Thursday, April 21, 2005

Habemus Papam!

I missed the five-minute confusion as to whether it was white or black smoke. I missed the initial tolling of the bells. But after receiving a text message from Ted with only two words - Habemus Papam - I turned the TV on immediately and joined the rest of the world in joyfully anticipating the revelation of the identity of our next Pope.

I saw St. Peter's Square quickly fill up with people and wished I lived within walking or driving distance from Rome as well so I could be part of history in a more concrete way. Instead, I had to be content and thankful that we had cable TV. EWTN, BBC and CNN all focused on the balcony and I realized I had a better view than if I were standing with the crowds at the Vatican. When the announcement of his identity came, I let out a gleeful shout! Oh, I don't know Cardinal Ratzinger. I hardly can pronounce the names of all the papabile. I just felt that I had a father again, or a new shepherd. I believed in my heart that it was the Holy Spirit who led the cardinals in the conclave. The Lord would not allow such an important decision to be corrupted by Satan. Therefore, whoever my new Pope is, my faith tells me that he is the man whom God anointed to lead me closer to Him for such a time as this.

Pope Benedict XVI. I had no idea who the previous 15 Benedicts were and how they served as pontiff. It was only later that I learned of their more memorable deeds, particularly Benedict XV, that Vatican watchers and experts said could have been the reason why Cardinal Ratzinger chose the name.

"I am a humble servant in the Lord's vineyard. I commend myself to your prayers," thus the new pope offered himself to his flock. Across the globe, I heard him and said, I will pray for you Pope Benedict XVI. Thank you for standing up to the challenge of being the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

As the rest of the world has been following closely the happenings at Vatican, I pray that hearts would be moved back to rediscover their faith. May the arms of St. Peter reach all these hearts who are searching for a home, a father, and a beloved. True, we will always be orthodox and we will never give in to the dictates of the world, but such is the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and we would do well to abide by His Word. The Church may suffer severe criticisms because of the new Pope's hardline stance against many of the world's demands, but it makes me love, believe, and follow him all the more.

The Church will install Internet and use a wide screen to project to the crowds what is going on at the papal balcony. This is how the Catholic Church can move with the times. But in this pontificate, we won't be seeing a change of heart with regard to homosexuality, contraception, and abortion. There are absolutes that we should all adhere to in order to obey the commands of our Savior Jesus Christ.

I end by quoting the homily of Pope Benedict XVI while he was still known as Cardinal Ratzinger, for these echoed my thoughts exactly:

"How many winds of doctrine we have known in these last decades, how many ideological currents, how many modes of thought... The little ship of thought of many Christians has been not seldom agitated by this wind ― tossed by an extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and ways like that. Each day seven new are born arising as St. Paul said from the trickery of men, from cunning in the service of error (cf. Ephesians 4: 14). To have a clear faith, according to the Creed of the Church, comes frequently to be labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, that which allows itself to bear "what is of every wind of doctrine", appears as a unique position at the height of contemporary times. It is constituting itself a dictatorship of relativism that recognizes nothing as definitive and that allows as the ultimate measure only one's own ego and one's own desires."

It is a pretty long but rich homily which he delivered just a few hours before he was elected as the 265th Pope. For these views alone, this brilliant theologian gets my vote. May the white smoke from the chimney and the sound of the bells ringing wildly reach heaven, as part of our joyful worship and thanksgiving, for a godly man has been named the Lord's Servant in his vineyard that is the world today.

I'm praying for you, my new pope.

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