Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I'm sure that by now you've heard the news that WE HAVE A POPE!!! Oooohhhh, I had a feeling this morning that today would be the day, and it was! I also had a feeling that we may end up with a South American Pope who would return to his home region for World Youth Day this summer, and WE DID!!! Our new Papa is not Brazilian, but an Argentinian whose home diocese of Buenos Aires is not too far from Rio de Janeiro, where he will be presiding at World Youth Day this July.

So Polish Karol Wotyla became Pope John Paul II, returning to Poland months later and establishing World Youth Days during his pontificate. German Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope after the death of John Paul II, returning to Germany months later to preside over World Youth Day in Cologne.

The last 3 Popes...together!

And now Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now POPE FRANCIS, who will return to South America in a few months to preside over World Youth Day Rio! Habemus Papam Franciscum!!!

Click on the picture to read Pope Francis' opening words to the world!
I was truly in awe the first moments of this papacy. Although I'm a bit delirious from excitement and sleep deprivation, allow me to attempt to name a few notable moments:

1. The realization that our new Pope is from the Americas, a native Spanish speaker, and (as I mentioned above) going to be presiding at World Youth Day in his home continent/region in just a few months. (Also of interest -- he's a Jesuit who took a Franciscan name!)

2. The look on his face when he first saw the crowd. You could almost see his eyes taking in the magnitude of the crowd in front of him, looking at individual faces of a whole world whose eyes were all focused on his Pope.

3. His opening speech. It wasn't a speech, really. It was more of a brief, heartfelt greeting, followed by a time of public prayer, first for Pope Benedict XVI, and then for himself. He asked the crowd, and the whole watching world, to please pray for him and to bless him before he gave his first Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing to us. 

4. While his address was brief, he mentioned his new role as the Bishop of Rome more than once. This was interesting to me, as he seemed to place some primacy on his role as servant to his new local diocese first, and then to be the servant of the servants of God throughout the world, the universal pontiff, next. This follows the idea of the Urbi et Orbi blessing itself, which extends from the city to the world, and the image of a father who first takes good care of his own close family members, and then extends that loving concern to all those in need.

5. He did not just ask everyone to pray at a later time. Pope Francis entered into a time of sincere and deeply personal prayer, and the whole world joined him. We were waiting for an address, and instead he gave us an example of how to address God the Father while he did so himself and led us all in joining in. It was truly awe-inspiring.

6. He is the first to have taken the name Francis (which, by the way, does not need to be followed by 'I' or 'the first', because there are no others...) after Francis of Assisi, who lived a life of radical poverty and continual conversion. Francis was a great reformer who responded to Jesus' call to 'rebuild my church' in a time of crisis.

7. At the end, he finally smiled. It was as though he was warming up to us, and we to him. He seemed to have accepted more the reality of his new role. And then, according to Cardinal Dolan, he rode the bus back back to the hotel with the rest of the Cardinals.

8. Even as a Cardinal, Pope Francis was a man who was of the people and for the people, eschewing power and prestige and instead choosing to live in a simple apartment where he prepared his own meals and rode the bus to get around the city. This is a guy who walks the walk, and already his witness to the world is a breath of change, and an agent of personal conversion. When I saw the pictures of then Cardinal Bergoglio riding the bus, serving the poor, and washing and kissing the feet of AIDS patients, I wanted to do better myself. To live more simple life with a more radical following of the Gospel message. Not to gain more power or prestige, but to serve, love, and know Jesus more in the faces of the most vulnerable, isolated, and marginalized in our world. Because if the Pope can do it, so can I.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and be assured of my prayers.

Peace and all good,

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