Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pope Francis' first general audience

Dear Family and Friends,

I decided to go to Pope Francis’ first general audience today, and what a good choice that was!
First sighting of Pope Francis
A general audience is when the Pope goes to Saint Peter’s Square to greet all the pilgrims who’ve come to see him and he gives them a little spiritual talk.

Everybody was going crazy as usual
Francis arrived in the Popemobile – like Benedict he doesn’t use the plexiglass top – and drove around the square so everybody could see him. He mainly just waved and smiled, but if he saw a baby he would stop to bless or kiss it. The guards kind of caught on that he likes to do this, so sometimes they tried to hand him a baby to kiss, but I saw that several times today Francis emphatically told them “no, not that one” if he saw that the baby was crying. Seems like the guards just want to score one with the boss, while Francis actually cares about the baby!

This lady held out a big “I love Pope Francis” Heart
And Francis graciously accepted it!
Benedict used to speak in all kinds of languages, but Francis only spoke in Italian and had his aides do the other languages. There were a lot of Spanish speakers there today, and they were very disappointed at this. Personally, I don’t see why he can’t speak the languages he knows. Seems that either he doesn’t want to appear to be playing favorites, or maybe somebody in the Vatican advised him that it’s “all or nothing”. I don’t know.

Pope Francis up on stage
He talked about Holy Week and how it’s a time to step outside of our ordinary grunge and serve others selflessly:“Holy Week is a time of grace which the Lord gifts us to open the doors of our hearts, … and to "step outside" towards others, to draw close to them so we can bring the light and joy of our faith. Always step outside yourself! And with the love and tenderness of God, with respect and patience, knowing that we put our hands, our feet, our hearts, but then it is God who guides them and makes all our actions fruitful.”
At the end Francis kept his popemobile waiting while he walked around greeting everybody
For me the beautiful thing is that Pope Francis is really living this – tomorrow he’ll spend a good part of his Holy Thursday with the inmates of Rome’s juvenile prison, no media allowed. This last week he’s been celebrating mass for all the different employees of Vatican City and having his meals with normal people. Before the conclave there was a lot of hype about the need to reform Church administration – The Roman Curia – and I see Francis right now getting to know first-hand what’s really going on before he makes any moves.

Beautiful Day, quite a crowd!!!!
Seems he’s always got a surprise up his sleeve, so let’s stay tuned!

God bless you,
Brother Kevin

PS: hope these photos come through…

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