When I heard the news about Pope Benedict XVI resigning from the Chair of Peter, I can’t even begin to explain the sadness and confusion I felt about his decision. How does one walk away from a position that one has been chosen for by the Holy Spirit? If we truly believe that it is the Spirit that guides the Cardinals in electing GOD’s chosen one for the Papacy, how does one resign that? How does one say, “OK, Lord, I’m done.” I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it and I had to do some serious soul searching.
Feeling alone and isolated; I don’t get EWTN here in Bahrain so I couldn’t even hear the holy or scholarly discuss the issue at hand or give guidance or even help me understand it, I had no one to turn to except to my heart where I begged God to speak to me and give me understanding. After several days of no real answers, I decided that it was not for me to judge, or maybe even understand. After all, only God knows the secret conversations He has with a person’s heart. God’s will is certainly not always understood by man either. If I allowed myself to look at what I had learned to love in Pope Benedict over the past 8 years, it was his humility. He humbly accepted the Chair even when he felt he was too old; in his humility, he clung to and gave us a valuable witness to the love of Truth; and he never compromised that truth for the ways of the world. I had to believe that it was in that same humility that He must have turned to God for direction, and then humbly submitted to God’s will – that He would now devote the rest of his life to “praying” for the Church.
How deeply do we value the power of prayer? We say it all the time; I’ll pray for you; pray for me; pray about it. But do we really believe in the power of those prayers? I had to answer that for myself a few days ago. You see, I hit a wall. The first time I allowed myself to ask, “Lord, WHY am I here?” It had been a rough couple of days; or maybe I had just been suppressing my feelings for too long. In any case, on that particular day it seemed like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I was worried for my husband; he was sick and still trying to adjust to his new work environment; I was worried for my daughter who is 4 months pregnant and experiencing constant all-day sickness with no relief in sight; I was worried for my other daughter who was facing mounting stress at work; I was worried for other members in my family and loved ones who each have personal problems of their own, and I felt so helpless! Why was I here and not there? Why did I have to be so far away without any way of helping? I went up and sat on our balcony, looked up at the full moon and cried out to God “Why am I here? What can I do???” And I heard Him say “PRAY.” Pray? That’s it? I already do pray; all the time, every day. Then the realization kicked in; yes, I pray every day, but do I “really” pray with fervor and devotion? Do I take as much time as it takes. Time – I remember one day long ago, sitting at my kitchen table doing my Bible Study; I started off with a prayer as I always do and then it led to another prayer and another. The list of people who needed prayer just kept growing and growing and I remember thinking, ”Lord, why are so many people in need of prayer? I feel bad because I don’t have time to pray for all of them! If I sat here and prayed for each one, my whole morning would be gone and I have so much to do! I have to write this week’s Lecture; I have to do this and go there, etc… “ Well, I don’t have that excuse now, do I? Time is ALL I have now and God is giving me that time to do what I need to do; PRAY for those I love. Even if I was at home, I can’t change or control the situations. They are not mine to control. But here, alone, I have the time to really and fervently devote my time to prayer because that is truly the most powerful thing I can offer.
My thoughts immediately turned to Pope Benedict; that is what he was going to do. That is what God told him to do. Why did I doubt that it would be any less important or powerful than what he was doing for us while he sat in the Chair? After all, GOD is in control! Then I thought about Jesus; how often did Jesus not go away, alone, to PRAY; to pray for US, for the whole human race; for GOD’s will to be done. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and what a beautiful example Pope Benedict now gives us as he follows Jesus’ footsteps and goes off alone to PRAY. It is here that He will continue to imitate Christ; it is here that He will continue to be effective for God’s purposes and for God’s Church. His time and devotion to prayer will be greatly needed in this time of crisis for our Church, and it is in the power of his prayers that the Church will continue to be blessed. Of that I am sure of!
Thank you Holy Father for teaching me something so valuable once again; the power of prayer! I must humbly accept my place in this world and trust that GOD is sovereign over all things; over every situation, and that sometimes the best thing I can do for someone in need; someone I love; is to simply PRAY for them, trusting that God hears the prayers of the faithful and answers them accordingly according to His holy will.
I feel a great sense of peace and security in the knowledge that Pope Benedict will be praying fervently for us. May I have the discipline and the desire to do the same for those I love and those in need.