Did I call it or what? While I obviously could not make any predictions about who would be chosen the Successor of St. Peter — – except to observe multiple times that those kind-but-misguided people betting on me were obviously sipping too much grappa — – I did remark that I thought the new Holy Father would choose the beautiful Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, for his first public Mass.
And that’s where I’ll be this morning at 9:30 AM Rome time: with 100,000 other people in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass of Inauguration of Pope Francis!
St. Joseph: the foster father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the patron saint of dads … and Pope Francis becomes the Holy Father of our earthly, spiritual family, the Church, on this holiday also observed as “Father’s Day” in Italy;
St. Joseph: the chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Pope Frances loves her so much, traveling to the Shrine of Salus Populi Romani, “the Help of the People of Rome,” in the most venerable church dedicated to Our Lady, Saint Mary Major, the first morning after his election;
St. Joseph: Patron of the Church Universal; and now Pope Francis becomes the Pastor of the flock, the catholic, “universal” Church;
St. Joseph: the patron of workers, himself a carpenter; and our new pontiff, renowned for his closeness to the working men and women of his former Archdiocese of Buenos Aires;
St. Joseph: with a special care for the poor, always approached in prayer by those in want and need; and the new Bishop of Rome with such a reputation of solicitude for those in poverty;
St. Joseph: a man of complete trust in God’s will, as shown in the Gospel; and Pope Francis accepting his towering new task out of humble obedience to God’s plan;
St. Joseph: the protector of the Holy Family, his foster Son and virgin wife, leading them to safety in Egypt when the oppressive tyrant, King Herod, sought to kill the newborn Savior; and now our new Holy Father will become an ardent advocate of those persecuted, those forced from their homes, those oppressed for their faith;
St. Joseph: the man closest to Jesus, the man who knew Him first, loved Him most, and held Him closest; and now our Holy Father calling us to know, love, and serve Jesus … to friendship with Jesus;
St. Joseph: the patron saint of a happy death — – surrounded on his deathbed by Jesus and Mary; and now our new Pope speaking to us of eternal life;
In the Divine Office that we bishops, priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers promise to pray daily, we reflect today upon the words of St. Bernard, who applied them to St. Joseph: God never calls us to something without giving us the grace to do it!
That’s our prayer for Pope Francis: the Holy Spirit has called him to be our Holy Father; through the intercession of Saint Joseph, may our new Successor of St. Peter trust that God will indeed lavishly supply the Grace he needs!