Holy Father Benedict XVI announced Monday his resignation of the Chair of St. Peter. He came to this decision “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God…”(Declaratio 11/2/13). These words and his decision making process should have us all pause and reflect. His Holiness has his heart and soul always on the will of God. He is a man with prayer constantly on his lips. This lends itself to lucid insight to discern more clearly what the Lord is saying. I was drawn to what Benedict said during his inaugural homily back in 2005, “My real programme of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history”(Mass of the inauguration of the pontificate, 24/4/2005)
Whereas his announcement certainly takes us by surprise, we can also, if we pay close enough attention, see the Holy Spirit at work — in the Church and in us. What role does discernment take in our daily lives? It is important to listen to the silence in between the noise to hear His voice. Perhaps one of the important lessons we can gain from his announcement is a lesson on how to live; not only in practicing examens of conscience to discern God’s will, but also having the courage to follow them.