Falling for Francis…..


I think I’m in love.  When I first saw him step out onto the balcony last Wednesday, I was a bit stunned.  Although I had a vague idea who he was, I couldn’t even pronounce his name, and he certainly had not been on my personal “short list” of possible successors to Pope Emeritus Benedict.

I was somewhat concerned that he wasn’t wearing the red cape and papal stole.  Having lived through the ravages wrought by the “spirit” of Vatican II, my antennae go on red alert whenever I sense any back peddling on the restoration of tradition, so masterfully advanced by our beloved Benedict.

It didn’t help that he wasn’t smiling…our new pope.  But, he seemed so peaceful, and I thought it took a good deal of courage and presence, to just stand quietly there, taking in everything and not gesturing or saying a word for several minutes.

Then he said “good evening” in Italian, and from there came smiles and more warm remarks, followed by the request that his flock pray for him, and he bowed low.  Finally, he did put on the papal stole and gave us his first blessing as pontiff.

There was something lovely about him, yet I still felt a bit of concern.  I spent the next few days reading blogs and news articles all over the Internet…and I watched him.  Watched him as EWTN covered everything he said and did publicly, right through his Mass of Inauguration yesterday on the Feast of St. Joseph.

I read some appalling criticism, mostly from those who wish the Church to return to the 1950’s.  Such mean remarks were made, and ridiculous observations…such as Pope Francis sporting buttons on his shirt instead of the more formal cuff links.  This man, who has lived for so long among the poor and who has washed their feet, could possibly be forgiven for not wearing French cuffs.

I listened.  His first thoughts on the balcony were of our Pope Emeritus, and he asked all to join in prayer for him.  He visited Benedict a day or so after the election. (It has also been reported that Francis called him before proceeding to the loggia.)  And, he did not forget him at the Inaugural Mass, but rather asked prayers and noted that it was Joseph Ratzinger’s feast day.  I heard this morning that he will be having lunch with Benedict on Saturday.

This is lovely.  He could do other things.  I am sure there is much to learn when you are suddenly elected pope, but he is making time to reach out to and remember in prayer our esteemed former pope.  What kindness, and what humility these gestures represent.  He does not wish to leave our former Holy Father in a type of exile, excluded from all that is happening at the Vatican.  No doubt, Francis will ask for advice from the venerable former pope.  We know for sure that he will ask Benedict to pray for him…since he asks everyone to pray for him.

Watching Pope Francis yesterday, he seemed genuinely to be enjoying himself as he rode through the throngs of people in his open pope mobile.  He strikes me as a vigorous man, in spite of his age…jumping down and walking up to the crowd.  He has warmth.  He likes to touch people, and he has a wonderful smile.

He strikes me as the kind of man, who if he wasn’t pope, could own an Italian restaurant in Rome, and  would know the names of all of his customers, and would no doubt freely give out hugs and handshakes and hoist children to his cheek.  He does so remind me of an affectionate “papa.”

This is a man who speaks his mind.  Although rather small in stature, but robust, he seems unafraid of speaking the truth.   By gosh, he has already mentioned the devil (gasp!) on several occasions.  Apparently he believes in the teachings of Jesus and the Church, that there is such an evil entity.  And..he’s not afraid to say so.  I don’t think he is afraid of anything.

Watching him celebrate Mass, I find that he is very reverent.  He elevates the Host and chalice for more than just a moment.  He says the prayers of the Canon slowly and with recollection.

And, he loves Our Lady.  He mentions her even more than he mentions the one whose head she crushed through her Glorious Son.  He speaks of her so naturally, as though she is always on his mind.  I smiled yesterday, as he stood before her beautiful statue at the end of his Inaugural Mass, and did not move until the entire Salve Regina had been sung.  He just looked at her.

I think this is a man who listens to God, as Jesus listened to the Father.  I don’t think he will compromise on anything significant.  He has already demonstrated that he is a simple man who intends to remain true to his name, Francis.

I am secretly praying that he may, as time goes on, be willing to wear more opulent vestments for the celebration of Mass, only because this is the supreme act of worship to our God.  But if he doesn’t, I will survive.

I am truly grateful to God for this good man of the people, who seems quite comfortable in his new role as Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ.  I can’t help thinking of Our Lord’s words…that the humble would be exalted.

I see a man of peace….not just a peacemaker.  But a man of great inner peace.  A man who understands the words of his Spanish speaking sister in Christ, St. Teresa of Avila:  Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you; all things are passing away; God never changes.  Patience obtains all things.  Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.

Truth never changes.  And, in my humble opinion, I think the Church and Truth are very safe with our new Holy Father…even if he never wears the red shoes…or French cuffs!


25 thoughts on “Falling for Francis…..

  1. Patricia,
    I had that feeling of “love at first sight” too, and even more so as I watch our Holy Father in these first days of his papacy. I agree with you that I believe the Church and Christ’s teachings are in good and safe hands with Pope Francis.
    As for the french cuffs and slippers… well as long as there is devotion and reverence, I can live without them. Actually I think his humble ways are refreshing 🙂

    • Karin, he is so refreshing! I love his warm smile. He is a joy to watch. I think it’s going to be an exciting papacy. Our beloved Benedict will always remain in my heart as well, we are so blessed to have both of the !

    • Nancy, was that you pacing up and down with me during that first day or two post election? :). What a gift God has given to us! Pope Francis projects both strength and gentleness. And we have our beloved Benedict praying for him! Am writing from hospital on my sister’s iPad. She is in procedure for kidney stone at the moment…..please pray if you happen to read this today. Xo

      • Just got back here and read this, but because God is not bond by time limits, I pray for your sister. Anyway, I can pray for a very swift recovery! I pray that the struggles of this Lent will blossom forth into a glorious Easter for you both (all).

        • Nancy, thank you! Please keep praying, because my sister is not feeling optimistic that the procedure worked. She will find out at the doctor’s office later this week. Hope she doesn’t have to repeat it!!! So, see you prayers are right on time 🙂 Oh, I do pray for a beautiful Holy WEek and a glorious Easter for all of us. Lent just fell by the wayside for me…being sick, and then so distracted by the papal conclave, election, etc. But then, Our Lord knew many of us would be. It was such a gift during this holy season. Love you, Nancy. Thank you for coming back in time to offer more prayers. God bless!

  2. I think there area great army of us who are praising the Holy Spirit as we learn about our new Holy Father. Our son in Rome, Fr. Thomas, sent a photo of Pope Francis reaching out to him and his fellow religious and looking them clearly in the eye. They couldn’t be happier.

    Thank you, Patricia for saying so well what we are all feeling in the depths of our beings..

    • Cindy, I was thinking of your Father Thomas while all of the excitement was going on in Rome. I thought how excited he must be to be in the midst of it all. I’m so glad he was able to get close enough for a photo. Will you share? 🙂 Maybe another trip to Rome is is your future!

      I’m saving your book till after Lent. But, am so looking forward to reading it! Just love the cover shot. I’m thinking I’ll need to keep tissues handy. God bless you!

  3. Patricia, A beautiful post that really echoes the feelings of many of us grateful that the Holy Spirit acted mercifully upon our requests. Warmth, sincerity, tenderness, humility – so many good qualities. Not being afraid to remove the blinders on the reality of the “father of lives” is a wonderful thing. I love the intellectual depth of Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus, and the poetic prescience of Blessed Pope John Paul II, but oh my goodness, it is wonderful to have as our new voice concise, easy to digest truth that rings clear and true like a tuning fork that fell from heaven.

    • Wow Colleen! And I love your comment. It is so beautifully expressed and I can tell it just poured out from your heart. A “tuning fork that fell from heaven,”…bet no one else has expressed it quite that way. 🙂 But, I think it’s perfect. I love checking daily at the Vatican web site to read the latest on what our new Holy Father is up to. He’s certainly full of surprises. I’m so happy he is visiting our beloved Benedict tomorrow. Would love to be there serving them lunch 🙂 God bless them….and you! xoxo

  4. Patricia, What is really captivating me, is His love for the Holy family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
    I keep thinking of the cultural calamity we’re in worldwide because of the loss of family life. (Going back to his promoting Our Lady, Undoer of Knots ) We have all become poor it seems, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually..You did such a beautiful job of walking us through the uniqueness of His Pontificate and God willing, I pray for mighty things in the days ahead.
    Love and Blessings +

    • Caroline, praying with you. There is something so lovable about this pope…even though I would like to dress him up a bit :), especially when he celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But, he seems disarmingly kind and good. I loved the photos of him with our Pope Emeritus which were taken at their meeting/lunch today. What a blessing to have both of them with us…can’t say that enough!

      I had not focused yet on his love for the Holy Family, so thanks for reminding me of that. So much to discover about him in the weeks, months and hopefully, years to come. Heaven knows the family is under attack as never before….the family, reflection of the Holy Trinity. Should we be surprised?!

      Have a beautiful Psalm Sunday and Holy Week to come. God bless you, dear friend. Much love xoxo

  5. He is a very endearing man, that much is for sure, and he needs and wants our prayers, which I know we shall all offer for him. The more I see of him, the more he reminds me of my late paternal grandfather. There is something grandfatherly about him, too, like no matter how badly you may screw up, you know he will offer you Christ’s message of mercy and forgiveness. God bless Pope Francis and all of us as we work to build up the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church, on earth. Blessings. Joyce

    • Joyce, he really is endearing, isn’t he? He seems, well, “huggable,” if I can say that about our Holy Father! He surely needs our prayers, and has the humility to ask for them. I look forward to hearing all he will say to us during Holy Week and on the great Solemnity of Easter. How wonderful that you will have time this year to spend in those beautiful churches you have access to. When I was growing up, we used to make the novena of nine churches on Good Friday. Ever heard of that? We would walk from church to church. You could do that in New Orleans. Where I live now, no way! It was such a lovely custom. Wishing you a most blessed Holy Week, and a glorious Easter. xoxoxo

      • Actually Patricia we make visits on Holy Thursday night after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We visit as many as we can get to but the number varies, from 3 to 9 to 12. Last year I think we did 6. I have probably 4 or 5 within walking distance and then a few we have to drive to. Sadly, one church always says they will be open til 11 and then it closes early, when the pastor unceremoniously and in a manner totally devoid of reverence removes the Blessed Sacrament from the repository and walks into the sacristy with the Ciborium, without so much as a genuflection. It made me so sick after watching this two years in a row I simply refuse to go back there. It’s not how it used to be there when the Adoration chapel was kept open til 11 with 2 beautiful statues of kneeling angels in Adoration on either side of the repository with a beautiful arrangement of flowers next to each one. oh, well, at least in my own parish, Jesus is accorded the respect He should get in His own church. Wishing you also a Blessed Holy Week and Joyous Easter. We love Him and He loves us! What more could we want? x0x0 Joyce

        • Joyce, that’s beautiful! I have never heard of doing it on Holy Thursday night. You are so blessed to have so many wonderful churches nearby…I’m always telling you that 🙂 It’s quite the opposite here…although we do have several adoration chapels, for which I am deeply grateful. They close them Holy Thursday until Easter Sunday evening. I was in Rome once for Holy Week, and they actually had Eucharistic adoration in a side chapel at St. John Lateran until about 3pm. I was so delighted! It was beautifully decorated, and filled with adorers. I love the altar of repose on Holy Thursday. Ours will close by 10pm this year…not enough people, I guess. So sad about that priest you mentioned who didn’t even genuflect. How inspiring when our priests do show great reverence for the Lord’s Real Presence. I’m thrilled when I’m doing my adoration hours and a priest comes into the chapel. It’s usually one of the newly ordained ones. The JPII generation! God love them!

    • Josh, welcome! Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I would definitely recommend Jean Petit’s The Descending Fire. Where did you hear about it? Jean Petit is a pseudonym for the author who was a priest, and obviously, a great mystic who did not want to be identified. His writings are aflame, and he relies heavily on St. Therese of Lisieux. This little book is a treasure…one never comes to the end of savoring its beauty. At least, that is my opinon 🙂 If you read it, please do let me know what you think! God bless you, and hope to hear from you again! Patricia

      PS If you haven’t seen it, I have a post on this book which you can find by typing Jean Petit into the search box –top right side of my blog.

  6. Oh yeah. Quick question. I’m thinking about reading Jean Petit’s The Descending Fire. I take it you would recommend this book?

  7. Hi Patricia,

    I really enjoyed your reflections on our new pope. Thank you! There are so many beautiful stories circulating about Pope Francis. How blessed we are!

    I am praying for your sister. I hope she has a speedy recovery.

    And I see Cindy’s comment, here on your blog! Cindy and I have a mutual friend who told me about her book. I saw your post on Cindy’s blog when I stopped to say hello. Isn’t it lovely to stop on a new blog and see a friend has visited as well? We are all connected together in one way or another.

    God bless!

    • Hi Sue! So glad to see you….I see red hair and a beautiful smile and a twinkle in your eye 🙂 Thank you for your prayers for my sister. She is worried as she has seen no signs that the stone was smashed to pieces. She will find out later this week when she returns to the doctor. It’s becoming a joke between her and me….where is the stone, etc. , but I know she is very frustrated.

      Yes, Pope Francis grows more endearing everyday. I read his homily from yesterday and thought it was wonderful. I still miss my Benedict, and hope he will be with us for some time to come. God is good to give them both to us…and although we have only one Holy Father, we also have our Pope Emeritus.

      I met Cindy when she commented on my blog one day. Then I followed her back to hers, and learned about her dear son, and her book. I’m keeping it to read as a treat after Lent. I would like to read your book too. Is it an e-book? I think you should write more books. You are a very gifted writer. BTW, don’t you dare ever delete your blog. I’m standing with Noreen on that one! You can always abandon it for awhile, but please don’t delete…ever!!!

      Yes, I did notice you on Cindy’s blog, and it is a joy to see how we all manage to find each other, and are all connected. It’s beautiful, and I know the Lord brings us together…we need each other for sure in this world! xoxoxo

      • Hi Patricia,

        I am so sorry to hear about the frustrations of your sister. I will continue to pray!

        My book needs updating and rewriting in places but it is available as a free PDF book if you’d like to read it as it is. There’s a link on my blog page “My Grief Book”. Just look under my blog header!

        Oh yes, the Lord does bring us together. I like this quote from Bl John Henry Cardinal Newman:

        I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

        God bless!

        • I would love to read your book! In fact, I have already sneaked a peek, but haven’t yet downloaded it. I love your grief posts. That’s how I found you…wondering who this woman was who wrote so beautifully and tirelessly about her precious Thomas. I knew you were an extraordinary person from those first posts.

          Thank you so much for your continued prayers for my sister. She returns to the doctor on Thursday, and she is so hoping this problem is resolved.

          I like being a link too. We have a beautiful chain here in our little piece of the Catholic blogosphere. Your link shines brightly, dear Sue. xoxo

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