Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum! Amen.
What a day to write my first post as guest blogger here at Defend Us in Battle, right? Before I get into my pithy thoughts on the announcement of the Holy Father’s upcoming resignation, let me introduce myself briefly.
My name is Allison (aka “Ms. Allie”) and I am the blogger over at All Things Christ!. I am a young adult Catholic woman with a penchant for traddy things and who is never afraid to share her thoughts, especially on anything remotely Papist. I am honored that Joe would even ask me to serve as a guest blogger and I hope that my posts will contribute to the blog in some small way rather than detract from it and cause him to lose readers.
I woke up this morning to get ready for Mass and went through my normal routine: get up, turn on laptop, check email, turn on the news, and start to get ready.
My mother comes into my room and asks, “Allie, have you heard about the Pope resigning? What’s going on with that? Is it true?” As soon as she said that, the story came up on the news.
I was in shock. I covered my mouth with my hands, closed my eyes, and fought back tears.
I can’t say this is coming out of nowhere. He has been mentioning it in the past that if he felt he could not fulfill his duties as Holy Father to the degree he saw that was necessary for the office, that he would resign. We’ve seen how weak he has become with his cane and his rolling platform. At the beginning of his pontificate, he would make impromptu comments. He’s become more and more dependent on prepared remarks (that are no less profound than his impromptu remarks). He remains intellectually sharp as a tack. Listening to him speak portrays that all so clearly.
But our dear Pope has gotten weaker. We cannot say that he is taking this lightly. This prayerful man has probably been thinking and meditating on this for a very long time. Much time spent before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and much consultation with his confidantes at the Vatican.
As the confirmations came through the morning, I couldn’t help but feel my heart breaking. All through the morning I have been getting texts and Facebook messages from friends (it’s what happens when you’re “The Papist” among your circle of friends) asking me for information on what’s going on and what it means.
With every report, every message, every remark, my heart breaks. This was our Holy Father. My Holy Father. He means so much to me really. He and I go back a bit.
He was the catalyst for my desire to become a theologian (which has begun to come to fruition by my earning a BA in Theology and my pursuing an MA in Theology) when I was a girl at my all-girls Catholic high school.
To be honest, he was the one who got me through the religion classes. The school was great. I got a great education in everything but religion (which is unacceptable). I would sit in religion class with the class text open on my desk with a Ratzinger (he was Cardinal Ratzinger at the time) hidden on my lap. My first Ratzinger book that I read was “Called to Communion,” his work on Ecclesiology. Then came his great book on the liturgy, “The Spirit of the Liturgy.” Both of those books I later read in college for my Theology degree (I wrote a major paper on the liturgiology of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI my sophomore year).
Pope Benedict has done so much for the Church and the world. Though he has many nay-sayers, I know for a fact that for every detractor, there are many more persons who genuinely love and support this holy and humble man of God whose only desire has been to make Him better known and loved through his work as a priest, a professor, CDF prefect, and finally as Pope. Pope Benedict has never shied away from proclaiming the Truth in its fullness, even when it wasn’t “popular.”
He is a great role model for every Catholic. The Lord doesn’t desire worldly greatness and renown He only wants us to be faithful even and especially when the waters of the world are rough and hope seems dim.
He’s the “Pope of Christian Unity” as Father Z puts it with his desire to work with traditionalists (as in the SSPX and other groups), through his creation of the Anglican Ordinariate with his Apostolic Consitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, and other ways he has sought to serve as a bridge to increased unity between our fellow Christian brothers and sisters.
Besides his great intellectual contributions to the Church, and not at all discounting all his other contributions to Holy Church, one that really sticks out to me, being the traddy Church lady I am, is promulgation of his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. With the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the Holy Father extended the indult for the Traditional Latin Mass that was granted by Blessed Pope John Paul II in his motu proprio Ecclesia Dei that allowed for the TLM be offered with the permission of the local bishop. With Summorum Pontificum, it was no longer necessary for permission to be granted in order for the TLM (and any other liturgical rite connected with the Missal of 1962) to be offered. The Missal of 1962 became the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite” and it was reinforced that this was a very important part of the liturgical patrimony of the Church and could not be cast aside as it had been by some in the Church as if it was no longer relevant or necessary.
I will be forever grateful to the Holy Father for that because Summorum Pontificum has opened the EF to a whole new generation of Catholics (both lay and cleric) who, while they did not grow up with it, feel an attachment/affinity to it. It has allowed young Catholics to have a more full view of the rich liturgical tradition of the Church steeped with history, symbolism, and a profound sense of the transcendent.
Father Z made some observations about the Holy Father’s announcement today. Two stuck out:
-The Pope resigned on the World Day for the Sick (Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes).
-When the Pope visited the tomb St. Pope Peter Celestine he took off his pallium and left it on the tomb.
Below that was this picture:
Perhaps the Holy Father knew then or at least was leaning toward tendering resignation (or is it abdication?). I don’t believe in coincidences. It’s not coincidence that Papa Benedict placed his pallium on the tomb of the last Pope to resign in 1294 (719 years). Maybe he was seeking intercession from this Pope. (Correction: the last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Pope Celestine reigned for a little over 100 days. My bad.)
Another observation that I do not see as coincidence: the day he announces his resignation is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day for the Sick. Perhaps he didn’t choose this day because of that (though I would not be surprised). Perhaps she picked the day for him? The Pope does have a great love for Mary (as any priest or Catholic should, let alone Pope). I think our Mother in Heaven is going to take care of this dear Papa of ours and help him as he moves from the public face of Holy Church and Vicar of Christ and help him as he transitions to “devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.” Mary is a mother to us all but I think she has a special love for the Pope since he is the Vicar of her Divine Son.
With all of that said, yes, I am sad to hear that the Holy Father is resigning, this “transitional Pope” (kinda like how some said that Blessed Pope John XIII was going to be a “transitional Pope”) has definitely left his mark on Holy Mother Church in so many positive ways. I trust in the Providence of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Lord hasn’t left His Church once, I don’t think He’s planning on changing that any time soon … as in never.
Let us pray for and offer sacrifices for our dear Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI and his successor (and the Cardinals who will be meeting in Conclave to elect him in due time). The Church will go on after this. Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it can be hard to understand. But the Lord will provide His Church with the successor she needs during these difficult times. He always provides.
The time we had Pope Benedict as our dear Papa were about 7 short years but in that time, he has done so much, by the grace of God, for the Church and the world. Let us thank God for him and for the Church he serves so lovingly, selflessly, and devotedly.