Over on her blog, the Anchoress highlighted Pope Benedicts’s spontaneous remarks from Mass today, where he spoke about the need for penance and the reality of eternal life. (She quoted excerpts carried by Whispers in the Loggia; the full text has not yet been translated and released.)
We’ll see what the press does with the pope’s words, but I agree with the Anchoress that Benedict is using the moment to teach:
Benedict is daring – and many will say how dare he – to teach at this moment. He is daring to dive into the deep waters, here, and talk about the salvific effect of doing penance, and the graces found therein.
It’s staggering, when you think of it. It’s up there with Paul saying, “I rejoice in this suffering” except that Benedict talks about rejoicing in penance, which -by its very definition- takes upon it shame, humiliation, guilt and works to transform all of that, by the grace of God, into something finer; a penitential mindset is the most optimistic and trusting mindset in the world, because it says “I know this stinking compost heap is going to bring sustenance and beauty into the strained garden of world.”