And now, we take up this journey
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry”. These were the words of Benedict XVI that shocked the world only last month. A pope resigning? It hasn’t happened in over 600 years and yet the Supreme Pontiff, in supreme humility, decided to step down because he knew that his “strengths” were failing. As the media always does, rumors began to fly about the “real” reason that he was stepping down. Can’t the man just retire in quiet to read and pray?
Then, two weeks ago, he left the Vatican for the last time and it was truly an awe-inspiring moment as he handed the Keys back to Christ, who had handed them to him. Sede Vacante! The Seat of Peter is vacant! Now that Pope Benedict was hidden away, speculation swirled and I admit I was caught up in the media’s coverage of the “papabili”. Who would be the next successor?
Watching the conclave begin and praying with the cardinals, I realized something. I am very much in love with the Catholic Church. The signs, symbols, and rituals that exist in our faith are second to none. The exquisite pagentry of the procession of the cardinals into the Sistine Chapel as they chanted the Litany of the Saints gave me chills. These images from the Vatican intimated that there is another reality beyond the physical. The entire spiritual realm of saints and angels accompanied those men into the Sistine Chapel as they somberly approached the task at hand. Focused on these images, Catholic and non-Catholic, pious and skeptical, viewed this ancient ritual that has been handed down by the tradition of the Church.
As the doors to the conclave shut, the collective eyes around the globe were fixed upon a simple metal chimney that hovered over the Sistine chapel. In the day and age of social media, the conclave’s way of communicating was SMOKE SIGNALS!! How do you like that secular media!!
Some say the Church should “get up with the times”. But it is Her teachings that reflect truth and beauty THROUGHOUT the ages. The attentiveness at which I was glued to Rome these last days waiting to see the color of the smoke was exhilarating. The prayers of the whole world were reigning down upon the Sistine Chapel and in accordance with the will of the Holy Spirit, the man picked to follow Benedict XVI was chosen.
As the air thickened with nervous enthusiam to see who the new Pontiff would be, a humble Francis ascended the balcony and greeted the world. As one pope left the world stage in humility, another entered.
This is a great time for Holy Mother Church. The Holy Spirit is truly guiding and moving in the hearts of the faithful and no doubt in our Holy Father, Francis. In his words, ”And now, we take up this journey.”