The title, above, speaks to a whole range of reflections that have arisen in me over the last few hours. Like most, I don't know much about Pope Francis. I do know that he's a Jesuit, a man of very reputable humility, and a total shocker (per conventional wisdom) as a fifth-round pick for the conclave. He also boasts perhaps the truest and most visible episcopal motto ever: Miserando atque eligendo—roughly, "pitiable yet chosen."
I'll freely admit that upon hearing "Bergoglio" read by the cardinal proto-deacon, I was somehow let down. When I heard the papal name, I was simply confused. Despite my best attempts to stay out of the fray, it all just seemed too unexpected. I was in St. Peter's Square when Benedict XVI was introduced in 2005, and the electricity of that crowd—the entire moment—I dare say, was unrivaled. Today seemed a stark contrast.
A few hours later, with the clarity that just an ounce of respite from social media hype can provide, my heart is somewhat changed. In fact, even significantly so. I remember the excitement of Pope Benedict's election well; this evening, on the other hand, I'm at the threshold of a great joy.
It would be wrong to speculate too wildly about Pope Francis's personality, pastoral zeal, or theological prowess. That will all be proven soon enough. His Jesuit patrimony and spirituality—of which I'm a thankful if at times equally grieved product—is unprecedented. His moniker "Francis"—either as one called to rebuild the Church, to evangelize the East, or to rescue Western culture from its self-imposed ruin—is something to be played out in time.
For now, most of us only have our experiences today to work from. The more I consider mine, the more I'm convinced that Pope Francis is exactly the man for the job. What's more important, though, is that he's clearly and above all a "man for others."
For those who know a bit of Italian, listening to (and experiencing) this guy preach can only be a sign of good things to come.