Lisette Carr is a French teacher, youth worker living in Dublin. She is currently studying for an MA in Marriage and Family at Maryvale Institute. She writes a blog about good things happening in the Catholic world at www.catholicismrocks.wordpress.com. With Collette, she is co-editrix of the GenerationBenedict blog.
Shock and sadness swept through the worldwide Catholic community on Monday 11th February, World Day of the Sick, when Pope Benedict announced his resignation. That sadness was particularly poignant among a certain demographic, Generation Benedict. These are young adults who, like myself, have come to the Faith during the Pontificate of Pope Benedict, and hold him close to our hearts.
Pope Benedict, through his travel and writing, has touched the lives of young people, who were at crossroads in their faith journeys, and has inspired and challenged them to find the Truth in the Catholic Church, leading to conversion, re-version, vocation and deepening of Faith among young people.
I was privileged to be part of a group of young adults who “spent the weekend with the Pope” in September 2010, when he visited the U.K.. Sleeping on the floor of a parish centre on the outskirts of London, we were up at 5 a.m. on Saturday 18th September to greet the Pope for his address to the 2500 young people outside Westminster Cathedral. “We were made to receive love,” he told us. “Look into your heart, each day, to find the source of all true love. Jesus is always there”.
We then walked to Hyde Park, and waited to share a special evening of Adoration with the Holy Father and 80,000 other pilgrims. Before exposition began, Pope Benedict gently reminded us; “Only Jesus knows what “definite service” he has in mind for you. Be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart.” Kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in the silence, I forgot the tens of thousands of papal pilgrims surrounding me, and looked upon the Vicar of Christ, leading me to Christ himself. For that moment, it felt like it was just Jesus, the Pope, and me.
The theme of the Papal visit was inspired by Blessed John Henry Newman’s coat of arms; Cor ad cor loquitur -“Heart speaks unto heart”. The Pope’s visit was a transformative experience for many young people as his words touched their hearts. They were stirred, moved, and led deeper into Faith, as Pope Benedict inspired them to discern what God’s plan was for them. He urged young people to “lead lives worthy of our Lord (cf. Eph 4:1) and yourselves… Search for him, know him and love him and he will set you free from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently proposed by today’s society”.
The Pope has inspired Generation Benedict to know their faith, to become part of the New Evangelisation, to discern their vocation and to strive for holiness. After the Pope’s visit, I began to pray about my own vocation. I went to Maryvale Institute, a Catholic distance learning college founded by Blessed John Henry Newman, one of Benedict’s heroes, to learn more about the faith. I have recently completed the Maryvale Certificate of Catechesis, and am now embarking on a
Masters degree in Marriage and Family. I began attending Mass on weekdays when possible and going to Confession more frequently. My prayer for my vocation led me to my husband, Jim, who, incidentally, I met exactly two years ago today!
Before Pope Benedict’s visit to the U.K., I knew little about him- apart from the crude caricatures and snide simplifications. During those few days in September, I realised he wasn’t God’s Rottweiler, but rather our beloved German shepherd- a kind and wise grandfatherly figure, whose gentleness and humility disarmed enemies, won over sceptics, touched my heart and inspired me, and an entire generation of young Catholics, to embark on the exhilarating and life-affirming “adventure of orthodoxy”.