ODAY I WOULD LIKE to share with you reflections from Fr. Jonathan Gaspar, Priest Secretary to His Eminence Seán Cardinal O’Malley. As Fr. Gaspar has been in Rome during this historic time, he first shared these thoughts through social media, (and rarely have I seen such an honest, holy, and inspiring post on FB!) With his permission I now share with you his heartfelt words written in St. Peter’s Square on the historic day of March 13, 2013:
“This has been an amazing day, to say the least. I am blessed to have been able to witness this historic papal election, and a number of things stand out for me.
“First, the number of young people flooding the streets of Rome, to catch a glimpse of their new Pope. I was in a chapel this afternoon, right outside the Vatican, to pray for the election. I was amazed at the number of people, mostly young people, who were in adoration before the Lord, praying for the process that would select the future successor of the Apostle St. Peter. Our young people are filled with faith, and they teach us all that the most important thing for us as Catholics is to grow in holiness – to let the Gospel of Jesus Christ SHAPE OUR LIVES, not the other way around.
“The second is this: the whole world watched a chimney for two days, and we didn’t think anything about it. The Pope isn’t just the Bishop of Rome. He’s a universal shepherd and has universal appeal. Why would people of all walks of life, of different religious persuasions and attitudes, pay such close attention for smoke signals? I think we simply need a voice of reason, a compass that points us to the truth, a Good Shepherd who leads us to happiness with God. Popes come and go, but Jesus Christ remains – and his Gospel is forever an invitation to allow ourselves to be transformed by grace, to turn from selfishness and to love God and our neighbor with all that we are.
“Lastly, the selection of a Cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina came as a surprise to all of us – and it probably came as a surprise to many of the Cardinals who eventually would vote for him. But isn’t this the great mystery of the Church? God knew who would be Pope, and He revealed him to the College of Cardinals. It was fascinating to be with His Eminence Seán Cardinal O’Malley these past few weeks, to witness his responses to the media who continued to speculate about a Seán O’Malley papacy. Cardinal Seán was not comfortable with all the attention – no surprise – but he also didn’t pay much attention to it. In the end, he knew deep down that the man chosen to be Pope would be the one that God chose – and this could only be done in prayer. Cardinal Seán and the other Cardinals have been praying intensely during these days of the Conclave, precisely so that they may hear what GOD had to say – not the (mainstream media), nor any other “source” of information. Choosing a Pope is a sacred responsibility, and only in prayer can the choice be clear.
“We prayed tonight in Rome for our Holy Father, Pope Francis. We will pray for him in the coming days, and we will ask God to bless him with health and strength so that he may undertake with courage the tremendous responsibility of strengthening our faith and building up the Body of Christ here on earth. Long live Pope Francis! — at Vatican and St. Peter’s Square.”
Fr. Jonathan Gaspar is also the Director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Boston. Additionally, he is an organist, singer, and a great advocate of Gregorian Chant. In 2011, he formed the Office of Divine Worship Saint Cecilia Schola in which we collaborated on recording the ICEL Chants of the Roman Missal, Third Edition.
(Photo courtesy of PilotCatholicNews.com)