Habemus Papam: Pope Francis

Today was another historically significant day as the cardinals finally chose a pope. People were elated when they saw the white smoke (I thought there’d be at least another day of voting left) and waited another half an hour before the successor was announced. Sadly, I was away from the television when the appearance on the balcony took place, but I was kept up to date via Twitter as I headed for lunch. Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina became the first pope – in over a thousand years, I read – to come from the Americas (as opposed to Europe) – and is Jesuit. The 76-year-old pope is the 266th pope and has chosen the name Francis, the first of that name. I wondered if it was in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi, whose well-known prayer is one of my favourites and a good reminder:

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

Amen.

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220)

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As people all over the world, Christian and non-believers, scramble to learn more about the new pope will be ‘installed’ on 19 March, I pray that our hearts will be open and that there may be a spiritual revival. What I love best about Pope Francis’ actions today is that, after he had thanked the crowd, he asked first that we pray for him. This is the most important thing to do that we often forget to do in this busy world. Today I have two specific people I’d like to pray for:

  • Pope Francis – May he ask for Your wisdom as he leads the Roman Catholic Church. May he hold onto Your Words and not be easily swayed by what the public wants. May You use him to help the poor in spirit and to bless them.
  • Queen Elizabeth II – May she have a quick recovery from whatever ails her. Grant her strength, rest and faith.

Today’s event brought my Catholic friends to mind (I identify myself as Christian though most Catholics would [rather] identify me as Protestant). It’s interesting that my Catholic friends from Europe are more devout than the ones I know from Canada. In fact, the latter simply wear it as a name tag which makes me wonder why they still want to be identified as such if they do not care for it. Well, I have lots of questions in my head. I greatly appreciate your opinion or answers. 🙂

Blessings,

Perseverance

Recommended Article (Updated: 14 March)

Why the new pope chose Francis as his name (theglobeandmail.com)

Pope Francis wants ‘poor Church for the poor’ (BBC)

Queen’s Christmas Message 2012 & My Christmas Day Plans

HAPPY CHRISTMAS! FROHE WEIHNACHTEN! JOYEUX NOEL! FELIZ NAVIDAD! 🙂

 

I hope all of you are having or had a wonderful day today. It’s not yet noon so my day has just started!

I woke up this morning an hour after the Queen’s Christmas message had already broadcast. If you haven’t already, you can watch it on The Royal Channel YouTube page.

The Queen delivered yet another lovely message reflecting this year’s events (namely, the Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Games) and concluded with the important Christmas message:

“This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.

“It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.

“The carol, In The Bleak Midwinter, ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service: ‘What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part’. The carol gives the answer ‘Yet what I can I give him – give my heart’.

It is clear that this year’s ‘theme’ is about serving, something the Queen has done for her people throughout the Commonwealth since she ascended to the throne at age 25. I admire our Queen for her dedication and her perseverance, as well as her faith. I wish I were brave enough to speak more openly about the importance of today, of the true Christmas message. It is ironic that in this day and age when I live in a country with ‘freedom of religion’, I am still afraid of sharing for fear of being mocked or humiliated. One day, I’ll be brave enough and one day, I trust the LORD will help me overcome my fear. Regardless of what you believe, Jesus came as a present for all of us. HE is mercy. HE is compassion. HE is LOVE. 25 December may not be his true birthday but we borrow this day to remember what HE did.

nativity

 

This morning, while calling my relatives in different countries, I learned that one of my relatives had passed away some time ago. Though I am saddened to learn of her passing, I also remember that she is now at rest and with the LORD. I am always deeply sad when our beloved seniors leave this world. They had gone through so much – a war (if not more), food rations, fear, decades of changes… I am selfish for wanting them to stay a while longer for they represent history and I cannot bear to be parted from them. Yet I must remember that they would want us to be happy and that they were glad we thought and still think of them fondly. Don’t forget to call or see our seniors and let them know how much they are loved. Let us make their last days filled with joy and peace.

I will probably be spending the day or the next few days watching some Christmas favourites:

Cover of "Joyeux Noel (Widescreen)"

Cover of Joyeux Noel (Widescreen)

 

The Nativity Story

The Nativity Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

And of course, mustn’t forget Downton Abbey‘s S3 Christmas Special!

This year, I would like to start a new tradition. My family and I will be volunteering at a shelter (soup kitchen) so that those less fortunate than us may enjoy a Christmas dinner and receive presents filled with necessities. For isn’t that what Christmas is about? Christ came so that we may have hope. HE came to serve. So I shall too. 🙂

 

Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Christmas 2012 Articles

 

Asking for Forgiveness: A Visit to a Russian Orthodox Church

I visited the Russian Orthodox church in Munich this evening. I learned quite a bit from my colleague about:

  • the significance of the church’s foundations/location (alter faces the east because that’s where the sun rises; we the people come from the west)
  • signing/crossing oneself (3x, then bowing or touching the ground)
  • kissing the icons (or pressing one’s cheek to it)
  • difference between and the significance of the different Mary & Jesus icons

This service was for the asking of forgiveness before Lent. If I remember correctly, Russian Orthodox Christians begin Lent that day (as opposed to Ash Wednesday – on the 8th of March this year).