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The Pilgrim

Benedict, Pope Emeritus, has said that he now wishes to be seen as a pilgrim searching for the truth. This is not new. When he became bishop of Freising one of the emblems he chose on his 'shield' was a sea shell, the sign of the pilgrim.

He tells us in his memoirs that he saw it as his mission " to follow the truth, to be at its service". He says: "in today’s world the theme of truth has all but disappeared, because truth appears to be too great for man and yet everything falls apart if there is no truth. We have here no lasting city.”

In his memoirs he also refers to the legend according to which one day Augustine, pondering the mystery of the Trinity, saw a child at the seashore playing with a shell, trying to put the water of the ocean into a little hole. Then Augustine heard the words: "This hole can no more contain the waters of the ocean than your intellect can comprehend the mystery of God". Thus, for me, the shell points to my great master, Augustine, to my own theological work, and to the greatness of the mystery that extends farther than all our knowledge. What Augustine writes in this connection became for me a portrayal of my own destiny.



I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855) by Sir David Brewster (Volume II. Ch. 27). Compare: "As children gath'ring pebbles on the shore", John Milton, Paradise Regained, Book iv. Line 330.
Thank you for the links. It is a consolation to know that even great minds are still searching.
it seems to me that a great mind is great in part because it feels the need to search. i wish both you and benedict comfort in the truths you find.