Pope: I decided after praying at length and examining my conscience
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "I decided to resign from the ministry that the Lord had entrusted me on April 19, 2005. I did this in full freedom, for the good of the Church after having prayed at length and examined my conscience before God, well aware of the gravity of this act. But I was also well aware that I was no longer able to fulfil the Petrine Ministry with the strength that it demands. What sustains and illuminates me is the certainty that the Church belongs to Christ whose care and guidance will never be lacking". Lenghty, affectionate applause twice interrupted Benedict XVI who was speaking publicly of his resignation for the first time in a packed Paul VI Hall for this penultimate general audience. On a large banner the words "Thank you Benedict."
"Thank you all - he continued - for the love and prayer with which you have accompanied me! I have felt, almost physically, your prayers in these days which are not easy for me, the strength which the love of the Church and your prayers brings to me. Continue to pray for me and for the future Pope, the Lord will guide us. "
The audience then continued in an atmosphere that was anything but normal.
The Pope's comments on the Gospel of Christ's temptations in the desert even seems to refer to what is happening. "Reflecting on the temptations Jesus is subjected to in the desert we are invited, each one of us, to respond to one fundamental question: what is truly important in our lives?".
" In the first temptation the devil offers to change a stone into bread to sate Jesus' hunger. Jesus replies that the man also lives by bread but not by bread alone: without a response to the hunger for truth, hunger for God, man can not be saved (cf. vv. 3-4). In the second, the devil offers Jesus the path of power: he leads him up on high and gives him dominion over the world, but this is not the path of God: Jesus clearly understands that it is not earthly power that saves the world, but the power of the Cross, humility, love (cf. vv. 5-8). In the third, the devil suggests Jesus throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple of Jerusalem and be saved by God through his angels, that is, to do something sensational to test God, but the answer is that God is not an object on which to impose our conditions: He is the Lord of all (cf. vv. 9-12). What is the core of the three temptations that Jesus is subjected to? It is the proposal to exploit God, to use Him for his own interests, for his own glory and success. So, in essence, to put himself in the place of God, removing Him from his own existence and making him seem superfluous. Everyone should then ask: what is the role God in my life? Is He the Lord or am I?".
"Overcoming the temptation to place God in submission to oneself and one's own interests or to put Him in a corner and converting oneself to the proper order of priorities, giving God the first place, is a journey that every Christian must undergo. "Conversion", an invitation that we will hear many times in Lent, means following Jesus in so that his Gospel is a real life guide, it means allowing God transform us, no longer thinking that we are the only protagonists of our existence, recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, His love, and that only by "losing" our life in Him can we truly have it. This means making our choices in the light of the Word of God".
"Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries."
"The tests which modern society subjects Christians to, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one's faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times throughout one's life".
"The major conversions like that of St. Paul on the road to Damascus, or St. Augustine, are an example and stimulus, but also in our time when the sense of the sacred is eclipsed, God's grace is at work and works wonders in life of many people. The Lord never gets tired of knocking at the door of man in social and cultural contexts that seem engulfed by secularization". The Pope mentions the Russian scientist Pavel Florensky, who educated to agnosticism, became monaco, Etty Hillesum,, " a young Dutch woman of Jewish origin who died in Auschwitz. Initially far from God, she found Him looking deep inside herself and wrote: "There is a well very deep inside of me". " In her scattered and restless life, she finds God in the middle of the great tragedy of the twentieth century, the Shoah". Again, the American Dorothy Day, who despite having "given in to the temptation that everything could be solved with politics, adhering to the Marxist proposal", God " guided to a conscious adherence to the Church, in a lifetime spent dedicated to the underprivileged".
"In this time of Lent, in the Year of the faith, we renew our commitment to the process of conversion, to overcoming the tendency to close in on ourselves and instead, to making room for God, looking at our daily reality with His eyes. The alternative between being wrapped up in our egoism and being open to the love of God and others, we could say corresponds to the alternatives to the temptations of Jesus: the alternative, that is, between human power and love of the Cross, between a redemption seen only in material well-being and redemption as the work of God, to whom we give primacy in our lives. Conversion means not closing in on ourselves in the pursuit of success, prestige, position, but making sure that each and every day, in the small things, truth, faith in God and love become most important".