During his Inauguration sermon, my recollection is that Benedict XVI, among some other pieces of striking imagery, said something like "Pray that I may not desert the flock for fear of the wolves". I found it rather strange that a Pope at his Inauguration might so foresee the need to be protected by God's grace from falling victim to the temptation to desert his universal flock. Now I wonder whether this good and holy man might have the gift of discernment recorded of some great saints, such as S Philip Neri. The relevance of those words to the present situation might otherwise seem uncanny. And, once again, the Compiler of the Celestial ORDO has added his penniworth: those of you who heard yesterday (or will hear some day this week) the Extraordinary Form and Book of Common Prayer propers, will have heard the Good Shepherd Gospel from S John 10, with its words about the Hireling Shepherd who, when he sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep and flees. In the 2005, this Gospel was read the Sunday before the Inauguration.
Today, however, in the relevant parts of this Kingdom, we said Mass of a martyred pontiff, S Alphege, together with a commemoration pro Papa, on this anniversary day of the Holy Father's Election. I find it thought provoking that the terms Confessor and Martys both mean the same: one who has witnessed to Christ. Only gradually did Confessor mean one whose heroic witness under great trials was not actually unto death. Confessor disappeared from the vocabulary of the Ordinary Form after the Council; understandably, for it had come to mean nothing more than "he was a male and he wasn't killed". Might we not revive the term, and use it for those who witnessed under persecution or exceptional tribulation? Such as John Paul II for his witness in the Marxist decades, and Benedict XVI for his great suffering under the tyranny of aggressive secularism?