There have been a number of thoughts running through my head all day long. Some of them I hope will be expressed throughout this post. Forgive me now before you continue, for I am certain that my thoughts will be all over the place. But I do hope, in some way, that this will serve as a platform of discussion among the laity. I have expressed multiple times (you may know this if you follow me on Twitter—I was on tweet overload but I think I had every right to be with this historical moment) that this chapter we are going through as a Church is a very exciting and interesting time. It hasn’t happened before in anyone’s lifetime, and I’m definitely absorbing and releasing any kind of information that may be beneficial to anyone who comes across this material. I pray it does.
First off, the Catholic Church is now popeless, and it’s not because of death, but because of a decision. I repeat, we do not have a pope. This is still shocking to me. As of 2pm EST today, February 28, 2013, the resignation of Benedict XVI became effective. (Fun fact: He can now be called Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.) If you read my post from the day Benedict XVI announced his resignation, you’ll see the mixture of emotions I experienced. I think I was more sad then than I am now because the Lord has been giving me these great opportunities to understand the workings of His Spirit and the procedure of a resignation of the Papal Office (through a handy book I’ve been reading as well as all the trusty news articles). In many ways I am still sad, but I’m trying my best to not let too much of it get in the way.
Even before his resignation became effective I already missed him, as if there was already a head start to this “absence.” One of the commentators on EWTN’s coverage of the Pope’s Departure mentioned that we are not mourning the death of a pope, but the departure of this friendship that we’ve built as a Church with our Pontiff, our Shepherd, for eight years. I honor him for his faithfulness to God’s call, and I know that it took true obedience, complete humility, courage, and faith to step down from his Petrine ministry. We have many things to learn from his example that he set for us as a Church. He was our Shepherd and he faithfully led us closer to the Person of Christ. And with his resignation, we learn and hopefully understand a different approach in being an instrument of God. I like to say that he ever so gracefully withdrew himself as Pontiff. That’s so him.
I can’t even seem to express the depth of my gratitude for Benedict XVI’s shepherding. His passion, inspiration, encouragement, optimism, and confidence have served as a beacon of light to me. I’ve been writing, posting, and reflecting on his writings these past few weeks because there is just so much that he has touched my heart with. There are countless quotes from various homilies, encyclicals, apostolic letters, and so forth that have resonated in my heart as a minister of the Gospel to youth and young adults. This also applies to the deepening my own relationship with God. But that’s just his writing. His life, too, was a prime example of how to be child of God. Many had the impression that he was too conservative for a progressing world, but his Papacy was a showing of his firm gentleness and faithfulness as the Shepherd of the Gospel of Christ that is unchanging. He was very pastoral and gracious in bestowing the faith to the world and in addition, he was a brilliant, and I mean, brilliant theologian. He offered us raw and refreshing hope for current issues in our world today. He offered us words of hope in a world that has succumbed to moral relativism and he had an unyielding protection for the dignity of life through his firm desire to develop a culture of life. These are only a few of the many things he did as Pope. His governing and sanctifying work as Successor of Peter are recognized. They’ve changed my life as a young adult. On April 19, 2005, when the white smoke came out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was chosen as Pope and he chose Benedict has his name. I was 16 years old then. Now I’m almost 24 and I’ve been changed because of his service for God & His Church on earth for the past eight years. For me, as a girl who already knew a more-than-average amount of the faith through Catholic education from kindergarten-college, to a woman who wholly embraces the faith with the personal desire to deepen it, I attribute a lot to Benedict XVI and his own faith. I praise God… for by the power of His Holy Spirit, Benedict XVI enabled himself to become a faithful Bearer of the fullness of Truth—the fullness of Truth I find in the Roman Catholic Church.
This is a very exciting time to be Catholic. There were hundreds of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square during Benedict XVI’s Final Papal Audience yesterday. And throughout the last two weeks, there has been endless chatter in the Church. It’s amazing. We are a living Body. Right before Benedict XVI started his final Papal Audience address, he interjected amid the crowds’ chanting/cheering: “I’m moved. When I see you, the Church is alive.” Furthermore, Rocco Palmo tweeted today, “Never is the church more ‘one’ than when Peter’s chair falls vacant… wherever we are, may we live this moment of grace as it deserves.” I think this rings ever true. In my mind, I am drawn back to the Resurrection of Christ (I know it’s Lent, but bear with me here…). Before the Risen Christ appeared to the Apostles, they were all together, hiding in the Upper Room. Yes, they were afraid, and yes, they weren’t entirely sure of what was going to happen. Yet, they were together as one. There’s a unique and unmatched specialness about being one. That’s one of countless reasons why I am so proud to be Catholic. We are one, and have been one since the very beginning. 1.16 billion. 2000+ years and still going strong.
I’ve a lot going on in this post so I will wrap it up soon. There’s so much more I want to cover, but it’s probably best that I continue another day. I’m hoping to post my thoughts on this Interregnum (No Pope!? I’m still in shock.), the Conclave, and how I’ve been reflecting on the connection of all of this to the Lenten Season/Year of Faith. Stay tuned.
To conclude, I ask that you pray for the cardinals at this time of Interregnum before the opening of the Conclave. Like I said, this is a very exciting time for the Church and the cardinals of the world will need our prayers. It isn’t really an election, but a discernment. May they discern what is right and true by the Holy Spirit. Pray for them. Pray for our Church—well, pray for us for we are the Church… and we are ALIVE.
“I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this Earth. But I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the good of the church and of humanity.” (PBXVI’s final words to the public)
God bless you, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. You are loved and appreciated.