I took a couple of steps forward into the Pope’s chapel. I came within about five feet of the Holy Father and was met by two of the Master of Ceremonies who were helping to vest the 80 year old Bishop of Rome. Here is what I saw.
The entire time Pope Benedict XVI was facing an altar lit by two candles, with his gaze fixed on a crucifix hanging just above the altar. As the MCs helped him vest each garment, Benedict prayed the ancient “Vesting Prayers” in preparation to celebrate the Mass. There is a special prayer assigned to each garment a priest is to wear, which helps the Priest to meditate on the Mystery at hand and to begin offering his entire Self in union with Christ.
As I watched the Holy Father pray in this way, a part of me--namely my ego--really wanted him to turn, look at me, shake my hand, and say something inspirational. But not once did Benedict’s gaze betray the crucifix before him. I will never forget that image. It spoke volumes to me...about what really mattered...about what that day was all about--not me...not my ego....something else...something so much greater...something deserving of all our attention, all of our praise, all of our love. I found myself praying something like this, deep in my heart, “May the Cross of Christ never leave my gaze, so that I May never forget how greatly I am loved and by what measure the King of Kings gazes back upon me.”
Rereading back over those words put everything back into perspective. Yes it was a great grace to shake the Pope's hand, look into his eyes, tell him "Aguri!" ("Much Happiness!"), and kiss his ring. Yes it is something I will never forget. But, in the hierarchy of my life experiences involving Pope Benedict XVI, it will always be for me one ranking below the great example of Prayer and Devotion to our Lord that He gave me on Oct 11, 2009....without even looking at me.....shaking my hand....or smiling back at me. And I guess that is why Pope Benedict is such a compelling figure for me. Because whenever I have seen him, heard him, and now greeted him---he has always pointed me, not to himself, but to Christ.
I pray that I may follow in his footsteps as well. So that, God willing, I may truly say, "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:19-20).
34. The supreme and eternal Priest, Christ Jesus, since he wills to continue his witness and service also through the laity, vivifies them in this Spirit and increasingly urges them on to every good and perfect work.
For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne-all these become "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ".(199) Together with the offering of the Lord's body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus,
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”