Thursday, April 07, 2005

Nunc Dimittis

Thanks to Jimmy G for drawing my attention to an unofficial English translation of the Pope's testament.

Of note is the piece which is supposedly where the Pope ponders retirement.
2. To the degree that the Jubilee Year 2000 goes forward, closing behind us day by day is the 20th century, while the 21st century opens. In accordance with the designs of Providence, it was granted to me to live during the difficult century that is passing, and now, in the year during which my age reaches 80 years ("octogesima adveniens"), it is necessary to ask if it is not the time to repeat the words of the Biblical Simeon, "Nunc dimittis." (ED'S NOTE: `Now Master you may let your servant go.")

On May 13, 1981, the day of the attempt upon the life of the Pope during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Divine Providence saved me from death in a miraculous way. He who is the sole Savior of life and of death, Himself prolonged this life, and in a certain way gave it to me anew. From this moment it belongs to Him all the more. I hope that He will help me to recognize the time until when I must continue this service, to which he called me on the day of October 16, 1978. I ask (Him) to call me when He wants. 'In life and in death we belong to the Lord ... we are of the Lord" (cf Romans 14, 8). I hope too that throughout the time given me to carry out the service of Peter in the Church, the Mercy of God will lend me the necessary strength for this service.
Given the context and given that the document almost exclusively occupies itself with the Pope's meditation on his own death I think that any suggestion that the 'Nunc Dimittis' in question was retirement rather than resignation to an approaching death is a misreading. The fact that the Italian word 'to retire' is 'dimettersi' - a cognate of 'dimittis'.

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