— 1 —
I was nervous when our new pope walked out onto that balcony to greet the world. I wasn’t worried for our Catholic Church. I was worried for him. He looked shy, a bit unsure, and maybe even a bit vulnerable. But then he started speaking. I saw him smile. And it struck me how he emanated calm and holiness.
He had me from “Buona sera.” How about you?
— 2 —
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)
As I reflect on how Pope Francis greeted us, I can’t help thinking of so many political leaders who show less care and concern for the people they serve, who take less time to make people feel valued. When they speak, they speak for themselves. They might want our attention, our votes, our money.
Pope Francis didn’t need our votes. He doesn’t even need us to like him. He has the Holy Spirit and the College of Cardinals behind him. Yet he stood there and asked for one and only one thing: our prayers.
Count me in.
In all the times I have prayed for the pope, I don’t think I’ve ever felt my prayers were particularly needed. I am just one voice among many. But didn’t we all sense, in that moment, the weight of the Church on this man’s shoulders? What an honor to be able to ask Jesus to help him with this enormous responsibility.
— 3 —
When I picked our sons up from school on Wednesday, I delivered the news to them with a picture of Pope Francis so they could see his gentle smile.
“The white smoke came up!” I said. “What does that mean?”
“We have a pope!” said our 3-year-old.
Then I described how our new pope led the crowd in St. Peter’s Square and on screens around the world in three prayers.
“And they are all prayers that you know,” I told our boys. “The Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.” How wonderful that our Holy Father chose prayers we have all said for so many years and likely learned from our parents.
As the boys and I drove home, I asked them my usual question, which rarely gets much of a response. “So what did you do at school?”
“We talk about a new pope,” said Daniel, 3.
“You did?” I said, startled, especially since they do not attend a Catholic preschool. “Really?”
“No,” Daniel said, laughing. “I just teasing you.”
In 70 years or so when he calls to tell me he’s been elected pope, I may not believe him.
— 4 —
Is it surprising to anyone else that no other pope has chosen Francis as a name? Everyone loves St. Francis of Assisi.
When I told our sons that the new pope had taken the name of St. Francis, our 5-year-old said, “St. Francis Assisi!”
I had just told them the story of St. Francis and the wolf the other day. Although they still prefer the lesser-known story “The Dragon and the Cheese Curl,” they did enjoy hearing about the wolf.
One lesson I’ve learned: If you are going to invent a story for your children, make it a good one. If you try to embellish the story later, you’ll hear, “No, it’s just an orange cheese curl! It didn’t taste like chocolate!”
— 5 —
When I saw that Pope Francis was one of five children, I had to know which one. As a third child of six, I am fascinated by birth order. My mother’s theory was that he was the oldest child. I told her that first children have the unfair advantage because there are more first children than fourth or fifth children.
As it turned out, my mother was right that Pope Francis is the oldest. Only the pope’s youngest sibling, a sister, is still living. I found an interview with her.
Her reaction to the news? “Poor man.”
If he were my brother, I would probably feel the same way. His brother Jesuits, on the other hand, certainly seem pretty happy.
— 6 —
I am glad I didn’t give Facebook up for Lent. I would have been sorry to miss seeing all the Pope Francis excitement. And I would have missed this.
— 7 —
I suppose I could post about something other than Pope Francis.
This is a story on IVF for which The Catholic Review’s Maria Wiering interviewed John and me. One of my dear friends commented on how brave we were to give the interview. I don’t feel brave. I just feel that God is asking us to speak up at times when it might be easier and more comfortable to be silent. But He never said the easy path was the best one.
— Bonus St. Patrick’s Day Take —
“Shamrock and Hearts” by Leo
Last Sunday when I told the boys we were going to miss the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because we were still sick, I said, “So we can have our own parade here.”
Leo’s eyes lit up. I waited to hear which instrument he wanted to play as we marched around the house.
“I know what I will do,” he said. “I will be in charge of handing out the fruit snacks.”
So there goes my secret parenting tip for how to keep two preschoolers interested in a parade. Bring fruit snacks and lots of them.
Whether you make Irish soda bread, eat corned beef and cabbage, or wear your finest green, have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Check out more quick takes at Jen’s blog, Conversion Diary.