Monday, February 18, 2013


The other day I wrote some preliminary ideas about the pope's abdication.  Hmmm, some people don't like that word.  Be that as it may, I let it stand and I continue to offer you some thoughts about this historic action. I have been finding it strange that so few of the reviews that I have read about this behavior do not seem to be overly concerned about the spiritual impact of the moment.  It reminds me of when I was in Rome during the days of Vatican Council II.  Every day, on our way to classes, during recess from class and on our way home from class, all we talked about were the politics that were being reported in the secular press and floating around based on gossip, hearsay and innuendo.  This period of time keeps reminding me of that.  So many conjectures, guesses, opinions, theories, projections and convolutions that it is practically impossible to concentrate on the real meaning of the fact.

Therefore, let me indulge in another exercise of conjecture that I prefer to label, reflection, rather than some of the other names I have thrown out above.
I my blog post of February 11, I mentioned about the lesson concerning the faith that Benedict XVI has that the only real authority is the one in heaven.  It makes it easier therefore for a human being to step aside and let the Lord, our God make someone else His Apostle.  I am surprised that I seem to be in the minority on this one.  So I will put some other spiritual opinions before you this time.
Jon Meacham writes in "Time" Magazine:
"It is now possible that his (Benedict XVI) most enduring act of public witness to the Gospel will be the remarkable spectacle of a prince of the church voluntarily surrendering the things of this world.  Just as John Paul II offered a testament of suffering in his last years, Benedict XVI has given us something rare among the most mighty: an example of Christian piety that was quite unexpected."  (Time, Feb. 25, 2013)

Professor Pietro De Marco of the University of Florence has grasped most incisively the significance of the audacious resignation of Benedict XVI.
"What is at stake, as far as human judgment can determine, is enormous. But in this I trust: just as the supreme risk of John Paul II in governing the Church with his suffering being obtained the miracle of the election of Pope Benedict, so also the risk, just as radical, of Benedict in handing the leadership of the Church back to Christ in order that he may give the burden of it to a new and vigorous pope will obtain another pontiff equal to the challenge of history.”

There is great value in each of the two viewpoints that are held to be valid in the Church.  The one is that since God is in charge, the state of health of the apostle serves God's purpose, not matter what.  Then, of course there is the conviction in faith that a healthy mind, psyche and intellect fall more closely into the plan of the Divine will than the does the sad state of a severely damaged human being living as a symbol more than a leader.  Both of these views are valid and both are acceptable to God, I am sure.  In both conditions, the will of the human surrenders to the Will of God, the Supreme Authority.  That is why the Church  accepts the possibility that a resignation is also an act guided by God.

Those who spend some time pondering these mysteries are quick to say that this act by the present pontiff does not carve out a path to be followed by his successors.  Pope Benedict XVI knows that it is not for him to be a human example to follow.  He knows that every time is different and every apostle has his mandate within that time.  Benedict XVI knows the theology of the "Hour."  God is the keeper of the "Hour."  We have that conviction spelled out for us by Jesus in the Gospels.  
It is written for us to see in all the reports of the decision of Benedict XVI that his resignation is not a spur of the moment act.  It is clear from all the reporting and even in the reporting of some of Benedict XVI's actions from as far back as a year indicate that he has been praying about this for a while.  Who is to say that he did not have it in the back of his mind eight years ago as he stood on the balcony of St. Peter's?  To me it is clear that he and God have been talking about this for a long time.  They were both waiting for the "Hour."  They came to the conclusion last week.  Good for them.

All politics aside, the Church against whom the gates of Hell will not prevail continues on her way.  We will all contribute to her welfare and she will continue to cover us with her wings.  Benedict XVI is teaching us that it is not we humans who are in charge.  Let us all therefore stand tall before God and vow our continued support to him no matter what human He chooses to guide us going forward.

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