Yesterday at 7:07 I was just settling down to write tomorrow's blog...
15 minutes later I was jumping off a bus and sprinting through the streets of Rome, cassock flapping behind me, dodging puddles on the sidewalk and mopeds and cars at the intersections.
10 minutes after that I was in St. Peter's square, just twenty yards short of the basilica stairs.
So if this isn't the longest, deepest blog you've ever read, blame it on Pope Francis. His pontificate interrupted my creative moment at the keyboard... and marks the beginning of yet another leg on the Church's journey towards eternity.
What did I do once I was in the plaza? First, I was just happy being part of the living, breathing - in my case panting - Church gathered there to wait for its new shepherd. Next, when Pope Francis stepped onto the balcony at 8:12 and asked us for our prayers, I joined in that powerful moment of silence to pray for our new Pope. Finally, I bowed my head as he blessed us in return.
I don't know if Pope Francis slept very well last night - he has a big job ahead of him. But I definitely did. It's great to have a shepherd again.
Here are Pope Francis' first words as Pope:
Brothers and sisters good evening. You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.First of all I would like to say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord will bless him and that our Lady will protect him.
Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory to the Father…
And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.
I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will...
Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon... We will see one another soon. Tomorrow I want to go to pray to the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.Good night and sleep well!