Habemus Papam! Habemus Papam Franciscus!
We have a Papa!!!!! I’ve spent a good portion of the day wishing I could hug the Holy Spirit. Like a billion or so Catholics, my heart is overflowing with gratitude at the election of our new Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Francis.
Having spent the better part of the last few weeks in prayer and speculation regarding who would be ultimately chosen to carry the Keys of the Kingdom, like so many other Catholics, yesterday I finally felt like I could exhale. To say these weeks since the February 11th announment of the pending resignation of our beloved Holy Father Emeritus, Benedict XVI have been tense is an understatement. Rampant mudslinging by the secular press has no doubt heightened an uneasiness that has hung over these weeks like a dark, dense, winter storm cloud.
However, with the billows of white smoke which yesterday poured forth from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, our hopes began to soar. Our day began early. We had a feeling white smoke would appear on the 13th. The 13th of each month has long been significant with regard to Our Lady of Fatima, and since yesterday was also a Wednesday – the day of the week the Holy Church devotes to honoring St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church – many of us felt certain that an election would take place. With that in mind, the kids and I camped out on the family room floor, (with the 3 dogs). We watched twice as dark smoke wafted from the Sistine Chapel chimney around 4 a.m., and later raced back from morning Mass at Holy Hill Basilica to wait anxiously for the result of the afternoon votes. As the white smoke issued forth, the cheers around our kitchen table united with those in St. Peter’s Square and around the world – we glimpsed again that threshold of hope so eloquently ushered in by both Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Throughout these weeks the profound humility of Pope Benedict XVI has become evident. In a world dominated by vainglory and pride, the resignation of His Holiness has stood in stark contrast as an ultimate act of humility. His successor meets humility with humility. Tonight’s reading from the Divine Office instructs: “Be humbled in the sight of the Lord and he will raise you on high (James 4:10).” Certainly, both our Holy Father Emeritus and Pope Francis exemplify this scriptural passage.
Pope Francis truly reflects the Gospel – he doesn’t just preach it; he LIVES it. Watching detractors in the liberal press attempt to find fault with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been like watching a celebrity version of the game Twister. No matter how one bends and twists the facts, the virtuous character of His Holiness, Pope Francis shine through any darkness they attempt to spew. It must be a challenge to find fault with the Cardinal who washes and kisses the feet of AIDS victims and impoverished women, who cooks his own meals and regularly takes public transportation to and from his appointed duties, who bowed on the balcony before 100,000+ well wishers and asked for their prayers for God’s blessing before imparting his papal blessing.
In the Gospel, Our Lord Jesus Christ bids us: “Take up My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls (Matthew 11: 29).” Our new Holy Father seems to embody this directive. He has accepted the yoke of Christ, and carries a meek and humble heart.
As Holy Father, Pope Francis continues to move with meekness – paying his hotel bill in person, taking the bus with fellow Cardinals, and slipping in the side door of St. Mary Major Basilica to leave a bouquet of flowers in humble supplication before Our Lady. In so doing, even in his first 24 hours, His Holiness Pope Francis has won the hearts and esteem of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Like St. Francis of Assisi, Our Lord has commissioned Pope Francis with a monumental task: “Rebuild My Church!” Were he merely the CEO of a multi-national corporation with its headquarters in Rome, this task would be insurmountable. However, Pope Francis is not the leader of a purely human enterprise. No, he is not a CEO; he is a Fisherman, a Peter. It is to his capable hands that the unsullied Bride of Christ has been entrusted. God has promised that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18), and HE will empower our new Holy Father with the requisite grace to overcome each and every obstacle in its path. Let us both turn to the Holy Spirit with supplication and thanksgiving for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis.
For the Holy Spirit has not just spoken, He has THUNDERED!!!!! We have a Papa!!! Habemus Papam! Habemus Papam Franciscus!
VIVA IL PAPA!!!!
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,