For the longest time, I wasn't sad at all about the Holy Father's resignation. When a sweet Anglican friend wrote a note of ecumenical sympathy on hearing the news, I blithely responded, "Thanks for your concern, but I'm not sad or upset about it!" To the contrary, I happily went around telling people that this was a "win-win": our dear Benedict XVI would get a well-deserved retirement, while the Church would get an energetic new leader. What could be better?
But last night, my roommate pointed out that today would be our last day under Benedict XVI's papacy. And then this morning, as I made my Morning Offering, I choked over these words:
"I offer you all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of today ... in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father."
It hit me hard: tomorrow we won't have a Holy Father. Every morning I've been praying for his intentions... but tomorrow? What will I say instead? "For the intentions of the former Holy Father"? I felt pretty cut up inside at the realization.
When the news was first announced, I felt a little guilty when everyone seemed to be writing blog posts and Facebook statuses about how Pope Benedict was their special guiding light—the pope who brought them to the Church/greatly influenced their personal philosophy/changed their lives—because I can't say I had that kind of "special connection" to our Holy Father. Beyond reading his encyclicals at the times of their publications, I'm not especially familiar with his writings. I came of age as part of the "JPII generation," and John Paul II is still the pope with whom I identify the most. But that doesn't mean I don't love Pope Benedict VXI with all my heart.
What I said in the beginning still holds true: this situation will be best for the Church and for the Holy Father personally. It still is a "win-win." But even win-win situations can be really painful and sad and hard.
Ok, this is getting ridiculous. I'm about to start crying at my desk. We can't have that; there are books that need to be edited and I have work to do. But oh... it doesn't feel right not to grieve.
Today is a hard day for all of us Catholics. God bless our dear Holy Father; our prayers will be with him. Godspeed.