Saturday, November 19, 2011

Farewell to a Friend

As foreseen earlier, when the Pope reached the tomb of his closest friend and colleague of almost three decades -- the "personal, emotional" main purpose for this weekend's trip to Bernardin Gantin's homeland -- the singing fell to silence...

...and walking away, Joseph Ratzinger appeared unusually shaken, and in a rare need of being steadied.

Let the video speak for itself:

“Prophesy, and say to them, "Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves'" (Ez 37: 12). These words from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel ring out full of hope. The liturgy has presented them anew for our meditation while we gather around the altar of the Lord to offer the Eucharist in suffrage for dear Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, who reached the end of his earthly pilgrimage on Tuesday, 13 May. The Lord proclaimed the restoration of Israel to his oppressed and discouraged People, exhausted by the suffering of exile. The grandiose scene evoked by the Prophet foretells the saving intervention of God in human history, an intervention that goes beyond what is humanly possible.
When we feel weary, powerless and disheartened before the impending reality, when we are tempted to yield to disappointment and even desperation, when man is reduced to a heap of "dry bones" then is the moment of hope "against hope" (cf. Rom 4: 18). The Word of God strongly recalls the truth that nothing and no one, not even death, can resist the omnipotence of his faithful and merciful love. This is our faith, founded on the Resurrection of Christ; this is the comforting assurance that the Lord repeats to us even today: "And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves.... And I will put my spirit within you and you shall live" (Ez 37: 13-14).
--Pope Benedict XVI
Eulogy for Cardinal Bernardin Gantin
St Peter's Basilica
23 May 2008
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To be sadly sure, no shortage of onlookers are far more in search of anything Benedict would say about condoms, corruption or Lord knows what else... his lesson here, however, is all the more important, meaningful and universal -- even the Pope needs friends and, however great the hope of what is to come, feels the pain of losing them when they've gone home.

Especially for those of us on these shores at the start of this Thanksgiving Week, may we know the grace of gratitude for the gift of those we've known, loved and come to count on, whether they remain among us, or are gone to prepare a place for us on the other side... where, one day, we will meet again.

PHOTO: Reuters