I’m sure everyone who reads this blog (and doesn’t live under a rock) has heard that Papa Benny is retiring at the end of the month from the Papacy. Big stuff. First abdication since 1415 or something like that. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about it, because there are much more intelligent and eloquent people than I talking about it, so I feel like it would be white noise, for the most part.
I did want to share a few of my thoughts about this, just from my personal experience with Papa Benedict.
Even though I was born during the reign of Pope John Paul II, and I was a junior in college when he died, I considered Pope Benedict MY pope. He was the pope when I began my journey back to embracing my faith. His encyclicals and writing about God and the virtues touched me so deeply and his words often brought me to tears. Everytime I saw him I felt filled with a desire to hug him and I would think, “I just love this man”.
Then in 2010, we travelled to Rome and Papa Benny became the first pope that I “met”. The pope-mobile travelled within about 8 feet of our seats in the square and he blessed us. It was one of the most special moments of my life. Until the end of the audience when the pope gave us a “special blessing, intended especially for your families and children” and at that moment, my child, the one we had longed and prayed for so much, was safely snuggled in my womb, a miracle in and of itself. This child will most likely be the only one (if we should be blessed with more) to be blessed, while in the womb, by a pope. I am excited and feel total trust in our Church during this time, but I will miss seeing the face of a man I truly felt was MY pope, and I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Papa Benny.
To change gears only slightly: Lent. It starts tomorrow. I sort of feel like it has already begun. Today is CD 1 (I knew AF would arrive just in time for Ash Wednesday), I got news from the doctor that I have to go on hormone injections this cycle for post-peak (HCG for those of you familiar with such things), and all of this combined with insensitve words from my priest during the homily (mentioning not once, but twice, the good large Catholic families, you know, as opposed to all those small bad ones, like mine. You know, because the holiest family that ever lived filled a twelve-passenger van, right? Oh wait, they had three members and 1 child. Well Padre, this is awkward.) has had Lent arriving a little early and pretty angry. Honestly, until the announcement about Papa Benny, I was absolutely dreading Lent.
On Sunday I said to God, “Well, I don’t really have much to say to you right now. I’m not entirely sure what I could have possibly done to deserve even half of the horrible shit that’s happened in my life, but you know, I guess it is what it is. Your will will be done, so I’m not even going to ask for another baby, because you’re not going to give me one, the same way you let my mother die, let my father abandon me, let me be a fat, ugly, and awkward child and teen, and let me experience a chronic disease and infertility.”
I figured, if I could successfully manage to unite the suffering I experience nearly every day to the cross, even some days, Lent would be a success.
Now, at least, I have something to pray for. I can pray for Papa Benny, for our Church, for this new beginning.
Last night I was reading my Endow book to prepare for our study tonight, and I came across a poem from Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta a Cruce), where she talks about the work of God in her soul, likening it to “feather strokes and chisel blows”. My breath caught in my throat and I underlined it three times.
Well if there was ever going to be a phrase to describe how I feel about God’s work in my soul, chisel blows would be it. When you think about an artist beginning with a solid slab of marble, intending to sculpt something beautiful, sometimes he has to use a chisel, and chip away with vigor, to see his vision take shape. The thing about being the slab of marble is, you can’t see the vision. You can only feel the blows. All I can hope is that for all these chisel blows, I’m going to be a damn Bernini by the time this is all over.