Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vale, Pater Sanctissime

I made sure I sat up on Sunday night to watch the Pope's last Angelus address live. (When actually in Rome, I never made it to the Angelus, since the High Mass at Santissima Trinità clashed.) As I type, I have the Pope's last General Audience – held in St Peter's square – streaming live (he spoke in English just a little earlier); at least I did go to one of those when in Rome, though it was held indoors. Indeed, I was also able to attend one of his public Masses, including his consecration of three bishops at St Peter's; I recall being in the vast congregation close to the statue of St Philip Neri, seeing him at the high altar, celebrating the Divine Mysteries...

Having watched the Angelus, I replayed footage of the 2005 Habemus Papam announcement, and His Holiness' first appearance on the loggia, to impart the Papal Blessing Urbi et Orbi. How happy I was eight years ago, being awoken to the joyful news of his election at 3 am, and rushing to the chapel to say a glad Te Deum!  Where have the years gone?  "Time, like an ever rolling stream, / Bears all its sons away..." – having reviewed what then came to pass, I felt quite sad to be at the end of his pontificate, whose outset was such a marvel.

What a dear Pope, and how much I shall miss him! I do wish somehow, impossibly, that he decides not to abdicate after all – but, whatever I may think, he is Pope, and he is judged of none; and his acts as the Vicar of Christ are those of the Lord's Plenipotentiary on earth, effective non autem consensu Ecclesiæ.  Indeed, Roma locuta est, causa finita est.

My cat has just arrived on my lap, and how fitting that she may soon receive the Papal Blessing via television as I will; after all, the Pope loves cats, and (as St Bernard wrote) "Love me, love my dog"! – she mustn't have liked that last phrase, fickle creature, for she's gone off purring elsewhere...

The good Pope, having spoken at length in Italian, and then more briefly (in response to respectful addresses of successive prelates) in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, now gives his last paternal greetings in Croatian... in Czech... in Slovak... in Romanian... again he is addressed and then speaks in Italian...

I sing along with the plainchant Pater noster, chant reply to the versicles Sit nomen Domini and Adjutorium nostrum, and kneel to receive – as I am taught is truly imparted even via audiovisual transmissions – the Apostolic Blessing.

Most Holy Father, may God reward and keep you ad multos annos, ad vitam æternam. Amen.

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