A few minutes before 5:00 Rome time (11:00 on the East Coast of the U.S.) I climbed the stairs, and with a few other Brothers, watched as the helicopter that carried Pope Benedict XVI rise from the Vatican. It passed not too far from our house as it made its way to the Papal residence at Castel Gandolfo just outside of Rome where Benedict will reside during the upcoming Conclave. Call me a "Vatican-watcher" now if you want, but it was pretty cool (only way I can describe it right now) to be living and seeing a part of history in the making.
Now, we all know that at 8:00 in Rome tonight, Pope Benedict will officially resign, creating a "sede vacante" (vacant seat) of the Chair of Peter. The fisherman's ring will be destroyed, Benedict will be known as Pope Emeritus, and the Church will not have a Pope. (Also, at this time I'm assuming that Benedict will make the switch from his red shoes to brown ones.) We also know that the Pope has decided to spend the rest of his days in an apostolate of prayer and study, eventually residing in a small "monastery" on the grounds of the Vatican Gardens. Today as he met one last time with the Cardinals, he pledged his "reverence and obedience" to the next Pope.
With the help of a few friends, I have compiled a list of suggestions for Benedict as he begins to find some extra time on his hands. Of course, I offer you these in a spirit of lightheartedness and fun.
Things that Pope Emeritus Benedict can now do since he’s retired:1) Go fishing for fish.
2) Not have to repeat everything in six languages. (But he’ll probably still keep the Latin just to surprise folks)
3) Wear a plaid flannel cassock and fuzzy slippers.
4) Feed the goldfish in the Vatican Garden fountains.
5) Won’t have to duck when going through short doorways.
6) Can finally get caught up on Downton Abbey.
7) Make the switch from Prada to Dolce & Gabbana shoes.
8) Throw a coin in the Trevi fountain after having a bit of gelato.
9) Annoy the Sisters in the monastery by saying “I’m retired, Baby” in his best Dick Vitale voice.
10) Take the Pope-Mobile out for a spin on the Autobahn.
11) Start a reality show called “Vatican Idol" which searches for the best Gregorian Chanter.
12) Enjoy La Dolce Vita