A Jesuit with the name Francis! No one saw it coming. For weeks now we have heard whispers of Cardinal Scola or Cardinal Turkson, while here in the States we have heard arguments for the candidacy of Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal O’Malley. Yet, no one thought a Jesuit would be next, even more so a Jesuit choosing the name Francis! As I watched the live stream on the phone with a good friend, he shared the following short phrase: “‘Francis, rebuild my church’ - how appropriate for this time in our Church.”
Bonaventure in his work Life of Francis wrote the following passage that is worth revisiting this day, as we reflect on the gaudium magnum which we received yesterday:
“One day when Francis went out to meditate in the fields he was passing by the church of San Damiano which was threatening to collapse because of extreme age. Inspired by the Spirit, he went inside to pray.
Kneeling before an image of the Crucified, he was filled with great fervor and consolation as he prayed. While his tear-filled eyes were gazing at the Lord's cross, he heard with his bodily ears a voice coming from the cross, telling him three times: 'Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is falling into ruin.'
Trembling with fear, Francis was amazed at the sound of this astonishing voice, since he was alone in the church; and as he received in his heart the power of the divine words, he fell into a state of ecstasy. Returning finally to his senses, he prepared to put his whole heart into obeying the command he had received. He began zealously to repair the church materially, although the principle intention of the words referred to that Church which Christ purchased with his own blood, as the Holy Spirit afterward made him realize [...]”
Although the event described by St. Bonaventure took place in 1204, this voice from the Cross fills our Church yet again, beckoning us to build up Christ’s Body and bring about God’s Kingdom through love. Similar to St. Francis’ initial reaction upon hearing God’s call, many of us are amazed at the news of who has been chosen as the next successor to St. Peter. But let us also follow in St. Francis’ footsteps by laboring zealously to repair the Church – both local and universal – with the guidance of Pope Francis who has already witnessed to us great humility, compassion, and strength.
There is much more to say and to learn about our new Holy Father, but we cannot provide everything here. We invite you to visit our Pope Francis Portal for up-to-date information, videos, and resources on the newly elected Roman Pontiff, the humble servant of the servants of God – servus servorum dei.
Pam Tremblay is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center.