Monday, February 18, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI: Deo gratias

I love Pope Benedict XVI. In high school, I rushed to the TV in the music hall to watch white smoke waft up and pilgrims in St. Peter's Square greet the new Vicar of Christ. In college, I walked over his coat of arms every day on the way to the altar rail to receive the Eucharist, and the motto summarized the entire life of faith. And in medical school, I read his encyclicals and felt like he was writing to me and confirming everything I thought was important or true and reshaping it to teach me more and more.
His renunciation (that's the term, even though it sounds strange in English) of the papacy came as a complete surprise to me. I walked into the kitchen last Monday morning and instead of "good morning," my roommate said "did you hear about the Pope resigning?" And she might as well have said "did you hear that Obama was assassinated?" or "did you hear that the other hemisphere cracked off and is floating in space?"

There was a pause while I tried to process things. I did not disbelieve her, but I was in shock. I said, "What? No pope has ever done that," and then I realized that I didn't know that was true, and so I said, "well, I'm sure someone has, but...oh my gosh."

My first reaction was "but, Papa..." and it wasn't until I later called my mom and she helped me see how great an act of humility and virtue this was that I realized I was being sort of selfish and silly. This is no tragedy or scandal; moreover, this holy man will be praying for the Church in a contemplative life (such a cool way to retire!). I'm now full of gratitude and admiration for him, and I look forward to discovering the fruits of his work and prayer in the future.

(Weird detail: last semester (in September or something) I'd started a post on the CMA-SS blog about how a pope is elected, just for fun Catholic trivia. I'd never published it, but now I guess it'll be relevant. Another weird detail: my spiritual director was just telling me about a movie she was viewing with an Italian class on campus, and how it detailed the process of election for the pope. It had been in the syllabus for a while, but now it will be extra-interesting. Third and last weird fact: we've been reading about the pope and college of bishops in the Catechism-in-a-Year, and this isn't the first time that exercise has been extremely relevant to Church happenings.)

Pray for a Cardinal in the upcoming conclave with this prayer to the holy angels:
Bless the Lord, all you His angels. You who are mighty in strength and do His will, intercede for Cardinal ____ at the throne of God. By your unceasing watchfulness protect him in every danger of soul and body. Obtain for him the grace of final perseverance, so that after this life he may be admitted to your glorious company and with you may sing the praises of God for all eternity.

All you holy angels and archangels, thrones and dominations, principalities and powers and virtues of heaven, cherubim and seraphim, and especially you, dear guardian angel who has been charged with the care of Cardinal ___, intercede for him and obtain for him special graces as he participates in the conclave to elect our next Pope. Obtain for him purity of intention in seeking the will of God, wisdom in discerning it, and the faithfulness to implement it.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
There's a facebook group listing individual Cardinals that you can spiritually adopt until the end of the conclave. And if you haven't seen these, they're a good help:

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