Epiphany of Benedict XVI
If Epiphany means to make something clear, then late great Pope Benedict is the Feast’s exemplar.
‘Stand firm in the faith! Don’t let yourself be confused!’ were his last words to us.
No Christian leader foresaw as clearly nor equipped us as soundly to face humanity’s attempt to recreate its sexuality apart from the Creator. He fought to keep clear the path for love’s true liberty; he aimed his theological armaments at the ‘dictatorship of moral relativism, which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own desires.’
How did Benedict know that we as a nation in ’22 would be torn apart by small town holiday ‘drag parades’ driven by crude language and over-the-top gender distortions then justified ‘as a vital lifeline to children experiencing doubt and confusion about their sexual identity’? Cross-dressing chickens lay that egg for our kids.
Benedict built on real love with his first encyclical ‘God is Love’ in which he deftly weaves God’s self-giving (agape love) with human need-love (eros). Only in tune with God’s loving initiative and the good of another can we find real sexual freedom, he purports.
He preceded this work in ‘86, as head of Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with the definitive ‘Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.’ Rather than malign strugglers, he dignifies them by inviting them into the church’s riches while underscoring the need for repentance. He insists that homosexual acts will always be intrinsically disordered as they can never be ordered to create new life.
Benedict unashamedly insisted that God has a will for sexual love that we tamper with to our own peril.
Accordingly, the Church’s abuse scandals nearly killed him. Benedict allowed himself to be struck down but not destroyed by the horror of what disintegrated priests visited upon kids. He knew such abuse crippled the Church’s witness, and that only a repentant Bride could rebuild trust. I urge you to check out a most excellent book—Pope Benedict and the Sexual Abuse Crisis—which speaks louder than I can about his conversion through this sin-sickness.
It was at the peak (or nadir) of his leading us through this mess that I resolved to become Catholic. Due to Benedict’s clarity, God invited me to do something for this ailing Bride.
I loved Benedict’s vision of the Church as a mustard seed, reduced, but unified and primed for purity and fruitfulness. He knew how vulnerable we as a Church were: up against a world disillusioned by her failures, engorged by self-entitlements, and tempted by lusty compensations for the damage done. And a Church ready to do anything to placate the wounded world!
Benedict didn’t bend. He stayed true to what was at stake—real human dignity. As nations of the west fell to ‘gay marriage’, Benedict asked: ‘The question of same-sex marriage is not a question about being a little more open. The question is: who is man? Is there also a Creator or are we all just manufactured products? Either man is a creation of God, he is the image of God, he is a gift from God, or man is a product he himself knows how to create.’
Benedict has passed. But his epiphany becomes clearer and timelier each day. Will his clarity rouse you as one idolatry (shepherds eating sheep) begets another (‘gay’ anything) then another (‘trans’ everything)? Now is the time.
Grief is good but not enough. Nor is it helpful to wring our hands and long for the good old days. They exist only in our romantic imaginations. I believe God calls us to manifest Benedict’s truth—his epiphany—now. Let’s get on with it.
‘The courage to contradict the current mindset is particularly urgent…today. We must be courageous. And this courage does not consist in acting out aggressively but in steadfastness…before the current way of thinking. The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidable but demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves. The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates.’
Pope Benedict’s last Epiphany homily, January 6, 2013