Scene: Wednesday March 13th, I am traveling for work, currently in the middle of suburbia sitting in a windowless room, performing some really exhilarating file reviews, watching the live feed of the chimney on EWTN's website, switching between that window and the work I'm supposed to be looking at. I see the white smoke, I stop breathing. My heart is pounding, maybe audibly, and I turn to my coworkers (who I have known for a total of 7 days) and tell them a new Pope has been elected. They look at me like I am paint drying on a wall and go back to work. I run into the hallway to shake out some jitters. Some poor guy walks by me and I excitedly explain what just happened, as I hop from one foot to another. This guy at least musters up a confused smile, and continues on his path. Then I run outside, because I have too much energy, and I can hear my mother saying something about inside voices and activities. I call my parents. I text my friends. I run back inside to hear the EWTN commentary. I listen, and wait, and watch, and minimize the live feed because a manager is walking behind me. He's gone, back to EWTN. Soon enough, the curtains open and out steps the Pope. That's what the commentators are saying anyway. To me, he's still Cardinal Bergoglio. My eyes get a little misty. The girl sitting next to me looks freaked out and hands me tissues. "You must really love the new Pope."
I want to cry for our new Pope. But to be painfully honest, I'm crying for the Pope Emeritus. I miss Benedict. His announcement last month that he was abdicating the seat of Peter shook me. I felt like a lost little sheep. Don't worry, I know the Pope isn't divine, but that's the honest truth about how I felt. I am a member of the flock which was left in the earthly care of the Pope. No Pope, no earthly Shepard. Shepardless sheep feel scared, even when they are totally sure of their Divine Shepard.
Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pope I knew from the beginning of his papacy. I loved John Paul II, but I began to love him mostly from what I learned after his death, after I decided being Catholic was something I wanted to actually do, and not just be based on the virtue of my family. Benedict was the Pope when I finally went to confession for the first time after I had sworn it off. Benedict was the Pope when I prayed, for real, for the first time in my life. Benedict was the Pope when I heard the voice of Jesus tell me I was passionate, and that it was a good. The first papal encyclical I ever read was by Benedict. The first time I sponsored someone who wanted to become Catholic happened when Benedict was the Pope. I saw him say Mass at the Nationals stadium in D.C. I fell in love with his accent and gentle manner of speaking. He was truly a leader when I decided that following was something I wanted to do. He tended Jesus' flock well, and I am grateful.
But our new Pope Francis I need not worry about my dry eyes. The tears came soon enough.
|Pope Francis I, in persona Christi|