I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.
Today is a historic moment for the Church. At 8 PM, Roman time, Peter's seat goes empty. Only a few times in 2000 years has a pope willingly abdicated the seat of Peter. This period is known as sede vacante, the vacant seat. (Not to be confused with the sedevacantists who are a schismatic group of ex-Catholics who believe that the Catholic Church no longer has valid popes.) It's a strange and unsettling feeling knowing that the papacy is empty, yet in reality we can be assured that Christ is the head of the Church and would not forsake his bride that he has loved and given all for. The promise of Jesus to Peter that he would build his Church on him (not his confession, which even Protestant theologians now agree) still stands today. The gates of hell have not prevailed, despite corruption, sin and the "smoke of Satan" at times entering the Church. The Church continues to proclaim the same gospel as preached by Jesus almost 2000 years ago and will continue until this present age is over.
The world has been buzzing with what this is going to mean for the Church. Some hope for a new pope that will ordain women and bless homosexual unions and change the Church to better fit the "modern times." Regardless of who next occupies the seat of Peter (liberal or conservative), we know by Christ's promise that the Church will continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit and will not change its position on issues of faith and morals.
We will miss our Pope Benedict but rest in the assurance of Christ's hand steadying the barque of Peter, even in the most turbulent seas. Pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict and the cardinals who choose the next successor of Saint Peter.