Today is the 86th birthday of Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, and this Friday, April 19th, marks the eight anniversary of his election to the Chair of Peter. We extend our best wishes and prayers to the pope emeritus on this happy occasion. In Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977 (Ignatius) he wrote the following of his birth:
I was born on Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn. The fact that my day of birth was the last day of Holy Week and the eve of Easter has always been noted in our family history. This was connected with the fact that I was baptized immediately on the morning of the day I was born with the water that had just been blessed. (At that time the solemn Easter Vigil was celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday.) To be the first person baptized with the new water was seen as a significant act of Providence. I have always been filled with thanksgiving for having had my life immersed in this way in the Easter mystery, since this could only be a sign of blessing. To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but, the more I reflect on it, the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life: we are still awaiting Easter; we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust.
Today's CWR feature, "Pope Benedict's 'First Convert'", is a testimony by Roger Dubin of his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ and the Church that was sparked in somewhat dramatic fashion by viewing, on television, the announcement of Benedict XVI on April 19, 2005. Dubin writes of that transforming moment:
Because as Pope Benedict walked onto the balcony and raised his arms, and the camera appeared to zoom in, an unstoppable power and presence came through his eyes and sliced me open. I burst into tears, and everything I ever thought I was, or wasn’t, poured out.
It was the Sword of Christ, and there would be no peace in me until I offered him mine.
CWR will be marking the anniversary of Benedict XVI's election with a couple of other essays, including a new piece by Tracey Rowland that focuses on Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and the Second Vatican Council.