The Jesuit in the Dominican Robes, with the Franciscan Name

Well, I’ve been quiet through some exciting time, and I apologize for that. I was supposed to be writing to you from St. Peter’s Square when the white smoke billowed and the new pope emerged, but instead I appear to have brought something dysenteric with me from NY; since landing in Rome, have been unable to do more than cling to the bathroom floor begging for death or healing and offering up my ordeal for the conclave and now our new pope, Francis. I’m a girl who appreciates irony, and normally I might find this amusing, coming on the heels of this piece, but it’s been real agony, and this monsterous bug must now run its course. Please pray for me. I’m both sick and homesick.

I really hope to be on my feet by Friday, but no guarantees I’m drinking something to restore electrolytes and my digestive tract is still not sure it likes it.

And now that I’ve talked about me, how about that Francis, eh? What a moment! I’d been trying to follow Twitter but when my 4G became bogged down and nothing moved, I had to rely on the screams of nuns who quickly turned on the television and invited me to watch. On my way to it, I looked out the window and saw Romans running up the street to St. Peter’s which is a half mile from here. It was cute and put me in mind of the old Prince Spaghetti ads (and yes, I know I am dating myself with that reference).

So much has already been said about this new pope and his unprecedented name, his unprecedented religious order and hemisphere, but what struck me when he emerged to the papal balcony was that he was a Jesuit, wearing the papal versions of Dominican threads, taking a Franciscan name. And I thought: UNITY.

Pope Benedict took his name from Benedict of Nursia, the Father of Western Monasticism, and it is Western Monasticism that helped to restore civilization after the Dark Ages, largely by storing up its knowledge, creating a continuum for instruction and advancement. This pope takes his name from Francis, the church rebuilder who came along when we had balled ourselves up because of all we thought we knew.

Seems right that they should follow each other in papacy as in history. I read somewhere yesterday that “Pope Benedict taught us what faith means, this pope will teach us how faith is lived.” And that sounds about right to me, and I think we really need some real-time instruction in the living of the faith.

Seeing him, during his first mass — again, a Jesuit,with the Franciscan sensibility, the Dominican cassock beneath his chasuble, but now offering mass at a “Benedictine” altar (albeit with the big candlesticks sensibly moved)– we saw a Novus Ordo, but in Latin, and again the thought occurred: UNITY.

I feel enormous gratitude to the Pope Emeritus for understanding that the Barque of Peter, barely surviving the perfect storm of the last ten years, needed a different helmsman to restore her equilibrium — one with different gifts and strengths. Our last two popes have given us reams of theory. Now we need the example of application.

After Benedict resigned, I wrote:

Benedict…realized that the Church’s disorientation—and thus the world’s—would not be righted by yet another professorial speech, or another pilgrimage. A ship in profound danger requires a profound action, and Benedict has taken it. He is throwing all of us into the arms of the Lord in the belief that, as he said after his announcement, “the Church belongs to Christ, whose care and guidance will never be lacking.”

It is too soon to say who and what Pope Francis will bring our way, — he will show us who he is, soon enough — but I feel hopeful and energized by everything I have read thus far, from his riding the bus back home with the fellas after the big party, to the swift effect his example is already having on others, like Calah Alexander, to the fact that he did not automatically immediately restore Curial positions as is common, to the fact that the press and the extremists (on both “right” and “left”) who want so badly to define Francis seem stymied, as does the press. The rush to “define” Pope Francis is a power-play by those who understand that if they can define him, they can label him, and as Kirkegaard said, “the minute you label me, you negate me.” But I don’t think Francis will be easily labeled or negated.

I love that. I love the fact that, as Katrina notes, Francis cannot be so easily pigeonholed. He is neither “left” or “right”; he is Catholic and therefore “both/and”. He champions neither the capitalists nor the statists and sees Social Justice as something more than a governmental checklist.

In this pope we may finally have someone who will transcend all the labels and put them forever to rest by showing us how to live the faith in all of it’s balance, paradox and seeming contradictions. In unity. And that, I think will finally restore our tossed and shaken bargue to True North. Or wherever heaven actually is.

I’m positive it’s not on this bathroom floor. Hopefully this will be my last dispatch from Miserable and Homesickland. Tomorrow I will be sunnier.

UPDATE: Don’t miss Tim Muldoon’s musings on this Ignatian/Franciscan Pope or Fr. Dwight’s take on what today’s visit to Mary Major may mean. In fact, just do keep an eye on our Catholic landing page for nearly constant writing on all fronts, that will take us right through to Easter, I think!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Peggy m

    I wondered where you were…I am sorry you are sick. I know that is miserable (been there, done that). Take care, get some rest, drink Gatorade. I’ll check one of those Patron Saints sites to find the appropriate one for what ails you, and we will start working on your recovery.

  • Peggy m

    Ok, found him. It’s St. Polycarp.

  •!/NYKensington Kensington

    Oh, you poor thing! You’re in my prayers.

  • Marylynn

    Hope you feel better soon. And if it makes you feel any better, I remember being in first grade and all the kids gathering Wednesday mornings with our book bags and running down the hill to school singing, “We’re having Beefaroni! Beefaroni is fun to eat, Beefaroni is a treat! Hooray! We’re having Beefaroni!” Every Wednesday. Have no idea why Wednesday.

  • WaPatriette

    Missed having your commentary but still in joyous awe, agree with Calah that this Pope will bring unity and will open minds and hearts to our Church.

    And, on an ironic note, I bet you lost a few pounds in Rome. So, be careful what you wish for (and pray about :). Feel better!!

  • Adam

    I like your theme of unity, and hadn’t thought of it on the spiritual or theological level. My initial take was that he’s a little bit of everything: the Latin American world can see themselves in him from coming from their neglected part of the world; Americans, from Canada to the bottom of Chile can see themselves in him for coming from the Western Hemisphere; Europeans can see themselves in him for being of Italian blood. The poor can love see themselves in for living a simple life. The infirm can see themselves in for his struggles with having one lung. And so forth. I’m wondering if this Pope isn’t going to be a representation of a little bit of the best in all of us.

    Most of all, I do love that he’s broken the “European” mold that’s become so synonymous with the Papacy. On an earlier post, I mentioned how someone allegedly stated at JPII’s election that he’d gone from being a Pole to “a citizen of the world.” So it is with Francis I–he hails from Argentina, but he now represents all nations before God.

    Feel better and drink lots of water! (Alternatively, you now have an excuse to have all the popsicles you want if you can find them over there.)

  • Manny

    I was wondering what happened. My guess was you were stuck on a plane and/or an airport. I do hope you feel better. What could be worse than to be in delizioso Italia and not be able to eat the food?

    You definitely hit on something with your observations. He is hard to pin down since he seems to have tenticles everywhere. That could lead to either unity or confusion, but I think I’ll side with you and say unity.

    The best piece on our new Holy Father that I have seen I have to say was by George Weigel. I thought he hit a home run with that one.

  • Zmama

    I will be praying for you that you soon feel well enough to enjoy the rest of your time in Rome. Perhaps if you can’t find Popsicles as Adam suggested, a bit of gelato may help. The fruit flavored gelato reminded me of water ice or sherbet.

    All that I have read about our new Pope Francis restores in me a sense of hope for our church that I had lost these past couple years, particularly amidst the scandals in my own archdiocese.
    I am truly touched by the descriptions of a life lived in simplicity and in solidarity with the poor.

    I must say I felt a twinge of sadness last night when I saw a photo of our new Holy Father when he was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II. JPII looked so frail in that image, his face nearly frozen from Parkinson’s whereas Cardinal Bergoglio looked so much younger. He has aged so much already in his time as a cardinal. Part of me can’t help but wonder what might have been if he had been elected in 2005 and yet I am very grateful to Pope Benedict XIV. I know that despite the constant negative views of the media, Pope Benedict for many years prior to becoming pope, helped build bridges with the Jewish community, particularly in Israel. He was also a close friend and mentor to the intentional community in Germany in which a close friend of mine and her family live and I have had the privilege of visiting twice. I have been drawn to reread Morris West’s Clowns of God again since Pope Benedict announced he was stepping aside. The descriptions of the small communities in CofG always reminded me of Benedict’s description of the church becoming smaller in the future. I have always felt certain he was thinking of intentional communities like the German Integrated Community when he wrote of the future church.

    For Pope Francis I will be praying each day that he remains in good health for many years to come. As soon as I learned he has just one lung due to a childhood infection I asked the intercession of my dearest aunt and godmother who similarly lived most of her life with one lung after a bout of TB at a young age. I feel certain she is a small “s” saint in heaven for the selfless life that she lived. My dear dad too must be praying hard for our new pope, and so proud to see the first Jesuit pope, having been educated by the order and having had many friends in the order. Dad must be happy to know how outspoken Pope Francis was regarding the right to life as cardinal. I am asking all the big saints and little saints in heaven to watch over and protect Pope Francis. We need the example of this humble priest to show us how in this “post modern” age we can live lives of authenticity and simplicity in the service of Jesus.

  • michele

    Sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well- my prayers are added for you, and for Pope Francis.
    I liked that his first words from the balcony were a little sort of joke.
    I hope he keeps his sense of humor- he will need it . Hope you feel better soon and that you get to visit in Rome and enjoy real Roman food when you can appreciate it!
    And, I hope the Pope will bring the unity and clarity (trans-parity!!) that is so needed in the Church today. I’m not suggesting we change what we are and what we believe- just that we clarify and teach just who and what we are as the Church of Jesus Christ.

  • Win Nelson

    Oh my goodness, I will say prayers for your healing!

    Thank you for this thoughtful post, especially while you are so ill.

  • Amy

    love your post. Want to feel better? A few tablespoons of vinegar mixed with a half a cup of water….just drink it down…every day…it works!

  • karen

    Dear dear Anchoress- i missed your observations and kept checking to see a new post- so sorry to see the reason why you were so silent– i figured it was a Benedictine thing, not dysenteric:0( in nature.
    As a dairy farmer- our new Father- Francis- warms my heart. My son chose Francis as his Saint when confirmed four yrs ago. St Francis: arms outstretched to offer a reliable, secure perch for the vulnerable seems a perfect fit for our Church.

    Also- on your previous post- i hurt for you- because you are so strong- so vocally secure… so dang-ed smart! and so fragile(as we really all are)- maybe we are intrinsically vulnerable? Know that so many people are praying for you to pop back up and enjoy Rome at this historic, sacred time.

    As i have been talking about you for almost 8yrs now= “Anchoress said this” “i saw this on Anchoress”- you are an invisible friend that my family knows by name- so it was w/great surprise that my Mom thumbed through ~Catholic Answer~ to proudly show me an article by “… your Anchoress!” I have been blessed with good friends in life- and especially so with invisible friends. God is good!

  • Maria

    Nice observations.
    No, heaven is not on the bathroom floor, but the bathroom floor is one of the many ways the door to heaven appears. Thanks for offering your suffering for the Church.

  • Mark L
  • Gayle Miller

    Feel better soon beloved Anchoress. In the meantime, I don’t think I’ve ever been as emotional watching a new Pope revealed (must be my age – I remember Pius XII very well) but the new Pope’s face was all I needed to allay my reservations about a Jesuit Pope! Sorry you spent the entire conclave with the porcelain teddy bear and hope you’ll be able to perambulate soon.

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  • archangel

    Well he is AMERICAN. I got that part right. :)

    All kidding aside… a stunning choice and still fits. Fits almost better and in more obvious ways than my pick. The Spirit always leans toward the most humble.

    All I can say is buckle-up. This is going to be fun to watch.

  • bill bannon

    Have prayed and will.

  • Catie

    I had the stomach flu this week too and likewise offered it for the conclave! I hope your recovery is speedy and thanks for all your great writing.

  • Bill M.

    We we wondering when you’d ‘weigh anchor’, and here you are, on the bathroom floor, no doubt contemplating the grout when you aren’t contemplating the new Holy Father. Great observations, as always. Get well soon!

  • Gail Finke

    Unity is what I thought of first, too! And especially when I found out that he was the Ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Buenos Aires. How much more unifying can one get? Viva il Papa!

  • Gail Finke

    Oh, and FEEL BETTER SOON!!!!

  • Scotty Fleming

    Because you are you I dare to write… what is emergency treatment passed down
    from the south of Ireland.. Boil 3tbl of holy water take 3x a day.
    Long story on how this reversed cancer 58 yrs ago later. In pray

  • Kathleen

    “Wednesday is Prince day, up and down the street”. “Annnnnthoneeee!”
    Thanks for the flashback and my sympathies on your tummy. I hope you are feeling better by now. Thanks for letting us know!

  • Joann/Lioness

    Poor Baby! It’s Friday now, I hope and pray you are up, and blogging a storm soon.Being down during these days must have killed you. I hope this down time is followed by abundant blessing.

  • Stefanie

    Oh, Elizabeth, I have been praying for you first and “PapaC” (aka Papa ‘Cisco) secondly.

    I have been filled with joy over our Nuevo Papa — I began screaming in joy when I saw the White Smoke in-real-time (scared my husband half-to-death) but my kids throughout the house and via text messages, knew this was a good kind of screaming. I am a quiet and shy person so to scream…well, that means something amazing has happened. It was so incredible experiencing everything with everyone at the same time ..even with you, there on the bathroom tile…we were all hearing it at the same time. When the bells began to ring, then I KNEW it was true…we really had a new pope.

    It was so agonizing, waiting, waiting, waiting. I was pacing around like a caged cat, feeling queasy but excited.

    When the Cardinal Deacon announced the name, even though I had my list of ‘Latinized’ names of all the cardinals and my ‘short list’ of six, I realized very little except that Franciscum was the name of the pope. I remembered all the tongue-in-cheek “Pope Francis” speculation if Cardinal Sean O’Malley was elected. It totally blew my mind when I saw our Nuevo Papa step out into the balcony. I was in awe of him; he was so shy! I know what shy smiles look like and he was showing this to us. I fell in love with him so completely when he lead us into the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be. I was astounded that he asked us to pray for him (not to bless him as is erroneously written — he asked us to pray for him so that God would continue to bless him). He bowed to receive our prayers united with the Trinity and with the saints. What a visual!!!
    I could not believe that I would ever ever love another pope as I love PapaBenny. But my pastor and I agreed that we would love our new papa. That God would give us a new papa we would love right away because the Church needs it; we need it.
    What a powerful gift that the Holy Spirit has given to us. Thank you, Lord, for PapaC!

  • Teresa

    For heaven’s sake don’t get on a plane until you feel better. Lots of ice water. Had a similar experience once when I arrived in Venice via a long train ride in the heat. I had heat stroke and spent most of the time in bed. When I did manage to wander out I stopped in a small trattoria and drank a large coke. The elderly lady who owned the place noticed my green appearance and immediately fed me her special chicken soup. Take care and be well.

  • jenny

    Oh how terrible, however a little yoghurt mixed into a spoonful of psyllium husk does the trick in a single dose. Get well soon.

  • Ann

    I was getting very worried about you! SO glad to hear that you are on the mend.

    Beautiful writing as usual.

  • catharine

    I am praying for you, Anchoress, I know what it’s like to have those G.I. problems. They can really be pesky. I think you are spot-on about the new Pope showing us how the faith is actually lived out, in real-time; I am looking forward to this pontificate. (Although I love B-16, too). I think he is a genuinely pastoral soul, very traditional, and things are not going to be business as usual.

  • Cedric

    Feel better soon!! Pope Francis will create quite a stir in both the Catholic & secular worlds. His papacy is going to be a fascinating ride for the Church- sometimes bumpy, but always interesting & challenging. He’s got personality, and an ability to be off-the-cuff (already giving homilies with no notes). He surely will keep everyone on their toes. Looking forward to it.

  • Vicki

    Sorry to hear you are sick. Feel better soon! I have been missing your take on the new Pope. I look forward to hearing more from you about him.

  • http://Patheos Alex

    It’s way off the subject, but here’s a Pope who probably knows about Carlos Gardel

  • John Michael Akers

    God’s Speed Girl; You are in my thoughts and prayers.