The Anchoress has a fascinating insight into the pope’s pending retirement:
Forgive me if this sounds absurd on the face of it, but I am wondering if, despite these pieces of evidence, Benedict’s recent entry into Twitter has had anything to do with the seeming abruptness of his announcement.
The pope’s interest in, and support of, the church’s engagement with new media proves he is not exactly out of touch with the world, but when the Benedict finally logged on to Twitter he got to see firsthand the sort of raw, unhinged anti-Catholic hatred so active within social media threads. We who work in new media experience this hatred so regularly it barely registers with us, but for Benedict, or those around him, it must have been a shocking revelation to encounter the vilest expressions of hatred, the intentional voicings of malice and evil hopes, flung squarely at the Holy Father, in real time.
A hoped-for encounter with the faithful also brought an encounter with something wicked. It exposed Benedict to, perhaps, a reality he had formerly been spared.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying the pope had his feelings hurt. I’m saying he looked into a depth of pain and hate and realized he needed to do something more.
That “something more,” of course, is a life in a monastery, which will not exactly be a life of leisure:
He is going into deep prayer, and that is no easy thing. It is, in fact, his last and perhaps greatest act of self-abnegation in a life that has been full of them. He never wanted the papacy, but was obedient to where he was being led. Given that his whole life has been lived in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s lead, we should believe he is being led, yet again, and is meekly — but with paradoxical boldness — going where he would rather not go.
As did Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, Benedict meant it when he offered himself to God in the full rush of love, and said “use me.” As with those two saints, he is being used up to his last ember. It is only my conjecture, of course, but in my gut, I think it is so.