One of the most important and fascinating aspects of lifting weights is its ability to teach us who and what we are. It acts as a tangible philosophy, modeling a mirror into the soul and heart of who we are as human beings and as children of an Almighty God. The new Pope Emeritus left a lasting impression for the importance of consistent, increasing self-knowledge and constant appreciation of our strengths and weaknesses. It is as if Benedict XVI personally connected the dots between faith and reason. He engaged his philosophical mind in asking himself, Who am I? And then proceeded to relate that question with faith in Christ's words that hell will never prevail against Holy Mother Church. It was his constant search for higher truths and knowledge which led him to make his final decision that perhaps the Church might need, not necessarily a better Shepperd, but one that can physically adhere to the demands made on such a man.
As weightlifters, we can learn much from such an act of humility and self-knowledge. The Iron reaches into the heart of the practitioner and demands without any recompense that self-awareness and knowledge will come from this experience. Without this dimension of practicality, the Iron might seem useless to most. Yet, because of this analysis, the Iron reaches across all barriers of cultural difference. In quoting John Paul II he explains what we are trying to find in our search for truth. "Driven by the desire to discover the ultimate truth of existence, human beings seek to acquire those universal elements of knowledge which enable them to understand themselves better and to advance in their own self-realization." It is through knowing who we are that we find our role in this world and our role in properly evangelizing the culture. Benedict XVI knew after years of contemplation that he is now being called to evangelize through a life of prayer and a growing solitude with Christ.
Pope Emeritus has personified what we bodybuilders should strive to be: humble, self-aware, willing to take the lead if so called, constantly growing towards a deeper relationship with the grace afforded our vocation. He will be missed in his leadership role, though I am sure that his new role in helping the faithful towards salvation will be incredibly effective and efficient. As bodybuilders let us see this man as a living patron. I encourage my readers to pick up his overflowing body of literary works, through reading such material we might grow closer to our goal of imitating its author. While he may not be a bodybuilder in the classic sense of the term, I can think of no one living who can teach us more.