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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     I am not sure what is so fascinating with the election of a new Pope. Perhaps it is the fact that it happens so infrequently that when it does, it makes us pay attention. Or maybe, for some of us non-Catholics, it is the interesting pomp and tradition that goes into the entire conclave.

     I sat and watched last week as the cardinals each stood and gave their solemn oath. To look at the face of each potential Pope was interesting as I tried to imagine what type of face I would think would make the best leader of one of the largest denominations in the world. Was it a kind face? One that made me as a non-Catholic feel as though he understood all of God’s children? Would it be gentle, or would it be warn.

     Such was the thoughts that I had written down some years ago when Pope John Paul II had passed away and Pope Benedict took the charge. Such a different face between the two men. One face, that almost begged you to find something to dislike in him, while the other reminded me of strength and someone who would captain the ship of the church with a firm yet steady hand.

     So as it was, the next day the white smoke came, and from that group of Cardinals, came Pope Francis. What has struck me right out of the gate is his easygoing manner. Not pompous, or stuffy, but the kind of Pope that you wouldn’t be surprised running into at the bowling alley on league night. The almost excited way he asked for prayers for himself said to me that here is a normal guy who really will rejuvenate those who are on the fringes of the church.

     His work with the poor, those who have been cast aside, and those ho many feel have no business inside the church, remind me of the lessons each one of us are taught in Sunday School. I think that he will have a tough road ahead of him. Certainly the Catholic Church has to spend a little time getting its house in order, which is something that really wouldn’t hurt the rest of us to do as well. However, I think that he will bring peacefulness and a caring that is desperately needed by so many in this world. I wish him well and watch with excited urgency to see the success of his papacy.

     Hopefully each of us will take away a renewed effort to spend a little more time giving a hand up, rather than a hand out, and regardless of the lack of recognition anyone of us will get, we will continue to minister to those who desperately need to hear the Word. For in the end, that is what will punch our ticket through the gates at the finish line of this life.

     See you next week….remember, we’re all in this together.