Now it was getting dark when I arrived. Many people were scurrying about, their attention drawn to the lamps being lit, restaurants opening and the occasional cardinal who darted by hoping to be unseen. Must I say, I dread being fussed over!
As I approached the Piazza of St. Peter's I suddenly wondered what it was like for the chief apostle of Christ to walk these very same streets. Was he bold, standing on a monument to proclaim the love our Lord has for us? Did he baptize many in the Tiber River nearby? Was he afraid soldiers would come to arrest him? Rome was a place of wonder to Peter but in a way, it was his own garden of agony. He knew he was going to die there as Jesus foretold, he probably wrestled with this. However, the once weak, cowardly apostle now rose courageously to meet his suffering. He stood in this square, condemned to death and still lifted up prayers. He didn't care for the cruel world which hated him and hated his message, he knew he was going to be with the Lord. His sadness would be eternal joy!
That is somewhat how I feel. This is my first conclave and all I know is that being in a room full of cardinals is dreadful. There will be much bickering and posturing. We, being sinful men, assert ourselves at the most awkward moments...like when I tried to enjoy a bit of supper.
I didn't want to be asked about my opinions on democracy, other religions and reforming the Roman Missal when I was tired, cold and hungry. I am going to suffer in these next days, I know it. Hopefully, I can lift my voice to God and think of the innumerable things He has stored up for those who love Him. I hope I can act according to His will...and not raise my voice at anyone. True courage and strength amidst danger comes from God. Power comes not from man but from God. I remind myself that it was only because of the Rock of Salvation that Peter could become a rock of the Church.
After I had eaten only one spoonful of that splendid tomato soup I mentioned earlier, I was approached. Two of my fellow-cardinals spoke in loud voices. One asked if I think he would make a good pope. Merciful goodness! They sat right next to me and fought over a pitcher of water, wetting the table right where my zucchetto had been laid. Frustration and suffering indeed! I put the zucchetto in my pocket. At least, I can keep it safe. Cannot say the same for myself.
(disclaimer, Cardinal Fratelli is not an actual cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church but a fictional character.)