“Love alone makes us happy”

Benedict on Love, from his Sunday, 7 June 2009 Angelus message, because I miss his voice:

[Jesus] revealed to us that God is love “not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance” (Preface). He is the Creator and merciful Father; he is the Only-Begotten Son, eternal Wisdom incarnate, who died and rose for us; he is the Holy Spirit who moves all things, cosmos and history, toward their final, full recapitulation. Three Persons who are one God because the Father is love, the Son is love, the Spirit is love.

God is wholly and only love, the purest, infinite and eternal love. He does not live in splendid solitude but rather is an inexhaustible source of life that is ceaselessly given and communicated. To a certain extent we can perceive this by observing both the macro-universe: our earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies; and the micro-universe: cells, atoms, elementary particles. The “name” of the Blessed Trinity is, in a certain sense, imprinted upon all things because all that exists, down to the last particle, is in relation; in this way we catch a glimpse of God as relationship and ultimately, Creator Love.

All things derive from love, aspire to love and move impelled by love, though naturally with varying degrees of awareness and freedom. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps 8: 1) the Psalmist exclaims. In speaking of the “name”, the Bible refers to God himself, his truest identity. It is an identity that shines upon the whole of Creation, in which all beings for the very fact that they exist and because of the “fabric” of which they are made point to a transcendent Principle, to eternal and infinite Life which is given, in a word, to Love.

“In him we live and move and have our being”, St Paul said at the Areopagus of Athens (Acts 17: 28). The strongest proof that we are made in the image of the Trinity is this: love alone makes us happy because we live in a relationship, and we live to love and to be loved. Borrowing an analogy from biology, we could say that imprinted upon his “genome”, the human being bears a profound mark of the Trinity, of God as Love.

Kindle Deal on Tracy Rowland’s Book on Ratzinger

Just a quick post to point you at this: Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI by Tracy Rowland, which is on sale for $2, rather than the usual $15. I’m reading it for a class on the theology of Ratzinger/Benedict, and it’s very good, even though the Neo-Scholastics get beat up a bit.

Here’s the official line:

A general introduction to the theology of Pope Benedict XVI, including his approach to issues in moral and political theology, ecclesiology, liturgy, interpretations of the of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, and the theology of history. Tracey Rowland also addresses the question of Pope Benedict’s place in the constellation of contemporary Catholic theologians. It has become a commonplace observation that Pope Benedict has been influenced by the thought of St Augustine, in contrast to many of his predecessors in the papacy who were much more strongly influenced by St Thomas Aquinas. Rowland therefore asks in what way Benedict is an Augustinian, and how this marked difference in theological perspective may play out in the coming years. Her book includes an extensive thematic bibliography, which will be valuable for students.

Benedict is Fading UPDATED Fr. Lombardi Denies

20130410-080304.jpgDamian Thompson writes what we all suspected: our beloved Benedict XVI is fading fast. In the video with Francis, he appeared very frail and, in my opinion, nearly blind. Here’s what Thompson writes:

I think all of us were distressed by the fragility of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when we saw him greet his successor, Pope Francis. The footage was almost too painful to watch. Now, according to the excellent Fr Ray Blake, a Spanish newspaper says he is suffering from something “very severe”, and that “we won’t have us with him for very much longer”. His condition has apparently continued to decline. I thought twice about repeating this, but I’m sure Catholics and others would wish to pray for the man many of us regard as the most inspiring pope of modern times. No pontiff for centuries has written and preached so brilliantly about the relationships between liturgy, evangelism and the shape of history. If only he had been a younger man when he was elected to the chair of St Peter!

Pray for his comfort and peace at the last.

I consider myself blessed to have lived at the same time as this great man. Although I will miss him, his work for us will not end as he brings our prayers before the heavenly Father.

UPDATE: Vatican spokesman denies report that Benedict XVI is ill

Vatican City, Apr 10, 2013 / 12:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi says that contrary to a report in the Spanish daily El Mundo, the Bishop-emeritus of Rome, Benedict XVI, is not suffering from any illness.

The report in El Mundo by Rocio Galvan quotes statements made by Spanish Vaticanista Paloma Gomez-Borrero in Madrid during the presentation of her most recent book.

“Benedict XVI has something very serious. In 15 days his physical condition has deteriorated tremendously, that’s the news I have,” Gomez-Borrero said.

In comments to CNA on April 10, however, Fr. Lombardi underscored that Benedict XVI “does not have any illness” and that “this has been certified by his doctors.”

For Fr. Lombardi to say that Benedict “does not have any illness” after the video we’ve already seen–and the fact of his resignation–seems like overstatement. Let us hope that whatever the case, Pope Benedict is at peace and comfortable, and let us continue to keep praying for that peace and comfort.

Press F1 For Help: Thoughts on Francis

On a computer keyboard, the F1 key is used to get help. An F1 is also the fastest car on the race track: it holds the road tightly but corners quickly.

(Memo to pedants: I know he won’t be “Pope Francis I” until there’s a Francis II. Duly noted. Now go bother someone who says “nuclear” wrong and leave me alone.)

Does this mean anything? Of course not, except in the way we make connections through language and symbols. A pope is there to help us navigate this world unto the next! Francis hardly seems the speedy type, but maybe he’ll hold the road of dogma while turning the church in a new direction!

And with that, I have bludgeoned the meager symbolism of “F1” senseless.

Of course it’s silly, but we’re a people attuned to meaning, and we read meaning on various levels. We tend to make huge intuitive leaps based on scattered pieces of information. Sometimes we read things incorrectly. The data isn’t all there, so our mind fills in the gaps with personal experience and prejudices and wish-fulfillment.

A great deal of this is going on with Francis right now, hustled along by the most instantaneous communication infrastructure in the history of humanity. People are snapping off impressions and ideas at lightening speed, and rather than those impressions merely staying in the gut or emerging as musings at the bar, they’re gelling into Twitter and Facebook updates, memes, articles, and hysterical blog posts and combox screeds.

Michael B. Dougherty started the ball rolling with an amazingly ill-considered broadside against Cardinal Bergoglio on Slate, giving them a chance to kick the church from the right in addition to their usual leftist screeds. Called “Why Pope Francis May Be a Catholic Nightmare,” it was pushed out mere hours after the election. Dougherty faults Bergoglio for a lack of passion for traditional liturgy, ignorance of curial politics, and absence of a reforming sensibility, slowing down long enough to dust off a few shots into the legacy of Bl. John Paul II.

Dougherty took to Twitter to criticize the pietistic tendency of Catholics to praise and support the pope, as if this is a bad thing. He seemed to sneer at the people who were impressed with their first sense of the man. He reminded people that there have been bad popes in the past (thanks for that news flash) and there’s no reason to think we’re immune from having one now.

And all for what? Because people were … what? Hopeful? Impressed with the humility and demeanor of a man about whom we know very little? Trusting the wisdom of the conclave and the guidance of the holy spirit? Was Dougherty afraid Slate might not have a proper forum for 1700 comments, each more bilious and hateful than the one before? Was he afraid someone else might beat him to the punch and get their hate-on for Bergoglio before him?

If so, he needn’t have worried. The tradosphere exploded, with Latin mass aficionados on sites like Rorate Caeli coming completely unglued about Bergoglio’s lack of interest in high liturgy and papal trappings. Proving that rad-trads are a subset of Protestants, they said things about Francis that could have been trawled straight from any Chick tract or Friendly Atheist post: seriously deranged, hateful, poisonous stuff. Dougherty at least was measured in his criticisms, tried to make a case, and held out hope. The Rorate Caeli crowd was already Googling SSPX churches in their area.

I say all this, by the way, as someone who likes and occasionally attends an EF mass. I’m a Ratzingerian to the bone. I am, personally, not a fan of low liturgy. Summorum Pontificum was important. The restoration of the liturgy was important. Liturgical standards are not a small thing.

But they’re not the only thing.

If you think the Novus Ordo is an illegitimate or heretical mass, you’re really just a Protestant who likes lace and incense. Maybe it’s time you move along, because the NO isn’t go anywhere.

And when rock solid traditionalist such as Fr. Z, Taylor Marshall, and Larry D have to step in and tell you to get a grip, you’re on the wrong side of the aisle.

I have no idea what Pope Francis’s liturgical sensibility is, but I suspect it will be rather less grand than I prefer. I like my beer cold, my scotch neat, and my popes in mozettas.

So what? A pope doesn’t bring sweeping changes to doctrines or dogma into the see of Peter. What he brings is his personal approach and style. I think people forget what a sharp difference there was between JP2 and B16. John Paul II was the grand man of action striding the world stage like a colossus (And no liturgical purist. His style was alarmingly loose.) Benedict XVI was the quiet, brilliant master catechist and liturgical restorationist that reset the church back on a good and solid heading.

We are seeing another sea change in papal style. I don’t know what it will bring, and neither does anyone else, but I like the way it’s starting, and I’ll tell you why.

Not long ago, someone (on Slate!) criticized Catholics for praising Benedict for resigning, saying we had also praised John Paul for hanging on to the end. The writer saw this as some kind of contradiction. (Isn’t it odd for a liberal to believe that one can only approve of a single way of doing something in Church matters, when they’re always urging us to accept diversity in everything from sex to … more sex?) John Paul provided a powerful witness to the importance of every life and dignity in death: of continuing to the bitter end. That was an important example in a world that sees people–particularly the old–as disposable.

That approach came with a price: JP2 didn’t have a grip on the papacy in his final years, and the church was rudderless at a time when we could least afford it.

Benedict witnessed that end, grasped the lesson, saw the problems, and acted accordingly. I believe he wanted to set a precedent so popes didn’t feel they had to hold on to the last. They could choose another option. The church in the modern world, perhaps, cannot afford another lesson like JP2’s. The abuse scandal changed things. A pope needs always to be clear and able to react.

There’s no contradiction there. Just an understanding that all popes are different, and the church needs different approaches for different times.

Which brings us to Francis. He offers another sharp turn, more like the stripped down, on-the-street simplicity suggested by his regnal name. He’s a mostly unknown quantity. Cardinal Ratzinger had a vast body of writing, most of it already in English, to give us a clue as to his approach and theology. We knew him. There was no question of what to expect, and those who pronounced themselves “surprised” at his lack of rottweiler qualities were people who really hadn’t been paying attention.

Mark Shea has already commented on pseudoknowledge and written several other worthwhile posts about Francis. While others are spinning wild theories about the Holy Father’s antipathy to the EF and his participation in military dictatorships, I’m just going by what I’ve observed, which is this:

*A conclave of his peers elected him rapidly. The Holy Spirit doesn’t pick the pope, but we do believe He guides the process in some way. The process itself may have certain “political” (for lack of a better term) elements, such as alliances and negotiations But if we don’t feel that the the heir to Peter is chosen in a process that operates under some form of divine guidance, do we have much business being Catholics? Yes, the process can be (and has been) hijacked and resulted in unworthy popes, but that was when powerful forces ignored the promptings of the Spirit to suit their own selfish ends. Does that seem likely in this case? Is someone seriously arguing that we’re looking the second coming of John XII?

*In choosing his name he conveys a wealth of information deeply embedded in the life of Church and its reverence for St. Francis. St. Francis focused on the least and the lowest, but he was not a bunny-hugging, clown-mass-attending hippie. We’re talking about a man who walked into hostile enemy territory to try to convert al-Kamil, the Sultan of Egypt, in a three-week dialog, and lived to tell about it. We can presume based on his comments that he was someone who embraced the liturgical greatness of his age. St. Francis was a kind of second Christ, resetting the Church at a vital time. We could do worse that return to Franciscan priorities.

*Pope Francis cut a humble and gracious figure in his first few moments on the world stage, with the striking dual gestures of asking the crowd to bless him and praying for Benedict. Since then, we’ve heard much about the pope who rides the bus, cooks his own meals, has a small apartment, mingles with the crowd, and eschews some of the grander trappings of the office. I think that’s great, and it’s not any kind of criticism against the style of Benedict. There are times to focus on the glory of the faith, and times to get down with the people and kiss the feet of AIDS patients.

We should be capable of embracing both those styles. The Church, like Walt Whitman, is large: She contains multitudes. A shift in focus is nothing more than that. It’s not a repudiation, but a simple matter of approach and emphasis.

And, perhaps, with Benedict setting the church on a course to straighten out her liturgy, we can now safely turn to the focus of the papacy more directly and dramatically on the preferential option for poor. It’s not that Benedict ignored those issues or that he was not humble (he was), but every pontificate will strike a tone. We hope that tone remains in true continuity with what came before. Benedict was quiet and shy: less inclined to the big gesture. In some ways, riding a bus when you’re pope is a big gesture. It calls attention to itself, which I cannot imagine Benedict doing. Although even humility can be ostentatious, there is something useful in both approaches.

No pope can be all things to all people and all aspects of the life of the Church in equal portions. Administrator, politician, teacher, liturgist, servant, reformer, theologian, philosopher, evangelist: that’s a lot of hats to wear. Something is bound to be emphasized more than something else. Francis seems, in these early days, to emphasize radical simplicity and solidarity with the lowly. Is someone going to argue that this a bad thing? And if so, how long have they been under the delusion that they’re Catholics?

“Brick by brick,” Fr. Z likes to say. I agree. And I think Benedict has laid out those bricks to build a large, solid, and firm liturgical and catechetical foundation. The silliness of the post-Vatican II era is passing into history. Thanks to Benedict, the ship has been set back on the proper course.

Now Francis can take that helm, and, while maintaining course, make some important ports of call. Return us to the trenches. Evangelize. Serve. Humble ourselves. We are greatest when we do that. Our liturgical heritage doesn’t vanish in a puff of smoke just because the pope’s Latin is rusty. To everything there is a season. There’s a time for camauros, and a time for Franciscan brown.

Maybe, in this wounded and struggling world, in these horrible times of upheaval and economic distress, we need a Church that can be mighty in power and grandeur, but also humble in service. Christ the King is also the servant. Christ the High Priest is is also the man who washed the feet of a doubter, a traitor, a coward, and 9 other sinners.

That is what Francis seems to offer. I’m not worried about him at all. In fact, I have great hope. The Church gives us the popes we need when we need them.

Now is the time of Francis. Rejoice and be glad.

Update: Also: this.

Here’s an excellent example of how a traditionalist expresses reservations with charity.

The Pope of Social Media

Something I wrote for the March 10 issue of OSV. Dated now, but perhaps still interesting.  

On December 12, 2012 (12/12/12) Pope Benedict XVI did what no other pope had ever done: he used Twitter. Not only that, but he mastered the medium on this first try with a Tweet that was exactly 140 characters long:  “Dear friends. I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”

It was a simple and humble introduction freighted with significance. The internet is something more than a communication tool: more than wireless radio or telegraphy or television. It is a place. Paradoxically, it is a place that does not exist, yet allows people to “congregate” for the exchange of ideas.

When St. Paul went to Athens, he preached in temples and marketplaces, but finally was brought to the Areopagus, where people came “to tell or to hear some new thing.” The internet is that Areopagus. It is the modern agora, and Benedict knows that the Church must be present in this place. If we are to become an evangelical Church once again in this post-Christian world, we need to evangelize where the people are. And the people are on the internet.

The decision speaks to the fundamental characteristic of Benedict’s reign: it was a teaching papacy. Bl. John Paul II was larger than life: a charismatic figure that moved millions and changed the fate of nations. Benedict, by contrast, was the professor pope: the master catechist of his age. His encyclicals and books were not densely argued philosophical texts. Rather, they brought us right back to the basics of the faith, and infused those things—love, hope, the life of Christ—with a new meaning for a new age.

This is why he made the decision to reach out to Twitter’s roughly 100 million active users. As he observed in his message for the 47th World Communication Day, social networks were “increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society.” It was not a decision free of risk, and the moment the @pontifex handle went live, we saw just why. An eruption of pure hatred and ignorance threatened to overwhelm the moment. People threatened, insulted, jeered, and derided the Holy Father. His presence in this place was a magnet for evil, creating a kind of digital via dolorosa for this small, scholarly man of peace, as he was pelted with verbal bricks from thousands of people who didn’t know the first this about him, his Church, or his message.

The haters latched onto each subsequent tweet like lampreys, using simple messages of love and peace as platforms to preach hate and violence, share explicit images, or merely try to shock. A simple message like “If we have love for our neighbor, we will find the face of Christ in the poor, the weak, the sick and the suffering” generated hundreds of responses, each sicker than the last. But it was also seen by the pope’s 3,000,000+ followers in various languages, and retweeted or favorited over 11,000 times. And, in the end, even the haters were exposed to the Gospel truth.

The hate revealed a great deal about people tweeting their ignorance, but it also validated his decision to be in this place, at this time. The light of Christ and the Church needs to be brought to these dark places. As The Church and New Media author Brandon Vogt observes, “Pope Benedict’s tech activity can be summed up by his predecessor’s favorite phrase: he’s not afraid. Despite the patronizing laughs at an eighty-five year old Pope tapping messages on an iPad, regardless of the extreme vitriol people have tweeted his way since embracing Twitter, he’s done exactly what he’s encouraged all the faithful to do over the years: ‘without fear we must sail on the digital sea.’”

Long ago, Marshall McLuhan, the great Catholic prophet of the mass media, saw this exact moment coming: “When electricity allows for the simultaneity of all information for every human being, it is Lucifer’s moment. He is the greatest electrical engineer. Technically speaking, the age in which we live is certainly favorable to Antichrist. Just think: each person can instantly be turned to a new Christ and mistake him for the Real Christ.”

In a medium teeming with false Christs, the voice of the Risen Christ, in the person of his vicar, was vital.

Prior to his Twitter debut, Benedict had already urged Catholics to engage online in his “Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age,” delivered for the 45th World Communications Day. He noted that the new technology was changing “communication itself” while “giving birth to a new way of learning and thinking, with unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship.” He suggested that we find “a Christian way of being present in the digital world” with “communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others.”  We were not merely to insert religious content into different new media, but we had to “witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically. “

And then again, in anticipation of the 47th World Communications Day, he wrote “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization.” He makes the point that we’re not just sharing ideas or information on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, but “our very selves,” and thus we have a chance to “reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family.”

To succeed, Benedict realizes, will call for a “new language” that works more effectively in these environments in order to bring the Gospel message where it is needed. Making the case for the use of imagination, signs and symbols, sounds and images, he urges those using social media to share “the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus.”

There’s an irony in all this. Benedict is unlikely to have much first-hand experience with social media. He continues to write longhand, is not known to use a computer, and needed assistance with his first tweet.

Yet the master teacher is first a good student, and sensing the importance of the these new technologies, Benedict learned about them in order to create a theology of new media that’s firmly grounded in the truth and reality of the faith. He leaves behind a Church with a digital footprint that can be assumed by his successor, offering a firm foundation upon which the Church can continue to build. He did this because the message remains the same as Mark 16:15: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation.”

Only the medium has changed.




Benedict, Dante, and Chickens

You cannot leave one place without entering another. Yesterday was a day of beginnings and endings. As I watched papa Bene recede from the balcony of Castelgandolfo, I realized it was possible I’d never see him again in this world. There’s sadness in that, but as some of my fellow Catholic bloggers and I kicked around our thoughts about the day’s events on a radio round table with Sheila Liaugminas, we talked about how this sadness is momentary, but the gifts Benedict left behind will stand forever.

Sorrow is fleeting, and joy–which is the thing drawing us toward beatitude: which indeed is beatitude–is eternal. Pain passes away. Its passing is not easy, and we cannot simply shrug it off. I’ve been witness to enough suffering to know that much. But even suffering which lasts a lifetime does end. And when it does, something new is born.

The Church endures in the only way it can: through new growth. The seat is filled by another, as it always has been, and always shall be.  There’s something unsettling in that, but also something exciting. As I watched the live feed of the helicopter flying over Rome, I snapped this screen shot:

There it is: all in one image. The ruins of the Colosseum, where savage entertainments once were offered to a bored populace, and the blood of Christians soaked the sand. And there, high above, the man who represents the idea that made–and still makes–the powerful and worldly and “smart” tremble. Triumph.

Remember that image and what it tells us: we will always triumph. That triumph may force us through pain and suffering and darkness, but triumph we will. The world is spitting its venom at us right now, with each commentator and reporter trying to top the last for ignorance and hatred. Big deal. They always did.  They always will. Humanity nailed its own Creator to a tree. Everything else is pretty small potatoes.

Because that wasn’t the end of the story. It was only the beginning.

I can show you why yesterday was a day of mixed emotions here at Casa McD. Say hi to Dolly:

It’s like she’s staring right into your soul.

She’s a two day old Buff Orpington chick: one of the three we’re adding to our flock of chickens. She arrived here as Benedict departed, and was cheeping madly as he boarded his helicopter and ordered the pilot, “Once around the dome and home for tea.”

No, I’m not comparing the Holy Father to a chicken. I’m saying that life is always beginning again: either bursting up through the dirt, or cracking out of its shell, or crying in the harsh light of a hospital delivery room. The Church has to renew as well. The Old Peter steps down. The New Peter steps up. We don’t mourn that. We celebrate it.

It’s there in the epigram for Dante’s great forgotten love poem. It is the way he described his own emotional rebirth, and something we need to keep in mind in the weeks ahead: incipit vita nova.

Here beginneth the new life.

The Ring of The Fisherman

Today will be a day of “lasts.” Overnight, people held a candlelight vigil to mark Benedict’s last night sleeping in the papal quarters. This morning, he had an audience with the cardinals who would normally have gathered to pay their last respects and bury him. Instead, they each wished him well, and then will turn to the task of choosing his successor.

And later today, the Papal signet ring–the annulus piscatoris–will be smashed using a silver hammer. In keeping with ancient tradition, this is to prevent documents from being forged after the pope’s death, since that was the point of a signet ring: to seal a document.

It hasn’t been used for this function since the 19th century (a stamp and red ink serve the same purpose), and indeed some recent popes haven’t worn the signet. Benedict did, showing the traditional image of Peter the fisher of men, casting his nets from a boat.

This is Peter, who Jesus ordered to “put out into deep water.” That deep water is where the danger is for a fisherman. It’s also where the fish are. As Thomas Aquinas noted, if the highest aim of a captain was to keep his ship safe, he’d keep in the harbor. But that’s not what ships–or the barque of Peter–are built for.



‘night Papa


This is the Room of Tears: the place where popes traditionally retire after being chosen. Here, they contemplate the burden they are about to assume: a 2000-year-old office founded by Christ himself not on a book or a government or a place, but on a man named Simon, thereafter known as Cephas, petros, rock: Peter.

It’s an impossible burden only upheld with the aid of the Holy Spirit. It’s likely that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wept when he retired to this room, for he truly did not want this office. A quiet, scholarly, humble man, he had labored in the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith for many long years, and wanted nothing more than to retire quietly to Germany and write.

But when the Holy Spirit calls, you answer. All of us serving in the faith know that, none so well as he did. Some gnashed their teeth and railed when he was chosen to assume the office of Peter. I didn’t. After my return to the faith, I read Cardinal Ratzinger closely and came to love the man, his wisdom, his clarity, his charity. He was the master catechist of our age, and as one called to the catechetical ministry, I felt a connection to this pope that I never had with Bl. John Paul II.

He is the person I admire most in the world, now more than ever when this man caricatured as an “arch-conservative” (and who anyone with eyes to see knew was nothing of the sort) has once again done something bold and unexpected. He has recognized his limitations, and acted accordingly.

There are those who will point to Bl. John Paul II who suffered and bent under the burden of the Petrine office as illness consumed him. They will be right to do so, because it was a powerful witness to the dignity of human life. It also affected the way he managed the church, and as the abuse scandal exploded, that was something we could ill afford. Perhaps this potential for failure loomed large in Benedict’s mind when he made this decision.

He will never again be just another man. What he will be is, right now, uncertain. After being Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Father, Professor, I think, for a little while at least, at the end, he wants to just be Joseph.

May God bless and keep him in this and in all things, and may He continue to guide our Church.