We have a Pope! Habemus Papam!
I don’t know about you, but these words fill my heart with joy! And this pope in particular—WOW! Thanks be to God! I am already deeply in love with this dear Papa of ours. And so are a lot of people.
What makes this man so special? What is it about him that fills me with glee and hope and excitement for the future of the Church? I mean, I have loved our previous popes, and knew them to be our Vicars of Christ on earth, but this dear man seems different. Is it just me? Or does this man, in his uncommon humility and service, exemplify the Jesus we know in the gospels? Our hearts respond to him, because he is already bringing Jesus to us in his powerful example, with barely a word. And it is not that other popes have not also done this, but there is just something different. Can you feel it?
I was soooo happy that Pope Francis was not one of the ‘Vegas picks,’ so to speak. Watching TV—even EWTN—made the conclave seem like the ‘sausage making’ they talked about last year in Congress. I hated to watch it, and often turned down the sound, waiting for the smoke. The pundits, and even some of the priests, made the conclave seem like politics and factions and decisions based on the notions of men. Barely a scintilla of what I heard actually mentioned the Holy Spirit being responsible for the choice and directing the hearts of the cardinals to pick the man that heaven itself had in mind. Seeing a cardinal (who was unknown to most of the world), walk out on to the balcony, made me feel that this decision came from the hearts of men in tune with the Holy Spirit, and not voting with their own agendas in mind. And THEN, when he made that deep bow, asking the blessing of God by the prayers of the people, and all fell silent, I could not help but pray and cry in thanksgiving for this humble, beautiful Shepherd. My friends, we are BLESSED.
Once Pope Francis left the balcony, I watched ABC news and EWTN simultaneously, waiting to learn more about our new Holy Father. But having my weekly prayer group meeting that night with 3 of my dearest friends, I decided that I would bake a cake to celebrate the occasion instead. Since I could not help but sing and pray, I ran around the house doing just that, while assembling the ingredients, and decorating the cake with, Habemus Papam! I was thrilled when my friends showed up, and everyone had the same idea. Our simple weekly prayer group turned into a spontaneous celebration, with lasagna, pear gorgonzola salad, crusty bread, éclairs, chocolate covered strawberries, wine, champagne and Pope cake! All this for the love of just 4 ‘Jesus, Mary and Pope-lovin’ girls!’ I love bein’Catholic!
Something is changing. The Spirit is moving dramatically in the world. Several of us felt a strong urge to pray for the conclave during the hour before the white smoke appeared. I have no doubt that there were many around the world who heard this same call. It was not the average passing thought of, “I should pray for’ this or that, but a strong urge to pray deeply, right then and there, for the conclave. It is interesting to note, that there were cardinals who said before the conclave, that these are ‘dangerous times.’ And if I have learned anything in my life, especially by studying and praying the Gospels, the best attribute to have during dangerous times is not brute strength, but quite the opposite---authentic humility. Jesus had it. Mary had it. Mother Teresa had it. And their lives in Christ changed the world.
Pope Francis is the chosen Shepherd for this time in history. He is alter Christus. I have no doubt that his life in Jesus, through Mary, will bring great grace and blessing to the Church. Let us make it our commitment to pray more than ever for this dear pope of ours. Viva il Papa!