Thursday, February 28, 2013

We have no pope

Pope Benedict officially vacated the chair of St. Peter today, and the Catholic Church stands without its visible representative in the world for the first time since the death of Pope John Paul II.  We do not know who will come next. Speculation is useless, trust in the Holy Spirit is all.

A new pope will undoubtedly bring with him many changes, many unexpected events, and many unexpected joys.  The transition will be difficult.  He will be nothing like Benedict XVI, nothing like John Paul II.  He will be his own man, with his own faults and his own strengths and his own particular charisms.  He will be exactly what we need, for this is God's way, but not necessarily will he be what we expect or even think we want.

Will he usher in the end of the world? Unlikely. Christ told us that no one knows the hour or the day when the Lord will return, and if even Christ told us that He did not know we should not expect to get a sneak peak at the date either. I find it odd that so many in this world completely disregard the Church on every other matter - matters of far more importance to God, I might add - but are willing to listen to a prophecy that isn't even of certain origin or value from a Catholic monk in the hopes that it might reveal to them a clue about when the world would end.  But, such is the fickle nature of the world.

I have my own personal favorites among the Cardinals, men of righteousness and joy that I think would make wonderful predecessors to Benedict XVI.  I would love to see Cardinal Dolan, for instance. I think he would be a powerful witness to the Church, and his good nature makes him difficult to resist.  Cardinal Frances Arinze would be another awesome choice.  There are some men that I personally wish wouldn't even be allowed to come near the voting in of another pope, but God might well decide to use one of these as a viable illustration that the Holy Spirit is indeed guarding her church by appointing one of these and then doing great things through Him.  It is not for me to decide, but for me to trust that the power of the Holy Spirit is greater than all the plotting and planning and evil designs that might lurk in the hearts of one man or even hundreds of thousands of men.

Of this I know for certain: whichever man is chosen for the job, God will have appointed Him for His own ends and to achieve the unique plans which God has for the Church.  So, on that day when the white smoke rises from the Vatican, I will say with great joy, "Habemus papam!" (We have a  pope!)

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