When I was a kid, I went to Catholic School. The early years of my education was in Canada’s Arctic I was instructed by Nuns who floated around the school as if they didn’t have feet but roller skates instead. When we moved back to Edmonton, my Catholic education was at the hands of a kid named Rolland. Sure I went to a Catholic School, but I only remember the lessons he taught in the school yard.
Roland was the type of person who would only know a small bit of information, add it to what he thought was true and gave examples to prove his street cred. It worked, we all believed everything that came out of his mouth. He was charismatic. Every grade three kid knew he was THE authority on all things from the Prime Minister of Canada being married to Queen Elizabeth II to when the last Pope dies the world will end.
This morning when I heard that Pope Benedict decided to retire, my first thought was, DUDE you are suppose to die as the pope. But then I remembered what Roland prophesied and was thankful The Pope decided to step down, because here is why…
We were sitting around our desks at lunch, we had just came back from getting our milk and cracked open our tin lunch boxes. Mine was the Flintstones and Roland had the Mystery Machine. We were talking, as grade 3 kids do, about the world ending. It was 1975 and I was 8. Vietnam and Watergate were being talked about at home and I didn’t really know what this meant, so I asked Roland. He watched the news and read the Edmonton Journal. He took a sip of his chocolate milk – right from the cardboard container, looked thoughtfully for a moment and said, “This is God’s way of telling us to get ready for the End of the World.”
I was shocked, and scared, of COURSE I believed him. He knew everything true.
So I asked him when that was going to be. “Apparently, there are 4 Popes left to die. When the 4th one kicks the bucket and THAT will be it.” He was so calm while saying this.
I had just seen a movie about finding Noah’s Ark and the end of that movie showed the earth burning up in a fiery ball of orange and red. That movie was a documentary of how they discovered Noah’s Ark and of course it was true. It was a documentary. So now I had the image of the Apocalypse in my head. Every movie in the 70’s was about death and destruction. So now I had proof. Roland said it would happen.
Fast forward to 1978. Pope John VI dies. Up until that moment, he was the only Pope I ever knew. My life was a series of constants, Pierre Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada for my entire life (Pearson didn’t count, I wasn’t even 1 yet when he left office.), Queen Elizabeth II – the only Queen in my life time (and still hanging on! Go Bessie!), Kermit the Frog was still the front man for Sesame Street and started his own variety show. Obviously my life was shattered when Pope John VI died. It was also very interesting. I learned about how the Cardinals of Rome locked themselves in a room with a fireplace and picked the next infallible guy through divine intervention. They sent coloured smoke up the chimney to let everyone know how the progress was coming. Apparently there was some smoke signal language that I didn’t know because I was taught at the hands of Tonto from the Lone Ranger, and he could read it like it was words. Pope smoke was different.
Then Pope John Paul was picked! Be celebrations took place in Rome, there was special a mass said at our Parish. and life was great for a month. Then he died. This was when I started to get nervous. Roland said 4 more deaths. YIKES 2 down and 2 to go. Luckily the Cardinals picked a healthy dude, Pope John Paul II and he seemed like a nice guy too.
Pope John Paul II was a good guy. people liked him, he was big on kindness and he went touring in the Pope Mobile. That was kind of cool, he even came to Edmonton. I didn’t go because, I’m not sure why other than I think I was out of town, but the souvenirs were cool, like Pope Soap on a Rope. He lasted a really long time and Roland moved away and I didn’t think about the world ending until the Iran hostage crisis. But the Canadians saved them and the Pope didn’t die so all was safe in the world. Even when Desert Storm happened and 9/11 I knew the world was a lock because Pope John Paul II was still going strong.
How could you not like a guy who goofs around?
In 2005 he died. He was number 3. I thought about Roland for the first time since I was 9. When Pope Benedict was elected/chosen/ divinely inspired, and I realized he was the oldest pope in a very long time. I knew he wouldn’t be long for this world at 78, his healthiest years were behind him. Knowing priests on a personal level for years, I knew their diets were less than healthy. I now thought about the end of the world in real time.
Other Apocalypse predictions came and went. I thought it would be funny if the Mayan calendar considered with the passing of Pope Benedict, but that was not to be. Then news came this morning about how he is too frail to sit as Pope anymore, and he had prayed on this decision with God for a while before deciding to step down on the 28th of February. My thoughts went back to Roland. If the Pope dies before February 28th then that’s it. World over, good night nurse! But if he steps down and the new Pope is elected by Easter (March 31) we have bought ourselves some time.
According to Wikipedia (reliable? no because it is a wiki meaning anyone can change info. Don’t use Wikipedia as a source in your University papers kids!) the next Pope will be Peter
In ꝑsecutione extrema S.R.E. ſedebit. In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit. Petrus Romanus, qui paſcet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus tranſactis ciuitas ſepticollis diruetur, & Iudex tremẽdus iudicabit populum ſuum. Finis. 268 112 Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end. Unknown Unknown
So not only will Rome fall (do the Romans know they are just Italians now? Do they know they aren’t in charge anymore?) But the church will cease to exist. The next Pope will be the last Pope. I am not sure the world will end, but it will get interesting. It’s funny how I think of Roland in times like this. Part of me hopes he was a great Prophet. How cool would it be to tell my grandkids that I had lunch with the Great Prophet Roland? I could sell t-shirts and start a social media champagne Perhaps sell Roland soap on a rope too.
Interesting times indeed…