I am sitting here anxiously awaiting the smoke showing the result of the first vote. Although I fully suspect it will be black, the first vote typically shows a gauge of where things are leading, I feel the full weight of this decision.
Yesterday I listened to NPR as Cokie Roberts described that for Catholics and non-Catholics alike there is interest because this is similar to an Olympic Games type of event. People from around the world gathering. In some cases, national pride on the line in a way and it’s a rare event. I can see that mentality. Several of my non-Catholic friends and neighbors have asked me about it. Asked who I want to be Pope (I want who the Holy Spirit decides) and to learn more about the Church than what they can get online. Many of them are watching the chimney now too anxiously, and not knowing what it will mean when they hear the words “Habemus Papam” and the name of the new Pope.
But one of the most common questions I get asked is “Will you like the new Pope no matter who he is?” My answer, “I will LOVE him, no matter who he is.” And why, because I already do.
As I watched Cardinal Ratzinger step out as Pope Benedict XVI for the first time I felt something I had never felt before. I felt the rush of love for someone I had not truly known before. But it felt as though I had always loved him. Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI just months before I would become pregnant with my first child. And I immediately recognized that feeling again when I first set eyes on Shelby. Someone I had prayed for my whole life, someone I had always loved, but had never seen before.
The election of the Pope is for Catholics, well, I should say for those Catholics who are authentically practicing their faith and believe fully in the power of Christ crucified and the Holy Spirit, much like giving birth and having a child. There is no way to predict the exact moment. We have seen all the men who could potentially be elected before. They are not entirely unknown although maybe not well known. And the moment one steps out on the balcony in white, we will love him with a love we have always possessed for him although we have not known it before. It is a wondrous miracle of life.
I knew my children in utero would probably look like either Jeff or I or a mix but I could not know for sure. Joey was a complete shock. We knew there probably a 25% chance of having a child with blond hair and blue eyes but the chance seemed so small as to almost not exist. But we loved this about him. In the same way, I will love a Pope who I may not have heard much about, who may hail from a country I know little of. Whose image I may not immediately recognize upon first laying eyes on him as Pope. However, my heart will surge, my soul will sing of the Greatness of our Lord as it did when I first saw my own children.
No matter who walks out and no matter the day or the hour, I will Love Him. He will be my Papa, my Pope.