From Bated Breath To Shouts of Joy

Man, does the Church know how to pull off a nail-biter or what?!

On our side of the world, I was already fast asleep when all the action happened (and let me just say that it astounds me how some of my friends were up at 2 A.M. too see it. How did you know?!), I had just finished my morning prayer when my husband called me to tell me the news: We have a pope! He’s Latin American!

Unable to get more info than that, I hurriedly made my way to the television. Upon seeing my 2-year-old daughter, whom I had been teaching to say “White smoke! We have a pope!” since the day before, I blurted out, “It’s white smoke! What do you say?!” Surprised to see me so excited, her memorized lines all but forgotten, she shoots both fists into the air and shouts, “Yehey!!!”

Kids. Gotta love ’em.

Luckily, I was able to catch a replay of all the drama on EWTN. The white smoke had just come up, and the bells of St. Peter’s were frantically making a joyful noise. The crowd in the square just seemed to get bigger and bigger–you could see no end to it! Even without being there (although of course, having been there still would have been something else), I could feel the anticipation, and the jubilation just waiting for the right moment to erupt.

All gadgets poised and ready to capture the moment.

A little movement behind the curtain, and out comes…a Cardinal, NOT the pope. He addresses the crowd in Latin; I didn’t really catch it all, but I think I got what was most important: Habemus papam! Cheers, applause, tears of joy!

And still, unbelievably, a few more minutes to wait after that! Tell us who it is already, we’ve never heard his name before! He’s not the Argentinian everyone was talking about, who is he? Tell us, tell us, tell us!

With the energy reaching fever pitch, I was practically chanting with the crowd over at the square: Fran-ces-co! Fran-ces-co! Fran-ces-co!!

Then out comes that face. That wave. That smile.

Pope Francis greeting his well-wishers at St. Peter’s Square

My heart’s been won already.

I couldn’t help comparing the whole experience to a seasoned game show host, taking his precious time in announcing the results, making the contestants squirm and almost faint in anticipation: Did I win? Do I get the prize??

We all did. And the prize is knowing that God’s Spirit is alive and well in our Church, in every heart earnestly wanting to be led, to be taught, to be disciples of Christ.

Habemus Papam Franciscum! We are yours as you are ours.

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