Friday, March 2, 2012

"Listening" To Benedict XVI

I was doing some research on the internet (a.k.a. "goofing off"), and I came across a quotation that struck me very powerfully. It came from a place that I have come to call "my daily bread," namely, the speeches and writings of Pope Benedict XVI. I seek him out every day, to "listen" to him. I use the word listen very deliberately, because one does not simply "read" Benedict XVI; the words he speaks enter the mind and heart, engender recollection, and inspire prayer and love. He is doing so much more than imparting good information; he is teaching us how to listen, how to be silent, how to remember God and live in His presence. His preaching is a kind of school in Lectio Divina--which is a method of reading and praying the Scriptures that grows into a posture of attentiveness to God's presence in all of the reality and the circumstances of our lives.

I would encourage everyone to listen every day to the words that the Holy Spirit is speaking in the Church, through the Petrine ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. The electronic media at our disposal make it easy to do this. It is enough to visit the vatican website (

Benedict strikes me every day. Often a few sentences from him seem to put my life "back on the rails." This is a very apt metaphor indeed. The day has been like a runaway train, and then it is suddenly back on track, at the right speed, and headed once again for the station.

Often I find it in his sermons. It can be as simple as the reminder that God exists, and that He is good. The Pope knows well that some who listen to him are agnostics, or people who are confused and searching for the meaning of life. He also knows that people like me, who have been blessed with faith and who have studied philosophy and theology for many years, are not as far from the agnostics as we would like to think. Every day, I need to be reminded--often--that God exists, and that He is transcendent Goodness. People like me, who "think about religion" all the time, can live in forgetfulness of the real God who is present to each moment of my life.

The words I found on this day, which I posted all over the internet, were actually a simple statement that I have heard many times before and know very well. And yet I have to spend time with these words. I have to listen to them. They express a "position" in front of reality, in front of the mystery of God, and in front of the fact of what God has done and what He continues to do, in history, in my history, right this moment. They are worth remembering again and again:
"Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a Person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."