I’ve written about mine before, and I haven’t heard the end of it.
Boniface at the blog Unam Sanctam Catholicam asks the question of his readers, sharing his own first impression:
Then Jorge Bergoglio stepped out onto the loggia. Overwhelmed by the applause and the intensity of the moment, he just stared off the balcony with a thin, weak smile, sweat visibly rolling down his cheeks. He awkwardly waved and continued to stare as the commentators attempted to do some hasty research and explain who Jorge Bergoglio was.
I consider myself a Catholic who is fairly well educated about the Church at large, but I had no idea who Bergoglio was. I had never heard of him and certainly did not recognize his face. He was a nobody to me. A complete blank slate. I had no opinions about the man for good or for ill.
Yet, strangely, when I first saw the new pope, a terrible, ominous feeling came over me. A feeling of…well, not dread, but a deep, heavy and oppressing sense of trouble – foreboding. In fact, my stomach kind of sank and I felt sick. This reaction was a mystery to me then and continues to be so now; I was a college student in 2005 when Ratzinger was elected, and when Ratzinger walked out onto the loggia, I was filled with jubilation and joy – even a supernatural sense of filial devotion and piety which I noticed fill my heart when Benedict XVI was introduced. And at that time I knew very little about Ratzinger, either.
Such a contrast between the two conclaves! I was again expecting 2013 to be a conclave of joy, like 2005 – but I was very disoriented and troubled when Pope Francis was announced. Everything just seemed…under shadow.
I thought this was just my own private reaction, but over the past year I have heard countless stories of people sharing the same anecdotes. Common phrases to describe that moment are “ominous”, “foreboding”, “sinking feeling in my stomach”, “sick” and so on. I have been honestly shocked at how many people I have run across who explained feeling a similar sensation on the eve of the Holy Father’s election. It seems to be something of a phenomenon.
I know feelings don’t necessarily mean anything, and I do not want to read more into this than what there is. But I am now curious, did you have a similar experience? How widespread was this premonition of foreboding among traditional Catholics?
Since he’ll probably be attacked by the usual suspects, I encourage you to leave him a comment with your own impressions. Let’s make it clear that he’s not alone. There’s something to the dread that many people felt upon the pope’s first appearance on the loggia, of that I’m certain. Too many of us were surprised by the reaction for it to have been some pre-determined bias against a man we’d never heard of or even seen a picture of.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.