Saturday, March 02, 2013

Farewell, Papa

I have known only two popes since I became a Catholic.

Pope John Paul II was our beloved Holy Daddy, as Ramona called him, and I learned to love the Catholic Church in no small part thanks to him. He taught me not to fear. In 2006, I wrote:

"Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord is my strength and my song, and He has also become my salvation. Therefore with joy you shall draw water from the wells of salvation. On that day you shall say: Praise the Lord, call upon His name; among the nations make known His deeds, proclaim how exalted is His name. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things. Let this be known in all the earth. Shout with exultation, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!"
~~ Isaiah 12:2-6 
Any time I hear the words, "Be not afraid" I think of our dear, departed Papa, John Paul II (or John Paul the Great, as I'm sure he will be known in years to come.) The first words of his pontificate were, "Be not afraid!" I return to these words so often: in times of trial, in times of anxiety, in times of uncertainty.
When I fret about our homeschool, or about my abilities as a teacher:
Be not afraid.
When I worry about not having another child, or about having one:
Be not afraid.
When I pay the bills and stew about money:
Be not afraid.
When I despair about the world:
Be not afraid.
Fear is not from God. He doesn't want me to waste my precious days, hours, or even minutes in worry and fear. And who am I to replace the good He has in store for me with worry of my own making?
And so, "I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord is my strength and my song, and He has also become my salvation."

For the last eight years, Pope Benedict XVI has been our holy daddy, and I think I must move at the same glacier-pace as does the Church in some matters, because I still sometimes think of him as "our new pope." (I don't, ahem, always adapt well to change.) Our new pope touched my heart from the first moment -- I  remember hearing that he had been looking forward to retiring, to long walks, and writing books. And then... this. The papacy. What a privilege, yes, but what a burden. Unimaginable weight.

And yet, he accepted. Of course he accepted. With humility and obedience to God, he accepted. It was not what he wanted, but he said yes.

Now he has resigned. He told us that after repeatedly examining his conscience he had come to the conclusion that this was the course he must take. In his resignation I see the same humility and obedience that Pope B16 displayed when he said yes eight years ago. He gives us -- has always given us -- a supreme model of prayer. We all, including holy daddies, must pray, listen for God's response, and pay attention once that response becomes apparent.

Our lives are not our own.

Pope John Paul II showed us that when he stayed, a suffering servant, in the papacy until his death. He prayed, he listened, and he obeyed. Pope Benedict XVI showed us the same thing when he resigned. He, a different kind of suffering servant, also prayed, listened, and obeyed.

Obedience looks different in every life.

Both of these holy men taught me invaluable lessons in love and obedience, trust and faith.

"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, 
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." 
~~ Matthew 16:18 


Chris said...

Beautiful. Karen. Thank you. I, too, have a deep affinity for our beloeved JPII....I was blessed to "see" him in person 3x!! It was amazing. truly. (Once at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens in Oct '95, once at mass on The Mall in '79 and once at The Vatican in Aug '96. I felt a great loss when he passed, as well....

I wrote a bit about JPII and Papa Ben on my blog, as well this week, if you're into clicking over:

Take care, Karen:) Have a great weekend.

Melissa aka Equidae said...

What a lovely post. Thank you for reminding me that Popes have a very important role to play in our lives.... I admit
I neglected that part of our Religion

Karen Edmisten said...

Thanks, Chris and Melissa!