Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Benedict the abbot

[Hat tip to Jaime for pointing me to this article] Christopher Ruddy has a marvelous piece in the latest America on Pope Benedict (Reprinted in full online at Catholic Online). He identifies three emerging themes in this young papacy: Love for the person of Christ, leadership as listening and an interpretation of Vatican II that emphasize its continuity with the past, all firmly ruted in the celebrated Rule of St. Benedict, which this Pope seems to have taken to heart.

Right now it's the first part that has me really excited, with its emphasis on a personal relationship with Christ, lectio divina, and the sacramental life of the Church. Reminds me of these folks ... :-)
Here's some great quotes:
The Rule calls the monks to “prefer nothing whatever to Christ,” a phrase that Pope Benedict quoted in his very first general audience. The key to his pontificate, indeed to his life, is found in this personalism. As both a theologian and a bishop, he has warned against a reduction of Christianity to morality, social activism or an intellectual system. The kingdom of God, he said in a homily delivered in February at St. Anne’s Parish in the Vatican, is not a program, but the presence of God, above all in the person of Christ.

Jesus is defined by his prayerful encounter with the father, and we in turn are defined by our encounter with Jesus, who “takes us by the hand” in the gift of his word and sacraments and thereby shares his life with us. Thus, as the pope said in a weekly audience in February, Jesus’ disciples are called not to be “heralds of an idea, but witnesses of a person. Before being sent to evangelize, they would have to ‘be’ with Jesus (cf. Mk 3:14), establishing a personal relationship with him.”
On the interpretation of Vatican II, Ruddy, like many others, seems to see in the emphasis on a hermeneutic of continuity, only "business as usual." I seriously doubt that this is what either Pope John Paul II or Benedict mean, howsoever much both of them have strived to "reign in" the direction of much of the reform. I do think they both acknowledge the discontinuity of the council ... though not as this great rupture from the past that has become a kind of orthodoxy of its own in some sectors of the church.
Benedict’s depiction of the two competing hermeneutics needs to take fuller account of this genuinely discontinuous dimension of the council, he is nonetheless right that any such development can be properly understood only from within a broader matrix of continuity. Aggiornamento and ressourcement need each other.
I don't think the other excellent article in the latest America is online in full yet (except to subscribers). However, Mark Mossa has a brief write up on both, and Amy has a larger quote from the second article.

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