It’s odd saying goodbye to a pope who hasn’t died. But, saying goodbye to this pope in particular is very personal to me. It seems that Pope Benedict and I have run a course of ironic similarity over the past nearly 8 years.
Don’t worry. I don’t consider myself papal or even close to the holiness and greatness that is our former Holy Father. However, as my husband and I were discussing all of this and making our predictions about who might be elected next (and, calculating that there will probably be at least 2 more popes in our lifetime), I realized that good ol’ Benny and I have some major things in common.
One week before classes started at Trocaire College, where I teach a section or two each semester, I got word that my main text book was unavailable. Ooof. Seriously, I was thrown waaaaaay off by that. So I had to scramble – and I came up with a few books to add on – but they were books that I hadn’t read before. (I’d be learning with the students!)
One of these newly added books is “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.
Even though we’re not using it in class quite yet, I started reading it pretty quickly after I received my copy from the college – and was slammed, right away. I mean page 6 sort of right away.
Here I was, assuming that it’d be a story of faith and suffering and struggles and horrors from Frankl’s survival of the holocaust… but 6 pages in, it was already challenging me.
We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles – whatever one may choose to call them – we know: the best of us did not return.
I read this amazing quote from Benedict XVI and had to share:
“What happens in Baptism? What do we hope for from Baptism? You have given a response on the threshold of this Chapel: We hope for eternal life for our children. This is the purpose of Baptism. But how can it be obtained? How can Baptism offer eternal life? What is eternal life?
In simpler words, we might say: we hope for a good life, the true life, for these children of ours; and also for happiness in a future that is still unknown. We are unable to guarantee this gift for the entire span of the unknown future, so we turn to the Lord to obtain this gift from him.
We can give two replies to the question, “How will this happen?”. This is the first one: through Baptism each child is inserted into a gathering of friends who never abandon him in life or in death because these companions are God’s family, which in itself bears the promise of eternity.
This group of friends, this family of God, into which the child is now admitted, will always accompany him, even on days of suffering and in life’s dark nights; it will give him consolation, comfort and light.
This companionship, this family, will give him words of eternal life, words of light in response to the great challenges of life, and will point out to him the right path to take. This group will also offer the child consolation and comfort, and God’s love when death is at hand, in the dark valley of death. It will give him friendship, it will give him life. And these totally trustworthy companions will never disappear.
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