Saturday 7 January 2023

Pope Benedict XVI - A man in a modern-day pyramid

As man is storied

Pope Benedict XVI was a man that represented the frailty of our humanity, for all flesh shall perish. That is nature as it has been from long before we recorded history I note that Roman Catholic Church is the longest continuously running political and religious organisation, what she documents in her archives, some unsearchable of the mysteries of our human race would intrigue those who eventually have liberal access to those libraries.

When Pope Benedict XVI took the papacy at the end of the long reign of Pope John Paul II, much as he was highly influential as the Dean of the College of Cardinal and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was also an old man of 78 and for almost 8 years he bore the burden of his ministry with the strength he could muster and the weaknesses that plagued him in the many domains where he wielded influence from within himself to the broader church and global political organisation he led.

As man is frail

When he decided he could no do more, he resigned from the papacy and took on the title of Pope Emeritus sequestering himself at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens as Pope Francis succeeded him at the age of 76 and he presided over the solemn funeral mass of his predecessor, also now a frail man of 86 years of age.

Of men of advanced years, there was every possibility that the current pope could predecease the man he succeeded, my cultural heritage of the Yoruba celebrates the lives of people who live to a great old age at death, even as congratulations are offered to those who survived them. Our mortality is ever present in the course of our existence.

The concerns that a pope in retirement would inadvertently interfere with the organisation of his successor were not borne out. Pope Benedict XVI devoted himself to writing, studying, and prayer with the occasional snippets of news about him, what he was up to and his health condition.

As man is mortal

In his death, at the age of 95 on New Year’s Eve into 2023, there became how to celebrate a cardinal and a pope, as he was not the Sovereign of the Vatican City, apart from officials attending from Italy where the Vatican is situated and Germany, where he was from, any other country representatives would have attended in a personal capacity.

For the wealth and influence of the man and his standing, along with the offices he held, “As per tradition, the Pope Emeritus' pallium, coins and medals minted during his pontificate, as well as a "Rogito" or Deed summarizing the highlights of his papacy, were also placed inside the casket. He was buried in a triple coffin of caskets of cypress wood, zinc, and oak. [Vatican News: Deed of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI placed in casket]

As man is mummified

The zinc casket is welded shut with seals and a plaque, but for the man who ruled over men, they see no corruption for they neither return to dust nor are given to ashes, they become mummies of posterity, an eternal reliquary of bones with hair and leathered skin.

It makes one wonder if the crypts of royalty or the papacy very much like the pyramids of the Pharaohs might be discovered millennia from the present time will reveal to that civilisation once again the treasures of antiquity exemplified in the lives of significant persons of our times only for them to be plundered in the name of archaeology for the new museums that as human beings we visit to gawp at artefacts with intrigue.

As I watch a replay of the funeral Mass, the solemnity with the obscurity of Latin clouds the ceremony with mystery and awe. Pope Francis was wheeled in on the chair, and we all at another funeral find that moment to reflect that the times of man are just for a season. The celebration of our lives is informed by how we lived and for all that we might have done, our stories are buried in a summary and our graves have the briefest of inscriptions; our names, the year of our coming and the year of our passing.

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As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:15-16 (NKJV)

1 comment:

How to Write and Apology Letter said...

The scripture from Psalm is touching my heart. Thank you

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