"Most High, glorious God, cast Your Light into the darkness of my heart, and grant me a right faith, certain hope and perfect charity, sense and understanding, Lord, so that I may know and do Your holy and true command."
- St. Francis of Assisi: Prayer before the Crucifix
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Our Franciscan Pope | Pope Francis
Our Holy Father Pope Francis.
Okay, this might seem like an odd title for a blog post on the very night of the election of the first Jesuit
Pope ever. You may be thinking, "Fr. Tom thinks Cardinal Sean was elected!" But, stick with me on this one.
My greatest hopes during this sede vacante were that the Cardinals gathered in Conclave would opt
for a change in tone emanating from St. Peter’s; that they might realize that
the major issues facing the church aren’t as doctrinal as much as they are
image-related in the way that we present that teaching - too often angry; too often exclusionary; too often hurtful to real people with real needs and concerns.
One of the major reasons that so many Catholics have fled
the pews over the last several decades is because too often the Church has been
“tone deaf” to the real life situations of the faithful, speaking a theological
language that is often difficult to reconcile with the day-to-day realities of
My hopes for the new Holy Father were for a Pope who smiles,
a Pope who can tell a joke, a Pope who is a pastor. These were among the reasons why I was
looking towards Boston Cardinal Séan O’Malley, a Franciscan, as my pick for
But, as this humble Jesuit Cardinal from Argentina instead
was the man who stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s, I think in so many
ways, the same hopes have been fulfilled.
He lives in that same spirit of humility, as we have heard, living in a
simple, small apartment; cooking his own meals.
He travels to work by bus.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis riding the bus to work.
Among his first acts was not the pomp of Roman spectacle,
but instead, as hundreds of thousands were gathered in St. Peter’s Square and millions
were gathered around the world, he didn’t ask his faithful to bow down, instead
he bowed down before them and asked us for our prayers, for our blessings.
And, he chose that beautiful name – Francis. So much more beautiful in Italian: Francesco! It made me remember a quote that I heard many
years ago, “A name accrues its heritage.”
It gave me goose bumps to hope that the papacy of Pope Francis, this
Jesuit Pope, this Franciscan Pope, will accrue the heritage of this name; a
name that immediately conjures up those famous words that Jesus spoke to the
Saint of Assisi from the cross eight centuries ago, “Francis, rebuild my
Il Poverello did
that through humility, through joy, through radically following the Gospel by
loving the Church and bringing the Church to love poor and the most
marginalized in our midst, just like the One he followed. It looks like this new Francis intends to do
A Jesuit Pope with a Franciscan heart! Could there be a more
perfect combination? He seems exactly
what the Church and the world needs now.
Pope Francis, rebuild our Church and renew our faith!