Last Thursday, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI left St. Peter’s at 8:00 p.m. which was 2:00 p.m. for us here in the U.S. of A. Our Archbishop invited the faithful to the Cathedral for an hour of prayer surrounding the 2:00 moment–we would pray from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, for the next Holy Father, for the church.
I arrived a bit early (I guess). There was only one elderly gentleman in the front row (probably because we’re Catholic). I asked if the row was reserved. It wasn’t, so I sat down and texted my sister, Christine, my location for moral support.
She showed up with a friend and we prayed together.
I reflected on this.
I first saw Benedict XVI with Christine in Germany in 2005, a few months after he was elected. We learned to count Euros, the grace of fresh fruit, and how big and diverse our Church was.
In 2008 we saw him again in Australia. I learned about the delicious lamington, stared at the Southern Cross, and listened to the haunting sound of the didgeridoo. It was there where I learned about the faith of my fellow, diverse Church in a more personal way (yeah to celebrating mass with islanders!) I also thought I was going to die, but that’s a different story.
In 2011 I traveled to see my Holy Father in Madrid. There I learned to walk on the waves towards Christ.
Through all of this, my sister accompanied me. We slept on the fields side-by-side. We became dehydrated together. We walked together, sang together, prayed together.
On Thursday, the Archbishop encouraged us to thank God for the service of Benedict XVI, for our mother church, and for our savior Jesus (listed last because He is most important, duh).
On Thursday, I reached my arm around my sister and pulled her closer in her infamous choke-hold hug.
We knelt to pray and I inwardly thanked God for the ability to share the experiences together.
And then…someone in the back called out.
Someone was in need of medical attention.
My sister looked at me, “I know CPR,” she said.
“Go,” I prompted, and she stood up from the front row and went to the back.
It struck me that this, also, was a good reflection on my experience with Christ and World Youth Day and Benedict XVI…it’s beautiful but you also don’t know what to expect or how your plans will be interrupted.
Generally speaking, you follow Christ and your plans get interrupted, you know? I’m not saying that’s a bad thing…I’m just saying it happens.
We weren’t exactly planning on going to Germany, but our plans were interrupted. Thanks be to God. I wasn’t planning on taking twenty people to Italy and Spain…but my plans were interrupted (thanks be to God).
Eventually Christine came back to our pew, whispered that everything was under control, and knelt beside me again. We prayed the ancient prayers with eachother and with the Archbishop and with everyone who had gathered.
I looked up at the monstrance and reflected that this is where the Holy Father had taken me all along–pointing to Jesus.
Thanks, Benedict XVI. My prayers go with you.
I think I speak for Christine, too, when I say we will miss you. Your first World Youth Day was our first as well, and we shall never forget that. You have fathered us well, Holy Father. Thank you for the adventures. Thanks for leading us to Christ.
Viva il Papa! Viva!