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Emotional tribute to Pope Benedict at final public Mass

February 13, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by thunderous applause from a packed congregation in St. Peter’s basilica on February 13, Ash Wednesday, as he presided at Mass in public for the final time before his resignation takes effect on February 28.

The Eucharistic liturgy for Ash Wednesday, originally scheduled to take place in the basilica of Santa Sabina, had been moved to the Vatican basilica to accommodate the large crowd that was anticipated after the Pope’s surprise resignation announcement. The nave of St. Peter’s was indeed packed with worshippers as the Pope arrived.

Several of the bishops concelebrating the Mass doffed their miters to the Pope in a rare display of affection, and some were clearly on the verge of tears. Obviously moved by the warm welcome, Pope Benedict eventually persuaded the congregation to stop the applause. “Thank you,” he said simply. “Now let’s turn to prayer.”

In his homily the Pope said that the prayer and penance of the Lenten season should be not only personal but communal. He said that “each person must be aware that the penitential journey cannot be faced alone, but together with many brothers and sisters in the Church.”

The Pope called particular attention to the words of Jesus recorded in St. Matthew’s Gospel, that when we pray and do penance without calling attention to ourselves, “your Father who sees everything in secret will reward you.” The Pope said: “Our fitness will always be more effective the less we seek our own glory and the more we are aware that the reward of the righteous is God Himself.”


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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Feb. 14, 2013 12:02 PM ET USA

    I believe that the Holy Father may be setting up a new norm for papal successions. How wonderful it is not to have to deal with grief and the mechanics of administration at the same time!