I found it difficult falling asleep last night. Part of it was anticipating the fact that I had to get up today and catch a flight for St. Louis where I will begin a retreat with 60 laymen in an hour or so. But I think my restlessness was due primarily to the excitement of the day. Last month I was shocked to learn of Pope Benedict's resignation. Yesterday I was even more shocked to learn that a Jesuit had been elected pope. I am a Jesuit and I never expected to see one of my brothers become pope.
A few days ago I blogged about the fact that the papal conclave began on the anniversary of the canonization of the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and of his close friend, the great Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier. Then the conclave ended with the election of a Jesuit!
I'd been hoping that the new pope would choose the name "Joseph," thus becoming the first Pope Joseph in history. As the foster-father of Jesus and the Patron of the Universal Church, St. Joseph would be the perfect patron for the new pope. However, I can't argue with the choice of "Francis." As our current General Superior, Fr. Nicolas Adolfo, wrote in his statement today:
"The name of 'Francis' by which we shall now know him evokes for us the Holy Father's evangelical spirit of closeness to the poor, his identification with simple people, and his commitment to the renewal of the Church. From the very first moment in which he appeared before the people of God, he gave visible witness to his simplicity, his humility, his pastoral experience and his spiritual depth."
That's what I saw as well and it led to growing excitement as the shock wore off and the text and email messages and phone calls came pouring in. I'm also excited that Pope Francis will be officially installed on the feast of St. Joseph. I may not have gotten the name right, but I did get the day!