Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SADNESS, EXCITMENT AND ANXIETY: CHARTING A NEW COURSE WITH A NEW POPE AND A POPE EMERITUS

But first for a little levity, because you can't make this stuff up! Yes, lightening actually struck St. Peter's hours after the Holy Father told the world what he was giving up for Lent!
And yes, this is an actual image, no kidding, of lightening striking St. Peter's after the Holy Father's bombshell!
Now that I've had 24 hours to meditate on the Holy Father's bombshell, I have a great sense of sadness for him and our Church. I think Cardinal Dolan summed it up well when he described his own feelings on this like watching a parent who is growing old coming to the realization that the end is near and the vigor and vibrancy that once was is no longer, both psychically and mentally, and there will be no recovery of these things on this side of life. The pilgrimage is coming to an end.

My mom was one month shy of her 93 birthday when she died this past September 18th. But I entered into a depression of sorts just watching her very slow physical and mental decline these past five years, although she fared much better than most her age and was pretty independent until her last three weeks. So much was taken from her, her independence, her ability to take care of her financial concerns, to cook, to drive and to remember as well as and more alarming, a developing gullibility. I feared that she would be taken advantage of by unscrupulous people either coming to the door or on the phone as she trusted everyone and believed what everyone said to her. I cannot tell you how many times I had to have charges taken off her charge card, because someone called, she engaged them in conversation and was taken by the sales pitch. But the thing that was really hard was being with her and realizing how much she slept.

For many, not all, these things happen. Usually though most don't realize that is happening. The Holy Father has cut things off at the pass and has acted wisely, although there is a part of me that would have wanted him to be like Pope John Paul II, to hang on to the very bitter end.

But our Holy Father has always told us that he is no John Paul II. God bless Pope Benedict who will now be a pioneer of what the ministry of a pope-emeritus will be. That's kind of exciting isn't it! What do we call him? He'll always be Pope Benedict or simply Benedict! (Add the numbers if you wish.)

But who will be the Holy Father's successor and what influence whether actual or simply being around, will Pope Benedict have on the selection process and the actual ministry of his successor. This is uncharted territory! Raymond Aaroyo of EWTN thinks the Holy Father will be consulted by other cardinals and will be influential. I hope he will be influential too and that the cardinals will take into account the Holy Father's hopes for his successor. That eases my anxiety a great deal!

Anxiety abounds and this too is a rupture with our tradition of selecting new popes. There should be no anxiety. But because we now live in a Church that is divided by two or more models of what the Church should be and in all areas of the Church beginning with Liturgy, but extending even to the faith and morals of the Church, who the next pope will be creates anxiety in the various camps of the Church. That is sad and indicates how the implementation of Vatican II veered way, way off track. That should not have happened and it should not be the new normal.

Let us pray that this will no longer be the case as the Church continues down the road to re-consolidate and become more unified and single minded in living as Christ's Church!

This is what I don't want:

1. The cult of the personality, no matter the theological disposition. What I have admired in Pope Benedict is that he has always pointed to Christ and not himself, nor has he made himself a media darling or super star.

2. A progressive that is progressive in liturgy. Let's have more of "the reform of the reform of the Liturgy" and kick it up a notch.

3. A pope that only celebrates the Ordinary Form of the Mass.


But at this point in my priesthood as I realize that I'm in the last 10 to 15 years of active ministry before I retired to do what His Holiness Pope Benedict will do (if I live so long, God willing) is that I put it into the hands of God and His Holy Church and trust that whoever it is, it will serve the overall design and destiny of God. Be not afraid!

I have one final hope and prayer. Wouldn't it be cool if the Holy Father's last Mass as the reigning Pope is in the Extraordinary Form! Wow! What a message that would send!

And if not as reigning Pope, wouldn't it be great to have photos of him celebrating the EF as Pope Emeritus!

We could see the PE celebrating the EF!


17 comments:

James Ignatius McAuley said...

Yes, but more earthshaking would be if our pal, Father Mike Kavenaugh (Pater Ignotus to you all) celebrated the EF! That would almost be worth driving down to Georgia to see.

God bless you and Father Mike. A happy Lent to all!

Gene said...

I doubt if he knows how.

ytc said...

I'm still quite depressed over all this.

ytc said...

I mean, I am not excited for conclave at all. I don't even really care.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Once again, you are wrong.

Pater Ignotus said...

I think I read that he will be called "Cardinal Ratzinger." He will be Archbishop-emeritus of Rome, but I don't think "pope-emeritus" will work. It may sound like "Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedict 16th, is not living in seclusion in an old monastery within the walls of the Vatican."

Says Eamon Duffy, author of Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, commented: "Benedict has liberated his successors to think of their election as a fixed term appointment, and he has liberated the Cardinal electors, with the realization that the Church is not necessarily stuck with their choice 'til death do us part."

"It is a major step," Duffy said, "to reintegrating the papacy into a working ecclesiology, in which a pope's competence is something which even loyal Catholics are entitled to discuss."

The question of ecclesiology looms large in this discussion as well as in the EF vs OF discussions. Time will tell what kind of ecclesiology we get to enjoy!

Joseph Johnson said...

Gene,
Though it may be purely academic, you have apparently elicited a response from Pater Ignotus which tells me that there is at least one more priest in our Diocese of Savannah who knows how to celebrate the EF!

John Nolan said...

Duffy's a good historian but this is not the first comment he's made which indicates his ecclesiology is suspect. Not long ago he was suggesting that the Pope could authorize womens' ordination simply by putting his signature on a piece of paper. The Pope is not omnicompetent, but the extent of his competence is clearly defined (not least by Vatican II in Lumen Gentium), so I don't know what's up for discussion.

Andy Milam said...

A couple of thoughts...

1. What do we call him? Of course he'll always have his Regnal name, but there is something that says that he'll most likely return to using his baptismal name. Which is fine. He'll always be a bishop, however, since they don't give titular sees to retired bishops, will he have a see or not? I bet not.

2. I think that it is his hope that he can live out his days in peacefulness and obscurity. It is my hope too. I think that he's stepping aside for a reason and we should let him.

3. I think that you should not retire Father. I think that you should continue on as pastor as long as you are able. I know the tendency today is to treat the minsterial portion of the priesthood as a job. Please don't. Please make it a priority to remain a pastor for as long as you can. We need priests. Part of the reason there is a "shortage" is because many priests simply retire and fade away. Don't follow. Stay pastor until you cannot do it any longer.

4. We get what we get. I don't think that the next pontiff will "undo" anything, he may not promote things as we like, hopefully not the case, but I think that the "cat is out of the bag" as they say...the TLM will remain. The Holy Spirit will guide and we will listen.

5. Like you, I hope that the next Pope will enact the hypotheses and theories that Benedict has envisioned.

Finally....I will refer to him as Papa Ratizinger, most likely. It is a familiar greeting, but one that I think, in this instance, will work.

Father Shelton said...

I strongly suspect the conclave will first become hopelessly deadlocked, then call upon "Post-Pope Ratzinger" to return, an invitation which he will accept, becoming "Pope Benedict XVII", after which he will name his own successor the very next day, and then resign the day after that. The successor he names will, of course, be the mostly unknown abbot of some obscure monastery, who will not only not be a member of the College of Cardinals, but will not even already be a bishop. This pope, taking the name "Pope Wolfgang I", or, since he will likely be from England, "Engelbert I", will name Father Allan McDonald Cardinal Prefect of the Holy Office of the CDF, and Father Mike Kavenaugh Cardinal Prefect of the Office of Rites and Sacraments, not unlike when someone drinks both a glass of wine and a cup of coffee at the same meal, just to let the two opposing forces achieve some synthesis "on the inside".

Pater Ignotus said...

John - In this regard, I think Duffy used "competence" to refer to B16's mental/physical ability.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Shelton,

That can't happen and you know it....

Fr. McD would excommunicate 'ol PI face. And then it would be mayhem in McDonaldland...then what would we do?

Robert Kumpel said...

I am very sad at the loss of Pope Benedict, as sad as I would be if his death had been reported. No one questions JPII's personal holiness, but his papacy seemed more like a PR campaign and endless road-trip with little in the way of governing the Church. Pope Benedict took a Church spiraling out of control and grounded it, restoring stability and common sense. I believe there is much more to do and I only wish he was young enough to continue the job. I pray that the College of Cardinals will elect a successor who will vigorously continue the path of restoration BXVI started.

Templar said...

Robert, I believe the Church stands upon(yet another) brink. If the selection signals a return to the JPII way of business she is done for IMHO. The gates of hell may not prevail, but it sure can be killed from within.

But I think B16 has done what is necessary to insure that the choice of the college will be a good one. The deck has not necessarily been "stacked" but we're looking at a strong hole hand, and anything but abyssmally band flop cards should produce a winning hand.

Henry Edwards said...

Robert: "I pray that the College of Cardinals will elect a successor who will vigorously continue the path of restoration BXVI started."

I'm confident they will, even if I have no idea who he will be. The handwriting of the restoration is already written on the wall. Indeed, the job depends more on faithful young priests and seminarians, and less on future popes.

Anonymous said...

@ Henry Edwards - yeah & amen, may it be so! -Pgal

Gregorian Mass said...

It would be fitting if the Pope could now celebrate the TLM without the pressure on the Papacy as a consequence and that word of such celebration gets out. It would do more for the TLM cause than if he had done so as Pope, with all the politics that would have gone on with that decision. What a great teaching moment that would continue to be. I pray for our Holy Father and will miss him dearly, he did a great deal to reinvigorate my Faith.