Last night I couldn't sleep very well. It's been like that for several nights now. I wake and think about what time it is in Rome (5 hours ahead of me) and what is going on there. Last night, I was thinking that the sweet new pope was likely not getting a wink of shut eye. How could you after the evening he had? You'd be on an adrenaline high for days.
Anyway, I then started thinking about how the papacy has played out over the course of my life, and if you're interested, here it is:
When I was born, Paul VI was still pope, though I do not remember him. The infamous "birth control encyclical pope," interestingly enough. I was 3 years old when he died, and this my friends, was a crucial point in the life of the Church. The original Pope John Paul was elected, and 33 days later he died. At the time, that had to seem jarring. Why did the Holy Spirit lead the cardinals to select someone who would die so soon thereafter? Well, it seems very clear to me. :) If that hadn't happened, we would never have gotten John Paul II. Because of John Paul I's death, the cardinal electors were suddenly open to somebody young and non-Italian, a completely different direction for the papacy. Somebody who could lead the Church for a long time with his youth and vitality, his strong intellect and sense of morality in a time when society's morals were getting much looser . And the whole world was changed as a result.
There will never be another John Paul II. My husband characterized him last night as "a superstar." He was a pope for the ages. I got emotional thinking about him again last night. It's hard to believe that he's been gone for 8 years already. He was the pope of my childhood, young adulthood, and entry into mature adult life. I do not think of myself as being in "Generation X;" I am a John Paul II generation girl.
I was devastated when he died. I remember watching his funeral, the period of mourning. During that Conclave, I was of course extremely interested in how it would come out, but I was not involved like I was yesterday. I was still mourning John Paul II and couldn't fathom anybody else as pope. When the Conclave started, I was watching for news, but I didn't feel a part of things. I remember being on the reference desk on the second day of the Conclave. A colleague came out to tell me that she heard there was a new pope. Desperate for news, I navigated to one of the big news sites. I read that there had been white smoke. Then a patron came to the desk.
Not only did a patron come to the desk, she wanted me to help her interpret a chemistry reference source that was in German.
*long suffering sigh*
I remember being in the reference stacks with her, feeling like I had ants in my pants because I wanted so badly to get back to the desk and check the news. Finally, I was freed. I went right to CNN's web site.
Ratzinger!! I remember feeling triumphant. So many people were saying the "Church needs to change, yadda, yadda" thing, like they always do, and I was happy that we had a pope who clearly would keep with John Paul II's vision. It was jarring to see him in the papal vestments, but it felt right. It was like I was shocked and yet not surprised at the same time. It just made so much sense.
The years passed. Then we came to his resignation. And the first Conclave of the social media generation. I kept up with everything via my podcasts and Facebook, and then Twitter (which I have come to love over the past 2 days; Facebook has been annoying me for a long time, and Twitter has a totally different feel).
Yesterday, I was watching the chimney cam. I was keeping up minute-by-minute with Twitter. I saw the white smoke *live* the instant it appeared above the Sistine Chapel. I shared it with my sisters, who both live in different states from me. It was wonderful.
I was hopping up and down in my seat waiting for the announcement and for the new pope to come out onto the balcony. I saw the bands come into St. Peter's Square and play the anthem. I didn't see ANY of that before.
When the announcement came, I missed it because my Vatican Radio video feed had frozen due to overuse. When I tuned back in, all I could hear was Latin that I couldn't even come close to interpreting since I came in right in the middle. But I was immediately brought up to speed by my sister and Twitter.
An Argentine! A Jesuit! Taking a name never before used by a pope, Francis!
And I *adored* his first speech and blessing, so sweet! He seems very humble, very serene, VERY prayerful. He asked for *our* prayers and extended his blessing to those watching over television and Internet. I was impressed.
And I learned that this morning he was up early, bright eyed and bushy tailed, go go pray at the basilica of St. Mary Major and ask for her intercession for the people of Rome. I just love this guy.
I've been watching some beautiful coverage on EWTN, thank the good Lord for saving me from the secular media. I do watch secular coverage as well, but it's nice to have an alternative. EWTN had on a documentary about the papacy the other night that was awesome. It would have been even better if I could *hear* it without Henry talking through it, but you can't have everything I suppose.
Oh! And I'm reading an ebook right now that I'm adoring. It's Jimmy Akin's Pope Names. Granted, we now have a pope that chose a unique name, but I'm still fascinated. And it's only $2.99 for Kindle, a bargain. He discusses the history of pope's taking new names and trends in the names they choose. Good stuff.
Anyway, back to our pope. I'm very excited for his installation Mass, which I hear will be this coming Tuesday, March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph. And I'm SO excited that we will have him for all of the Holy Week and Easter liturgies. God is good!