Following closely from afar: My journey with Joseph Ratzinger – Catholic World Report

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

For me and for countless other ordinary people, Benedict XVI stands as a father figure and a mentor. He also stands as an evangelist — announcing the Christian event — and as a catechist who echoed the memory of the Church and helped draw people into deeper communion with Jesus.

I stood in the dank darkness — a fairly typical mid-winter morning in Cincinnati — holding an umbrella over my newly lighted charcoal. The sun remained asleep and the strange noises of night lingered in the air. I could feel my right side getting wet as I sacrificed it for the sake of protecting my glowing coals from the drizzle.

Occasionally the breeze would shift and the pillar of smoke and heat flowing up the charcoal chimney would get trapped under the umbrella and burn my eyes and choke my nostrils.

In this setting, preparing for a long, damp day smoking meat, I read the daily Mass readings on my phone. It was early on December 31. John’s Prologue was the Gospel of the day.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

The passage was fitting. Standing next to my humble fire amid the pitch blackness, I reflected on the illuminating power of light piercing the darkness all around it.

Moments later, I received the first of many texts that day. This one from a dear friend in Denver:

“May the angels sing him into Paradise. Perhaps something from Bach would be appropriate!”

Pope Benedict XVI died.

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Following closely from afar: My journey with Joseph Ratzinger – Catholic World Report

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