In the midst of the media furor of the past week and the efforts to turn the conclave into a popularity contest we must not lose sight of the true purpose of the events of this week.
A papal conclave is a solemn religious process of discernment, not a popularity contest. This is the manner in which the Church has sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit since the Apostles chose Matthias to replace Judas among the twelve (Acts 1:21ff).
It might be well to revisit the prayer of the Apostles on that occasion : “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
The Church is first of all the Body of Christ with the mission of continuing Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation and forgiveness. However, it is not simply a community of the reconciled but is a reconciling community, established by Jesus but committed to human hands. As such we turn to the Holy Spirit to guide us beyond our human tendencies in continuing the stewardship of His community.
As the Cardinal electors seek to discern God’s will I ask your prayers for them and the one upon whom their choice falls. Please pray the following prayer during this conclave.
O God, eternal Shepherd, who governs your flock with unfailing care, grant in your boundless fatherly love a pastor for your Church who will please you by his holiness and to us show watchful care.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.