When I saw the news of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's death, my immediate response was "of course." The timing seems to align with the passage of so many other things. A lot of the color and goodness has left the world of late, and the darkness that had long lurked in the corners now seems to be moving to the center of the room.
I am not one of those Catholics who insisted that Benedict never resigned his holy office and that Francis was an antipope. In retrospect, it is clear that Benedict knew that the corruption within the Church was beyond his ability to remove, and that having done what he could to make necessary corrections in doctrine (especially in the English language version of the Mass), he selflessly stepped aside. I think he saw the damage of having a weakened Pontiff at the head of the Church and did not want to repeat what he regarded as Pope St. John Paul II's mistake.
I'm not normally one for year-end roundups or New Year's resolutions. I think more in terms of seasonal cycles rather than calendar changes, perhaps a legacy of my school days, where the end of the school year (which coincided with my birthday) was when I paused to reflect and also look ahead.
Still, the end of 2022 now has additional significance. The coming year will have no "shadow pope" to clutter Catholic discussions. On a personal level, my youngest child will complete high school in the spring, ending that particular era for our family. I will enter the new year as a civilian, which is another change I am still adjusting to.
And yes, I will also publish Walls of Men, a project that I thought to complete over the holidays. That was my original plan, but I instead took the time to visit with friends and family, do some light reorganization, and above all, get some rest.
It seems appropriate to remember Benedict at the vigil Mass today and I will be one of many to do so. Rest in peace.