The message we all need to hear, said the Pope Emeritus, is "It is good that you exist"
Although “tenderness” is a word that has been used with some frequency, and to good effect, by his successor, Pope Francis, it is not a word most people associate with Pope Benedict XVI. For the ignorant and the perpetually angry, Papa Ratzinger is only a caricature — “God’s Rottweiler.” For those who consider themselves the right-guardians of Catholicism, Benedict is a stern Commander-in-Chief which is, in its way, another kind of caricature.
What Benedict was, and is, is a Christ-lover; he is all-Christ’s before he is anything else. This means that to plumb his depths is to begin to drown in love that is maddening in a way, because it relentlessly points us away from our own concerns — and we are a generation that demands attention — and toward something deeper and finer; something that makes us truly royal children of a Revolutionary King.
Here is Benedict, the tender:
It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist . . . If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: “It is good that you exist” – must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. – Principles of Catholic Theology
“It is good that you exist.” It is a message we are meant to believe, because we are loved into being, with all of creation.
And here are five Catholic lines that — if you really think about it — apply to you, and to me, and to every created soul, because if you have been loved into being by the God who is All-Good, then you must steel yourself to hear it: it is good that you exist. You are worthy of love.
1) “God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever his glance falls he turns all things to beauty.”
— Saint John of God
2) “I saw as in letters of gold this word Goodness, which I repeated for a long while with an indescribable sweetness. I saw it, I say, written on all creatures, animate and inanimate, rational or not, all bore this name of goodness…[because God] communicated to them something of his infinite goodness, so that we may meet it in everything and everywhere.”
— Saint Therese Couderc
3) “God is present everywhere, and every person is His work.”
— Saint Francis de Sales
4) “I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
— Thomas Merton
5) “Believe that he loves you…Believe in His Love. His exceeding love.
— Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, OCD
Bonus quote, not Catholic, but carries a similar sentiment:
“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets, trying to find you.”