Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Pope

            As I sat down on Wednesday to my computer, I thought of the conclave voting for a new pope.  I felt a rush to get out on the web to see what was going on.  Deep down, I knew.  Sure enough about five minutes later, my husband called me to say the smoke was white.  Our good computer broke the day before so, yes, I was still trying to get on the Internet.  I bagged that task and went straight for the television to watch the proceedings.

            My first thoughts were I should be taking notes to have for a write up for my blog.  I realized a million people would be doing the same thing and the social media world would be flooded with the story and thoughts.  How could I compare with all of them?  I can’t.  What I can do is tell you my story of popes.

            I became Catholic at the age of 23 during the time of Pope John Paul II.  I knew he was a respected leader throughout the world and he led my new church, but other then that, I didn’t give him or the position much thought.  I also didn’t think much of Bishops, Archbishops, or Cardinals.  Speed up to his death, I was very sad.  We lost a great world leader.  I was more saddened for my husband who loved the pope.  He was stuck in Iraq and wouldn’t be able to watch the selection of the new pope.  I did watch, but it didn’t move me all that much.  In fact, I thought him a bit old and distant.  This time, I reacted much differently.

            Tears stung my eyes from the time I received the call and even today I get goose bumps about the event.  I sat watching Fox News waiting for our new papa.  I was amazed by the variety of flags in the middle of Saint Peter’s Square and smiled with pride as I saw my beloved American flag.  The crowd sang together.  I would have loved to have been there.  One announcer said the feeling in the square was a precursor to heaven with all the joyful celebration.  When I heard that, I realized my tears were tears of joy.  I felt joy!

            As I listened to the coverage, my heart swelled with love.  The two announcers on Fox were also Catholic.  What fun to have them talking about their faith.  I was proud to be living in a country where my fellow Catholics could share on national television during Catholic/World history in the making.  In fact, John commented that he had his Rosary with him in the studio.  Amen.

            Then I heard it.  “Pope Francis.”  Could it be?  Could the new pope be taking the name sake of one of my two favorite saints: Saint Francis of Assisi or Saint Francis de Sales?  I almost jumped for joy.  Finally, they announced Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina as the new pope.  I sat in anticipation.  Some commentators where speculating he would take the name of Pope Paul or Benedict.  “What about Pope Francis?  I want Pope Francis!”  The ticker across the scene finally read Pope Francis I.  At that moment, I knew he would be my pope.

            So, why did this affect me so differently?  I thought about it the rest of the day.  In the evening I figured it out.  In the last six years, my strong faith has grown in leaps and bounds.  I have been studying even harder.  But even bigger than that, I have grown to know our Bishop.  I am sure he doesn’t know me, but I have sat through many of his homilies and gotten to know him through his words and his actions.  He blessed my husband before he left for Iraq.  He chatted with us at a function and as I got ready to leave I spontaneously gave him a hug.  (I still don’t know if that was appropriate.)  He is a wonderful man.

            Through the radio, I have gotten to know Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York (I started listening to him when he was an Archbishop).  I told my husband I want to go on a pilgrimage to New York and attend Mass with him.  I want to meet him.  When he speaks through the radio, I really feel his sincerity and love.  I also enjoy his sense of humor.  I really think these two men who are larger then life have made me realize how the Pope can still lead me even though many miles and an ocean are between us.  And hey, taking the name Francis is some amazing icing on the cake.

            Of course, I love the fact that he didn’t move into the Cardinal’s palace in Argentina.  I love that he cooked his own meals, road the bus, and washed feet.  I cried as I added my blessing to that of all the world’s when he asked us for our blessing.  I knelt in front of my television as he blessed me.

            My biggest dream is to travel to Italy to go to Mass at the Vatican, see the sights, and drive up to Assisi and check out Francis’ digs.  During our countries time of financial uncertainty, my dream trip will have to be put off a couple more years.  But I will work hard at grasping Pope Francis and Saint Francis of Assisi’s humble attitude and patience.  Besides, I need to let the Holy Spirit decide when it is best for me to fulfill this pilgrimage.  And maybe in the meantime, I will make if over to New York to see Cardinal Dolan.

            So, I would love to hear your thoughts about Pope Francis.

            Blessings to you all.

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