Days without a Pope

In these days without a Pope, before the Holy Spirit moves through the College of Cardinals to elect another to sit on the Chair of Peter, my thoughts turn to many things.

Holy Thursday olg 4-21-11 162I continue to hear the bells ring over St. Peter’s and remember when I stood there and received the Pope’s blessing – then by Pope John Paul II.  Yesterday’s television images of masses of people wishing Benedict well and saying their farewells reminds me of the many churches throughout the world where I have sat with hundreds of strangers, yet joined in worship and prayer as children of God.  And the commentators speculating on what will come next and what will happen in our Church reminds me of a class I took once.

While a student, I sat at the feet of Fr. Jim Dunning, one of the architects of the current RCIA rituals in the Church, as he taught his last class before his death.  He shared with us his recent experiences in Africa and how the cultural mind-set is so different there.  In Africa, he explained, a person would express who they are by saying:  “I am because we are.”  He was describing a community mind-set very different from our own.  We tend to have a very individualistic view of ourselves.

His point was – our Church could learn some things from the African mind-set.  Our Church could benefit from realizing that together we are the Church.  No one of us individually, mind you, but all of us together, represent the Pneumatic Body of Christ on Earth.  We are the Church!

The building is not the Church.  The Curia is not the Church.  The College of Cardinals is not the Church.  Not even the Pope is the Church.  But, all of us together are the Church.  And what we look to and need in a Pope is a guiding Shepherd, in the image of the simple carpenter who walked through Galilee so many years ago.

And so, in these days without a Pope I remember, WE are the Church and I pray for a gentle, spiritual soul who will accept the Holy Spirit’s prompting.  I pray for someone who will guide us lovingly on our spiritual journey and not be afraid to take us into the future with promise, openness, justice and hope.

May the Holy Spirit grant us such a grace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.