Benedictus vir, qui confidit in Domino, et erit Dominus fiducia eius. Et erit quasi lignum, quod transplantatur super aquas, quod ad humorem mittit radices suas: et non timebit, cum venerit æstus. Et erit folium eius viride, et in tempore siccitatis non erit sollicitum, nec aliquando de sinet facere fructum. (From the Lesson of the Mass of Thursday following the Second Sunday in Lent: "Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. And he shall be as a tree that is planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots towards moisture: and it shall not fear when the heat cometh. And the leaf thereof shall be green, and in the time of drought it shall not be solicitous, neither shall it cease at any time to bring forth fruit.")
When searching for the header verses that would go with our image of Pope Benedict XVI resting in a garden dressed in a plain cassock, it was inevitable to look up the liturgy for the day on which his renunciation would go into effect, February 28: and there it is, in the Lesson from Jeremias (chap. xvii), a fine coincidence, and an apt description of our dear Holy Father.
Since this web log was founded, we have followed the seasons of the Traditional Roman Rite; the readings, the words that have inspired us have always and only been those of the traditional Roman Missal and Roman Breviary. We were, from our beginning, in 2005, trying to make clear that we thought and acted as if the Traditional Mass had never been abrogated, because that is what we really believed, despite almost all the "expert canonists" saying the absolute opposite.
We always believed that Pope Benedict XVI would act upon his words and recognize this reality. That he would make clear that the Traditional rites of the Roman Church had never been abrogated because they can never be abrogated. And, sure enough, the motu proprio, that seemed like a fable to so many, but that we knew would come, saw the light of day. The man who trusts in the Lord brought forth fruit, and the most blessed of all, that will prove his most enduring legacy, is Summorum Pontificum: the traditional Missal was "never abrogated". Precisely because "what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful." (Letter to Bishops, July 7, 2007)
The leaves of this tree were green, but he knew the world did not want his shade, that the world hated him, as they hated the Lord in whom he trusted: "Whoever proclaims that God is Love 'to the end' has to bear witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of hatred and enmity. ... At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint." (Letter to Bishops, March 10, 2009)
Woe to those who, in the right time, did not enjoy the shade and gather the fruit brought forth by the "Blessed man that trusteth in the Lord".
One of the greatest Spanish composers, and a father of Castilian poetry, Juan del Encina was a towering literary presence in the court of the Catholic Monarchs. After years in Rome, and having received the benefice of the priory of the Cathedral of Leon, already in his late fifties, Juan del Encina was ordained a priest. It is unclear when exactly he received his ordination, but it is known that he said several of his first masses during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land with several gentlemen led by the Marquis of Tarifa, in 1519-1520. His 1521 book of verses on the pilgrimage was one of the most famous in the 16th century, and inspired Saint Ignatius of Loyola to pursue his own pilgrimage a couple of years later: in it Fr. Juan del Encina speaks fondly of the First Masses he celebrated at the Holy Sepulchre and at the Sinai Monastery.
Years earlier, in his Cancionero (1516), he had published most of his famous verses, mostly of a worldly nature, written mainly in the happiest years of the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand. But deep inside, as he revealed in one of his villancicos, Hermitaño quiero ser (I wish to be a hermit), he merely wanted to be a hermit - and, if not exactly one, he managed to die a priest in his own Cathedral, dedicated solely to the things of God. Our Holy Father, after decades of active life dedicated to the administration of the Church, chose a contemplative life also dedicated to the Church in a sort of Vatican hermitage, as he waits for the day when the Lord will call him to appear before His own court.
Thank you, Holy Father, and thank you for your past and future time of prayer and penance for the Church.
[Repost: the liturgical reference is to Feb. 28, 2013]