Habemus Papam! Almost a week has passed since the election of our beloved Pope Francis and I’m still “bouncing off the walls” with excitement. Well, it’s about time that I shared my joy and thanksgiving for the Holy Spirit’s choice on cyberspace. And what a fitting day to do so, as today is the Feast of St. Joseph, who is the “protector” of the Universal Church and the Inauguration of the Papacy of our new Pontiff.
I just finished watching EWTN’s encore presentation of Pope Francis’s installment Mass. As I reflected on how to compose this blog post I could find no better words the those of our Holy Father’s homily:
“How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own.”
Listen to how admirably he speaks of St. Joseph as the “protector” of the Church. Our Holy Father is lifting up St. Joseph as an example for us because in essence we too are called to “protect” the Church (anyone who doubts this statement needs only to look over their shoulder and open their eyes to see the mud which the secular media has flung at the Church, especially in the past couple of weeks).
We are called to be attentive to the voice of God in our lives. Yes, we hear His Word everyday in Holy Mass, but this is not the only way in which it comes to us. It can come to us in little ways as well such as in the discreet promptings in the silence of the depths of our hearts. We are also called to be open to the signs of Gods presence in our lives. Nothing happens by “pure chance,” God has ordained everything to take place with in a certain order. If we are to be true Christians, we must be receptive to the plans of God in our lives. We must not try to run from His will, but rather to submit to it and embrace it.
All that one has to do is look at the example set by our Holy Father’s words and actions when he was Cardinal of Buenos Aires to see that he is a true “protector” of the Catholic Faith. He is an authentic Christian; he doesn’t just preach about his faith, he lives it. Likewise, Cardinal Bergoglio’s humble and authentic way of living the Gospel vividly demonstrates that he consciously strives to be attentive to the voice of God. As one examines Cardinal Bergoglio’s interactions with the poor and his own efforts to live an austere and simple life, it is evident that he actively distances himself from anything that could potentially distract him from that quiet voice of God. Finally, one can see in Pope Francis the humility of accepting the will of God, even when it is difficult and doesn’t conform to his own plans. Recall, during the 2005 conclave that he made it clear that he did not hold aspirations to the papacy, nor had he previously welcomed any type of appointment to the curia. Rather, he desired to live the life of a simple shepherd, caring for his sheep by ministering close to the poor and forgotten ones. In the 2013 conclave, it became evident that God had other plans. He willingly submitted and embrace those plans.
God continues to make known to us His will as He continues to shower us with many stellar examples. If we but follow these examples, especially that of St. Joseph and Pope Francis, we will become the authentic Christians which God calls us to be.