Sunday, April 20, 2008

Charisma of Sincerity

Peggy Noonan's column in the New York Post
He reacted the way we now know Benedict does. Modest, meek, surprised by love, and then gamely, nodding, throwing his arms wide. You should have seen the nuns, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, Mother Agnes' Sisters of Life, from Yonkers, dozens of other orders. As he passed down the center aisle, they would reach out, rows of arms in robes reaching toward him.

It was beautiful. If you didn't get choked up, you weren't alive.

What a hit, what a trip, what a triumph. And it was something else, too. In the past week, in a wholly new way, Pope Benedict XVI became the leader of the Catholics of America. He broke through as his own man, put forward his own meaning, put his stamp on this moment in time. Americans know him now, and seem to have judged him to be what a worldly journalist said in the cathedral as he gazed at the crowd. His eyes went to Benedict on the altar, and he gestured toward him. "He's a good guy," he said, softly.

There was the priest I talked to, sitting quietly, waiting for Mass to begin. I asked if he felt he knew anything about Benedict now that he hadn't known before. Yes, he said. "He has his own charisma." He spoke of John Paul, the heavenly rock star, and said he'd felt concern that Benedict wouldn't seem to compare. But, he said, Benedict has his own magnetism. "It's the charisma of sincerity," he said. "It's sincerity and realness."


Anonymous said...

The "charisma of sincerity"? That's kind of lame. I heard different commentators say the following: "beatific sweetness" (Brit Hume of Fox News); "angelic face" (Rabbi Schneier of the Park East Synagogue, where Pope Benedict went) and President Bush said that when he looked into Benedict's eyes "I saw God."

It strikes me that Benedict XVI's charisma (if we're all still using such a hackneyed word) is that of holiness or saintliness and it was on display constantly to people last week. And it seems as though everyone picked up on it, except for the priest Peggy Noonan quoted.


Gashwin said...

True true. But maybe he did pick up on it and in the middle of an emotional moment, this is how he articulated it. It's an awesome column regardless.