As I sat and watched Pope Benedict walk, cane in hand, to the car waiting to take him to the helicopter which would then take him to Castel Gondolfo, I think I can assume I was not the only one so moved and pained by the loss of a wonderful father figure. He guided us gently, lovingly for eight years. He asked at his election that we pray for him, lest he “flee, for fear of the wolves.” His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI met these wolves, who came in heinous form and number, and defeated each one through such spiritual erudition as has seldom been seen in this world. He accepted the yoke Our Lord deigned him to carry, and pushed on despite its weight, and has reached the end of his mission as Successor of St. Peter.
The helicopter, flying past the Vatican, over the crumbling Roman Forum and the Coliseum, carried its venerable passenger with sublime dignity, not only to Castel Gondolfo, but into the pages of history and the hearts of all who will comprise Christendom through the coming centuries. We see a frail, old, tired man being borne through the sky, like Elijah on his flaming chariot, being taken from our sight at a time we all feel to be far too soon. But his departure from the Vatican reminds us that Christ is ever-victorious, and that His Church has “cast down the mighty from their thrones,” Christianizing the Roman Empire, safeguarding Truth in the Dark Ages, turning back evil in its course, denying Napoleon and Hitler, defying Stalin and his minions. The monuments erected in the glory-filled days of Caesar’s Rome, of Hitler’s Berlin, of Stalin’s Moscow all lie crumbling at the feet of a man who embodies all that is True, all that is Good, all that is Beautiful.
The powers and princedoms of this world rise and fall around us as the presence of one man in the Vatican assures us that all is well, that the battle is already won. The beasts of erroneous opinion bray and call out in their frantic, desperate ways, contesting reality, but only in vain. They raise their disfigured heads, and are met only with the authority of Christ, an authority made manifest in the man wearing the shoes of the fisherman. ”I considered the horns, and behold, another little horn sprung out of the midst of them: and three of the first horns were plucked up at the presence thereof: and behold, eyes like the eyes of a man were in this horn, and a mouth speaking great things.”
Pope Benedict has reminded us in this last, great act of humility, that the things of Earth are fleeting. Glories come and go, but God, who is Glory itself, endures forever. We mourn, but do so as selfish children, who know that an ease of our pain is imminent, but who in our grief, cannot accept that. We weep, not recognizing the victory at hand, when Tradition raises Her hand once again, and reestablishes order, reignites the flame in our heart, the zeal in our souls. Pray for Pope Benedict XVI, and pray for his successor. We have nothing to fear, for God is with us and with him.