Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Papacy, A Glorious Cross

God bless our new Holy Father, Pope Francis!
Much has been written and will be written about our new Pontiff. I will refrain from adding to what is surely by now a veritable mountain of information (and misinformation).
But the office of the Papacy is well worth considering. For the Papacy is the most glorious of crosses to bear for he who holds it. 
The Papacy is indeed a glorious charge. Christ Himself instituted the office; the new Pope is merely the latest in an unbroken line stretching back to the Apostles. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ, the Successor to Peter, a living symbol of the authority of the Apostles.
And for faithful Catholics, the Papacy is a wonderful gift. The Catholic faithful have a (well, at least in modern times) holy man to look up to, a visible reminder that what they believe is true, that God has not left them orphans. And we, the faithful, accordingly love our Holy Father, as sheep love a shepherd.
To the man who sits on the Chair of Peter, however, the Papacy is a heavy cross – a cross which only a man of incredible humility and spiritual strength can bear. Lesser men would be tempted by the power of the Papacy, while weaker men would be crushed by the weight of its responsibilities.
For the Pope is responsible for the fate of millions of souls; he must be the living witness of Christ to the faithful. He must hold to the teachings of the faith unwaveringly, no matter how unpopular or "irrelevant" they may seem. He is charged with guiding Christ’s Church through any storm She faces.
And the Bark of Peter is sailing into troubled waters. The world is swiftly repudiating morality and embracing relativism and hedonism. A soft persecution is brewing in America and Europe. The times will require a prudent and firm pontiff at the helm of the Bark of Peter.
Is it any wonder that the holiest of men beg to be spared election, that the lonely room where Popes first don  Papal clothing is known as the Room of Tears? New Popes, more than anyone, know the jeweled weight of their office.
The cardinals are wise (much wiser than many give them credit for), and have chosen by all accounts a worthy man to guide the Catholic Church into the future. Pope Francis now bears the cross of leadership of Christ's Church, as 264 men have done before him. May he bear it well.

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