Despite the fact that he had written about the possibility more than once, somehow it hadn't seemed immiment although I had not been following most recent papal photos or watching videos of his public appearances. Weighty public office, including the Petrine ministry exacts a toll on those who hold it and photographers often note the appearance of gray hair and wrinkles or "worry lines" on presidents and popes alike.
In my view, the pope's resignation is just one of many courageous and prayerful actions he has taken for the good of the church and mirrors his prayerful and courageous acceptance of the ministry eight years ago.
Inevitably we are now being treated to insta-nalysis of his entire pontificate, of his place in history, of his effectiveness as a spiritual and temporal leader just as if he has already died.
One of his most enduring gifts to the church will surely be the Latin Mass. Only this morning the parish staff and I were discussing the challenges in equipping our small chapel for worship during the renovation of the much larger church. Latin mass last evening was packed with parishioners and non-parishioners of all ages, including several families with small children. The fruits of this gift to the church will only be apparent many years from now - the ecclesiatical pundits should be prudent in their sweeping assessments of this deeply spiritual man's influence on the church.