Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Vacancy of the Apostolic See

I have been glued to the television set for the past two days, on a deathwatch with the rest of the world.

And, it is now over. He has passed on. He is no longer suffering. He is at peace.

I really didn't think, as a modern, free-thinking young American woman, that I'd be this saddened. But, surprisingly, I am. This is, like so many people my age, the only Pope I have, thus far, ever known.

I consider myself a practicing Catholic - I go to church every Sunday, sing in the choir, volunteer my time, and try to abide as best I can to what I've learned. But, I guess if I were a "true" Catholic, I wouldn't be doing in-vitro, as it is against Church teaching......hell, I wouldn't have done a lot of things that I've done in my life so far. I guess I am what is known here in the US as a "cafeteria Catholic"-I choose the doctrine that I feel is applicable, and use it, and blithely ignore the things I don't like, thinking that these are laws that are made by men, not by God.

The Church, with all its splendor and majesty, is run by men, men who have very definite views on the roles of women in the Church, homosexuality, the celibacy of the clergy, birth control-the list goes on and on. Men who are human and make mistakes, like all men (and women, let's face it), but don't always show that humanity to others.

But the Pope was different-yes, he was a staunch conservative, and, as head of the Church he supported many of the things about Catholicism that I totally disagree with, but his compassion, sense of social justice, his love of the common man and his role as a force for peace was apparant to all. He was an intellectual, a poet, a humble man. He cared for all people, regardless of their religious upbringing. He fought for what he believed in, even if some of us did not agree with him, and was not afraid to stand up to some of the most powerful people in the world for those principles . And, in the end, he taught us to die with the same dignity and grace that one possesses during their lifetime. He was not afraid to unveil his suffering and illness to the world, to show that he was as frail and finite as anyone else. That he was human.

At the end of the Mass of Christian Burial, after the priest gives the final blessing and as the casket is being brought up the main aisle of the church and outside to prepare for internment, the "In Paradisum" is chanted or said in Latin:

In paradisum deducant te angeli,
in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
aeternam habeas requiem.

May the angels lead you into paradise,
may the martyrs receive you in your coming,
and may they guide you into the holy city, Jerusalem.
May the chorus of angels receive you
and with Lazarus once poor
may you have eternal rest.

No matter what my politics, or whether I agree or disagree with the Pope's views, I still mourn his passing.


cat said...

You are a new generation of Catholic, the compassionate yet reasonable believer. In this take solace that you are the future of your faith challenging the important issues and encouraging your fellow believers to build a future church that can accept a new self, a more open minded self.

I hope for you that the new Pope is even more open and forward thinking.

Shelli said...

that was very nicely said, dear.