This morning, I had a premonition about the new pope picking the name Francis. “Hmm…” I thought, “I guess he would be the first Francis! That would be cool.” From then on, I thought nothing of it. My gut had a feeling, still, that we’d see the election of our pope today.
As white smoke poured out of that little chimney, my coworkers and I jumped up and down, clapping our hands, and headed for the TV. Then, the news… who is this guy? I’ve never heard that name before... FRANCIS??!!?? Wow!
I couldn’t believe it. Life is full of surprises!
Some wonderful, short stories are emerging about our new Holy Father. Here are some of my favorites.
Wednesday’s election aftermath:
“When he came out, a throne-like chair had been set on a platform but Francis preferred to greet the cardinals from a chair at their own level, (Cardinal Timothy) Dolan said.” – Reuters
“The newly elected pope decided to take the bus back to the hotel Wednesday with the rest of the cardinals instead of riding in the Holy Father’s car.”
“‘So we take the buses over and cardinals kind of wait outside to greet the new Holy Father as he comes back to Doma Santa Marta…and as the last bus pulls up, guess who gets off the bus? Pope Francis,’ (Cardinal Timothy) Dolan said. ‘So I guess he told the driver, “That’s OK. I’ll just go with the guys on the bus.”‘” – CBS News
“On dinnertime toast from cardinals, Pope Francis responded, ‘May God forgive you.'” – @RoccoPalmo
“A man who cooks for himself, takes public transport rather than using cars and who is a simple pastor. This is the portrait of Pope Francis I painted by a fellow Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Holy See Press Office Director, in the immediate aftermath of the announcement that ‘Padre Jorge’ – as he was known in Buenos Aires among his faithful – had been elected Pope.” – Vatican News
“He studied chemistry, and graduated as a chemical engineer. [...] He taught literature and psychology at Buenos Aires.” – RomeReports
“As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he showed compassion for the victims of HIV-AIDS and in 2001, visited a hospice to kiss and wash the feet of 12 AIDS patients.
“He is a soccer fan (well, in his hometown the sport is called ‘football’), and follows Argentina San Lorenzo de Almagro, one of the five most popular teams in his native Argentina. [...] In 2008, on the 100th anniversary of the team, he was given a ‘centennial membership’ by the team’s managers and invited to celebrate their anniversary mass.” – Kathy Schiffer
“When he became a bishop in 1992, Bergoglio chose as his motto miserando atque eligendo, ‘lowly and yet chosen.’ The phrase comes from a homily of the Venerable Bede reflecting on the Call of Matthew. Matthew knew himself to be unworthy (read: ‘human’) yet Jesus chose him, not despite but because of, his humanity. These words signal humility, and may also reflect a common formulation of Jesuit identity: ‘What is it to be a Jesuit? It is to know that one is a sinner; yet called to be a companion of Jesus.’” – The Jesuit Post
His relationship with God:
In his words: “Everything in our life, today just as in Jesus’ time, begins with an encounter. An encounter with this Man, the carpenter of Nazareth, a man like all men and yet different. [...] I dare to say that the privileged locus of the encounter [with God] is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin.
[...] You can’t convince anybody. The encounter occurs. You can prove that God exists, but you will never be able, using the force of persuasion, to make anyone encounter God. This is pure grace. Pure grace. In history, from its very beginning until today, grace always primerea, grace always comes first, then comes all the rest.” Source: Silvina Premat
His attitude toward the Church:
In his words:”We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But is the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one.”
“I must not be scandalised by the fact that the Church is my mother: I must look at its sins and shortcomings as I would look at my mother’s sins and shortcomings. And when I think of her, I remember the good and beautiful things she has achieved, more than her weaknesses and defects. A mother defends herself with a heart filled with love before doing so with words.” Source for both quotes: Andrea Tornielli
His attitude toward evangelization:
His words describing Buenos Aires’ approach: “We seek to make contact with families that are not involved in the parish. Instead of just being a Church that welcomes and receives, we try to be a Church that comes out of itself and goes to the men and women who do not participate in parish life, do not know much about it and are indifferent towards it. We organise missions in public squares where many people usually gather: we pray, we celebrate mass, we offer baptism which we administer after a brief preparation. This is the style of the parishes and the diocese itself. Other than this, we also try to reach out to people who are far away, via digital means, the web and brief messaging.” Source: Andrea Tornielli
Be sure to read this wonderful translation of Cardinal Bergoglio’s letter for this Lent. It is bold and unwavering. I love it. A quick gem from it, and then I invite you to continue reading…
“Lent is presented us as a shout of truth and certain hope that comes us to say ‘Yes, it is possible to not slap on makeup, and not draw plastic smiles as if nothing happened.’ Yes, it is possible that all is made new and different because God remains ‘rich in kindness and mercy, always willing to forgive’ and He encourages us to begin anew time and again.”