Pope Francis

This article originally appeared in the parish bulletin on March 24, 2013

Only an hour after last Sunday’s bulletin was transmitted to the printer, white smoke was seen coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. So last week the bulletin article had no mention of the signal that set many of us scrambling at 1:06 in the afternoon of Wednesday, March 13, 2013. I was driving down the freeway on my way back from a parish trip to the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis when my phone began to ring and to signal the arrival of various text messages which I didn’t dare answer while driving. I could talk, though, and so I heard the happy news about the white smoke.

I knew I would have some time before the name of the new pope would be announced. At about 2:15 the senior cardinal-deacon, Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Medina Tauran, who is the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, came out onto the central loggia of St. Peter’s. He said these words:

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam; Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum. 

I announce to you a great joy; we have a Pope; the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord, Lord Jorge Maria of the Holy Roman Church Cardinal Bergoglio, who has taken for himself the name Francis.

The confused crowd cheered while still trying to figure out what that meant. We now know that the new Bishop of Rome had until then been the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina. The Vatican News reports that it was 8:24 PM in Rome (2:24 here) that Pope Francis came out and stood in silence for what seemed like a long time looking at the crowd who had been waiting in the rain. Then he began to speak:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Good evening. You know that the duty of the Conclave was to give Rome a bishop. It seems that my brother cardinals picked him from almost the ends of the earth. But here we are! I thank you for the warm welcome. The diocesan community of Rome has its bishop. Thank you! First and foremost I would like to say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and the Virgin keep him.

 Pope Francis led the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Gloria, and then said:

And now let us begin this journey, bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which is the one that leads all the churches in charity. A journey of fraternity, of trust between us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the world so that this might be a great brotherhood. I hope that this journey of the Church that we begin today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar here present will assist me, will be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

Now I would like to impart the blessing, but first, first I ask a favour of you. Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask that you pray to the Lord that He bless me: the prayer of the people asking a blessing for their bishop. Let us pray in silence, this your prayer for me.

 The Holy Father bowed and the people all prayed silently. Then he continued:

Now I will impart the blessing to you and all the world, to all men and women of good will.

 Pope Francis gave the blessing To the City and To the World, and concluded:

Brothers and sisters, I take my leave. Thank you for your warm welcome. Pray for me and we will meet again soon. Tomorrow I’m going to pray to the Virgin that she will safeguard all of Rome. Good night and rest well.

We can all give thanks to God for our new pope!

It is Palm Sunday, and we are now entering Holy Week. The Paschal Triduum begins at sundown on Holy Thursday. Triduum means “the three days,” and these three days are the 72 hours from sunset on Thursday, March 28 until sunset on Sunday, March 31. The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday begins at 7:00 and lasts until about 8:15. The feet of selected people will be washed, and the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to the Historic Church.  Everyone is invited to join in the procession behind the Eucharist as we walk to the Historic Church, and then the church will remain open for prayer for an hour.

Good Friday is the only day of the year on which Mass cannot be celebrated.  The celebration of the Lord’s Passion is the liturgy (not a Mass) at which we read the Passion in parts and venerate the Cross. The Passion liturgy begins at 7:00 and ends shortly after 8:00.

The Easter Vigil is the Mass at which the congregation will hold candles lighted from the new Paschal candle.  The readings will trace the whole sweep of the history of our salvation. It will be beautiful! Because it cannot begin until after dark, the Easter Vigil begins at 8:00 and this year will last until around 10:00.

This year we will not be baptizing any babies at the Easter morning Masses (but we will after Mass), and we have no adults to baptize at all. Because we had three people to receive into the full communion of the Catholic Church but no adults to baptize, I decided to receive Amanda Jackson, Zachary Elmore, and Daniel Garrett, confirm them, and give them Holy Communion back on February 17. We are happy that they have been able to spend Lent as part of our parish family and the Catholic Church as we all prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord!

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