That is the selfish thought that circulates in my head. But it is so much bigger than that. This is a bigger deal for the cardinals, for the next Pope-to-be, for priests and bishops ordained under him, for the Mass ["with ____ our Pope"], for all Catholics, for the entire Church. Even for history, though the last thing I want is for this to turn into an obscure trivia card item.
Even with the big picture in mind, I still selfishly think, "I'll not even be Confirmed while he's Pope. Will I be Confirmed with any Pope at all?" (Signs point to "yes, quite possibly," since Benedict released a Motu Proprio, allowing for an earlier start of the conclave if all Cardinal Electors are present; this would cut down the 15-day delay that is usually had between losing and voting on Popes, since there have already been two weeks to prepare for the loss of Pope Benedict.) There is a great feeling of loss, but I can't figure out quite what to compare it to. It isn't as if he's died, it is not that severe. It's almost like he's been lost, as ridiculous as that sounds. It's like we can't find him, but it doesn't seem real, because wasn't he just playing in the back yard a moment ago?
Even an image of his signature is getting me all choked up. On this, His Holiness's last full day, I remember the reading from Joel at the beginning of Lent:
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment....
Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.
Even within Lent we have this new discovery of suffering, of mourning our Holy Father. We have uncertainty, even despair, as the apostles did at Jesus' death. We have wept and mourned, but we have prayed. We should continue to fast and pray for the intentions of our Holy Father, for his peaceful retirement, for the cardinals, for the next Pope, for the entire Church. Because what we have that the apostles also had when the sun came is hope. Just as we look to the dawn of Easter we should also look to the announcement of the next Pope.
Right now I want to weep and mourn. I want to desperately miss my beloved Papa. I should also trust the Holy Spirit when the conclave begins. I should have a hopeful outlook toward the future of the Church. And I do. But right now, I have some twenty-six hours to send all my love to the Pope. I have several days to fast and pray for the transition and the vote. These will occupy my body and my mind.