Not renunciation, but a vocation: that step backwards was a step forward

Much has been written about Benedict XVI’s step back. But in the light of these 10 years it was, in the eyes of God, a step forward. Forward to the often hidden truth; forward to the doctrine; forward towards a transcendent vision of existence. It is here that the Benedict XVI mystery lurks. Maybe it wasn’t his renunciation, but the acceptance of a vocation that finds its center of gravity in God, of a sacrifice that reveals his meaning only if we are capable of looking at the world from Heaven.



The first Pope Emeritus in history died on the last day of the year. If God sows traces of eternity in time – our time so finite – this duality cannot fail to have its own transcendent meaning, thus changing from coincidence to dioincidence. As if Benedict XVI has ferried us from one period to another, he has accompanied us to the edge of a new year, in which who knows if the news will have the colors of hope or concern, which he knows so much of a new era; almost as if really, in this time frame of just under 10 years, he has fulfilled a ministry that finds its dutiful assonance with the word mystery.

Because the feeling they have many, beyond the necessary insights of an ecclesial, canonical and theological nature, is that Benedict XVI stripped off his white cape to put on an unprecedented garment – ​​woven with the thread of humility, the fabric of true rulers – to cover an extraordinary role in the Church necessary for extraordinary times like these. He was often – it is appropriate to say – a counterpart to the official altar. A discreet and prayerful counterweight to the weightless words of many gray eminences in cassocks, an embankment to the storm surges of nothingness that shook the Leonine walls, a small flame that burned clear and clearly visible precisely because of the dense darkness that envelops us, a gentle voice but firm that it kindled the hope of many, because only one of its syllables had an exceptional specific weight in this climate of faith as light as helium. This has been and will continue to be Benedict XVI for the hearts and minds of many.

Let’s go back to today, where his afterlife opens and where an earthly year closes, and to that strange feeling that, in a similar way, one era closes and another opens. Like this decade of his, not on the sidelines of the Church but in her heart, has passed in an aura of mystery – the proper atmosphere of the things of God and of those who live in her bosom – so the years to come will have to be interpreted and read by us through the lens of faith, that virtue which finds the supernatural in the natural, which discovers the mystery in the everyday. The magisterium of Benedict XVI, the resignation, the election and the pontificate of Pope Francis, the years in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican and finally his death just when the year too is about to expire, can then offer a key to understanding the days to come, a key to understanding that will have to remind us, with comfort, that nothing, absolutely nothing, escapes God’s providential plan. And Benedict XVI, in this sense, was certainly a man of Providence.

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Not renunciation, but a vocation: that step backwards was a step forward