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Day 40: Generation Benedict, Looking Forward

Collette is a Law student from Birmingham.  She helps lead 2nd Friday, an informal movement for young adults which focuses on discipleship and evangelisation. With Lisette Carr, she is co-editrix of the GenerationBenedict blog.

St Therese of Lisieux

St Therese of Lisieux

I had no idea what would become of the #generationbenedict blog when I sent a message to Lise on the eve of Ash Wednesday about this idea I had.  I just thought this could be a great way to remember our beloved Pope Benedict.  I take very seriously the challenge of Pope Emeritus Benedict to take responsibility for evangelising the digital continent. Imagine what the likes of St Therese of Lisieux and St Francis Xavier could have done with social media? Older generations were very quick to speak on behalf of my generation in the media after the abdication of Pope Benedict and this didn’t sit right with me.  The stories these older Catholics told, had no resonance with the Pope Benedict I had come to know and love.  Our stories needed to be told, in our own words and on a platform which Pope Benedict described us as having a natural affinity for.

I don’t want to say too much here and simply put, this blog has blown away all expectations.  The number of hits and the media coverage has been phenomenal, totally unexpected.  For this all glory must be given the Lord who has fuelled our passion and love for His radiant bride the Church and for Peter’s successor.
The testimonies and response of the young people involved has humbled and amazed me.  Every time another blog post came my way, I felt as though I was in possession of a precious jewel as I read of how the Lord had moved in a person’s life through his humble worker: Pope Benedict.  With each new testimony I thought surely they don’t get better than this?? Then the next one appeared and my heart was moved once more.  Each testimony speaks of a generation striving for greatness, looking for clear leadership, seeking Truth and in need of a gentle helping hand to become the saints of the 21st Century.  One question that has been posed to me has been “what does an 80 something year old man have in common with your generation?”  This is a fair question and this blog answers that question, age is irrelevant this is a living example of heart speaks unto heart.   The Church and her pastors in knowing Christ is ever new, ever young.  Truth doesn’t age. The noble ideals of young people do not change. The bonds of our baptism run deep, much deeper than the modern world can comprehend- this is reflected in the deep familial love and respect shown to Pope Benedict by my generation.
Once these testimonies had been published, giving the feedback to our young contributors was a special moment for me.  Letting a person know that their post had X amount of hits, had been picked up by this blog or covered here was really beautiful. There was surprise and shock as these young people realised how many people had read and shared their stories, that people we actually bothered about what they had to say about their faith.  I hope all those who have contributed are encouraged and continue to be inspired by this.
The world needs the witness of your faith, it surely needs God.

Pope Benedict, World Youth Day Madrid

Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis 2It was with great distress that I watched the video of Pope Francis meeting with Pope Emeritus Benedict.  His frailty and weakness was painful to behold, it helped me make more sense of his decision to abdicate.  If there is a reason he came back to the faith or why I lapped up so much of his teaching it is because in Pope Benedict I could say with confidence “Here is a man who knows the Lord”.  As I reflect on my personal apostolate now, I pray for the courage to follow his example to give my whole life to the service of the gospel, in humble obedience and confident trust right to the very end.
I’m looking forward to the pontificate of Pope Francis, it is fresh wind in our sails and I’m following it with an open and faithful heart.  It is important to look at the two pontificates together.  Pope Benedict taught us that our faith is reasonable, he gave us the great gift of the YouCat and challenged us to know what we believe, he restored a sense of wonder, awe and reverence in the way in which we celebrate the Sacraments opening up a stunning chest of beautiful treasure previously hidden from my generation, he encouraged us to build our lives upon the rock that is Christ and to find our home in the Church.  I know there has been much opinion over Pope Francis, the media are doing a very good job of using him as stick to beat Pope Benedict with.  We as young Catholics must not get caught up in these silly debates.  There is a whole world dying for love of Christ, it is falling apart before our very eyes and we cannot afford to spend time debating what colour shoes the Pope wears or whose feet he washes and comparing it with times gone by.  Pope Benedict wouldn’t want this and it is no good for the Church. 
We have been privileged to be formed by an incredible Pope in Benedict and we disregard none of this as we whole-heartedly embrace Pope Francis.  Let us continue the good work which the Lord has begun in us through Pope Benedict and may it find it’s fullness through his new instrument: Francis.
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