Saying Goodbye to My Papa

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.
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Have questions about the Pope’s resignation?

After the initial shock of the news wore off, the questions started.  While we here at The Catholic Realist are not cardinals, canon lawyers, or papal historians, we did some homework and got answers to a few of the questions running through the minds of our Catholic brothers and sisters today.

**Edit: As we come across more questions being asked, we’ll add them to the list.**

Q.  Wait…WHAT?! Is this a joke?

A.  Yeah, that was my first question too.  I woke up this morning and saw the following on my Facebook news feed:

BREAKING NEWS: Pope Benedict announces he will be retiring.

At first I thought it was a joke.  I thought maybe I had been in a coma for the past 2 months and it was really April 1 – and someone was pulling a bad April Fool’s Joke.  Then I read the Pope’s letter announcing his resignation.  Turns out, it’s not a joke.  Pope Benedict XVI is renouncing the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor to Saint Peter as of February 28, 2013.

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Q.  Is that even possible?  Can a Pope just “quit”?

A.  Turns out, he can.  The Code of Canon Law states,

“If it should happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that he makes the resignation freely and that it be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone” (Canon 332, No. 2).

It’s rare, but there is a precedent in the two thousand year history of the church. Read More

Hell hath frosted over

Hell must have frozen over because I have seen some things lately that probably indicate Frost Covered Treesthe end times are near. Let me explain.

I was running a retreat at a neighboring parish this weekend. It was one of those required one day confirmation retreats that try to give a retreat experience to those last 10% of kids who haven’t done a retreat yet. Nothing wrong with these teens, we love them, and it seems like church may not be the most important thing in their life. I think you get what I am saying.

At the end of the retreat we did a reconciliation service in the beautiful side chapel of the parish. At this parish, the tabernacle was kept in this side chapel, which was great for us; we got to pray before the Blessed Sacrament while preparing or praying through our penances.  About 40 minutes into our prayer time, this little old lady comes into the chapel and walks before the tabernacle. She genuflects, takes the tabernacle key from its hiding spot and begins to open the tabernacle.

Honestly, it was a bit of a shock. We had just spent all this time praying to Jesus who was stuck inside his tent, and all of a sudden, the tent flaps were opening and Jesus was coming out.  A crazy thing happened next. As I went to kneel, the entire room started moving from their various positions of repose (laying, sitting, leaning), and knelt while Jesus in the Eucharist was removed and moved into the main church in preparation for Mass.  It was a moment.  There was a palpable change in the room. The whispering teens stopped chatting. The sleeping teens awoke.  The teens reading a Bible out of boredom paid attention.  Seriously, it was miracle akin to Jesus appearing to the disciples after the resurrection.

I was moved. Read More

Tough Questions

“Were Adam and Eve on Earth with the dinosaurs?”

“How could that be if God created the earth in 7 days and dinosaurs were around a long, long time ago, before people?”

“So, the bones archeologists found of the ‘first human’ were the bones of Adam or Eve?”

“Are we all on the same family tree?”

“Where, exactly, IS Eden?”

“When we die, will we even want to ask God these questions?  Will we know everything?  Will we even care since we’ll be in God’s presence?”

What really happened to the dinosaurs.

These are real questions that came up with my teens this past Wednesday night in our 11th and 12th grade PSR class.  The class is not, actually, a bible study this semester.  We are supposed to be studying Theology of the Body for Teens; and, tonight’s chapter was entitled “Naked Without Shame.”  And, that’s how we started with Adam and Eve, talking about original justice and original nakedness.

Needless to say, we didn’t exactly cover the chapter of TOB that I had intended.  But, we DID discuss a lot of different topics including Church and science, heaven, final judgement, and, somehow, the Shroud of Turin.

As the topics and questions swirled around with sincere curiosity on the faces of the teens, I came to realize, again, what an incredible responsibility I have as a youth minister and teacher of the faith.  The teens have found a place where they know it’s okay to ask the tough questions.  They know they won’t be laughed at or ridiculed for wondering.  And, that means I have to be prepared.  I have to stay one step ahead of the teens, anticipating what they might ask on a given night and praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give them correct and complete answers.  And, I have to pray for the ability to listen with love, so that they will continue to ask these questions and thousands more.

      This is pretty much how I explain Eden…

In all honesty, there’s no way I could’ve anticipated the conversation of this night.  Dinosaurs, creationism, evolution, and science aren’t exactly my forte, but I did my best to give the Church’s teachings on these topics. These teens, they’re keeping me on my toes and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Without them, I might not be growing in MY faith in quite the same way.