As of 2:00 pm EST today the Church has a 'sede vacante'; the empty seat or 'cathedra' of the Pope. It's a strange feeling because, well, the Pope isn't dead yet the chair is empty, something that hasn't happened in 600 years.
My first reaction after "what the...!?", was "why?" I'm sure it was pretty much the same for everybody. He gave his two weeks notice much as we in the secular working world are accustomed to do but the words 'Pope' and 'resigned' haven't been used together in 600 years or to put it into perspective; when Gregory XI stepped down in 1415, Columbus had not even been born, much less set sail to new lands...
So, to continue the metaphor, is the barque (ancient word for boat) of Peter now adrift aimlessly? The answer is 'no'. Canon Law provides for the running of the Church in the case of a 'sede vacante', but it is weird to have no 'Pope', weirder still to have a 'Pope Emeritus' or 'Pontiff Emeritus', the latter being my preferred phrase.
Now I have to admit that I never endeared Benedict XVI to myself the way I did John Paul II but one can attribute that to time (27 years of JPII) vs (8 of BXVI), or age (I was a 20 year old when JPII became pope so he was pope for a long period in my life), or personality (well... let's just agree that the two had different personalities). On the other hand I was ordained under Benedict XVI's papacy and influenced profoundly by his encyclicals 'Deus Caritas Est', 'Spe Salvi', and 'Caritas in Veritate' which were released either in my pre-ordination, seminary days or not long post-ordination and I find that his writings are much more easy to understand yet no less deep that those of his predecessor.
That being said, with the 'sede vacante' the world suddenly seems to me a little more dark, a little more lonely. I miss him tremendously even merely one scant hour after his resignation took effect: I need a POPE, the Church needs a POPE.
The office of the Papacy is not obsolete, antiquated or out of place in today's world. It is our connection to Peter who in Luke's Gospel, read on the Sunday before Lent began, said "depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man". We are all sinful people seeking holiness through Christ's mercy and grace. As Pontiff Emeritus, Benedict XVI, so wonderfully said in his Motu propio 'Porta Fidei' on the indiction of the Year of Faith.
" One thing that will be of decisive importance in this Year is retracing the history of our faith, marked as it is by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin."
Ah, this wonderful, mystical interweaving of holiness and sin, that best describes you and I and every member of the Church. It is so richly symbolic that now we have to await the joyful announcement of 'habemus papam' ('we have a pope') during the Lenten season. Our Christian story did not end when Christ died and was sealed in the tomb on Good Friday, but rather it began on the day the stone was rolled away and the angel said "he is not here...he is risen". We have always been an Easter people haven't we?
That, my friends, is the source of our hope and joy. Christ is risen, Christ is present with his Church from 'sede vacante' to 'habemus papam' and beyond...
Hi, welcome to my weekly blog. I'm deacon Michel and I love blogging and the healthy exchange of constructive ideas. Now my mind has been known to wander on a million different things all at once so don't be surprised at what you find here. I often scratch my head and go 'Huh?' at my own thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts with me.
This blog reflects MY ongoing Christian journey: insights gained through the Holy Spirit, my experiences, my studies, my relationships. The content of this website is solely that of Deacon Michel du Chaussee, and does not represent the Archdiocese of Miami or any other entity of the Roman Catholic Church in any official capacity. Needless to say, I hope that none of my writings are contrary to the doctrines of faith and morals that are reflected in Sacred Tradition or as taught and guarded by the Magisterium of the Church or to the truths of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
For I take seriously what a very wise man has often said to me:
"Ordination is not license for private practice" - Msgr. A. Andersen