In the past few days, I've written three, tongue-in-cheek posts about the Papal Elections. In case you missed them, they are: If Elected I will Not Serve As Pope, For Pope - A New Choice, and Final Recommendations for Pope.
As I mentioned in the first post, I'm not Catholic, in fact, I'm not Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, or a member of any other ideology.
What I didn't mention in any of the three posts was spirituality is the most important aspect of my life.
If you are beginning to think this might not be another tongue-in-cheek post about the Papal Election, you are quite correct. For the past three days while driving, I've been listening to the Catholic Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. I thought I was doing that in order to learn more about the election process, but as it turned out that wasn't why I was listening.
Yesterday, I left the house for a fifteen minute trip, turned on the radio, and heard, "We have a Pope..." The announcement was followed by this explanation: the name of the new Pope hadn't been released, but if I kept listening, in a few minutes, I would not only learn the new Pope's name, I would hear his address to the crowd awaiting his appearance.
Moments later, I heard Pope Francis ask for prayers. He was expected to bless those in the square, and he did, but first he asked for prayer. Since then I've learned that he is a Jesuit, a simple man, a man of the people, a man who paid his hotel bill this morning before moving into his new residence, a man who declined riding in the Papal Limo after being introduced as the new Pope, choosing instead to take the bus along with the Cardinals who had elected him. I've also heard the story of the toast he made to the Cardinals, saying "May God forgive you for what you have done."
I've quit kidding myself about listening to all of that as a learning exercise. I listened because Pope Francis has roused a hope in me that has been dormant so long I had almost forgotten what it felt like, the hope that someone, somewhere, would appear on the earth and make such a difference that the course of life would shift.
Tonight, I join John the Baptist, who, upon hearing of Jesus of Nazareth, sent men to ask him, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?" And as I think of how John must have felt as he waited for the answer, I think that I know how he felt.
Lest you misunderstand what I'm saying, let me say this. I don't think Pope Francis is Jesus the Christ, but I do believe that he has the potential to change the course of humanity. Does that mean I will become a Catholic? Nope, nor will I affiliate with any other religion. But I will do what Pope Francis asked me to do. I will pray for him and pray without ceasing.