Yes, we are still in “Sede Vacante” but Conclave 2013 is almost here! 5:00pm Tuesday March 12 Rome time (just under 5 hours from now), the 115 cardinals will process into the Sistine Chapel as the election of our next pope will begin. A detailed schedule has been released highlighting the happenings of the conclave. Remember, this may take a while! According to Father Lombardi, the first smoke signal at the Vatican will appear around 8:00pm Rome time. Black Smoke: “No Pope elected yet”, White Smoke: “We have a Pope!” (though he stresses it is unlikely that a pope will be elected by the end of the first round.)
Here’s a little low-down on what we Catholics believe about the Pope: As Catholics we believe that the pope IS the successor of St. Peter; the apostle of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Bible we see Simon-Peter as a man who struggled continuously, but ultimately stayed true to Our Lord and His Church. Jesus himself established Peter as head of the church in Matthew 16:18. Something to get straight is that the pope is a human like you and I, he IS NOT God, therefore the pope is not perfect. As Catholics we believe he is only infallible in matters of faith & morals. In these areas he is under protection of the Holy Spirit, as it is the pope who serves as a guide to the Church on earth. We believe that God IS our Almighty Father, but just as we each have a dad here on earth so too does the pope serve as an earthly dad to the Church. :D
Like many young people this will be the second conclave in my lifetime, and it is terribly exciting! Last time around I remember being upset because our beloved Pope John Paul II had passed away. He had been a constant figure in my life, the only Vicar of Christ I had known, so at 10 years old I couldn’t believe that he had passed from this life. The conclave was completely new to me, black smoke, white smoke and the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the Cardinals’ decision. The wait seemed so long, but when it finally concluded it was Cardinal Ratzinger, who took the name of Benedict XVI, emerging to greet us – it was beautiful to watch.
As so many have said over the past weeks, Papa Benedict’s resignation was a shock, (even now.) We have been witnesses to the humility he has displayed in doing so, in understanding his limitations and ultimately God’s will for him – it’s that which, along with the immense contributions he has made for our faith, will remain with us . Papa Benedetto XVI Emeritus is a great man who did a great deal for the church, and he will always be in our prayers.
We are also reminded in this time that Our Lord Jesus is the head of the church, and that we are but His unworthy instruments.
As a baby I was present at Blessed Pope John Paul II’s beatification of St Mary Mackillop of the Cross (I actually don’t remember it, though I have seen the photos.) I was also fortunate to have seen Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when I was 14, at World Youth Day 2008. I pray to one day have the chance see our new pope! Oh, how I’d love to be there at the Vatican to hear and see the new pope emerge, but I know God intends me to join the members of the church in spirit as we wait for our new papa!
Remember to keep Papa Benedict XVI in your prayers. Pray for the cardinals. If you haven’t done so already spiritually adopt a cardinal here!
There’s a heap of fun things to do online as we wait and pray together for the proclamation “Habemus Papam!” (like the Pope Name Predictor Competition, Conclave App etc. ^.^ ) You can watch live coverage on EWTN at ewtn.com or on xt3.com, receive live updates at various Catholic websites. Be sure to join the #TeamCatholic peeps on Twitter, we’re pretty awesome. Do some exploring and be sure to share what you find!
God Bless you all and let’s keep praying!