Here we go.
All the meetings are over.
A Mass for the election of a Roman Pontiff has been said.
Prayers have been prayed.
An oath of secrecy has been sworn.
One hundred and fifteen men in red have been locked in to the Sistine Chapel to cast their votes to elect us a new Shepherd, a new Servant of Servants, a new Holy Father.
The end of the first day of the conclave has brought us one great billowing cloud of blackest black smoke, leaving no room for doubt or guessing: there was a vote and there was no clear nomination.
And so we wait yet another day. And the waiting is becoming hard. I want to know who he is. Who is the man who will guide the Church forward?
I remember what this felt like last time, and this is so very different. Then, there was so much sorrow from the death of John Paul II, the only Pope I'd known. But by his side for many many years was another man I loved and admired a great deal, Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger. The disbelief and utter joy I felt when the announcement of his election was made was powerful. I couldn't believe it was true; it was so unlikely that a man who had served for so long and talked about retiring so often, a man we knew so well would sit in the Chair of Peter.
This time I don't know any of the Cardinals well at all, though I know there are good men among them. I will have to get to know the next Successor of Peter from scratch. I pray that I will love him without reserve or comparison. I pray that no matter what the secular media says of him or speculates of him, the Church will receive him with wide open hearts.
I don't envy him for the yoke about to be laid across his shoulders. I don't envy the Cardinal Electors for the task they have in finding him.
Come Holy Spirit.
Come white smoke!