Pope Benedict is dead. This passing world has lost its Good Shepherd, just as the old year turned on to the new. His great old age made the news no less a trial for those he has left behind, for we know that death at any age was not meant to be. A friend of the abbey toasted in the New Year with these words; “To those we have lost, to those we have yet to love.”
These words, full of insight into love, encapsulate beautifully the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger. In his incomparable encyclical letter on the Love of God, Deus caritas est, he shows why we love those we have lost, and how we look forward to new relationships of love yet to come. This is at the very heart of our religion whose great and new commandment is Christ’s own: “Love one another as I have loved you." He tells us:
“…the devotion of the faithful shows an infallible intuition of how…love is possible: it becomes so as a result of the most intimate union with God, through which the soul is totally pervaded by him—a condition which enables those who have drunk from the fountain of God's love to become in their turn a fountain from which 'flow rivers of living water' (Jn 7:38).”
Whatever befalls us, the world, the Church, our families, this year let us seek that source of love, union with God through prayer and good works, and drink from it. This will make us mourn our losses, inevitable and bittersweet, and look forward with joy and gratitude to new possibilities with those whom we have yet to love in this new year of grace, Pope Benedict’s first in the world to come! May he rest in peace, and may he pray for us who have lost him for a while.