Many of us, no doubt, will remember the exact place we were when the white smoke billowed out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. You may be wondering: “What were the Poor Clares doing when it happened?” We were doing exactly what contemplatives ought to be: PRAYING! Our daily Mass was scheduled for 10:30, but was delayed until 11. We were all nervously watching the chimney right up until 11 a.m. Needless to say we were all storming Heaven during Mass, praying for all the Cardinal electors. And, sometime mid-Mass, the white smoke began to billow. By the time we got back to the house and hurriedly made our way to the TV, the Papal bands were marching in and all eyes were on the balcony awaiting the announcement: Habemus Papam. We are deeply consoled to know that as our new Holy Father was officially elected, we were at Holy Mass…praying and interceding (and we are grateful that we got to see the Habemus Papam LIVE)!
In addition to my thoughts which you will find below, I want to share with you the thoughts of each of the Sisters on this momentous night:
Sr. Marie Andre: We give thanks to the Holy Spirit for guiding the College of Cardinals in the selection of the Vicar of Christ. As daughters of the Poor Man of Assisi, we are additionally delighted with Pope Francis’ name, and prayerfully support all his needs and intentions as he steers the Bark of St. Peter. Viva Il Papa!
Sr. Marie St. Paul: I am humbled yet again by the Power of the Holy Spirit so revealed in the election of our new Holy Father. The Lord never ceases to surprise and amaze me! He never acts as we poor schmucks expect (nor by the media’s expectations, praise God!) Truly marvelous. We have a new “Holy Father Francis” and I will be praying most ardently for him and for Our Holy Mother the Church.
Sr. John-Mark Maria: When Pope Francis walked out on the balcony he looked like a humble shepherd sent out to watch over his flock.
Sr. Tara is sill ruminating on everything that happened today…look forward to some of her thoughts tomorrow!
Sr. Mary Fidelis (get ready: I tend to be a little long winded!): There is so much to unpack from this whole experience – from Pope Emeritus Benedict’s resignation, to the beginning of the conclave, to when I first saw Pope Francis emerge from behind the red curtains. I think, for brevity’s sake, I will begin with the last point. As Pope Francis stood on the balcony and looked out into the people gathered in St. Peter’s square, I quite immediately loved him. The Holy Spirit, spiritual fatherhood and the papacy never cease to amaze me. Habemus Papam! We have a Pope! We have a father. Pope Francis stood so motionless, in a solemn silent stillness, amidst the welcoming and ecstatic crowd. There was something about the scene that evoked from my heart a deep sense of compassion for him. Along with this came a great desire to support him with prayer, with my life of prayer, with everything I am. There was in his bearing a marked humility that at one and the same time seemed undeniably strong and utterly surrendered. He seemed a veritable incarnation of St. Ignatius’ Suscipe:
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.
After all settled and communally we tried to digest all that happened, Sr. Tara read aloud Our Holy Father Francis’ Canticle of Creatures. It seems a fitting way to close for tonight with the last line of this canticle, with promise of more reflections soon:
Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.
I loved to read your reaction to the news of the new Pope. I especially identified with the reflections of Sister Mary Fidelis because they echo my thoughts and feelings of that special moment 🙂
I remember exactly how that morning played out. I hardly ever have the tv on, but that morning, I had to turn on the news, which is strange, I never get a pull that I got to watch tv. But it must have been the Holy Spirit. I thought that I was gonna watch the local news,once I saw the smoke, I couldn’t get my computer on fast enough to watch it from ewtn’s view point. Here I was a person that so loved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, how could I adjust to a new one? But I feel God’s Grace was all over this in that, we as a church released Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in a prayer to be blessed by God & Our Blessed Mother, then receive the Blessing of our new Holy Father. To me, that was done so beautifully & gently as only a father can do. And now the Church is ready to move on in this new evangeliztion.
Dear Sisters, Thanks for your thoughts at that very special moment.
I had just left a small christian community meeting and was on the road driving home. Fortunately fox news had live coverage to keep me up to speed as I “sped” home To tune in EWTN. God is indeed good.
I was greeted at mass yesterday by a friend as “Pope Francis” I agree it was a wonderful choice.
I thought of you, Sisters, when I heard he had chosen his name based off St. Francis of Assisi! He is so so beautiful and I am in love with him already. I love your reflection about your reaction to his first appearance. I wondered about how he was feeling right then, whether he was sad, dumbfounded, or nervous; then, watching him first talk, I was put immediately at peace. We have such a humble Papa. God is good!!
Thank you for your reflections during this wonderful time! I was glued to the TV watching in anticipation and was elated when the smoke appeared! My first impression of Pope Francis when he came to the balcony was he must be nervous, but when he spoke I realized what I witnessed was his humility and was immediately endeared to him! May God bless him with wisdom and strength! The more I learn of him, the more I love him – he is such as sweet dear man and the name of Francis is very becoming to him.
Hi Sr. Hope you are well : )
Yesterday of course was Pope Francis inauguration. Calling for protection of the poor and the environment.
“It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about,” he said.
Now I hope, our beloved church grows stronger and wiser; adhering to the teachings of Jesus.
I admit I was taken back when the first headline I saw at work was just his age…he is much more than a 76 yr old Pope. Everyday I fall more in love with this Pope and his message and the fact he was elected on my birthday was nice too. : ) I think he is just what the church needs now.