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'BENADDICTIONS': The lighter side...and sheer indulging!

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5/1/2010 6:49 PM
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Just to remind anyone who gets to Europe one of these days - there is a neat little tour called the BENEDIKTSWEG you can do by car or by bike. Follow the sign of the miter...

The article posted two days ago in the BENEDICT thread datelined Traunstein elicited pleasant memories from a great friend of the Forum who e-mailed me the following, and whom I thank for this:

I found the article about Traunstein, Bavaria very interesting, especially since my husband and I had visited there in 2007. We were traveling in Austria when on a train from Vienna to Salzburg, I noticed that the stop for Traunstein was only a half an hour from Salzburg.

One morning, we took the short ride to the lovely city. We spent the morning walking around the town and took a taxi ride to the Ratzinger home in Hufschlag, which was very modest and as charming as he described it in his biography.

The pictures of Hufschlag above were taken by Simone at the PRF.

The baroque church really was beautiful...especially considering that it was a very small city by our standards. But isn't that true everywhere in Europe ... it was clear that the church was the most important building and the center of community life.

Picture from the Sankt-Oswald site.

The people in the church were very friendly. They had brochures printed in several languages describing the life of the future pope in Traunstein. I couldn't find a place to put an offering so I went over to one of the parishioners who were helping with the upkeep of the building and asked if they could take it. They were so grateful and obviously very proud of there former neighbor.

There was a small tourist office that offered information about walking tours of the town and included additional places that were significant in the future pope's life... such as the school and seminary attended by the Ratzinger brothers.

More pictures from Simone.

On the train ride I thought of the two teenage brothers cycling to Salzburg to attend the music festival. It must have been quite an adventure! I can't see my kids riding their bikes into Manhattan even though it is probably about the same distance!

BTW I was surprised to see not a few people wearing traditional Bavarian lederhosen. We were in Salzburg on the Feast of the Assumption and attended the liturgy (which featured Mozart's Mass) at the Franziskanerkirche.

Very many woman wore lovely dirndls and men wore a more formal version of the classic garb. Even those not in traditional garments were clothed very nicely in dresses, jackets and ties. We were put to shame by our casual American tourist clothes!...

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/1/2010 6:52 PM]
5/2/2010 8:13 AM
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I will never forget the afternoon of October 15, 2005, around noon in New York, late afternoon in Rome - I watched CTV's streaming feed of Benedict XVI meeting some 100,000 First Communion kids in St. Peter's Square. The format could not have surprised me more... and I found myself furiously scribbling in Italian trying to catch up with the dialog - through all my excitement at the wondrous experience of listening to this great intellectual answering children so easily and substantially in language any six-year-old could understand Below, I have reproduced what I wrote on the spot, or almost, for the RFC at the time, so moved and excited as I was! ... Two days later, the Vatican Press Office released the transcript of the dialog, and I did not hesitate to go ahead and translate it. It was the first time I ever translated any text by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI (I think I had been a member of the RFC for only six weeks at that time) and it was undiluted pleasure....

And today, on the Feast of St. Joseph, this wonderful development, reported below by Amy Welborn...

May 1, 2010 by Amy

About three years ago, I think, a blog reader wrote to me with an idea.

Her name was Ann, she was an artist living in New York, and she was as grateful for the papacy and wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI as I was. She had been struck by the Holy Father’s exchange with First Communion children back in 2005 (wow…that was a long time ago…) and thought it would make a nice children’s book. Would I be interested in helping her edit/find a publisher?

Well, I’m ashamed to say it took me several months to get back to her – she was very patient and I’m glad she was persistent. Over time, she continued working on illustrations, we talked about how to go about this, I edited the dialogue, wrote a scene-setting introduction and some other framing material, did a book proposal, and started sending it out.

And sending, and sending, and sending. To (I think) every Catholic publisher in the United States and several secular publishers.

No, no, no.

Which…surprised me. But enough about that.

A few months ago, I was fretting (and fuming) about this, when the Holy Father’s visit to England was announced…hmmmm…I thought.
So I wrote to the Catholic Truth Society, and within a very short time, they had considered the idea, agreed to it, and…in a very short time, they have brought it to print. As of today!

Here’s the website entry for the book.

The price is given in US dollars as well as pounds – I assume you can order it from the US, although I’ve no idea what the shipping would be.

Ann will be eventually making signed prints of the images available through her website, so watch for that.

Both Ann & I journeyed to Rome at various times over the past couple of years, hoping, as a side note to the trips, to present mock-ups of the book to the Holy Father. There’s one illustration in particular that Ann did using a photograph of the young Joseph Ratzinger after his own First Holy Communion, that we thought he would appreciate.

We both had our adventures in doing so – I attempted when I went in the fall of 2008 (you might remember – to visit my son David who was living over there at the time because, you know, he’d forgotten his jacket, and I probably should take it to him…), and got as far as a seat in the VIP section for the General Audience, but I was on the wrong side for presenting the HF w/Stuff, so I blew it, but Ann succeeded very nicely the next April(2009) ….

…which was better, since it’s really her and the Holy Father’s work!

We’re very, very pleased to finally see this book in print. We’re praying that the Holy Father’s gift for simple, yet profound catechesis will help children and parents draw closer to Christ.
Ann's site is a pleasure to peruse... Her watercolors are exceptionally fine, and she has such a gift for detail and color. And whether her subjects are landscapes, still life or people, they are all suffused with inner glow... Thank you for this garden of delight in cyberspace, Ann.

Here is my post on the First Communicants event 4-1/2 years ago....resurrected from the former Ratzinger Fan Club, now the Benedict XVI Fan Club.

Posts: 1055
10/15/05 10:10:08

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE THAT WAS! Papa must have spent at least 20 minutes waving and blessing as the Popemobile went through the large crowd all the way up to where the Bernini colonnades end and Via della Conciliazione begins....

Highlights of his Q-and-A with the kids (quick translations from the notes I took - I watched the whole thing on CTV in beautiful, pure, unspoiled-by-commentary Italian - while the Pope was speaking, so some words may not have been exact and I may have missed some key phrases):

Question #1 - Holy Father, what do you remember of your own First Communion?
Answer: It was March of 1936, a Sunday, a beautiful day. The sun was out, the church was filled with music...There were about 30 of us in a small town that had only about 500 inhabitants...And like one of you said earlier, I understood that Jesus had visited me, that God himself was therefore in me, that this was a gift of love which would last me for the rest of my life. I was starting a new stage in life. I was 9 years old, that was almost 70 years ago...I promised Jesus that I would want always to be with Him...and so I moved forward in life...It began a friendship with Jesus...If we go with Him, everything will be well and we shall see that life is good.

Question#2: Should I go to confession each time before receiving Communion? And what should I do since I seem to be confessing the same things all the time?
Answer: First, it is not necessary to go to confession every time, only if you have commited a sin that is truly grave, because then it is necessary to begin anew. But even if you don't have to go to confession all the time, it is useful to do it regularly. About seeming to confess the same things over and over, it's like cleaning our rooms regularly even if it's always the same dirt. It's the same way with the soul. If we do not cleanse it regularly, it becomes all dark. Cleaning out the soul cultivates beauty of the spirit and helps us develop and mature in life.

Question #3: Our catechism teacher says that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. Why don't I see Him?
Answer: (The Pope laughs, very amused) But there are so many things we do not see, but we know they exist. For instance, reason, or intelligence. Or take electricity, for instance - we do not see it, but we know it is there because we see its effects - the lights function, my microphone works because of electricity. Usually we cannot see the most profound things, but we can see their effects. It's the same way with our Lord - we know Him by the effects that he works in us . Persons become better because of Him, He helps us to be better persons and therefore to live better lives.

Question #4: We have been taught the importance of going to Sunday Mass. But sometimes our parents don't - they prefer to sleep. Why is it important and what can we do?
Answer: You must always treat your parents with great love and respect, so you can say to them, "Dear Papa, Dear Mama, can we take a little time each Sunday to go to Mass? Because it is important for us and important that we do it together as a family." But remember, always do this with great love and respect.

Question #5: What purpose is served by going to Mass?
Answer: To find the center of our life, which is Jesus. Those who do not go to Mass do not know that they need Jesus, but they know that they need something at the center of their life. We need our friendship with Jesus who brings us joy and helps us to grow and develop in life. We may not always see the effects in our life at once, but over the weeks and years, we will feel more within us that sense of Jesus being with us. It is a basic need for us that we nourish ourselves with the Eucharist.

Question #6: What does it mean when we are told that "Bread is life"?
Answer: Bread is the basic nourishment. Just as we need to feed ourselves physically, we also need to feed our soul so that it can mature and attain its fullness. Jesus himself is the food for our soul, for the inner man. It is His friendship that feeds us, to develop and attain maturity, that makes it possible for life to be good.

Question #7: What does the adoration of the Eucharist mean?
Answer: We will be doing it together shortly with words and song. But what is it? To adore the Eucharist is to recognize that Jesus is my Lord, that I live well only if I follow His way, and to say to him, Jesus, I am all yours....


The Adoration that followed was a lovely experience...Beautiful symphonic music accompanied the hymns sung by everyone... The sun set just before the Adoration began, so the evening setting was very appropriate and there was a full moon even.

It was very emotional for me to see St. Peter's Square once again as the grand stage (the best in the world) for an extraordinary event that was beautifully planned and executed.

I wish this had been telecast all over the world as the Funeral for Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict's own inauguration, for once again, it is the Roman Catholic Church doing what it does best - demonstrate the faith as well as inspire it through a meaningful celebration of liturgy.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/23/2012 5:34 PM]
5/16/2010 2:30 AM
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Both editor Amy Welborn and illustrator Ann Kissane Engelhart now have it on their respective websites, so here is more material from the beautiful children's book that they put together on Pope Benedict's Q&A with First Communion children in Rome in October 2006.
I have mounted their pictures with the title page and Table of Contents:

The pdf of the entire book can be seen through Ann's website,
under Children's Books

and the book can be ordered online at
It makes an excellent gift for children, especially those who are about to have their First Communion.

Ann was interviewed yesterday on Telecare, a Catholic TV service for Long Island. The interview can be seen on
(Click on the icon for 'Everyday Faith Live' - she comes on halfway through the program, at around 14:00.)

Also, now it can be told... Ann is the friend of the Forum who contributed the anecdote earlier about a visit to Traunstein.
Thanks for the support and your friendship, Ann.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/16/2010 2:31 AM]
6/10/2010 4:20 PM
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Many thanks to Ann for sharing this with us, from the diocesan newspaper of Rockville Centre, New York.


When Ann Kissane Engelhart came across the online transcript of Pope Benedict speaking to children about making their first Communion, she knew, as a Catholic and an artist, that she wanted to share it by turning it into a children’s book.

“It’s a very charming dialogue,” Engelhart noted of the October 2005 meeting between the pope and some children of Rome who had recently received their first Communion.

“The idea of this scholar theologian speaking to eight-year-olds really struck me. They asked him questions about the Eucharist and he answered them off the cuff. He really spoke to them on their level, answering challenging questions with great depth but in a way they could understand.”

The dialogue inspired Engelhart, a parishioner of Sacred Heart Church in North Merrick, the mother of two, and wife of diocesan Catholic Charities’ chief operating officer Paul Engelhart, to create a children’s book, she said, “since otherwise I thought it might get lost like everything else in cyberspace.”

Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI Speaks to Children on Their First Holy Communion, was published last month by Catholic Truth Society, publisher to the Holy See in England. Blogger and children’s author Amy Wellborn edited the dialogue for the book, and Engelhart provided the illustrations, using watercolor.

Engelhart noted that before she started this project, she didn’t know much about Pope Benedict, but after hearing him preach at Pope John Paul II’s funeral, “there was something that resonated with me. I was particularly touched by his homily at the Mass for the inauguration of his pontificate, where he already began to introduce the importance of friendship with Jesus as essential for a life of beauty and liberation. It was at that point that I began to read his books and follow his writings as pope and discovered him to be an extraordinary teacher.”

It was during this time that she discovered his conversation with the children. She noted that the Pope spoke to them about his own first Communion, and when they asked him how we can know that Jesus is in the Eucharist even though we can’t see him, she liked how he compared it to knowing electricity is turning on a light, even though the electricity can’t be seen.

Engelhart had been a school art teacher for many years and has a studio in her home where she teaches art classes and paints watercolors for customers, but this was her first time illustrating a book.

“It’s different, illustrating in general,” she noted, “and when you’re commenting on the Pope, you want to be as accurate and supportive of the ideas being expressed as possible. But I had been inspired by the Pope’s teachings and it encouraged me to want to do this project because of my faith. This book really is an expression of my faith.”

The project finally came together after several years, she noted, and this past spring while visiting her daughter, who was studying in Rome, “we actually gave a copy of the mock-up to the Pope during a general audience.”

Though the Pope’s conversation is aimed at children, Engelhart noted that she hopes the book is something that will speak to entire families, who can read it together.

“I would hope that (by reading the book) they have a greater understanding of the sacrament of Holy Communion, that they would see it as the beginning of a friendship with Jesus, that they’ll always stay close to Jesus, and that the book will hopefully make them interested in the words of the Holy Father.”

Friendship with Jesus is not yet available in stores, but can be purchased through Engelhart’s website,

What a coincidence that tonight, in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Fahter will be answering questions from his other children - the priests, ministers of God consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders!

6/20/2010 2:22 PM
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Ricetti, Aneddotti e Ricordi
dalla vita di BENEDETTO XVI

223 pp, 12 euro

The publisher's blurb:

What must one eat as a child to become a Pope when you grow up? If that were all it took, then we would find out by reading this new and very special book rich with tasteful recipes, of course. But above all, this is a book dense with with memories, anecdotes and stories from the childhood of the boy who would become Benedict XVI.

Since he was born in a small village in Lower Bavaria, the dishes offered, like the accounts of his childhood, are wrapped in the flavors and colors of his native land, where customs and traditions andure and are very much alive even today.

A lover of Bavarian cuisine, editor of many books on gastronomy, and passionate cook, Ute Flock produced this book with the supervision of a great expert in recipes and in practical instructions for everyday life: Suor Germana.

The book reflects all the simplicity and wisdom of someone who has for many years written down advice, reflections adn teachings in a successful blend of spirituality and good sense, family values and the best of traditional dishes.

, in its 6/18/10 issue, comments on the book:

'Eat like a Pope'

The book Mangiare da Papa, written by Suor Germana, the Catholic Julia Child, for De Agostini publishers, has an unintentionally surreal subtitle.

Thanks to the collaboration of Ute Flock and anecdotes told by friends and relatives of Benedict XVI, this recipe book shows "what one must eat as a child to become a Pope later".

But with the dishes described, there is a risk of not getting to be an adult at all: It is a celebration of animal fats and sugars, cholesterols and triglycerides, from the cutlets, sausages, custards and fried foods, typical of Bavarian gastronomy.

Perhaps the longevity and lucidity of Joseph Ratzinger are owed rather to his 'conversion' to the Mediterranean diet which, the book explains, took place when he came to Romw.

But it seems the Pope enjoys eating: his mother was the daughter of a baker and was an 'expert cook', as her future husband specified in an announcement he published looking for a wife (to which two women answered).

And a story in the Observer out of the above, and obviously, going through the book itself:

Eat up your veal,
lard and stuffed pigeon -
and you might be Pope

by Tom Kington in Rome
The Observer
June 20, 2010

The good health of Pope Benedict XVI is not down to his childhood diet, according to a new book.

Italians impressed by Pope Benedict's good health and quick mind at the age of 83 have been shocked to learn that the German pontiff's favourite recipes are a suicidal mix of fried, buttery and carnivorous pleasures.

The glimpse at Joseph Ratzinger's culinary wish list is granted by a new book, Eat like a Pope, which details, in all their greasy glory, the top dishes served up in the Ratzinger household in Bavaria by his mother before the war.

A cholesterol roller coaster, the recipes range from stuffed pigeon with butter, cream and sherry, to soup with liver and onion dumplings, to the "exquisite butter and jam biscuits" that young Joseph loved.

Publisher De Agostini said the book is already into its second edition since publication last month, despite coinciding with the child abuse scandal swirling around the Vatican.

But Italian weekly L'Espresso warned children against attempting to follow the Ratzinger diet if they wanted to grow up to be Pope themselves.

"With these dishes, there is the risk of not reaching adulthood at all," the magazine stated. "This is a triumph of animal fats, sugar and cholesterol."

The collection was put together with the help of a woman who lived next door to the Ratzingers and regularly swapped recipes with Maria, Ratzinger's mother, the daughter of a baker who met the future Pope's father after he put out a small advert seeking a bride in 1920.

Joseph Ratzinger Senior, a policeman, wrote in the ad that only "expert cooks" should apply, preferably including a photograph with their response. Selecting Maria from the two replies he received, Ratzinger ensured himself and his family a constant diet of goulash, hare cooked in lard and red wine, roast veal kidneys, veal cutlet dished up in herby butter and, when Mrs Ratzinger was not cooking, buttery biscuits made at Christmas for the family by local Franciscan nuns.

Snacks in the Ratzinger house, according to the book, were likely to be hunks of bread served up with Brie rolled in chopped onion and mixed with beer.

"Would it not be the case that the longevity and lucidity of Joseph Ratzinger should instead by attributed to his conversion to the Mediterranean diet, which occurred when he arrived in Rome?" asked L'Espresso.

Somehow, I think Kington's piece gives a wrong idea of meals in the Ratzinger household - not at all the impression one gets from reading Milestones, which is one of frugal circumstances. Certainly, his mother would have had all those recipes since she was a cook and would have made them for special occasions, but not as daily fare!

In Milestones, Joseph recalls the day he came home from the American POW camp, marking the end of the war for him: "In my whole life I have never again had so magnificent a meal as the simple one that Mother then prepared for me from the vegetables of her own garden".

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/20/2010 11:19 PM]
2/1/2011 10:02 AM
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For some reason. Lella on her blog resurrected one of the earliest of the 'human interest' features that came out in the early days after the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope. She ran the ZENIT story, which is the second posted here, but here's all three of the stories in English that I read at the time about this wedding....

Joseph Ratzinger:
Lover of lovers

by Anthony and Marta Valle

April 22, 2005

The Valles pose at St. Peter's Square with one of their wedding photos a few days after the Conclave.

Who is the real Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI? To the world he is many things; to us he is the priest who celebrated our wedding Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on June 24, 2004, a short 10 months before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

Who are we? Two ordinary students who met three years ago in Rome on the footsteps of a church after Mass. What was our "connection" to the current successor of St. Peter? None. We simply asked and he said yes.

In February, 2004, we attended Cardinal Ratzinger's weekly Mass, celebrated Thursday morning at 7 a.m. inside the Vatican in the church of the Campo Teutonico, but open to the public. He has celebrated the Mass for many years for anyone who wishes to come.

After celebrating his Mass, then Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, emerged from the sacristy in a simple cassock and was greeted warmly by an excited crowd of people from all over the world, some to get the great theologian's personal autograph, others to get a picture with the second most powerful prelate in the Church, and yet others to thank this holy German priest for his persevering and faithful service to Christ and the Church.

At first he struck us as somewhat timid. However, as he approached the excited and sizeable crowd of people, he began to talk to and take interest in each individual person who has come to see him. He answered questions in various languages, asked some of his own, occasionally cracked a joke or two, while always devoting his entire attention to each individual person in such a soft, pastoral way. This much was obvious: the real Ratzinger was most at home as a man of the people, as a shepherd keeping watch over his flock.

It was our turn. We introduced ourselves to his eminence, reverenced his ring, engaged in some pleasant talk with him, and then - we popped the question: "We have a favor to ask of you, your Eminence".

He waited patiently.

"Will you celebrate our wedding mass?"

"Well, let's see what we can do. Why don't you write a letter to me with some possible times and dates."

"Well, actually Your Eminence, we already have one prepared."

Within a week, Marta received an envelope from the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. We open it, stunned: it is a yes!

Several months later and a few days before our wedding date, at the cardinal's request, his secretary scheduled us to meet the cardinal. He wanted to get to know us a little better.

Being a responsible secretary, he emphasized over and over, "You only have 10 minutes with the cardinal - that is all. He is a very busy man and I am responsible for keeping his schedule."

The door opened and we entered to be warmly received by the cardinal. However, we exited his office some 30 minutes later, only at the end realizing that not we but rather he had far exceeded the set limit.

We talked about everything from our backgrounds, our families, and our studies to spirituality, sacred music, liturgy, theology, plainchant and polyphony. Yet what struck us immediately about the cardinal during our private meeting with him and also when he celebrated Mass was not his towering intellectual genius, but his obvious simplicity, his humility, and his holiness.

Two days later was June 24, the day of our wedding. We were brimming with joy since we would receive the sacrament of matrimony, be eternally wedded to each other in Christ, and all this in the Eternal City, in the heart of the Church, from a man whose heart is clearly burning with a deep love for Christ.

The sermon was a profound meditation on the readings, particularly on Ephesians 5. Here the cardinal passionately underscored the husband's subordinate role to the wife in so far as the husband must sacrifice himself continuously for his wife out of a deep love for her, just as Christ sacrificed himself for his own spouse, the Church.

What made the highest-ranking prelate in the Catholic Church next to the Pope give his yes to an unknown couple's request that he celebrate their wedding Mass?

At their wedding, what made him give such a nearly half-hour long sermon, which could --or one could even argue-- should have been much shorter given the cardinal's tremendous responsibilities?

What, on top of all this, compelled him to send us a personally inscribed, limited edition of his latest book as a wedding gift?

These are questions that we continually ask ourselves, and the only answer that gives itself back to us in the faintest of whispers is Love, better yet, a person so smitten by a deep and personal love for Christ that he himself becomes the Lover of Lovers.

And that is the real Ratzinger we came to know.

'Just married" … by Cardinal Ratzinger!
Interview With Marta and Anthony Valle

The wedding photo, cropped from the larger photo above.

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 24, 2005 ( When Marta and Anthony Valle were married last June by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, they did not imagine that the man who married them would be the future Benedict XVI.

In this interview with ZENIT, Marta and Anthony speak about their personal experiences with the cardinal, and their admiration for the man who married them. Marta could barely speak as she had a bad case of laryngitis 'from screaming so hard on April 19'.

Both students at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Marta is from Germany and studies bioethics, and Anthony is from New York and studies theology.

How did it come about that you two were married by Cardinal Ratzinger?
We were just lucky, better yet, providentially lucky. We asked him after one of his public Masses and he said "Well, let's see what we can do. Give me a few dates and times in writing."

Being good students we had done our homework and handed the cardinal a letter that we prepared the night before with all the necessary information. Within a week Marta received a response: a yes!

We were married by him in St. Peter's Basilica on June 24th, 2004. He is truly a man of the people. Although he was the second most important man in the Church, he took his time out for us on that Thursday morning for one hour and a half so that we could receive the sacrament of marriage.

And that is essentially what the priest's charism is -- to give the sacraments to the people, because the sacraments are the means of salvation that Christ gave to us.

What did you feel when his name was announced as the new Pope?
Anthony: We were so thrilled and overjoyed that tears were running down our cheeks.
Marta: We were shouting so, so much!
Anthony: It is amazing that he was elected in only four ballots and within less than 24 hours. That shows that there was a definite unity among the cardinals. They knew he was the right man. We are very happy that we have such a holy and humble man as our new Pope.

As Pope John Paul II did so well, Pope Benedict XVI will continue to lead the Church, preserve her tradition and bring the Church forward into the new millennium with the New Evangelization.

Yes, he is old, but God will give him the necessary graces. If you remember, the first thing he said when he came out on the balcony: "The Lord knows how to work and act even with insufficient instruments, and I especially entrust myself to your prayers." He is very humble. I can't emphasize this enough.

However, he is often unfairly stereotyped as being a very strict and stern enforcer. Nothing can be further from the truth. Such stereotypes are absurd and laughable. He is such a mild and unassuming man, perhaps even a little shy.

As we know, his former job as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith required him to preserve the bi-millennial teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, whoever had or has this duty, will get a negative image precisely because so many of the teachings of the Catholic Church do not conform to the ideological mind-set of modern secular humanism and to so many of the other fashionable and false "isms" of our historical epoch.

Some say that he has a very 'hard face'.... [For the life of me, I cannot imagine how anyone could ever describe his face as 'hard' in any way!]
Anthony: If you ever have the chance to meet him, as we had on several occasions, you will immediately see how sweet, kind and pastoral he is. In fact he has been the most accessible cardinal in the Church.

For example, he has celebrated Mass in a little chapel open to the public every Thursday morning for the past 20 or so years.

Furthermore, he celebrates Mass so beautifully and reverently, truly entering into its redemptive mystery. Moreover, after he says Mass, he takes his vestments off in a very recollected way in the sacristy, while clearly still meditating on the tremendous mystery that just took place.

He then exits the sacristy to greet the crowds of people who have come to meet him. This is where you see his true self, who he really is. He takes his time to greet each individual person, looking into their eyes, shaking their hand, asking their name, why they are here, what diocese they are from, signing his autograph, taking pictures with them, etc.

He really gives you all of his attention and talks to you person to person. This is what a priest should be, this is what a Pope should be: a shepherd, a pastor of the people, and this is precisely what Pope Benedict XVI is, and this is what the world needs to know and will know.

What advice did he give you in the homily of your wedding Mass?
aNTHONY:Marta knows better since the homily was mostly in German.
Marta: We were married on the feast of St. John the Baptist, so only the second reading was specifically for our wedding. We chose the fifth chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, which talks about how the husband and wife should be.

Cardinal Ratzinger said that we need to model ourselves according to Christ's example of love, which is a love that manifests itself very concretely in acts of service and sacrifice.

Anthony: The then cardinal emphasized how both the husband and the wife should be subordinate to each other. Today, however, everyone over-focuses on the one verse that speaks of how the wife should be subordinate to the husband.

But they forget that later on St. Paul emphasizes -- and this was one of the cardinal's main points -- that a husband should love his wife as Christ loves the Church, that is to the point of sacrificing his own life for her. This is what it means for the husband to be the head of the family: to imitate Jesus Christ as head of the Church.

Although he is the Lord, the first one, he manifests his lordship by being the last one, by putting himself in the last place, by becoming the servant of all, by washing the feet of his disciples.

At the time, there was also this short item from AFP with an added detail:

ROME - Anthony and Marta Valle, who have met the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI several times, described him as a humble, kind, and giving man, always there to listen to this flock.

"He's great," said Marta Valle, a fellow German, who often attended masses held by the then-cardinal every Thursday in the Teutonic chapel at the Vatican.

"He's really a humble servant, he's always there for you," she said as she hugged her friends in Saint Peter's Square celebrating the election of the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

Anthony Valle of New York said the Pope -- referred to by the media as "God's Rottweiler" -- was misunderstood by his critics.

"He's very calm, not a Mediterranean type," said Anthony Valle. "In general, people of northern Europe tend to be more stoic. But he has a burning love for Christ.

"He wants to preserve the Church and that upsets certain people who want to water it down," said Anthony Valle. "But that's what the Pope's job is, to preserve the Church."

Marta Valle remembered meeting the 78-year-old pope, elected Tuesday after one of the shortest conclaves in recent history, after the masses. "He would always greet people, speak to them," she said. "He listens to you."

The two have a very special tie to the new Pope, the 264th successor of Peter. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II died April 2 aged 84.

Months before the wedding, Valle had gone to the then-cardinal with the engagement ring he was going to use to propose.

"I didn't even have to say anything," said Anthony Valle. Ratzinger blessed the ring for him. "We went back together and he congratulated us very warmly," he said. "He's very pastoral, that's what people don't understand about him."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/1/2011 10:15 AM]
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