Pope Francis

Like untold millions around the world, I was glued to my TV or computer waiting for the first glimpse of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis.

As he walked out onto the central loggia of St. Peter’s, I was happily stunned by his humble appearance. He wore the simple white cassock of the Pope, without the ermine cape, and with a simple pectoral cross, devoid of any precious jewels, and without the Papal Stole of Office. The Papal Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, stood slightly behind and to the side, holding the stole for the blessing.

His words, in perfect Italian, were like those of a parish priest speaking to his flock. He exuded a simple intimacy and love for his people. He told them they were on the journey together with him. Before he gave the blessing, he asked them to pray a blessing over him, their bishop. Silence immediately came over the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, probably at least 150,000 people. They were all suddenly quiet and in prayer, seemingly knowing what the Holy Father had asked of them, even if they did not understand the language. Pope Francis bowed humbly from the loggia to receive their silent prayer of blessing. He then gave them — and us — his first Apostolic Blessing, not solemnly intoning it, but simply praying the words and giving the threefold Sign of the Cross over them. What a privilege for this Vatican-trained priest to be able to watch this here in San Angelo as it was happening in Rome.

Afterwards, Pope Francis and all the Cardinal electors returned to the Sistine Chapel. When they emerged, the Papal Motorcade was waiting to take him to the House of Martha. He just got on the bus with the Cardinals, and they went off and had dinner together!

This morning, Pope Francis went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, unannounced, to pray to Our Lady to bless his flock in Rome and around the world. When he got out of the car, he was dressed in the simple black cassock of a priest!

In just a couple of hours, he will celebrate Mass with the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. I believe this will be televised around the world. You can probably find it on EWTN on television or on your computer and other wireless devices. Looking at what has happened already, I would not miss seeing it if at all possible.

Pope Francis will be helicoptering out to Castel Gandolfo to visit his predecessor, Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, as soon as possible, but not likely today. I am sure that it will be a joyful and emotion meeting. Don’t know if that will be televised, but if it is not, everyone should understand.

So, we have a Pope, and I, for one, am delighted!

The first Pontiff from the New World. The first Jesuit Pope. The first to call himself Francis.

His choice of a name is particularly heartening. Aside from St. Francis being the Patron of Italy, he is without question the most loved of all the saints, excluding our Blessed Mother Mary. This humble man, now Pope, has taken the name of the saint who teaches us what humility and service are all about.

I cannot help but think that Pope Francis also has in mind the words of Christ to Saint Francis: “Rebuild my Church.” I believe that we will see him doing this in a steadfast, but humble manner. I sense that this is why the Cardinal electors, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, chose him to be the Successor of Peter, and Christ’s Vicar on earth.

Long Live the Pope! Long Live Pope Francis!

The Concho Padre

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