“At the moment in which the elderly archbishop imposed his hands on me, a little bird – perhaps it was a skylark – raised itself up from the main altar of the cathedral and intoned a joyous little song. For me it was as if a voice were saying to me from on high: this is well, you are on the right path.”

In the autobiography of Joseph Ratzinger there is also this memory of his ordination to the priesthood, which took place 65 years ago, on June 29, 1951, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, in the cathedral of Freising and at the hand of Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber.

Celebrating the commemoration with the pope emeritus today, in the Sala Clementina, is also Pope Francis.

This comes from a report that shares Cardinal Muller’s remarks on the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s 65th anniversary of his ordination as a Catholic priest.

The special spirit and character that he brought to Christian thinking over the past many decades can be difficult to understand for Americans. This is partly because we’ve never recovered a proper ability to take Germans seriously (in a certain way) as a result of the World Wars. It’s also partly because Pope Benedict XVI’s life as a philosopher make his thinking inaccessible for huge numbers of people who aren’t comfortable with a dialectical style.

In any event, John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI were incredible fathers. In them I found personal encourage to a life of faith and reason for deeper thinking and perseverance in the face of sin than any formal class on religion or the specifics of our doctrine.

They were great men who lived what they taught.