Wednesday, March 13, 2013


To my son Tommy,

I like to journal major events of our lifetime in my letters to you, and this blog post will do just that.

Most Jesuits had resigned themselves to never having a Pope come from their ranks. Many consider the Jesuits the marines of the Catholic religion and assumed their temperament was not suited for the position. Imagine their surprise when the white smoke came, and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope. And though location doesn't truly matter, I am also pleased to have one from Latin America which represents a large majority of members of our religion.

He took the name Pope Francis I. I assumed (incorrectly) it was in reference to one of the founders of the Jesuit society, St. Francis Xavier. Turns out it was in reference to St. Francis of Assisi. There is a stark contrast in the two characters and philosophies. St. Francis of Assisi epitomizes a more simple and humble existence where Jesuits tend to have a more go getter attitude. Of course this is just my humble understanding of the two and more based on my experience then any studies of doctrine or such.

The thought of St. Francis brought back many memories. I remember visiting Assisi in my youth. Your grandad was stationed over Italy so we toured the entire country. I guess I was about eleven when I went to this town on a hill. It was one of the most physically tiring tours we took in Italy. The steep grade of the entire town made my young legs burn like no other place. I remember the tour guide telling us to lean back from the hill to use different leg muscles. It felt like every place we went was uphill even though I know we had to have as many downhill treks as up.

For most people St. Francis of Assisi brings to mind the phrase "rebuild my Church". I suppose that is fitting for this pope and these times. But for me St. Francis conjures feelings and images of the penitent. When I was in Assisi, I availed myself to the sacrament of Reconciliation. I remember quite clearly being told and explained and having it emphasized that confession at this church (I think it was at St. Damian's but it may have been in the basilica) in this town has a special dispensation that truly erases all your past transgressions. Of course being so young, perhaps I misunderstood, but it does make sense. St. Francis was a bad boy before he finally changed his ways and is proof that there is hope for us all. If anyone would understand forgiveness and sin and leaving your past life behind you, it would be St. Francis. I think that focus is more appropriate for the times and goes well with the year of faith campaign that promises to leave the light on for people to come or return to their faith. I picture the name choice as another invitation for all of us to return to our faith.

Whatever the meaning or to whomever the name is attributed, it is good to have a new pope so quickly. I pray that Pope Francis I is guided by the Holy Spirit to lead and inspire.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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