“For Pope Francis it was a great gift that sneaked up on him unnoticed. It was September 21 and, like many young people, 17-year-old Jorge Bergoglio was getting ready to go out with his friends for Students’ Day. But he decided to start the day by visiting his parish church. He was a practicing Catholic who attended the Buenos Aires church of San José de Flores.
When he arrived, he met a priest he’d never seen before. The priest conveyed such a great sense of spirituality that he decided to confess to him. He was greatly surprised when he realized that this was not just another confession, but a confession that awakened his faith. A confession that revealed his religious vocation, to the point where he decided not to go to the train station to meet his friends but instead went home with a firm conviction. He wanted to — he had to — become a priest.
‘Something strange happened to me in that confession. I don’t know what it was, but it changed my life. I think it surprised me, caught me with my guard down,’ he recalled more than half a century later. Bergoglio now has his own theory about that mystery. ‘It was the surprise, the astonishment of a chance encounter,’ he said. ‘I realized that they were waiting for me. That is the religious experience: the astonishment of meeting someone who has been waiting for you all along. From that moment on, for me, God is the one who te primerea — ‘springs it on you.’ You search for him, but he searches for you first. You want to find him, but he finds you first.’”
The above paragraphs are taken from chapter 4 of “Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio: His Life in His Own Words,” Pope Francis with Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti (New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 2013), 33-34, 40-41.
A great reflection as we celebrate 24 hours for the Lord!