Oh Papa… On the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

It’s taken me a while to sit behind the keyboard and compose a few thoughts this morning… I kept trying, and then needing to get up and walk away. There are plenty of great accounts of this morning’s announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will be resigning at the end of this month. For those, look to the following trusted resources:

I’m doing a poor job of responding to this announcement in a composed fashion. Part of that might be owing to the fact that the news woke me (via several text messages from friends) and that I spent my morning trying to be a mom and to share the news with my son and then get him off to school… to act like today was a normal day. Adam probably figured out when I sat on the edge of his bed choking back sobs that it wasn’t just any normal Monday.

So I write this more from the perspective of a mom in the pew than that of a “pundit” as we bloggers are sometimes thought to be. I’ve already dodged a few public interviews, mostly because I know I can’t yet speak on this topic without blubbering. I’ll let other more eloquent bloggers take those, and I’ll spend today quietly praying for this pontiff, my Holy Father.

So much is already being said about Pope Benedict XVI, about how he defied our expectations of him. When I think of him, it’s largely through the prism of a few wonderful days I spent at the Vatican around the beatification of Blessed John Paul II and the Vatican Bloggers Meeting. How could I not love a pope who’d hold a “Vatican Bloggers Meeting“? A pope with his own app? Our first tweeting pope? He’s given us so many gifts, including the recent Synod on the New Evangelization and of course his books.  So we have much to remember him by and to thank him for — and of course he will still be with us, praying undoubtedly, although likely out of our view as his successor takes over.

I’m not ready to begin speculating on who’s next or what their agenda will be — likely because I’m not ready to say goodbye to my Holy Father. It will take me a few days to both recover from the surprise and to digest the ramifications this moment could have upon the Church I love. She’s flawed in so many ways, and this moment in time will be a critical indicator of how she will move into a future full of so much pain and uncertainty.

Perhaps, in retrospect, Pope Benedict XVI was preparing us for this moment with his most recent tweet:

Today, I’m clinging to that assurance of God’s grace, of his mercy and of his power to transform even these most transitional of moments and even for us sinners.

So I’ll trust.

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About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com and connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

  • http://jeffhite.com Jeff Hite


    Thank you. I know that was hard to write. I know I am still very much up in the air about how I feel. My wife rushed downstairs just minutes before I left to give me the news. While we talked one of my older sons asked, “Is this going to be bad?” The hard part was that I didn’t have an answer for him.

    I remember the night John Paul II died. I remember crying, and being very miserable for a couple of days. I remember the hope I had when Benedict XVI was named, and now the fear for the future is back. But, as our priest said in his homily this weekend, when the world tells you to give up, Jesus says to “put out into deep water.” That is what I am going to try to do. In this moment of uncertainty I am going to put my life almost recklessly into to hands of Christ

  • http://loaves-and-fishes.blogspot.com/ Terri

    Thank you so much for this, Lisa. I needed to hear from a fellow mom in the pew this morning, not a pundit. This is exactly the kind of post that speaks to my heart today.

  • Lynn Prucha

    Thanks Lisa, you wrote the thoughts of many of us, still trying to understand, we have been given such a beautiful lesson in humility, grace in action, and self sacrifice. He will be missed as Pope, but will still be praying always for our “Great Geman-Sheppard”!

  • http://romans8v29.blogspot.com Sister Anne

    Yes, the feeling that best describes where I am right now is grief.

  • http://www.beasone.org Susan Bailey

    I am so deeply touched by our pontiff’s humility and it makes me sad to think of what he must be going through. I remember when I lost my singing voice and had to resign from my church as cantor and I hemmed and hawed for months over it because I knew my resignation would impact the work load of the other cantors. I felt a responsibility to the congregation too. And that is SO much smaller than what our dear Pope must be going through though I imagine now that the decision has been made, he may be at peace. I recall how much he longed for a quiet retirement, playing his piano, writing, and praying. I hope God will grant him the time to enjoy such things for all will be offered in prayer.

    EWTN this morning was saying that Pope Benedict may in fact make a greater impact on the church through his prayer. I believe that.

  • Steve

    Amen! The Lord has His hand in all this. The See of Peter (like the Sea of Galilee) needs replenishing with fresh waters from the surrounding hills. PBXVI is and will continue to be a wonderful instrument in the hands of the Lord, an enabler. There is much work ahead!

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  • SiPepe

    He finally read the Bible and realized the end of false religion is coming or is avoiding been legally accused for all the mess created by pedofilus

    • Lisa M. Hendey

      If you’re going to hate, please at least spell correctly. I find your comment offensive and invite you to stop visiting this blog.

  • http://www.bede.org Stefanie

    After I dropped our youngest at college, I drove to our parish church and sat in the back pew, bawling my eyes out in the back pew, while praying the Office of the hour, then over the Litany of Saints….I noticed that someone was in our Blessed Sacrament chapel, with all the lights out, standing before the altar, with the Eucharist exposed in the Tabernacle — the only light was coming from the adoration candles. I kept looking from there to our splended new crucifix — and the light from the Alpha & Omega stained glass was shining so bright in the morning sun, but I was feeling only sadness. Eventually, I will get joyful, but now is the time to be grateful to PapaB.

    My son’s text message to me was: “He was a good pope. Didn’t do what people expected. Hopefully his successor will continue to push the Church away from complacency.”

    Amen to that!

  • Korou

    There are some people who hope the next Pope is an improvement on this one.

  • SB

    The good news is that when Ratzinger officially quits, there will be no one on the planet who claims to be infallible…until the next delusional old man takes his place. Does he get to keep the fancy dresses and his red bat phone that connects him to God as souvenirs?