In Pope Benedict XVI’s last audience at the Vatican he said:
I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit. I gather everyone and every thing in prayerful recollection, in order to entrust them to the Lord: in order that we might have full knowledge of His will, with every wisdom and spiritual understanding, and in order that we might comport ourselves in a manner that is worthy of Him, of His, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).
I love the way he sweeps the whole world into his blessing. He carries everyone, recalls every meeting, gathers everything into prayerful recollection.
My kids sometimes pray like this, when I ask them if there’s someone in particular they want to pray for, they say “The Whole World!”
My gut instinct is to say, you can’t do that; you’ve got to be specific! But there’s a sensitivity there that doesn’t want to omit anyone from the fold.
Perhaps I lack faith that a few brief prayers before bedtime can benefit The Whole World. Maybe, in due time, my prayers might get Grandma out of purgatory, but could they really treat the whole world to full knowledge of God’s will? I tend to pray for the people I love. With whom do my prayers have the best chance of success? I subconsciously weed out the lost causes.
My prayers are just one more indication that my worldview shrinks with age.
The church teaches that God has infinite mercy for his creation, “fathomless depths of mercy,” wells of mercy so deep we cannot comprehend how much he loves us. And perhaps that’s what the Holy Father is getting at, as he has reiterated again and again during his final days as Pope, that we should strive to comport ourselves in a way that is worthy of Him (Christ).
Think big. Think on the grandness of a God who remembers the angry tweeters of the internet, the dissenters, the rumor mongers, the self-righteous, the small-minded, and those not granted the gift of faith. He loves all of Creation, every thing, every person. Give credit to God for that at least, that his mercy surpasses our understanding. And then strive to be worthy of such love.
On his last day as Pope, I want to offer my heartfelt gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI. Thanks for steering the Barque of St. Peter these past eight years. I will pray for you and for your successor.
Viva il Papa!
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