Thursday, March 14, 2013

Habemus Papem!!

Everything, and I do mean everything, I read about our new pontiff, Pope Francis (it's neat just to type it! I'm so, so incredibly glad we have a Holy Father again!), the more I praise the Holy Spirit for guiding the college of cardinals to elect this man. Our Church is so blessed!

So many have already, so quickly, written about his background, and his humility -- reflecting on how he lived simply as a cardinal in Buenos Aires, taking the bus, living in a small apartment and cooking his own food, rather than living in a vast house with servants; and the fact that he asked for the world to pray for him, as his first act as the Holy Father. He's a Jesuit who has chosen the name Francis! Not only is he humble, but he's smart, with degrees in chemistry, philosophy, and theology, and he's taught all of them, along with literature and psychology as well. AMDG!

I didn't think it would be this soon. Only the second, and first full, day of conclave after an afternoon session on the 12th. Only five rounds of voting. I'd thought it more likely that Thursday would see a new pope.

I was at work and had just finished eating lunch at my desk when suddenly someone pointed out smoke was pouring out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Dark in Rome, it was hard to tell at first if the smoke was just gray. I got up from my desk and walked closer to the TV, actually leaning in as if being closer to the TV would make it more obvious. And the smoke continued to lighten. It was just after 2 p.m. And the smoke was white. "Congratulations!" my boss, sitting at her desk nearby, said to me.

I was supposed to go to an assignment around 2. Fortunately there was a window, from 2-4 p.m., for me to go and take some pictures. Knowing how important this was to me, my boss said I could turn up the volume on the television. I told my boss, laughingly but in all seriousness as I sat down in front of the newsroom TV, that I wasn't going to leave until we found out who the new pope was. As the minutes ticked by, I got more nervous that I wasn't going to be there. I even started nervous eating, practically inhaling the contents of a nearby box of Girl Scout Tagalongs. But then came the announcement, and I couldn't hear, what with some of my coworkers yammering on circled behind me to watch the announcement. And then the microphone for the announcement didn't seem to be working, either. A moment of frustration! It wasn't until his name, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, scrolled across the screen that we knew. He wasn't one of the cardinals I was familiar with.

Still, I wanted to hear and see our new pope, but I had to leave the office and do my job. As I drove to my assignment, I flipped on the radio and I was able to hear the very first portion of his address to the crowds, "Here I am," and the Holy Father leading the crowds in prayer for our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. It was lovely and simple and brought tears to my eyes. Coming back to the office afterwards, I read his full statement, and was immediately struck by it's simplicity and gentleness, it's beauty and modesty. I would expect nothing less from a man who, when he was elevated to cardinal, chose as his motto miserando atque eligendo, “lowly and yet chosen.”

Already, it is so easy to love him, our new papa!