When I was a very young child, my dad took me out onto Canandaigua Lake. He put out his arm and let me rest on it while I kicked my arms and legs around trying to swim. After a few minutes, he pulled his arm out from under me and walked away! I was terrified, desperate as I kicked and moved about in the water trying to chase after him… I swam.
He knew that I would find a way to stay afloat and although I momentarily felt abandoned, I knew he wouldn’t really let any harm come to me. I felt this way when I heard about Pope Benedict’s resignation. At first I was sad, scared, but soon reasoning took over and I realized that he would not leave us in harm’s way. God, our Father, my Abba, had a plan and we would swim until He revealed it to us.
This development has given me new insights into Lent and even the suffering at the crucifixtion. I have pondered how the apostles felt on that Good Friday. They knew there was more, this was the Messiah after all, but they must have felt alone and even a little abandoned. They had to hold their breath and trust. Just as we have to trust now.
I have also sought a deeper Lenten experience due to these unexpected circumstances. We have a new opportunity to offer our sacrifices up for the current Pope, the new Pope and the Catholic Church! That brought me to thinking about what a sacrifice is…
Is it a sacrifice giving up meat on Fridays, only to replace it with a huge fish fry at your local church? How can we really dig deeper to give something up so that we are a little uncomfortable? What can I personally give up this year to challenge myself and increase my discipline and self-control? What can I add to give something back to The Lord and to the Holy Church He left us?
In our diocese we are particularly challenged this Lent, as we are not just without a pope, but we currently are without a bishop as well. So, it is time to trust, sacrifice and to swim. God, our Father, will not let harm come to His people, but He is providing an opportunity for us to strengthen our Lenten practices and deepen our faith. We have the opportunity to grow in, what Pope Benedict calls, this Year of Faith. God bless you.