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Last Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI attended an evening of witness during his pastoral visit to Milan. There, several people had the opportunity to ask him a question. One of them was 7-year-old Cat Tien of Vietnam, who, greeting him with a simple “Ciao, Papa!”, asked the Holy Father about the memories of his childhood and family.
Here is the answer that Benedict gave:
“Thank you, dearest, and your parents: thank you from my heart. So then, you have asked what my memories of my family are like: there are so many! I would like to say just a few things. For us, the essential point for the family was always Sunday, but Sunday already began on Saturday evening. Our father would read us the readings, the readings for Sunday, from a book very widespread in Germany at the time, in which the texts were also explained. That is how Sunday began: we were already entering into the liturgy, in an atmosphere of joy.
The next day we would go to Mass. I come from a home close to Salzburg, so we had a lot of music – Mozart, Schubert, Haydn – and when the Kyrie started, it was like heaven was opened.
And then at home it was important, of course, to have a big lunch together. And then we sang a lot: my brother is a great musician, already as a boy he made compositions for all of us, so the whole family would sing. Dad would play the zither and sing; those are unforgettable moments.
Then, of course, we went on trips and walks together; we were close to a forest and so walking in the forest was a very beautiful thing: adventures, games, etcetera.
In a word, we were of one heart and one soul, with so many shared experiences, even in very difficult times, because there was wartime, before the dictatorship, and then poverty. But this mutual love among us, this joy even over simple things was strong, and this made it possible to overcome and bear even these things.
It seems to me that this was very important: that even little things gave joy, because in this way the heart of the other was expressed. And in this way we grew up in the certainty that it is good to be a man, because we saw that the goodness of God was reflected in parents and siblings.
And to tell the truth, if I try to imagine a little of how it will be in heaven, it always seems to me like the time of my youth, of my childhood. Thus, in this context of trust, of joy, and of love, we were happy, and I think that in heaven it must be similar to what it was like in my youth. In this sense I hope to go “home,” in going to “the other part of the world.””
The pope may be, well, the pope, shepherd of more than a billion Catholics, professor, theologian,writer, spiritual father… he is also so very human, and in encounters with children that becomes touchingly apparent. We saw that in Spain, in Benin, and now in Milan. Meet the real Benedict…
Photo credit: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo
Less then three months after his 80th birthday and his departure from the ranks of the cardinal electors, Rodolfo Cardinal Quezada Toruño passed away this morning in a private hospital in Guatemala City.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, I already write about the late cardinal here. I’ll share here the short overview of his life and career in the Church that I wrote at the time:
Born in Guatemala City in 1932, Rodolfo Quezada Toruño was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Guatemala in 1956, with a Licentiate in Theology from the University of Innsbruck in Austria and a Doctorate in Canon Law from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University in his pocket. He held several teaching positions and was the first rector of Guatemala’s National Major Seminary of the Assumption.
In 1972, aged 40, Fr. Quezada Toruño was appointed as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Zacapa. In 1975, he was appointed as Coadjutor Bishop of that same diocese. In 1980 he succeeded Bishop Costantino Luna Pianegonda. From 1988 to 1992, and again from 2002 to 2006, he was president of Guatemala’s Bishops’ Conference.
In the 1990’s Bishop Quezada Toruño became a national hero as he led two organisations that played an important role in brokering a peace agreement that ended 36 years of civil war. His assistant in this work, Bishop Juan Gerardi, auxiliary bishop of Guatemala, was viciously beaten to death in 1998.
21 years after his consecration, in the summer of 2001, Bishop Quezada Toruño became the 36th Archbishop of Guatemala, his home diocese. He was created a cardinal in the conclave of 21 October 2003, the last one called by Blessed Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Quezada Toruño is the first cardinal-priest of San Saturnino. On 2 October 2010 he retired as Guatemala’s archbishop.
Cardinal Quezada Toruño was a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
The college of cardinals now numbers 209, with 121 of them electors.
On Saturday I attended the ordination to the priesthood of Fathers Patrick Kuis and Geoffrey de Jong in the cathedral basilica of Saint John the Evangelist in ‘s Hertogenbosch. These were two of nine new priests that the Church in the Netherlands received on that day. 27-year-old Fr. Patrick is a personal friend, so the ordination was especially joyous.
Father Patrick will remain assigned to the cathedral parish in ‘s Hertogenbosch, a choice assignment in the largest diocese of the country in terms of the number of Catholics. He had already been in that parish since his ordination to the diaconate.
Father Patrick’s first Masses was celebrated in the the basilica, but he will celebrate a number of other ‘first’ Masses: in the cathedral of Sts. Joseph and Martin in Groningen, the parish church of St. James the Greater in Uithuizen and in the FSSP church of St. Agnes in Amsterdam.
This last Mass is of course of special interest to those traditionally-minded readers of this blog. Fr. Patrick will offer this Mass in the Extraordinary Form, which is quite unique for newly-ordained priest, certainly in the Netherlands. Recently, some note was made of the first Mass of a newly-ordained priest in New York who offered his first Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Father Z writes about that here), and I think that this fact is no less worthy of attention.
Congratulations to Fathers Patrick and Geoffrey, as well as the other new priests in the Dioceses of Roermond and Haarlem-Amsterdam, as well as to all the faithful they will serve in the many years to come!
The website of the seminary as an extensive photo gallery of the ordination here.
Photo credit:  Wim Koopman,  my own