The humility of the Emeritus Pope

The humility of the Emeritus Pope

It’s Day One of Interregnum, and you may have noticed that the Church hasn’t fallen apart yet. As it happens, my weekly scheduled adoration hour is on Thursdays so I was able to reflect somewhat on LBB (Life Beyond Benedict) after having seen the EWTN online coverage of his departure from the Vatican to Castel Gondalfo. Some thoughts: 1. We might not have a Pope, but You-Know-Who was still in the monstrance as I entered the chapel, as He has been since the Last Supper. A secular example might be the American understanding that America is America despite whomever is President. The Constitution is above any particular man sitting in the oval office (no, really, it is). Likewise, the Church has gone on despite having 264 interregnums throughout its history, some more volatile and contentious than others. That’s why no Catholic would really think of it as “Benedict’s Church” or “John XXIII’s Church;” it is, always has been and will be Jesus’ Church. 2. The first reading in the daily office is Exodus 18:13-27, where Jethro tells Moses that he should delegate decision-making to “able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain…Every important case they should refer to you, but every lesser case they can settle themselves. Lighten your burden by letting them bear it with you!” Jethro’s advice is similar to Benedict’s own words in his resignation announcement: my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry… in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are...
I Heart My German Shepherd

I Heart My German Shepherd

The end is near. No really, it is.  It’s tomorrow.  Of Benedict’s papacy, at least. Now, there will be many, many better written reflections on this fact written by far more talented and knowledgeable writers than I, so I won’t try to compete with them.  Go read them.  Hear what they are saying about his writing, his teaching, his general correctness in just about everything he did as pope.  I have, and will continue to do so over the next few weeks as we ponder what his tenure means to our church. This is not one of those pieces. This is simply a fangirl letter. I love Benedict XVI.  From the moment he first stepped out onto the balcony eight years ago, as I sat there in my living room, six months pregnant with my first child, the sadness I felt at the loss of John Paul II began to lift as if a heavy rain cloud had suddenly blown away and the clear blue sky of a September morning was visible again.  Here was a man, obviously  shy (like myself), avuncular, with intelligent eyes and a love for the Church that was easy to see.  He was a friend of my friend and I was happy to see him stepping into his role.  Knowing that he was to be our new leader calmed me and made the loss of my beloved JPII easier. Since that day, I have never stopped loving him.  B16, or Papa Ben as I often think of him, guided us well, and if his words offended some they encouraged many as well.  He spoke the...
A Papal Focus for Lent

A Papal Focus for Lent

I won’t lie.  Until about five minutes ago, I had no real idea as to what I was going to write for today’s post.  In my head, thoughts about Lent, Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father, and Sts. Cyril and Methodius were running a muck, each vying for the spot.  (Also running through my mind: how to get a two month old to sleep and how to simultaneously quiet down both of her sisters.)  Finally, something my seven year old son said during our family Rosary came to me and I had it.  Allow me to elaborate. We had been watching all of the news coverage all day long, much to the chagrin of my TV and video game deprived children.  You see, I have an intense love for not only the pope, but the papacy and everything surrounding it.  I was practically a John Paul II groupie (in a good way), following him from here in Newark in 1995 to Paris in 1997 to Rome, twice, in 2000 and 2001.  I was glued to my set, as most of us were, when JPII so publicly passed away; I was six months pregnant, trying desperately to remember as much as I could so that I would be able to tell my children about him and all of it one day.  Sadly, I didn’t make it to anything when Benedict was here, but I watched it all, drinking it in, making memories again.  I was happy with the choice and couldn’t wait to see what he would bring.  I was not disappointed. Though some might argue otherwise (ahem, FoxNews.com), Benedict did...
Resignation of the post-media Pope

Resignation of the post-media Pope

Take the following comments with however many grains of salt you feel are necessary given that I’m not a theologian, philosopher, Church historian, or anything else marginally relevant to opining about the Pope’s resignation. 1. There is always some sadness when a Pope’s reign ends, at least in our modern era of having wonderful Popes. For the last couple of centuries, this sadness is usually because we are always sad at the death of someone important, but there is also the sadness at the end of an era, not unlike the end of a President’s term of office. But our view of the end of a Pope’s reign is not unlike our view of the end of life. Our sadness is tempered because we realize that, God willing, we will see our beloved dead again in heaven. Life doesn’t end at death, and the life of the Church doesn’t end with the death or resignation of a Pope. 2. This is an important lesson to recall during this Year of Faith. So often our own faith is tied to particular people: we have faith in our spouses, our children, our teachers, our President, even our priests or Popes. And yet we all have examples where these people have let us down. But the secular or temporal “faith” we have in these people can’t compare to the Faith we have in Jesus, who has promised (and we have ample evidence that He has thus far lived up to it) that He will be with His Church for all time. Our faith isn’t genuine if it only holds up during good...
Hearing God in the liturgy

Hearing God in the liturgy

The Pope’s Jan. 27th Angelus address reminds us why Sunday rest, and the liturgy celebrated thereon, is so important: “Before we can speak of God and with God, we need to listen, and the liturgy of the Church is the ‘school’ of this listening to the Lord who speaks to us.” Most admonitions about keeping Sunday holy fall along the lines of “In our scattered and distracted era, this Gospel invites us to ask ourselves about our ability to listen.” We certainly have lost quite a bit of that ability, myself included. Unless it is actively chosen, unforeseen silence is usually seen as a vacuum that needs filling. After a rosary, blank audible spaces in my day usually are filled with Catholic Answers Live or CarTalk podcasts (unless those blank spaces are after I ask my class “Does that make sense?”). Listening requires both silence and attentiveness, a humility that focuses our attention on the other. Jesus listens to others all the time. In our prayers, of course, but also in Scripture. If ever there was a person who could be a Me Monster, it would be the Second Person. But Jesus has no need of pride and provides the model for us, who don’t need it either. We do, though, need the liturgy: Exploring the day’s reading from the Gospel of Luke, the Pope recounted how Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath. “As a true believer, the Lord does not avoid the weekly liturgical rhythm and joins the assembly of his fellow citizens in prayer and in listening to the Scriptures.” This passage from...