Pope Benedict XVI will resign today at 7pm Irish time. When he made the announcement in Latin at a canonisation ceremony in the Consistory Hall on Monday 11th February the Vatican reported that he took his aides by “surprise”. For the 85-year-oldPontiff it was a personal decision. Many world leaders were shocked but respected his decision.
His decision didn’t shock me at all. It just made him more human! He is to be admired in the first instance for having taken on such a responsibility but it is be expected that one will not have the same strength at eight five as one would have at fifty five, unless of course you’re my Da! He has no intention of retiring and he is 91 in October.
Okay, he’s not running the Catholic Church but he is running a farm and if you ever saw The Field (minus Bull McCabe’s temper) you will have some idea what Dad’s farm means to him.
I know I have made reference to my Dad’s age before but I can’t help myself. I guess it is something to do with how proud I am of a man who made and stuck by the personal decisions he made all his life and his wasn’t an easy life! It was fraught with hard work.
Thankfully, Dad has been blessed with good health. He has never drank nor smoked and is not one for running to a doctor. He has his own ‘alternative’ medicine for ailments and along with his faith, his love for nature and his beloved farm his way of life has kept him strong.
I remember coming home from college one Friday evening, long after Dad had passed the official age of retirement, to find my father ‘down below’ on the farm. This was not unusual. Dad spent more time outside than inside but this particular evening it was wet and cold. When he came in I told him he should be sitting in a chair by the fire. He turned to me as swift as thought itself and said “The day you come home and I’m sitting in a chair will be the day I will be done.” I have never told my father to sit in a chair since and I never will again. He taught me a lesson. He was big enough and strong enough to make his own decisions.
That’s the thing about personal decisions. No one has to like them. Your family may not agree with them, your friends may think you are completely bonkers but the best decisions you can make for yourself are personal ones that are born out of your own heart that consider your own health and happiness.
It has been reported that Pope Benedict made his decision without any outside input. During his announcement he made reference to his health and expressed concerns about his deteriorating strength. No doubt his aging body has forced him to make a decision to retire whether he wanted to or not—a decision my father will never make. However his aging bones are also forcing him to make new decisions like taking more time to rest and staying in and keeping warm. The important thing is no one is telling him too. He is still making his own decisions. This time he is listening to his body. Retirement for him has not been a personal decision, more like a process of letting go. Letting go is never easy at any age but hopefully Pope Benedict’s personal decision and my Dad’s ‘letting go’ will power up some peace of mind.