Some of Pope Benedict’s first words to the city of Rome, to the Church and to the world were ‘above all I entrust myself to your prayers’. Please remember those words.
If Pope John Paul’s last breath was a sigh of love, then some of the first actions of Pope Benedict have been a sign of love, a sign for all that here we have a man who is deeply in love with God and wants the rest of the world to know God’s love too. We are seeing a deeply reflective, calm, prayerful pope who is showing the world signs of God’s love.
Think of his words already spoken, for example:
‘I can feel Pope John Paul’s strong hand squeezing mine: I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment – do not be afraid.’
Think of his actions, reaching out to Jewish and Muslim leaders: Are these words and actions not signs of God’s love?
Our task now is to respond to his plea and pray for the man who has been asked to do an enormous job, a very demanding task. However, nobody could see that as just a task, a job, to be done. That’s why he asked, and continues to ask for our prayers.
‘The new pope knows that his task is to bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light, but the light of Christ.’
‘I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity. How can I do this? How will I be able to do it? … I can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone … your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me.’
Please respond to his plea as he ‘entrusts himself to our prayers’.
Every time we hear Pope Benedict’s name, especially at Mass, we raise not just our eyes, but our minds and hearts to heaven and pray for him:
We will hear in the Eucharistic Prayer the following or similar words at every Mass we attend: ‘Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on earth: your servant, Pope Benedict …’ In every Eucharistic celebration we will pray for him.
In this Year of the Eucharist he has already said to us ‘I ask everyone to intensify in the coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord.’
As we grow in love and appreciation of the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist, this mystery which stands at the centre of the Church’s life, as we look for ways to express the real presence of the Lord, I invite you in a special way to commit yourself to praying for Pope Benedict XVI as he begins this ministry to which Christ has called him. In that same first message he said that like Peter he renewed to Jesus his unconditional promise of faithfulness, ‘He alone I intend to serve as I dedicate myself totally to the service of His Church.’
Pope Benedict needs our prayers.
‘Pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me that I may learn to love his flock more and more. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord may carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.’
With Jesus, we too raise our eyes to heaven and pray for Pope Benedict XVI.