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.