The truth of faith is a slender, glowing element that runs through even the seemingly ordinary and undramatic moments of existence. Even at low intensity, it is a steady source of illumination. Such religious truth is powerful even when it seems faint, even when it seems obscured by the larger events of history.
The real test of friendship is: can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you enjoy those moments of life that are utterly simple?
Francis seems familiar because Catholics have already known him in the Vatican II priests who have been their pastors and sacramental ministers over the years since that council brought new life to an old church. Catholics have known him in the bishops and priests who brought the spirit of the council to their dioceses and parishes.
There would be no need for love if perfection were possible. Love arises from our imperfection, from our being different and always in need of the forgiveness, encouragement and that missing half of ourselves that we are searching for, as the Greek myth tells us, in order to complete ourselves.
Benedict's spending down his energy was a function of his fighting against the Space/Information Age's relentless pressure on the concept of hierarchy, the restoration of which he had, following John Paul II, made a central part of the program that has come to be known as the reform of the reform.
The whole world feels that it knows Francis, not so much because he follows Francis of Assisi but because he is always himself. We have seen him pay his own hotel bill and heard that Francis called Buenos Aires for a pair of ordinary black shoes, like John XXIII, who preferred stout peasant shoes to the traditional papal footwear.
St. Pope John XXIII called for the Second Vatican Council because he understood, as no Holy Father had in a long time, religion spoke to and found its language and symbols - its entire sense of the sacramental nature of existence - in the imagination that reveals not just the penalties of living, but the wonder and awe of our existence.
Pope Benedict XVI's resignation is big on buzz but is not the stunning surprise claimed by many pundits. It is rather a further example of the German theology professor's style that informed his years as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, his term as pope, and the formation of his legacy to the church.