No doubt all of you have heard the news that took the world by storm this afternoon. A day after the commencement of the conclave, the princes of the Church have given us a new shepherd, Pope Francis, to lead us in the footsteps of St. Peter.
I was in the midst of Skyping with my mom when I spotted smoke from the corner of my eye. Just less than an hour earlier I had dedicated a small corner of my screen to a live video feed of the chimney “just in case” although I wasn’t certain what time the voting would happen this evening. What providence! It first looked gray and then turned into puffs of white, beautiful white smoke! My poor mother…I yelped and turned to my husband at the other end of the room and basically yelled, “It’s white!!! White smoke!!!”
Within seconds we got the word out to cyberspace via Twitter and Facebook, text messages and email. Between the hubby and me we had four different monitors broadcasting several live coverages and waited anxiously and joyously for the official announcement. That came just shy of an hour later. It was simultaneously both the shortest and longest hour I have experienced in quite some time. My heart leapt with every rustle behind the white curtains and only thumped faster as the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s square began to cheer. At first we were confused…George who? He took on the name Francis! But where is he from? Could it be Cardinal George of Chicago?! Then we heard his name announced and saw his face for the first time, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina! He was a man we hardly knew and yet he won our hearts in the brief moments that followed.
These were the Pope Francis’ first words. I posted this on my Facebook wall, but I’ll share it here again:
“Brothers and sisters good evening.
You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.
First of all I would say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI.. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him.
Glory to the Father…
And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.
And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favour. Before the bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.
[The Protodeacon announced that all those who received the blessing, either in person or by radio, television or by the new means of communication receive the plenary indulgence in the form established by the Church. He prayed that Almighty God protect and guard the Pope so that he may lead the Church for many years to come, and that he would grant peace to the Church throughout the world.]
[Immediately afterwards Pope Francis gave his first blessing Urbi et Orbi – To the City and to the World.]
I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.
Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon.
We will see one another soon.
Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.
Good night and sleep well!”
Brendon translated for me as the translator on Fox News was rather terrible (I always beam with wifely pride whenever we’re in a situation that utilizes his fluent polyglotism). We bowed our heads in prayer as St. Peter’s Square hushed with silence as we answered our new pope’s first request. Then we knelt as he imparted his first papal blessing. It is times like these I am so grateful for global communication which allowed us to be part of this historical and momentous event in real time, from our lowly home in PEI. Plus we were able to get the extra bonus: plenary indulgences. Score!
In time we will become more acquainted with our new Holy Father, but in the meantime you can read up on the: “9 things you should know about Pope Francis”. We may not know much about the details of his life or his writings, but one thing’s for sure: this man is a humble one.
As my friend, Paul J. Kim, so eloquently put it: “This is our new Pope Francis, who as a Cardinal of Argentina, took the bus to work, cooked his own meals, stood up to a murderous dictatorship, and saw Christ beyond the veil of poverty and sickness. I believe that the devil is crapping his pants now, because humility is something he can’t digest. viva il Papa! I pledge to you my prayers, love and obedience!”
The picture above is from his visit to a hospice in 2001, when he washed and kissed the feet of 12 Aids patients. This is a man who isn’t afraid to practice what he preaches.
His first tweet as pope was: “It might be the sin of humility when I say that I’m simply God’s representative on Earth just as God is mine in Heaven.”
I thank God for being so good and faithful to us today. He always takes care of his Church better than what our little minds can comprehend. Why wouldn’t he? She is his bride after all, and there’s no question he’s the best groom out there (sorry, Hubby!). I stumbled on this video and couldn’t help sharing it as it is so appropriate for today. I sang this with a group of consecrated years back…see if you can pick up my voice!
Love and prayers! Joy and thanksgiving! Let us pray for our Pope Francis as we begin this new chapter.
Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours!