I’ve gotten a couple score emails today already about the fact that there was a minor earthquake centered near Castel Gandolfo, where Benedict is now resting. It must mean something, right?!?
Hey! Earthquakes happen around Rome. Always have, and always will until the Lord returns.
I am not one to chase after portents and omens and the like.
And yet… we can consider for a minutes the case of Benedict XVI. Let’s some some of this out of our systems.
Benedict took his papal name from St. Benedict of Nursia. Some time ago I wrote about the Raven at Pope Benedict’s “inaugural Mass”. Portentous, but… Hey! Birds happen! Sometimes they even fly around.
On the day Benedict announces his resignation, the Dome of St. Peter’s is struck by lightning. Hey! Lightning happens, especially when St. Peter’s is the tallest structure around.
Another score or so people – or mayhaps the same score or so – have asked me about the St. Malachy list “prophecy”. Scary, right? I wrote about that HERE, trying to head it off before things got strange. Hey! Strange happens. And if you can really understand all those cryptic phrases, good for you. Write a book.
Then there is the architectural omen at St. Paul’s outside-the-walls. Around the interior of the basilica there are round, mosaic portraits of all the popes. Some say there is room for only one more after Benedict. Ooooo. The idea was that the last spot marks the last Pope… eh-vurrr. Hey! I think there are more slots available. It’s a big basilica. And, so they run out of room. So?
Something that does make me think a little, however, has to do with the Third Secret of Fatima, the last part of which was revealed just a few years ago (or at least the part of the last part… but I digress). Sr. Lucy’s vision, as released, read (as sent to me lately by lots of people):
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ [It could be a reference to the Pauline image of seeing through a glass, "darkly". Some might be tempted to think of an image on a television screen or monitor.] a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. [Benedict is now just a "bishop dressed in white".] Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, [Granting that it was the 2nd Sunday of Lent and the Gospel was the Transfiguration, in his final Angelus address Pope Benedict said" "I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to "climb the mountain", to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation."] at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins [The papal gardens at Castel Gandolfo contain Roman ruins from the time of Diocletain.] and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; [...]
Maybe this will whip some of you into a fever, but I find this a little more interesting than the mosaics and the lightning and the cryptic phrases. Frankly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised were another part of the third secret locked away that explains the vision. That would be consistent with the pattern: visions followed by explanations. But Card. Ratzinger himself gave an explanation of it when it was released. In the absence of another, contrary explanation, from someone high up than the contemporary Prefect of the CDF, I guess we have to just calm down.
Look. We can multiply imagined omens and portents and get worked up about them.
The only thing that is truly important is being prepared for your own judgment in the hic et nunc… the here and now.
- Go to confession
- Do penance
- Perform works of mercy
- Love God and neighbor
- Use sacramentals prudently and often
- Receive the Sacraments properly
If you do these things, there is nothing to fear, whether the next Pope is the last or not.
Now we have considered these things and we calm down.