I don’t think the week can pass without a reflection on the resignation of HH Pope Benedict XVI. I was deeply moved by his resignation speech. As I listened to the English translation, I became aware that not only was I witnessing an important marker in history, I realised I was watching the display of human greatness, holiness and brokenness. The following words used will remain with me forever: “I am well aware that this ministry owing to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering”.
You may not know, but I grew up Catholic and my early childhood experiences of God were shaped by the silent pauses and reflection within the intimacy of liturgical service. The manner of taking of communion, kneeling, repenting and even confession have remained deep within me. As a young lad I used to regularly help serve the priest as he took the sacraments. I experienced being an insider as we put on robes and prepared for the service. His kindly tone and gentle encouragement always made me feel known by God. Unfortunately he left the country finding the domestic politics of the day an affront to his conscience and ethics and my own theological development seemed to drift. It was only at university in my fifth year that I would have a spiritual renewal and personal encounter with Jesus. These past 25-years have been a celebration of this commitment and I feel incredibly alive to the Spirit of Christ. While I have learnt about the importance of doctrine and remain an evangelical charismatic, I am also at times a liberal and even confess to a love for reference expressed in tradition and being Anglo-Catholic, but what guides me is being Christ centred with a focus on what Dallas Willard calls the vision of the Gospel and the Kingdom, the intention of being discipled and discipling and openness to the method of spiritual formation, all of which continue to bring alignment to one’s life purpose. We thank the Lord for the Life of Joseph Ratzinger, a servant of Christ. May we learn from him that “ministry owing to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering”.