A friend of mine, after considering this staggering map of today’s widespread unrest, asked me why the Pope has not cancelled or at least postponed his trip to Lebanon.
I emailed back, “this pope has seen a lot of history and the passings of all kinds of seasons — seasons of fear, unreast, penance, tyranny — they’ve all passed like pageants before him. But he has spent his whole life anchored to what is eternal, unchanging and timeless, and so he is trained to the longview. He understands that in God’s eyes, “a thousand years/are like yesterday, come and gone/no more than a watch in the night,” and he works for God.
He is Peter, to whom Christ said: “. . .when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” and so, he goes.
But mostly, I think Benedict went ahead to Lebanon, today, because he is not afraid. And where there is outsized, world-trembling strife, the Vicar of Christ should walk there, even at great risk.”
We both agreed that he seems to be quite serene, so far, in Lebanon, where the first headlines have been promising and he has been greeted warmly by many of Lebanon’s young Christians who likely endorse Patriarch Rai’s call for a Christian Spring in that region and around the world.
My friends in Australia and the UK tell me that papal visits there appear to touched off precisely the sort of springtime he means, in those places. It’s too bad that springtime so often seems overlong before summer comes.
It’s hard not to notice that — all of these headlines, and Peter heading into a dangerous zone — happening on the feastday of the Exaltation of the Cross.
The news is troubling. Some of the headlines and pronouncements we are hearing seem almost surreal. It’s appropriate to be concerned, but don’t let it own you, or you might fall into despair, which is a terrible place to be on this feastday, in particular. Do not despair; Get a Crucifix.
And don’t forget to whisper up a prayer for the sake of an old man — the obedient shepherd who is led.
Meanwhile, New Advent is doing a great job of keeping up with the headlines.
Hopeful Signs as Benedict Arrives
I have done a very bad job of internet fasting this week, but must remove myself and still try, so comments will remain off, so I won’t be tempted online for moderation.