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  • Sarah Raad

Emeritus

“I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just Judge, but also the Friend and Brother who Himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my ‘Paraclete.’” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis (14 Jan 21)

For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, we have a Pope Emeritus – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.


This is not the first time that two or more men simultaneously claimed the office of Holy Father of the Catholic Church. Between 1378 and 1417 there were two (and later three) Popes in the Roman Catholic Church during a period that is called the Western Schism (or the Great Schism). During that time, each of the three rival popes were followed by their own Sacred College of Cardinals and their own administrative offices….


The schism finally ended in November 1417 – after a series of political machinations by the Cardinals in the various Colleges – with the election of ONE pope, Pope Martin V. And the Catholic Church has had one Holy Father ever since, all the way through the ages, until 28 February 2013, when Pope Benedict XVI made a significant decision to retire from the pontificate.


Benedict XVI was the first Pope to make such a choice in 600 years…

At the time, Pope Emeritus Benedict VXI said, “They don't want to believe in a choice that was taken knowingly, but my conscience is clear.”

At the time – long prior to my conversion, which occurred through Grace and no merit of my own – I barely gave this rather shocking news a second thought. But lately I have been thinking more and more about this Pope Emeritus and his successor, Pope Francis…


You see, when I was a little girl, my teachers at school always reminded me to pray for the Holy Father and the intentions of the Holy Father. And as a good little girl, I would do that without much thought.


But now, it occurs to me that I should make more effort in my prays for these men…


The other day I read some words written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, where the now 94-year-old said, “Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life. Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just Judge, but also the Friend and Brother who Himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my ‘Paraclete.’ In light of the hour of judgement, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me. It grants me knowledge, and indeed friendship, with the Judge of my life, and thus allows me to pass confidently through the dark door of death.”


And it occurs to me that these men who dress in white and wave from a window here and there within the Vatican are souls who are perhaps the most important souls in the world for me AND they are souls upon whom the Evil One focuses most of his machinations! You see, if they fall, so too do all the rest of us – because they will lead us all astray…


Long ago I heard someone say that if a priest died and went to Heaven he would take a thousand souls to Heaven with him, but if he went to Hell, he would take even more to Hell…


And that makes me think – I really must pray more for these Fathers of our Church… For it is they who I am following, one way or another…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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