I love our Holy Father. I love him because he has led the Church well. I also love him because he seeks what is best for the Church regardless of what the gossip mill might do with his decisions.
Today's announcement came as a surprise, but it didn't shatter my world.
I suppose that is because I, too, resigned recently. And there were a couple of people who made sure I knew that my decision to resign was akin to breaking a covenant. They felt I had dropped the ball and needed to remember my commitments.
Of course, I'm not 85. But I'm not the spiritual giant that Pope Benedict is. I'm pretty darn frail - spiritually speaking. And the family crisis was pretty bad.
I resigned the day before my granddaughter's MRI. We were told by the neurological staff that Eliana (my son's baby) would have brain damage and that she might also be paralyzed or have cerebral palsy. That was the first reason for resigning.
I also resigned because my daughter had just announced that she was pregnant with her third child - and that she would be raising this baby on her own. She lives nearby and her toddlers are with us quite often. She is a single parent. We pick up pieces the very best that we can.
Four grandbabies in crisis.
Two children - a son and a daughter - in crisis.
And let's be honest. I was in a crisis of my own.
I had just spent half of a year preparing to move to Seattle - away from these children and grandchildren. In fact, those plans had changed just weeks before these two life-altering events occured.
I felt like I was coming unglued.
I knew that it would be best for the students if I stepped down. I knew that I could not possibly continue to give my teaching position 60-70 hours each week as I had done in the past.
I also knew that I needed to get really close to God, or I would not be good to anyone.
Sometimes, I'm still overwhelmed when I think about how close I came to total burn-out.
I was not breaking covenant. I was upholding the ultimate covenant I had with God and with my family.
I was not looking for a reason to quit. I was grabbing for the last bit of sanity I felt I had left.
My husband John.
My vocation as a wife, mother, and grandmother.
I needed to lean into these things with everything I had.
And so, I resigned.
I'm thankful that my students had a wonderful teacher just waiting to step into that classroom and pick up the pieces. I still believe that she was a gift from God.
And so, today, as we ponder the news that our beloved Pope Benedict XVI is resigning, I find myself being very thankful because he has given witness to the very things I have felt for weeks.
"One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on." That is what I read in the online article from my own Archdiocesan website. http://stlouisreview.com/article/2013-02-11/citing-health-reasons
Sometimes, one simply cannot go on.
And when one loves those in his charge, he lets the crowd gossip. But he still does what he knows he must do.
Thank you, Holy Father. You are a true Shepherd. You care for the flock.
And you will remain in my prayers!