Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Forgotten Pope- Some Thoughts on Holy Fathers John Paul, Benedict & Francis

I was at the edge of my seat, first watching EWTN online and then listening to the radio while I was getting Boy from Kindergarten. Francis! 
He's the third Pope I have known. Perhaps it is silly to feel anything personal for a man who lives across the ocean and leads more than a billion people. He certainly doesn't know me. But I suppose it is the human condition to be selfish and apply massive historical events to our own small lives.

I felt a kinship with John Paul II. He was already Pope for a long time before my family became Catholic when I was 12.  When he was in Los Angeles for World Youth Day, I was a part of the youth choir in Portland, Oregon. We did a satellite hook-up and I got to sing a solo for the Pope (a verse of Flow River, Flow- Fr Z would not be pleased). He was the perfect Pope for my youth. John Paul also lifted the indult against ordaining Eastern Catholic married men in the United States. We are here in the United States because of him.

John Paul and I were also 'together' in suffering. We lost our baby boy 20 weeks in utero less than a month before John Paul died. The morphine-aided labor with this baby was more painful than my previous two successful labors that had been drug-free. So, I named the baby John-Paul. That name hadn't been our plan if the baby had lived, but I felt that only Pope John Paul could understand my pain at that moment.

So, Benedict's election was ignored by me. I didn't watch any of the coverage. I didn't listen to any radio announcements. I didn't realize this until I was reflecting on the conclave that elected Francis. Slowly, I got to know Benedict through his writings and exciting developments such as the Anglican Ordinate, Summarum Ponticum, and the corrected English translation for the Roman rite. He is well-loved in this household and remembered in our prayers. 

Even though we miss Benedict, I believe it is a beautiful thing that Francis has Benedict here on earth to pray for him and to perhaps advise him. And both Benedict and Francis choosing these names show a return  to a monastic sensibility- a spirituality that I believe is necessary when living a holy celibate life. 
Many blessed years in health, happiness and holiness to both Benedict and Francis!
Blessed John Paul- pray for us!
(as usual- this post is not even 10% of the thoughts swirling in my head- maybe I will update...or at least edit...but I am a mom before blogger!)

10 comments:

  1. I often have felt the same about Benedict. A year before John Paul passed we had a very difficult miscarriage and at the time of his passing I was recovering from surgery to correct an anatomical anomaly that had caused previous miscarriages and so, like you, I was a bit hazy at the time. So, I feel like this time has given me a very good, very strong connection to Benedict as well as Francis. I love that they speak and I also adore Francis for reminding us so often of Benedict.

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    1. His abdication is a sign of his great humility...that he should 'retire' and be nothing to the world- it takes a great man

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  2. JP2 was my Pope -- it was really sad for me when he died in 2005 because he had been the only Pope during my lifetime.

    Benedict wrote some rather anti-Protestant things in his previous life so I was never a fan of his though I respected him because of his office. His abdication was, I think, the best decision because I think he knew that he was in the twilight of his life and the Church needed someone who could do more than he was capable of doing given his health.

    I love Francis. I'm excited to see what his papacy will hold.

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    1. Francis seems to be focused on unity with East- so I don't think we will see a Lutheran Ordinate- but who knows? ;)

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  3. I was impressed with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople attending the installation Mass--a first since medieval times! Pope Francis had worked with Eastern rite churches in Argentina so it's familiar ground to him.

    Francis is my 3rd Pope. John Paul II was Pope when I was born so he was the one I remember best. I was in college during Benedict XVI's election and installment.

    To those readers who have Anglican/Episcopal family or friends, today (3/21) the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was installed. Because Welby was on his way to Canterbury earlier this week, a senior Anglican bishop headed a delegation to Rome on Tuesday. The Duke of Gloucester represented Queen Elizabeth II.

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    1. I am very excited with any dialogue between churches

      I'm a bit of an anglophile myself- many years to Her Majesty! (did you know Prince Charles was born in Romania?)

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  4. I enjoyed this post. I like when you share about your family life in a vulnerable way. I can more fully relate to you when you do that. :D

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    1. ...I do try to emphasize the positive- because I am naturally a more pessimistic/realistic person and I want to guard against that- but thanks for your support today

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  5. So enjoyed this post.Thank you for sharing your private innermost pain with us.I felt the pain as I read in sorrow for you,but also could sense the love and closeness you feel for these three men. Denise

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