‘A man is the road of the Church’ – it is a message of Pope John Paul II. And the most important message of Benedict XVI is summarised in the words: ‘God is a road of the man’. These two pontificates complement each other.

Like many Catholics, I felt the resignation of Benedict XVI from the mission on the Holy See deeply and painfully. However, despair does not suit a Christian, but he should always be the man of hope – I cannot reject unhappy thoughts. The great Pope is going away – there are no doubts about it, but we must not doubt about the Holy Spirit who is going to be a guard of the forthcoming conclave.

The great Pope is leaving

However, when looking backwards at not completed eight years of the ministry of Benedict XVI – this great man of great wisdom, goodness and humility, ‘straightforward, humble worker of Lord’s vineyard’, as he used to say about himself, experienced bitterness from the world as much as his greatness is. And not only from the world which is hostile to Christianity, but also from the bosom of the Church. I do not have a right to judge it whether it was just the reason for the resignation, but Pope’s words about insufficient physical and spiritual strengths for facing challenges are unquestionable.

Courage of John Paul II and courage of Benedict XVI

This resignation is not, as some people would like to think, an act of weakness or even lack of courage. John Paul II was suffering in an ineffable way in the eyes of the world, revealing the mystery of suffering to people heroically, so that they would be able to sacrifice their suffering for their neighbours, by following our only Master – Christ in it.

Courage of Benedict XVI is as humble as he himself. Leaving the big stage of the world for the seclusion of a monastery, this Pope deprives himself of everything for the sake of the good of the Church, is resigning from obtaining the signs of our love consciously and willingly. However, it does not mean that we will not love him but it will be a different love. As he is going to be concealed from us, the signs of our joy are also going to be concealed. I feel that this great wise man with a smile of a shy child flashed through our lives, trying to preoccupy us with his person as little as possible, directing our eyes only towards God; and everything so that the mission of the Church could successfully flourish in the rough and difficult time.

On the Day of the Upper Room

The resignation of Benedict XVI is coming at an unusual time – the Great Lent. How beautifully he interpreted its final date: Thursday 28 February the metropolitan of Szczecin archbishop Andrzej Dzięga, is leaving on Thursday, on the day of the Upper Room and at the time of the Upper Room. Did Benedict XVI want to say something to us in this way? I do not doubt it at all: this prominent theologian and Biblicist tells us, like Christ told the Apostles, to watch and pray. Taking care of the form of our faith, of its power – facing difficulties, on the field of a constant fight against dark forces of evil, unusually rampant in our times.

A call for looking at Heaven

Like John Paul II, Benedict XVI is a great diagnostician of illnesses of the world – it was him who called them by name at the beginning of his pontificate – dictatorship of relativism. And he named all its signs: destruction of life, family, anti-human gender pseudo-philosophy. Like John Paul II, perceiving the struggle of love civilisation with death civilisation, sees a danger of the biological existence of the man in deviations of his thoughts and conscience. John Paul II was called to us loudly: ‘You must be strong!’.

In his quiet abdication Benedict XVI says exactly the same. These two pontificates, two great, such different popes complement each other in an unusual way. The quintessence, if it can be said so at all, of the teaching of our great compatriot was: ‘A man is a road of the Church’. The most important message of Benedict is summarised in the words: ‘God is a road of the man’. The first one bent over a tormented man, with mercifulness, the latter one – takes him upwards again, pointing out at the Creator and Redeemer as the purpose of the earthly journey. This call for looking at the Heaven appears in all three encyclicals of Benedict XVI: ‘Deus caritas est’, ‘Spe salvi’, and ‘Caritas in veritate’, and also his excellent three-volume work ‘Jesus from Nazareth’, in which he shows with unusual precision and clarity, where the sources of enslavement are in the contemporary world, confronting Marxism, all today’s its derivatives and various ideological fetishism with the clearest light of Christ’s sacrifices of love which demands persistent and still renewed attempts of becoming mature for love to God from the man created for the image and similarity of the Creator. Only this and so much.

Prayer vigil and faithfulness

In his resignation Benedict XVI reminds us that it is not the pope who is the head of the Church – but Christ is the head of the Church. In the sadness which is so human and understandable, we mustn’t forget about it. Christ is not leaving us like never before. And it is a great, consoling message of the resignation of Benedict XVI. And our commitment of faithfulness as well. In the miserable country, in which there are lots of mental plagues, deviations of culture and a public lie is triumphing over the truth – it is a very serious commitment.

Today a Polish Catholic has especially a duty of being vigilant. We must not be neutral, indifferent to matters of fundamental significance, both for our earthly and heavenly homeland.

We must remember the beautiful words of ‘Songs of the confederates: ‘In the ordinances of Christ, we, the servants of Mary’.


"Niedziela" 9/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl