The wind outside my office window is howling, and likewise the winds of change are blowing strong within the Catholic Church.
Funny, when I read yesterday’s Gospel (Luke 5:1-11), where Jesus tells Simon (Peter) to put out into the deep and cast his nets, I was thinking about how Christ sometimes calls us to do what seems crazy, ludicrous, and shocking. Yet, we do it, in answer to His call.
Now the leader of Christ’s Church, the new Peter, has taken an action that shocks the world. The first pope to resign his papacy in 600 years. Surely much will be said in the days to come.
There’s a lot of banter going back and forth on Facebook and Twitter. One string has people lamenting how very sad it is.
Maybe I’m backwards, maybe I’m crazy, maybe I haven’t been Catholic long enough to really “get it”. I don’t know. But I don’t see this as sad.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Pope Benedict. The children and I pray for him every morning on our way to school. I love listening to his homilies, and have greatly enjoyed what I’ve read of his writings. He has been a wonderful leader for the past eight years, my formative years in the Faith. I had been Catholic for one week when JPII passed away, so Pope Benedict is really the only Pope I’ve ever known.
But, to me, him leaving his post is just part of the cycle of life. He’s a servant of God, and I’m sure he’s put more prayer and meditation into this decision than most of us will put into all the decisions we make in our lifetimes. He is following Christ’s call, a call back to Him.
For a man of God, an opportunity to take up his cross and follow Christ is a blessing. As the Pope takes up the cross of aging, pain, and discomfort each day, Christ provides him with an opportunity to become more like his hero, his idol, Jesus himself.
He’s done wonderful things during his pontificat, and I find it beautiful that he’s leaving us during this Year of Faith which he initiated, a year where I see awesome things happening within the Church all around us.
Now, he goes to spend his remaining days in prayer, allowing another of Christ’s disciples to fill the role of Bishop of Rome.
In the weeks to come, my family will pray this prayer, adapted from the Pope’s own words this morning:
Lord Jesus Christ, we entrust the Holy Church to your care as Our Supreme Pastor. We implore your holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.
We pray for Pope Benedict, that his final days may be spent devotedly serving the Holy Church of God through a life dedicated to prayer. We pray also that you may fortify and strengthen him in his suffering, as he takes up his cross and follows you.
Likewise, we pray for everyone in the Church, that we may devote ourselves to prayer and that we would readily accept our own crosses, so that we may be more like you, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Image courtesy www.wikimediacommons.com. Love the shoes.