The days will come when the Bridegroom is taken away from them. (Matthew 9:15)
Now, we Christians do not mourn at the great wedding feast to which we have been invited–and which we are attending, thank God—the feast of salvation and eternal life. The great Bridegroom of the world has already undergone His brief sojourn away from us; He has already travelled through the valley of death. And now He has risen again, to be with us forever. We need never fear that we will have to face anything without Him. Rather, we confidently greet every day and its evils with the joy of God’s beloved children.
But I think we could be forgiven for thinking that these words of Scripture have been fulfilled in us a little bit this week.
Every priest, of course, stands in the place of Christ the Bridegroom and makes Him visible on earth. But the Pope stands in the Lord’s place in an utterly unique way.
There is only one Christ and Savior; there is only one Church; there is only one Pope. These three “only one”’s go together; they cannot be separated from each other. The Lord founded His Church and made St. Peter His earthly Vicar to rule it. Just like all would of course not be right with the world if there were no Christ, and all would not be right with the world if there were no holy, catholic, and apostolic Church—in the same way, all is not right with the world on those rare days when there is no Pope.
We face the imminent prospect of such days. And I daresay that having two-weeks’ notice that such days are coming does not make this any easier. Quite the contrary. Speaking solely for myself, I will say that having to live through the death and burial of the man I have most admired in this life, Pope John Paul II, was immeasurably easier to deal with than this lame-duck session of the Papacy we are dealing with now.
But, anyway… We can, I think, mourn like the sad wedding guests of which our Lord spoke. Let’s offer it up. We mourn because we love, and we pray that this penance, which we did not choose, will win special graces for Pope Benedict and for his successor.
We mourn like Christians. We know that God will comfort us. We will have a new Pope before we know it.
And, in truth, before we know it, we will all be dead, and such earthly affairs will not directly concern us. Whether we get to retire before death or not, we will all be dead very soon–very soon as far as the grand scheme of things goes. Then, please God, we will get to heaven. And the Church, and Her Shepherds, and Her faithful, and Christ, will all be perfectly one.