Dear Brothers and Sisters All,
In these days of the Christmas season, I am writing these words from Vietnam. I am here with Fr. Michael Khong, Fr. Bao Thai and Keith Hoang, who is from Los Angeles, and who I recently accepted as my “spiritual son” in the Vietnamese tradition, here in his historical family Church of Phong Duc, where he and his family fled from 50 years ago. Keith was with me as he returned to his ancestral Church. I blessed all of his family graves with holy water and burned incense sticks to honor his ancestors in what had been their land and homes, reflecting our Catholic tradition of praying for the deceased.
With that in mind, I would also like to say a few words about Pope Benedict XVI.
Above all, I remember my excitement and gratitude when he was elected to succeed now Saint John Paul II, but most importantly other personal memories. His “Introduction to Christianity” is above all a testament to Faith and his relationship to the Lord. It is the clearest and most succinct summary of Faith.
On a personal note, I would remember when I would often see him in the morning walking across St. Peter’s Square in a plain black cassock and brief case on his way to his office at the “Holy Office.” He would always speak and answer any questions I might have! One time, again in St. Peter’s Square, a group of us who were on sabbatical in Rome met him and he could not have been more cordial, interested and kind!
His love and respect for the Liturgy and music is certainly found in his work “The Spirit of the Liturgy” and above all his relationship with Christ can be found in his “trilogy” entitled “Jesus of Nazareth,” which I would recommend for anyone to read. It is a testimony of Faith. So many of his writings reflected his great love for Christ and the Church.
He blessed my life and ministry greatly appointing me first to the Diocese of Fort Worth and now to be here with all of you over 10 years ago. I also need to remind us all of his pivotal role (along with then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla) in his writing of some of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council.
In particular, my work and ministry with the “Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter” continues to be an example to Pope Benedict and what I would term of “realized Ecumenism.”
As thinking of those called to Eternal Life: “Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Lord.”