, and general quotes to consider if you’re in need of playing catch-up on resignation news:
In Benedict’s Own Words:
Reaction from bishops in the United States:
Remembering Benedict’s Legacy
The Church awaits word on a conclave date, which is to be determined by the cardinals who will elect the next pope.
What should I do?
This is a unique time in the life of the Church. The best thing any of us can do is to pray very much for the Holy Father, the cardinal electors who will participate in the conclave, and the next man who will be Successor to St. Peter, known, at this moment, only to God. If you are interested, join us for a rosary in the St. Paul’s Chapel at 8:40PM on Monday nights, starting on February 18th and ending upon the election of a new pope.
Holy Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us and pray for the Pope!
Yesterday, our beloved Holy Father celebrated his last public Mass as Pope – fittingly, at the main altar at St. Peter’s Basilica, below which lie the mortal remains of St. Peter, the first Pope.
We’ll be sure to share selections from his homily later this week, as soon as it is translated into English.
There were many moving moments in this final public liturgy celebrated by the Holy Father. One such moment was a short address at the conclusion of Mass by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the current Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See, who thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his great gift of his life to the Church:
As Mass concluded and the choir began a beautiful rendition of Palestrina’s “Tu es Petrus (You are Peter)”, the Holy Father kissed the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica a final time and began his recessional down the main aisle, to the sound of thunderous applause from the faithful present. The recessional in its entirety is a bit long (seven minutes), but a historic moment to watch:
This week we celebrate our third issue of The Catechismal Crusader. We have come a long way and would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers for their continued support and generosity. Today we also solemnly celebrate Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. In my expedition through the Catechism I found that while Lent is not discussed in any particular detail, it is most directly related to conversion and penance. As we begin this new Lenten season, I hope these paragraphs help highlight the goal of our fasting, almsgiving, and prayer and better prepare us to celebrate a blessed Easter.
”Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life…” – Pope Benedict XVI
1438 The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.36 These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).
1430 Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.23
1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).24
1434 The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving,31 which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.”32
1435 Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right,33 by the admission of faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.34
Ash Wednesday is NINE days away.
What will you do to draw near to Jesus during Lent?
Pope Benedict receiving penitential ashes