This was the unchanging expression of Pope Benedict XVI after he read his abdication: eyebrows high, eyes wide open, tearing up, jaw dropped, head hung, not looking at the Cardinal responding to him on behalf of the other Cardinals present, but staring off not into space, but surely right into the Face of Christ Jesus.
During the reading, he was very much the Pope Benedict we always knew. Immediately after, what he had done hit home, especially at this moment, when the Cardinal who was responding to his statement recalled the moment when the new Pontiff “ha detto il Suo ‘Si’!”, when he had said his “Yes!” immediately after his election.
The enormity of what he had done couldn’t possibly have hit home until he had done it. It is just hitting him here. You have to know that the intensely humble reverence before Christ Jesus he was experiencing right then would, I think, have brought any of us total heart failure. The Holy Father’s weakest moment is far beyond any strength we could ever dream of having. The myriad of angels assisting him, the myriad prayers ascending before the throne of the Most High…
The Cardinal started off his response by saying that the Holy Father’s words were like a lightning bolt striking in a serene sky. And, by the way, that’s what happened, literally.
Holy Father! We are in solidarity with you before Christ Jesus!