I have spent my spare time for the last 24 hours searching the web for some more information, or some insight, into the papal resignation. I have found neither.
I have found heartfelt Good-byes and Thank yous, and angry Good Riddances. I have seen much hurt and shock, as people wonder How Can This Happen? and wonder What Will Happen Next: as in:Will The Next Pope Do What I Want? Some go over his papacy, and draw out the successes and downplay the failures, others downplay the successes and draw out the failures, and judge his papacy on where the stress has fallen. Others are looking to the papabile and wonder who will reign next- a project which makes me smile. In the conclaves I have seen in my lifetime, every pope has come as a blindside to the world, and against all prognostications.
But of them all, the ones I find the most peculiar are the "What Is Really Happening Here?" Pope Benedict, an old man who has trouble moving around, could not possibly have been serious when he said that he was an old man who has trouble moving around, and therefore must have had an ulterior motive. Often the same people who condemned John Paul II for staying on into his decrepitude are now condemning Benedict for not staying on into his. The resignation is unthinkable. There must be some other Really Real Reason for this. And the speculations begin, and we find ourselves in Catholic Conspiracy Season again.
My friends, we are all shaken by this. The Pope was a figure of certainty, a fixed point in the chaos of our times. He has left us feeling as though we have been cast adrift. Remember your faith, and rise above your fears. We are still in the Church created by Christ Himself, and we are promised it will not fail. We are to pray for this day's bread, and to resist this day's temptation. Do not feel troubled over what we cannot control or even influence, and attend the work at hand, and pray for the one who is to come, and those who are to discern his name. Look to the future with the tranquil courage of those who came before, knowing that what comes, whether for good or for ill, is still for the best.