By Sylvia Kritzenberger
Vatican News Service
Tired, moved, but at the same time at peace, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Private Secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, visited the studios of Vatican Radio one day before the funeral of the man he served for so many years. In this interview, he recounts the last moments of the earthly existence of the man who served the Church as Bishop of Rome from 2005 until 2013, and then made the historic choice to renounce the papacy almost ten years ago.
Question: How did Benedict XVI live these final days? What were his last words?
Ganswein: I did not hear his last words with my own ears, but the night before he died, one of the nurses assisting him overheard them. Around three o’clock, he said: “Lord, I love you.” The nurse told me in the morning when I arrived. These were his last truly understandable words.
Everyone then prayed in silence. At 9:34am, he took his last breath. We then continued our prayers, but for the dead, not the dying. And we concluded by singing Alma Redemptoris Mater (See Below). He died during the Octave of Christmas, his favorite liturgical season, on the feast day of his predecessor Saint Sylvester. I then told everyone: “I will call Pope Francis right away. He should be the first to know.” I called and he said: “I’ll be there immediately!” When the pope arrived, I accompanied him to the bedroom where he died. Pope Francis greeted everyone. I offered him a chair and he sat beside the bed and prayed. He offered a blessing and departed.
Question: What was the strongest message of Benedict XVI’s pontificate?
Ganswein: His strength lies in the motto that he chose as Archbishop of Munich which quoted John’s Third Letter: Collaborators of the Truth (See 3 John 1:8). It means that truth is not something that has been taught; it is a person; it is the Son of God. God became incarnate in Jesus Christ, in Jesus of Nazareth, and this is his message: to follow not a theory of truth, but to fol- low the Lord. “I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).” This is his message. It is a message that is not a burden. Rather, it is what helps us to carry the weight of each day, and it gives us joy. There are problems, but faith is stronger. Faith must have the last word.
Question: What was Pope Benedict’s greatest teaching for your life?
Ganswein: The greatest teaching is that written faith, pronounced and proclaimed faith, is not only something that is said and preached, but lived. That is, the example for me is the faith he learned, taught, and proclaimed became a lived faith. For me, even during this moment of grief, it is a great spiritual consolation.
Question: In his spiritual testament, Pope Benedict writes: “If in this late hour of my life, I look back on the decades I have covered, the first thing I see is how many reasons I have to be thankful.” Was he a happy and fulfilled man?
Ganswein: He was a man deeply convinced that in loving the Lord, one is never wrong, even if one makes many human mistakes. This conviction gave him peace. It also gave him humility and clarity. He always said: “Our faith must be a simple faith — not simplistic, but simple. Because of all great theories, all great theologians have their foundation in faith. This is and remains the only nourishment we need for ourselves and for others.”
Call to Prayer
Holy Mary, Mother of God
By Pope Benedict XVI
Mary, Virgin and Mother,
show us what love is,
from whence it draws its origin,
and its constantly renewed power.
To her we entrust the Church
and her mission in the service of love.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
you have given the world its true light,
Jesus, your Son, the Son of God.
You abandoned yourself completely to God’s call
and this became a wellspring of the goodness
that flows forth from him.
Show us Jesus. Lead us to him.
Teach us to know and love him,
so that we can also become capable
of true love and be fountains of living water
in the midst of a thirsting world. Amen.
Alma Redemptoris Mater
Sung at the Deathbed of Pope Benedict XVI
Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
Gate of Heaven, Star of the Sea,
assist your people who have fallen
yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature,
you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before,
you who received Gabriel’s greeting,
have pity on us, poor sinners.
Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now and will be forever. Amen.
Living the Gospel
Sacrament of Confirmation
Saturday, January 21st
As with Baptism and Holy Eucharist, Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church. The Sacrament of Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism through the outpouring of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, Right Judgment, Understanding, Wisdom, and Wonder & Awe. These gifts seal or confirm the mystical union between the candidates and Christ, and they prepare them to actively participate in the prayer, fellowship, and service of the Roman Catholic Church.
This year, forty high school students from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish have successfully completed the requirements of our Confirmation Preparation Program. During the past two years, they prayed together, attended Mass together and completed a rigorous program of formation as a community of young disciples. These students are now well-prepared to publicly renew their baptismal vows, profess their faith, and live as faithful and faith-filled Catholic Christians.
The Very Reverend Mark O’Connell, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Boston, will join us as special guest celebrant and homilist for our an- nual celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday, January 21st at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church and Sunday, February 5th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Welcome back, Bishop Mark!
As we make ready for these celebrations, we pray for all of our candidates, sponsors, parents, catechists, and pas- toral team members. In a special way, we thank Betsy Works, Associate Minister for Youth Faith Formation, for her dedication, hard work, and creative spirit. For more information about youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Come, Holy Spirit! Enkindle in us the fire of your love! Peace, blessings, and congratulations to all!
Sharing God’s Love
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Help Us Help Others!
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society is an international organization that is dedicated to responding to any request from any person or family in need. Here on Cape Ann, we work through Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish to serve the poor and the needy. Help us help others! Donations can be pushed through the mail slot in the parish office, dropped in the collection basket at any Weekend Mass, or mailed to:
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
74 Pleasant Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
New members and volunteers are always welcome! For more information about the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and its good work in our parishes and hometowns, please contact Harry Miller at 978-281-8672 or Robert Weeks at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or someone you know needs our help, please call 978-281-8672. Thank you for your generous support for the Saint Vincent de Paul Society! May God bless you!
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Second & Fourth Saturdays
After many months of hard work and renovations, the new Saint Vincent de Paul Clothes Closet is now open for business in Saint Ann Church Hall on the Second and Fourth Saturdays of every month from 9:00am until 12:00pm. All are welcome to drop by and check out the All New Clothes Closet by entering through the Pleasant Street doors of Saint Ann Church Hall.
Donations of gently worn clothing and shoes are now gratefully accepted during our regular hours and in the bin located in the Saint Ann School parking lot. Please note that we cannot accept donations of books, toys, or household items. For more information about the Saint Vincent de Paul Clothes Closet, please contact Bridget Nelligan at 781-572-4752 or Cathy Kyrouz at 978-290-1756. Thank you for your generous support!
Rebuilding the Church
Assisi Project Podcasts
Founded by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that is dedicated to helping believers of all ages and backgrounds more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Father Jim asked Cliff to look back on more than two decades of ministry as a catechist, retreat director, and spiritual director; and create a series of free podcasts as a way of continuing our adult faith formation ministry.
So far, Cliff has created more than 75 podcasts with more on the way! The Assisi Project Podcast is forever free and always available! Each podcast is approximately ten minutes long and serves as a kind of mini-retreat that can enjoyed anytime day or night! Our most popular podcasts include:
- New! Clinging to Peter
- New! Begin Again!
- A Prayer for America
- Mother of the Tender Heart
- Complete Podcast Library
During these challenging times, all are invited to pray and reflect on Saint Francis, Saint Clare, and the Gospel Life by forming a powerful spiritual communion in person or from across the miles. The Assisi Project’s website features many more prayers and reflections about Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. For more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please contact Cliff at email@example.com. New members are always welcome! May the Lord give you peace!
Winter Weather Advisory
For the latest information about weather related cancelations during the winter months, please visit our website: ccgronline.com. Announcements will also be made via wcvb.com, cbsboston.com, and WBZ1030-AM. All fellow parishioners are reminded that if public schools are closed due to inclement weather on a particular day, then our Weekday Mass and all parish programs (including adult and youth faith formation programs) are canceled, too. Peace and blessings for a Happy New Year! Keep warm! Stay safe!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
It is in giving that we receive.
Electronic giving has become an essential component of parish support in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport; and it is available in both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is safe and easy to make online donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check.
Donations can be made on a weekly, monthly, or one-time-only basis; and it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. In additional to the weekly offering, you can also give electronically to our church restoration funds which helps us plan for the repair and maintenance of our beloved and historic churches.
During these challenging times, Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish need your support more than ever before! Please prayerfully consider enrolling in our ‘We Share!’ electronic giving program! For more information about setting up a new account or for assistance with your existing account, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support for our parishes! May God bless you and your family, now and always!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline
This Week’s Homepage
In Memory of Joseph Mondello