| Reflections from St. Peter's Square
Rev. Mr. Brandon Macadaeg
When I arrived in Rome four years ago, I never thought that I would be here for a conclave, but it has certainly been an exciting experience.
Like many people throughout the world, I was shocked when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation last month. I had the opportunity to meet him personally on two occasions and I have been to various Masses and other gatherings with him over the years. I grew very fond of him during my time in Rome as I listened to his teachings, read his works, and witnessed his pastoral love for the Church. His priestly example is something that I will cherish in my years of priesthood. It was a very moving experience to be present at his last General Audience on Feb. 27. I found so much strength and peace from his words because he reminded us that even when we are faced with difficulty, the Lord is always with us and that we can have profound serenity when we put the good of the Church before our own.
Even in the midst of saying farewell to our beloved Benedict XVI, we look forward in hope to the next pope that God has chosen to lead his Church. I had the opportunity to attend the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff at St. Peter's on March 12. Even though it was neat to see all the cardinals, I was mostly struck by the profound solemnity and peace by which they entered into this great task of electing a new pope. I could sense that they were men of prayer, men of zeal and pastoral charity, and men of the Church. We're in good hands!
Once the conclave started on March 12, my friends and I went down to the Square to await the results of each ballot. We braved the rain and the cold. We saw black smoke on two occasions. But on the evening of March 13, the white smoke went up announcing that we have a pope!
Seeing the white smoke, the whole Square just erupted with excitement. The bells began to ring and it was starting to sink in that a pope had just been elected. The joy in the Square was overwhelming. I was standing very close to the central loggia. Around 8 p.m., the Proto-deacon emerged to announce "Habemus Papam" and announced that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected as Pope Francis.
A few minutes later he emerged on the balcony. Up until that moment, I did not even know who he was. But I was so happy because God has continued to show his fidelity to us by giving us our new Holy Father. I was impressed by his humor, his humility and his gentleness. We are definitely going to see great things from him in the years to come. We are so blessed!
I was happily surprised to see that the Square was packed with many young people: young men and women of my generation! These young people brought a great energy and enthusiasm to this entire experience. These young people love the Lord, their Catholic faith, and the pope. And they are happily looking to Pope Francis, who following the example of his venerable predecessors, will lovingly and humbly show us the face of Jesus Christ. Perhaps this whole experience will greatly encourage this generation in the great and wonderful work of the New Evangelization.
The Church is alive these days! The Lord has not abandoned his Church! Long live Pope Francis! May God be praised now and forever!
(Rev. Mr. Brandon Macadaeg is a seminarian for the Diocese of Oakland who will be ordained a priest in May. He is a student at the Pontifical North American College.)
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