Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Papa- you will be missed!

            Since hearing the news of our beloved Pope Benedict’s resignation, I have read a lot on the internet from Catholic theologians and leaders.  I cannot add anything to their wisdom and understanding of the Pope’s history making decision.  I can only offer my own reflections and feelings as I digest and come to terms with this news.

            My first feelings were of shock and sadness quickly followed by fear.  What would this mean?  What could have prompted it?  What would the future of our Church look like now?  

As I thought about it all- feeling perplexed and sad and uncertain all at once, I remembered a long ago conversation Tim and I had had.  Years ago, when I was still very un-catechized and had no real understanding of the value of suffering, I remember watching Pope John Paul II.  It was the mid to late 1990’s and JP the Great’s health was failing.  He was frail and hunched over and moved v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.  I remember suggesting to Tim that maybe it was time for the Pope to consider retiring.  At the time, I thought I was being compassionate.  The poor man clearly would have benefited from the chance to rest rather than spend his days serving the Church.  Tim explained that Popes just didn’t retire.  They were elected for life and they served for life.

Yesterday, as I contemplated the resignation of Pope Benedict, I could not help but note the irony of my reaction, considering my past thoughts on the matter of Papal servitude.  I have grown much in the last 15 years or so.  I value my faith and the gift of the Church so much more than I did back then.   

           It was only for the last three years or so of Pope John Paul’s papacy that I grew to love and appreciate him and all the good he did for the Church and the world.  When we lost him, back in 2005, I did understand what a great loss it was.  I mourned for our Holy Father but I also rejoiced, for he was no longer tired and frail.  He was glorified in heaven as he deserved to be.  

I also rejoiced in welcoming our new pope, Pope Benedict XVI.  I appreciated and revered him from the start and, like so many others, looked to him and loved him as a Papa.  I felt closer to him and more indebted to him and his service than I had to any other Pontiff. 

           Yesterday’s announcement shocked me because as my husband had pointed out years before, Pope’s just don’t (usually) resign, they (usually) serve for life, but, also because during his entire papacy I realized and recognized what a gift and blessing our Holy Father, our Papa, is to us as Catholics.  His resignation is a loss for us all, and though he will surely continue to serve the Church through prayer and sacrifice, Pope Benedict will no longer be our Shepherd and our Papa.  

The other thing I really felt yesterday as my heart and mind were reeling with the news, was a real connection with other Catholics.  I thought about how Catholics all over the globe are feeling what I am.  They are offering their prayers as I am.  They are somewhat broken-hearted, just as I am.  The feeling of connection, is, of course, a beautiful reminder of what our Church is- one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.   

So-- I am sad, I am both apprehensive and curious about the future, and I am still a little in shock.  But in the midst of it all- I am very aware that the Holy Spirit is at work and that we are blessed, always so very blessed to be Catholic. 

 picture posted from Wikipedia

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