Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Reflections on the Retiring of Pope Benedict XVIth

Yesterday, I was sad.  I felt thrown back to sophomore year in high school. I'd heard endlessly about how great the English class was junior year for those who got in the honor's class.  I worked hard to get a coveted spot.  Next year, the teacher who made the class so awesome, retired.  And here is the me, stuck in a harder class than perhaps I am capable of managing, wondering what to do. 

Then as now, the reality is the subject should be the focus, not the faculty.  Pope Benedict XVIth knows this and dimly, back then, I did too.  I still missed the teacher I'd heard all the great stories about, I still wished I could have had a chance to experience his class. But I did fall in love with the subject and that is what mattered. We did get to experience Pope Benedict's class, he is still pointing even in retirement away from himself, to the true subject of His life, of all of our lives, to that which matters.

 In this year of Faith, the Pope gives us by his decision, a lesson in the lost art of discernment; seeking the quiet of mind to listen to God.  Not something we're used to in this day and age of checking email and cell phones and 24-7 news crawl across the bottom of a screen.  We do not seek silence or allow for the quiet of the natural world in our every day life.  Even those out running, are plugged in to earphones.  We keep ourselves constantly carbonated caffinated stimulated distracted and multi-tasked, we never have time to simply pray.  We never have time to stop and give God more than a twitter's worth of time.  That level of business leads to being anxious about many things. 

I think, we are frightened by the change that allowing God in, even for a second, would bring to our lives.  Hearing and obeying the command to go out into the deep to lower our nets, we would return to the shore changed forever.  We would stop and fall on our knees, like the shepherds, like the Kings, like Peter. 

So I am still sad, because I have loved this pope.  I saw him celebrate mass in Washington DC.  I've read some of his writings and found them clear, thoughtful, moving and grace saturated.  The years have not been kind and neither has the world.  Part of me wants an Ironman Pope, but there are plenty of great players in Cooperstown who aren't Cal Ripken.  Pope Benedict's ministry was always more to pull us to be internal, to compel us to contemplate, to pray.  Retiring to pray, he surrenders the chair of Peter, the power, trappings, prestige, pulpit, all of it, because all of it is not what he is about, he is about prayer, about seeking a deeper relationship with Christ for himself and for all of us.  We cannot do that if we are so busy with our lives, we will not stop, even if our jobs in our lives, are about the business of the Church.  However in the end, I'm okay with this ending, because it points to where our eyes should be, on only God. 

1 comment:

maria mcclure said...

You are correct, Sherry. I don't feel let down at all. In fact, I respect him all the more. Sort of like a certain principal I know... ;)

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