I didn't do any "research" at all, I didn't read anyone's opinion about who would fill the Chair of Peter. I didn't get into the hype and the brackets. I was interested...but I just didn't for some reason. I don't think it's wrong to be curious or speculate, I just didn't do it. I guess I liken it to not finding out the gender of a baby (which, ironically, I have never done). We knew we were getting a pope. Just didn't know who! It was an exciting thing to anticipate!
I did think, however, what it must be like to be a cardinal, and having the immense responsibility of voting. How exciting and nerve-wrecking that must be! I know the world sees the papacy as a power game, as something to be vied for. Not so. In my contemplation on the subject, it came to me many times that this conclave of brothers were to pick from among themselves someone who could suffer like Christ. Someone who could best give up his life for the Church. Not who would give the most riveting interviews or make the best changes or speak the most languages. I know there were many things to consider and I won't pretend to know what they were - I know much less about this than most everyone on the whole topic, to be honest. But I had the sense that in a way, electing a new pope is somewhat sorrowful. You would know whichever of your brothers you chose will suffer a great deal - spiritually, mentally, maybe even physically in this day and time. I was sure whomever it was would be would be glad to offer his life to Christ and suffer on behalf of the Truth. But still, what a weight to carry.
Shortly after our playgroup friends left on Wednesday morning, I got a text from my friend Sarah: "POPE!"
I ran to the computer and got on EWTN's live feed. I let the boys stay up past naptime to watch the happenings in Rome. Joseph was glued to the screen as I made lunch. I wish I would have snapped a few pictures but we were too enthralled with waiting for the big moment.
After what seemed like HOURS...I was getting so anxious!! They finally announced his name...
Jorge Mario Burgoglio...a name that was unfamiliar in most parts of the world until two days ago. A man whose life changed in an instant. And yet he stood before the crowd in Rome, of hundreds of thousands of people, with such grace and humility. Pope Francis.
It was a strange moment for me. Good strange. As I watched and listened to his first remarks as Holy Father, I felt a deep communion with him. Maybe it seems strange, even to other Catholics, to say that I felt an instant love for him. A knowledge beyond my ability to know, that he is a man who loves the Lord more than he loves his own life. A man that can be trusted and followed.
His presence exuded humility and at the same time a great respect for the task the Lord had chosen him to undertake. He seemed surprised, in a very peaceful way. I suppose humble cardinals never picture themselves as pope. But as he asked for our prayers, and led us in the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, my eyes filled with tears. Here we were, me and my two boys, sitting in our kitchen, in our little corner of the world praying the same prayers with our new Holy Father.
It was a beautiful moment I will never forget. Maybe it was because this was my first time witnessing a papal election as a Catholic. Maybe it was because I'm a woman and sometimes I like to cry (not entirely unlikely). Or maybe it was because the Holy Spirit was truly at work, and confirming in my heart, "Follow this man. He will show you that giving up your life for Me will make you truly rich".
The more I hear about him, the more I know it is the latter. The simplicity of his life resounds within my soul.
The sense has not gone away yet. I am deeply grateful and excited for our new Pope Francis. May God bless his humility, his love for life, his love for the poor, his obedience to the Lord's call. May he truly be an instrument of inspiration and conversion to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
In celebration of his election, Sean came home from work early and we went downtown to the "Rally for the Pope" organized by a friend of ours. How fun! Papal flags, gold and white banners flying, bells ringing, people chanting "Fran-ces-co!" It was so exciting. We walked from the steps of the capital to the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception just a few blocks away. Many people asked us what we were protesting.
"Nothing! We are celebrating! We have a new Pope!!!"