As we all know by now, it couldn’t have been much blacker, the smoke billowing from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel at 7:42pm local time in Rome. There was some doubt if there was even going to be a vote today, but there clearly was, and why not? After the impressive and elevating vista of the cardinals entering the Chapel and taking their oaths, it made perfect sense for them to go the entire length and have the first ballot then and there.
Evidently some lessons were learned from the 2005 edition of PopeVote and the chemicals added to the smoke left no doubt about the result of the first ballot. No Pope today, but the chances for tomorrow are quite good if we consider recent conclave history. The cardinals will take ballots 2 to 5 tomorrow, and as I have posted here before, half of the last six conclaves needed five votes or less. So, who knows, tomorrow may be a day for the history books.
Remember, smoke may be expected at two times for certain (shortly before noon and between 6 and 7 in the evening) and, if there has been a positive result in ballot 2 or 4, at 10:30 or at 6 (all times are Roman ones). Some forty minutes after the smoke, we may expect the Habemus papam and our first glimpse of the new Holy Father. Keep those eyes peeled.
Photo credit: TONY GENTILE/REUTERS
In little over an hour, the cardinal electors will make their way to the Sistine Chapel, and then the waiting game begins. While this conclave will likely not take too long, even if there is no really clear candidate who can immediately command 77 votes, the hours of today and tomorrow will no doubt crawl by.
So, while we wait, why not heed Cardinal Eijk’s request, obviously made yesterday, to pray:
“In the past ten days the cardinals have been intensely preparing themselves in Rome for the coming conclave. Through the thousands of journalists who are present here in Rome, the world is united with us. And we feel that unity with the world. On the eve of this conclave I would therefore like to ask the faithful in the Netherlands to pray for the cardinals who, starting tomorrow, will elect the bishop of Rome. Pray that we, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, may choose a good shepherd for the Church.”
Whether from the Netherlands or elsewhere, prayer must be our first priority, well before any consideration of who is papabile and who isn’t and what Pope we would like to see.
Since no one but the cardinal electors and about 90 people who work in support of the ongoing conclave will have any sense of what goes on during the sessions in the Sistine Chapel, we depend on the chimney atop the chapel and the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica. So at what times should we pay special attention?
Today, the first smoke will emanate sometime between 7 and 7:30pm (All the times I list are the local times in Rome, which is in the GMT+1 time zone). This will undoubtedly be black, as it nigh-impossible for a Pope to be elected in the very first ballot. No cardinal can as yet expect 77 votes, I would think.
Tomorrow, and the remaining days of the conclave, will see four rounds of voting. If the first round yields a positive result, we’ll see white smoke at around 10:30 in the morning. Regardless of the result of the second ballot, we will see smoke between 11:30 and noon: black if there is no Pope, white if there is. For the evening the times will be 6pm if there is a Pope and between 6:30 and 7, regardless of the result.
In short, keep those eyes peeled on the chimney, via the Vatican video player, for example, at 10:30am, between 11:30 and noon, at 6pm and between 6:30 and 7pm. Smoke is guaranteed in the second and fourth time slots.
Photo credit: CNS/Reuters
Saint Joseph, you are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. I have special confidence in you. You are powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me, to your intercession. By the love you have for Jesus and Mary, do not abandon me during life, and assist me at the hour of my death.
Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the immaculate Virgin, Foster-father of Jesus Christ, obtain for me a pure, humble, and charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the Divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore: May the cardinals receive charity and peace of mind, that their votes may unite instead of divide them.
Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I am confident that your prayers on my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.