With the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, this image was being shown on the ABC Special Reports.
What struck me most, aside from the announcement itself, was the chalice the Pope was raising.
While there are many stories of the Holy Grail and the Catholic Encyclopedia treats the subject most comprehensively here, Robert Johnson’s book He: Understanding Masculine Psychology describes how the quest for it explains what men, including the Pope, are finally after in pursuing it. Some recent documentaries even suggest that Adolf Hitler sought it in his own quest for ultimate power. In the movies, of course, we have the fictional version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
So symbolically it may seem to many that Pope Benedict XVI is giving up the most powerful position in the world and thus limiting, perhaps, his access to the Holy Grail.
“Why?” they surely are asking.
Let us listen with our whole mind, heart, soul and spirit to what the Pope says:
“”After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry …I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.”
My sense, from afar, is that our Pope does not see the Holy Grail as just a material object to be sought after. Nor does he see it as a source of power to be wielded in the real politics of the world like a Hitler might have wanted to, thinking it had magical powers. Rather, our Pope recognizes the realities of his older age, remembers how his predecessor Pope John Paul II endured his last years, while still governing the Church, and now, with God’s help, wants to do something just as important at the end of his life. What?
Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI wants now to serve us with his example of how to more fully become in ourselves the Holy Grail so that, especially in our last years, we will want to be more personally the vessel to hold the Body and Blood of Christ until we pour it out completely in the most loving ways our God calls each of us to do.
Long live, Pope Benedict XVI!