Rorate Caeli

Benedictus vir qui confidit in Domino:
Gratitude to God for the hated and despised
Pope of Summorum Pontificum

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.


  1. Anonymous1:36 AM

    A beautiful and fitting reflection. Thank you very much for this.

  2. Summorum Pontificum is the gift that will keep on giving as more of our bishops and priests embrace it.

    God bless our Holy Father. He has done more for Catholic tradition in releasing one document than all the popes of the Council-era put together.

  3. Poor Yorek2:02 AM

    Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
    Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
    Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

  4. Prof. Basto2:21 AM

    May God keep, bless and save His Holiness. Thank you, Holy Father!

    Salve, Roma!
    In te aeterna stat Historia,
    inclyta fulgent gloria
    monumenta tot et arae.
    Roma Petri et Pauli,
    cunctis mater tu redemptis,
    lumen cunctae in facie gentis
    mundique sola spes!

    Salve, Roma,
    cuius lux occasum nescit,
    splendet, incandescit
    et iniquo oppilat os.

    Pater beatissime,
    annos Petri attinge, excede!
    Unum, quaesumus, concede:
    tu nobis benedic.

  5. J Hughes Dunphy2:35 AM

    Indeed, Pope Benedictus XVI is a great pope of Tradition for resurrecting the Holy Tridentine Mass of the Ages! Church history shall applaud his reign for this single act as being awe-inspiring in the face of frightening opposition. Nor can we forget each Pope has done great deeds of such saintly holiness, even the counciliar popes: Pope Paul VI with "Humanae Vitae" and Pope John Paul II with the Divine Mercy Devotion and the canonization of Sister Faustina et alii.

  6. Livius2:38 AM

    Thank you for posting this very touching and beautiful reflection. This is such a sad night; it feels like a vigil at a bedside. Yet I know that, withdrawn from the world, the Pope will at the same time enter on some new suffering and yet be happy. And I know he will be praying for us as we do for him.

  7. Thank you, Holy Father.

    Pray for us.

  8. Yes, prayers for Benedict XVI. Heri Hodie Semper!! Deo Gratias!!!

  9. Gregorian Mass4:19 AM

    Praying for the Holy Father this very evening. Summorum Pontificum brought me totally into my Faith. I learned more about being a Catholic since 2007 than all my life with the NO Mass. I will be eternally grateful to Benedict XVI. I will miss him dearly and continue to pray for him and out New Pope.

  10. Livius said...

    "This is such a sad night; it feels like a vigil at a bedside."

    "Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

  11. Benedict Carter6:02 AM

    Yes, a deeply-thoughtful reflection and we should indeed be most grateful.

    I cannot help noting, however, that given the plenitude of Papal power and the understanding that Benedict has of the nature of the catastrophe, to be certain in his own mind that nothing else was possible, the nature of the "superforce" in the Vatican opposing him must surely be pure diabolism.

  12. Gratias6:08 AM

    Holy Father, thank you for eight years of peaceful growth of our Catholic faith.

    Summorum Pontificum was crucial to the future. Many more EF masses are now taking place in the Dioceses. Fellow Catholics do not now look at us traditionalists as crazies but instead have admiration. With a few good bishops promoting the EF we may have the points of light needed for preserving the Church.

    It was so touching to see Benedict chanting the Paternoster and the 150,000 chanting with him in EWTN in my iPad app. I attended a Public audience in November and was surprised how many people could sing along the Our Father, particularly because it was not printed in the program. They knew it by heart.

    The Anglican Ordinariate will grow and become very important. Other soi-disant Catholics missed the boat. Opus Dei also did not help much this pontiff in my view. All in all we will emerge stronger and will restore vitality to the Church with the seeds planted by this great intellectual Pope.

    Ora pro nobis Benedictus. We will pray for you, and miss you. Viva Benedictus Papa nostrum.

  13. Ora et Labora6:24 AM

    Thank you Holy Father for your Pontificate, and for all your efforts to bring peace and unity within the Church, but I most especially want to thank you for Summorum Pontificum.

    Thanks to you, Holy Father, we have access to the beautiful Latin Masses which are celebrated every weekend in my corner of the the world.

    I am certain that Church history and Catholics of future generations will remember you as the gentle Pope who in the early part of this tumultuous 21th century and in spite of the opposition of many even of his own bretheren, was willing to give Catholics back access to the Church's greatest treasure: The Mass of the Ages, The Mass of Always.... THE TRADENTINE MASS.

    God bless you Holy Father and I will be accompanying you with my prayers.

    Mary Help of Christian pray for us!!!

  14. Mariana6:36 AM

    Your reflection made me wanna cry. It's a bittersweet goodbye to Holy Father. We are really blessed to be given such a wise, humble, and gentle pope.

  15. If you want to do some additional penance this Lent than watch this video. Than reflect on what the Holy Father gave us in Summorum Pontificum. The battle for liturgical continuity still wages on.

  16. Barbara7:40 AM

    With all my heart I thank Pope Benedict XVI for Summorum Pontificum - which changed my Catholic life utterly - primarily because it was like coming home - I remember the tears of joy I wept at my first traditional Latin Masses---didn't understand very much - yet It was like I understood everyhing for the first time!

    Thank you too Rorate for being a great bridge to Catholic Tradition! In my view, yours is the correct position - great love and respect for the Holy Father without ignoring some of his VatII personal ideas and actions that have perplexed the traditional faithful. Extremes on both traditional and progressive sides are highly risky and decidedly (in my view) not Catholic!

    Long live Pope Benedict XVI!

    God bless you Holy Father! Thank you! Thank you!


  17. David of Glasgow9:13 AM

    God bless you, my Holy Father.

  18. Fr William R. Young9:49 AM

    The scripture reading from the Liturgy of the Hours Office of Readings is also interesting today: Moses takes his father-in-law's advice.

  19. GQ Rep9:50 AM

    Just a side comment...
    These radical American nuns in the USA who Pope Benedict XVI ruled against last year and having a party it seems, thrilled that this wonderful Pope is leaving.

    I hope that the next Pope is as traditional and more so even than Benedict, and that these USA nuns get the unpleasant surprise of their lives when rather than a supporter, they find a man even more against them that was the Vatican of Benedict XVI.

  20. As for myself I just don’t get it. St. John Vianney had a temptation to retire to a monastery and bewail his sins and ran away twice to do that. Yet he finally stayed on in Ars and died as one of the holiest priests of God. Yet my Faith tells me God will bring a good out of all this confusion.

  21. In the IHM11:36 AM

    I thought that the explanations on a different thread about Benedict becoming the "bishop in white" of the Fatima Message and the Pope who is killed in St. Don Bosco's dream/vision make a lot of sense. (ben ingledew 2/26 17:59, ["Pope Emeritus", in white]) How else could another Pope spring up immediately, to the great confusion of the enemy? God help us all!

  22. Dear N.C A gracious goodbye. Very nice.

  23. Ben said:

    "He has done more for Catholic tradition in releasing one document than all the popes of the Council-era put together."


    There is a Rock
    Upon we’re built
    That evil men
    Will sometimes tilt
    And though they vex us
    To the hilt
    We never leave
    Reject or jilt
    We daily kneel
    In His Blood spilt
    To weigh down Rock
    Of golden-gilt
    And as they sink
    In their sin’s silt
    As though He built
    On one lone stilt
    Upon this Rock
    His voice, love’s-lilt
    We stand our ground –
    Do what Thou wilt!

  24. Kathleen12:44 PM

    Oh my beloved Papa!

    You have my eternal gratitude and remain always in my prayers!

  25. Fatimist2:17 PM

    Oh Long Skirts ...You are a jewel, Rorate.. thank you for this beautiful post.. after my morning rosary and prayers this is where I come to read and be encouraged by likeminded souls who so love The One True Faith.

  26. Brian23:05 PM

    FWIW, I heard on EWTN Radio today that he is going to be called "Bishop of Rome Emeritus", not "Pope Emeritus" as previously reported.

  27. Ceolfrid3:46 PM

    Ferthu Benedict hal!


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