Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wiedersehen Papa Benedict

On the eve of Pope Benedict's last day as pope, the whole thing has hit me much harder than I thought it would. It had been 34 years since I had really cared a whole lot who even held the office of Pope before coming back home to the Catholic Church. For the past 3 years now, I have heard his name from so many sources everyday- when we pray for him at Mass, on EWTN radio, in the National Catholic Register, the mainstream media, and of course, in our home where our photo of the Pope hangs in the dining room. Many of his books- both as Joseph Ratzinger and as Pope Benedict- line our shelves. We've had numerous conversations about his amazing grasp of theology and life. In other words, he has become part of our family.
Fr. Wall
I've been attending our Lenten Mission at Saint Joseph's this week with Fr. Antoninus Wall, O.P. (that means he is a Dominican). His talks have had to with God's love and human suffering. So much of what he has said resonates with what is going on in my life- both personally and in the world at large. Of course, being a mom whose son is discerning becoming a Dominican, I have really enjoyed all of Fr. Wall's references to the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and how we need to be praying for vocations. I am also looking forward to getting a copy of his book, The Journey to God.
The main reason for writing about the mission is because I've been hearing things that have made what's going on make sense. As Fr. Wall has said, we've been called to holiness. Sunday he told a story about asking a group of schoolchildren who wanted to be a saint. Hardly any of the children raised their hands. He then asked who wanted to be holy. All of the kids raised their hands. While telling this story at our 10 a.m. Mass, two people actually raised their hands as if he was asking them. One was a little boy of about 9 years old. The other was Stanley, an older adult who has some special needs. How that humbled not only me, but others as we all looked with joy at both this young boy and older man who both are obviously working on being those saints about whom Fr. Wall was talking.
I felt so blessed as I got to talk with Joshua Monday which normally doesn't happen during the week because he's so busy with his studies. We talked about what I learned Monday at the mission. The thing  Fr. Wall said that hit me was, "It is by prostrating our inner dreams in the embrace of outer reality as God invites us to live it, that we attain union with God." Easier said than done, but something I want to continue to try to do. Last night he talked about Mary at the foot of the cross, and how she was totally sure of God's love during this time of ultimate suffering. This morning's talk was on how the example of Jesus in Gethsemene can bring us closer to adoring God when we accept the cup of reality that He has given us.
The reality is that things are going to happen- both good and bad. We will have to deal with illness, family issues, unemployment, misunderstandings, bad memories, hard relationships, and so much more. Even in all of this, we can choose to believe God is in control or not. When news of the Pope's resignation first came up, so many people started freaking out about what would happen. Others shared how they believed the Holy Spirit would be taking care of things. I tended to be in the second group along with the many people all over the world who were confident in our Holy Father's decision while being sad about his departure. This week's mission has helped me understand all of this better. I know Pope Benedict (being glad I can call him that for another day) will be praying for us as he spends the rest of his days at Mater Ecclesiae. Whether we say "Gratias", "Gracias","Danke","Merci" or "Thank you" for all he has done, we will always remember him and be grateful for his years as pope!

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