In These Final Days

This morning at Mass I heard the celebrant utter, for the last time that I will hear, the prayer “for Benedict our Pope.” In roughly forty-eight hours the 265th Pontificate will come to a scheduled end, something barely thinkable until Benedict XVI announced his resignation a few weeks ago.

I repeatedly think back to the emotions I felt in April 2005, when the new Bishop of Rome emerged from the conclave:

Habemus papam!

How excited I was to hear those words! I held my infant son in my arms, standing excitedly before the television, watching that upper window with the rest of the world to see who would emerge as the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. I caught myself on the verge of sobbing several times, so intense was the anticipation. And when Benedict XVI finally emerged into view I dropped to my knees in my living room, trembling with religious excitement.

And now my son is an infant no longer, in either the colloquial or the canonical sense of the word, and a new conclave will begin next month. In the years of this papacy I have gone from being a sullen seminary refugee, attending Sunday Mass each week out of a deep-rooted sense of obligation and little more, to a licensed canonist fresh out of graduate school, working full time for the Church directing two diocesan offices. Hard to imagine a much more dramatic move from fringe to core than I have traversed these past few years in the Church.

And will I drop to my knees when the next Pope is revealed? I don’t know, probably not: my knees aren’t getting any younger, and I have a lot of steps and hills to climb these days. But I will certainly be prayerfully excited, and ready to continue my journey, in the Church and with the Church, toward our shared goal of life everlasting.

Timely vs. Thoughtful

As someone who has a blog – and who therefore aspires to the title of “blogger” – probably the greatest pressure I feel is the pressure to be timely. A news item relevant to my scope of interest pops up, I read it carefully and type up a brief (or not so brief) reaction-response, and click “Publish” – that is how blogging is supposed to work, right?

I don’t know, actually. First off, I am immediately suspicion of any inkling that an activity is supposed to be carried out in a certain manner. Not that I fancy myself a great non-conformist by any stretch, nor that I think we should question everything, mistrustful of any pretense of received wisdom or external authority. Far from it. But I do think we too often hamstring ourselves by locking into a convention of one sort or another, and then failing to notice that, when that convention limits us in some way, we just shrug and say, “Well, that’s the way it is.” But perhaps I digress.

Anyway, I have kept trying to work that way as a blogger, and it just has never worked for me. In a word, I think I am slow. I just do not process things quickly enough to pull off the turnaround necessary to push out a “current” post on a hot topic. Notice I say “do not” rather than “cannot” on this point. I don’t believe hat I am particularly broken or flawed in this regard. I just don’t do it. Could I? Maybe. But I am beginning to wonder if perhaps it is a mistake to keep trying. The world has plenty of speedy commentators, many of them very, very capable. I am not them.

Instead, I am me. I ponder things, usually for far too long. Sometimes, this pondering eventually crystallizes into some more-or-less cogent prose. When that happens, I post it. And when it does not, I post nothing. Rather that fight against that, I am inclined to embrace my ruminative process, and not try to hitch my words to any news cycle. Not that I won’t find inspiration in things I read about. But I just won’t feel bad that those things are no longer news in any sense by the time I write something about them. And who knows: maybe if I stop being disappointed in how slow I am writing, I’ll be more energetic and start thinking (and therefore writing) faster. It’s worth a try.