My first reaction to the Pope’s renunciation was that of total shock. I was listening to Catholic Radio in my car on the Guadalupe Network (910AM) in Fort Worth, and a guest was on speaking about a University of Dallas Pilgrimage to Rome next summer. Suddenly, both of the hosts were speaking about how when they travel to Rome there would be a new Pope that they would visit. I was like wwwhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaattttttt?! I called my Dad and asked him what had happened and he said Benedict had renounced his Papacy! I guess that was in a sense better than getting news that the Pope had been assassinated or that he had only days to live. Still I was in a lot of shock, and my first instinct was that of fear. I knew that this sort of thing had not happened a whole bunch throughout the history of the Church and I wondered what had brought this about. This passage from the Annunciation comes to mind in this context:
“But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”
Similarly, we, the members of the Church, and the Church in general, are troubled at the words of our dear Pontiff. But God assures us that we should not be afraid, and that, like Mary, we will conceive Jesus in the collective womb of the heart of the Church. Everything that is happening is part of God’s all-powerful plan for our welfare, “and not for woe!”
Currently my shock has given way to excitement to find out who our next Pope will be. I remember the first conclave of my life that elected Pope Benedict, and watching his first words as Pope to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square on the TV outside the Loft Store in the ground floor of the Pryzbyla Center at Catholic University. I was a Junior in College, its been a while. I remember his first words went something like this, to a multitude of cheers, “I am a humble worker in the vineyard of our Lord.” I remember shedding tears of joy at the fact that Giuseppe Cardinale Ratzinger had been elected Pope! After all the hype centered around the Papabile I remember being totally and wonderfully surprised at the Conclave’s choice. Will I be equally pleased with the choice of the next Pope, or perhaps even more overjoyed? Who knows? But the main point is that God is in control. He is guiding the Church and through the power of the Holy Spirit he is bringing Christ to life in the womb, the heart of Mother Church, just as He brought Christ to life in Mary’s womb at the Annunciation!
Do not be afraid! When God the Father guides the Church into deep water, an immense catch, more than we can count and more than our nets can handle, is in his plans for us!