March 20, 2013
By Father William Muench
I was surprised – and am now so pleased with our new Pope – Pope Francis.
As I write this I suspect you have heard and read a great deal about Pope Francis. I just knew there would be plenty of surprises and the Holy Spirit didn’t let us down.
I must admit that I had heard often there would be surprises so I often said before the Conclave that there would be surprises however, I really wasn’t certain. I was a bit anxious – even when I saw the white smoke and as we waited for the announcement. I was anxious, but so pleased, when our new Pope came out on the loggia and began with a simple – 'Good evening!'
You have heard this before I am certain, but I was simply thrilled when Pope Francis asked for silent prayer as a blessing for him as he begins his Papacy. The silence of that throng of people was electrifying. I must admit I walked over to the television and began my own prayer for him.
His humility was obvious. His choice of the name Francis … his smile – they all caught my attention.
Not long ago, I make a personal retreat in Assisi and I got to know St. Francis of Assisi well. He has become a special saint for me.
Pope Francis is definitely an apostle of St. Francis of Assisi, dedicated to simplicity of life and to the needs of the poor.
What truly rings loudly for me is the story of St. Francis of Assisi hearing the voice of God challenging him to “Rebuild the Church.”
May Pope Francis hear that same message.
So we have to watch and see. I will continue to pray that this is the one. I pray that this is the Pope who will give new life to our Catholic Church. I also pray that he will be happy and, with God’s help, successful. May the world see the humble face of our Church in the humble face of our new Pope.
These last few weeks have been rather interesting. The media coverage of the Catholic Church has truly been a barrage. We, Catholics, have been on the news every evening. Granted, some of the reports have delved into our failings and sins but, at the same time, people are hearing a great deal of the greatness of the Catholic Church.
My hope is that our Church leaders, our Bishops, will see in these reports how the world sees our Catholic Church. This can become a challenge for the Bishops of our Church – and our new Pope – to do something. This will be the time to let the world know what our Church stands for and what we intend to accomplish.
The word is evangelization – getting the message of Jesus and the Church out to all peoples – to our own Catholics, to former Catholics, to all others. Our new Pope has a challenge shared by all of us Catholics – priests and Sisters and all lay men and women – to be evangelizers.
We as Church must find a way to get the word out. Already, our new Pope, Pope Francis, has made it clear: it is a message of holiness and humility. May he truly become our Holy Father.
So join me in a prayer – “Almighty God, my Father, I turn to you this day in prayer. You have blessed our Church with a new Holy Father. Give to him the fullness of your love and peace. Touch him with a deep and strong faith. Lead him with hope and confidence as he begins.
And may he have the charity that will overwhelm the world with his love that he may show all the great love of you, our God, for us all. This is our prayer. Amen.”