By Anna Weldon , April 2005

As I looked after my grand-daughter Ariane, not yet three years old, I noticed how tenderly I was doing the ordinary things, like smoothing freshly laundered sheets on her bed. (It was this that sent me to the dictionary to look up TEND: the way routine became an act of love).

I had just finished Matthew Fox's 'The Coming of the Cosmic Christ' which concludes with his dream of Opus Dei dismissed and replaced by a congregation of grandmothers. Now, I suddenly see what Fox is getting at! Grandmothering often seems very slow work, with much paying attention to, adoring of, presence with, holding and feeding of lambs, listening and getting to know the Beloved. It's protective of sacred new and vulnerable life while at the same time, my own heart has never felt more open or vulnerable. It's shaping and it shapes, with much reciprocal intuition and trust. Above all it is relational, and it is not an exclusive dyad: as I saw with Ari at yesterday's Elders Morning Tea, the joy of a child is a powerful disinhibitor of those imaginary barriers which separate us from each other.

And so I pray Benedetto XVI may fulfil Fox's dream and become a grandmother to the Church of Rome! 

 

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The new Pope is named for Benedict and is being hailed as highly cultured. He's also a gifted musician who has been critical of the 'banality' of much contemporary RC worship "inadequate to the Mystery we celebrate."

When I heard this, there was a little leap in my heart as I remembered the gardener monk of the Benedictine Monastery in Charlotte Wood's The Submerged Cathedral. He kept by him a stone, on which was engraved the Latin word COLO, which means both Worship and Cultivate, and from which the word CULTURE comes.

For all the aspects of St Paul 's which speak to me of such a culture, alive and thriving in our midst, Lord I am truly grateful. I am grateful that I/we are not still waiting for the Pope to bring into being what You have already given. And Lord, whenever I forget that, may someone near to me remind me.

 

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I find the most poignant comments those which suggest, with real longing, that Ratzinger, formerly dubbed God's Rottweiler in his role as protector of doctrinal orthodoxy, will be reborn as Benedict XVI and his new pastoral role reveal him as a man of innate gentleness, frendliness and charm. A Good Shepherd.

Sunday's sermon images of the sacred and profane, of SHEPHERDING as it was at the time of the Scriptures, especially the notion of TENDING sheep vs today's images of growing sheep for gain, suffocating them by building on their backs, exporting them live etc., all lingered with me this week.

I went to the dictionary and looked up TEND and TENDER; TEND as in move, be directed. I found references to the shelter of TENT, to the reciprocity and sense of service in TENDER (small vessel attending larger one, going between ship and shore; to offer work).  Noted the use of TENDER as in vulnerable, easily hurt or wounded, susceptible to pain or grief. Moved on to ATTEND with its connotations of patience and waiting; ATTENTION as in awareness. Was surprised to realise TENDRIL "one of slender leafless shoots by which some climbing plants cling" took me back to the metaphor of the True Vine.

And I am still contemplating "to TENDE-RISE (meat) by beating", with reference to the earlier thread about Evil and Judas' disillusionment with Jesus ... his disappointment at the Good Shepherd's vulnerability...

 

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... commentators are excited about the Papal style they believe Josef Ratzinger's chosen name heralds: Benedict's theology was centred in Listening and Hospitality. While Italian commentators on RAI are claiming the choice of the name Benedict - one of Europe's patron saints - is a victory for the Christian heritage of Europe, so snubbed by the European Union's refusal to give it formal status, others, including Australia's Bishop Mark Coleridge (Radio Nation The Religion Report) and Fr Tony Doherty (Ch. 9 or 7 - I lost track!) think the name signifies the new Pope's intention to be his own man (i.e. not John Paul III).

Bendict XV, who held the papacy in WW1, sought desperately to bring peace and reconciliation, say those commentators who see the choice of name as an indication of the new Pope's desire to fulfil the Papacy's role as the Great Bridge-builder.

Clearly this is all speculation - from the Italian word specchio, meaning mirror. Smoke and mirrors, continued!