I’ve been trying to decide what to do during Lent this year.
I had wanted to give something up, but in my attempt to make 2013 a healthier year, I feel as if I’ve already sacrificed most of my food and drink vices—and not for spiritual reasons.
So I had decided to add something instead. But what? Prayer alone? Prayer with my family?
Then I discovered that our shepherd had announced his resignation. And I felt a rush of emotions—sadness that we are losing our beloved leader, along with fear for the future of the Church.
As the day continued, though, all I could feel was gratitude that the Holy Spirit had guided the cardinals to choose Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as our pope in 2005. And I realized that if he isn’t afraid, if he trusts that God is guiding him in this decision, and that His Church will endure, then why should I—someone with less faith and weaker intellect—be worried?
And so I am working on letting go and trusting and, of course, praying.
I’ve read so much about Pope Benedict today that has been articulate and well-thought-out, poignant and true.
Of course, there will always be people who are full of negativity, especially those who expect the Church to change its teachings with the winds of 21st-century thinking.
They don’t know what they’re missing. Cardinal Ratzinger inspired me from the first time I heard him deliver the homily for Pope John Paul II’s funeral. Three years later I was honored and blessed to have the opportunity to pray with him in Nationals Park when he celebrated Mass in Washington, D.C.
Our Holy Father has led us with grace, humility, love, and a passion for Christ that led him to accept a role that may have been a cross for him to carry, but one he embraced with joy. We owe him our thanks for giving so much of himself for so long, and for recognizing when it was time to move into a new chapter in his life.
Meanwhile, he will continue to lead us, though quietly, through his writings and his prayers. What a tremendous, lasting gift of himself.
So, as I look ahead to Ash Wednesday, I have decided what I will add to my Lenten journey.
I will read one of the pope’s books, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. And I’d like to invite you to join me.
During Holy Week I’ll share what I take from the book—and talk about how reading it has shaped my Lenten experience.
And I’ll look forward to hearing about your journey, as well.
God bless Pope Benedict XVI.