Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI Resigns. Veni Sancte Spiritus.

I remember the day Ratzinger was elected pope. Although I was still on a parish staff, I was not in the office -- not at first. I zipped back there when I heard on NPR that white smoke was blowing and a new pope would soon appear before the crowd gathered in St. Peter's square.

When he did and it turned out to be Ratzinger, our entire parish staff groaned. My priest-boss dropped his head in his hands. Franciscans were visiting at the time to lead our Lenten mission. "Get ready to wear a full habit again," quipped the brother to the sister.

Pizza arrived and we stuffed the rest of our feelings down with that. Double fudge brownies for dessert. With a brownie in his mouth and one in each hand my priest-boss mumbled to no one in particular, "Chocolate is good for stress, right?"

I would leave that parish job, that parish; serve as a lay liturgical minister in another; move from Princeton to Baltimore; join the parish rolls of Jesuit-led church and then stop going to Roman Catholic Mass shortly after the "new" Roman Missal appeared on the scene.

After several failed attempts to generate traction on Twitter for the hashtag #CatholicSpring, I basically gave up. Dumping the Roman Catholic Church in all its messy glory at the foot of the Cross seemed the prudently prayerful way to go.

This morning, my Episcopal Canon husband woke me up with these words, "I am not kidding and this is not a joke: Pope Benedict has resigned. There will be a new pope by Easter."

No (more) words for now. This prayer: Veni Sance Spiritus.


  1. Hi, Meredith,

    First, I would like to express my admiration for how you can write a post/articulate your response to breaking news at a moment's notice.

    I was born a Roman Catholic whose faith was formed in the wake of Vatican II. The Spirit was indeed blowing fresh winds of renewal but I remember the hierarchy beginning to re-exert greater control over the laity and progressive priests and religious already in the late seventies. I can identify with your dismay at the reactionary turn the Church has taken in the intervening years. I did not so much "dump" the Church, as come to feel myself no longer at home in it.

    Sadly, as much as I wish the Pope's resignation would usher in a #CatholicSpring I don't see much signs of that happening, as the moderate and progressive voices of the West are drowned out by conservative and fundamental forces gaining ascendancy throughout much of the rest of the world.

    Thanks again for your tender-hearted reflections and care for the Body of Christ.

  2. Dear Vida,

    I'm so grateful you made time to comment. As you probably know, I am not a cradle Catholic but someone who came to Christianity as a adult. It took another decade before I chose to receive the sacrament of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church. And another decade after that for my heart to be almost irretrievably broken by the crazy that passes for Catholic these days.

    Like you, I don't see signs, nor do I have any hope of #CatholicSpring happening in my life time. Still, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life...

    I have been reluctant to completely bag out of the Roman Catholic church because, well, I'm more of a fight than flight type!

    Still, my hunger for Eucharist combined with my ecumenical adventures through (and because of) social media, are causing me to wonder whether and for how long it makes any sense to identify as Roman Catholic.

    Just yesterday I told an ELCA friend, "I seem to be back to being a wandering, wondering Jew." But then, so was Jesus!

  3. Yes, we are wanderers indeed. But as the psalmist reminds God,

    "Even the sparrow has found a home...and a place near your altar, O Lord." Psalm 84:2

    Continued blessings on your journey, Meredith.

  4. As a person who came to the Roman Catholic expression of the Christian faith rather recently, I often wonder why God brought me on this journey; my spiritual director has told me that the church needs people like us who think outside the box. I will remain as long as I believe this is the place where God wants me - but many times I am sad. Let's place our hope in the power of the Holy Spirit. Blessings.

  5. Lynda -- I will never forget the time I went to Confession during a Lenten mission, whimpered to the priest about my upset with the Roman Church, and had the blessing of hearing him say, "I've been a priest for 40 years and no bishop or pope is going to drive me out. You stay put. The church needs people like you."

  6. Yes, Meredith, we do need your prophetic voice in the church. Your voice gives people like me hope.

  7. Achingly moving, beautiful post. God has truly blessed you with a powerful writing voice. Don't lose it. Don't be silenced, wherever you wander.


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