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The Francis Factor


Earlier this week, in honor of the 1st Anniversary of the papacy of Pope Francis, an event took place at Loyola University in Baltimore called The Francis Factor.  Although I wasn’t able to attend myself, I was grateful that the Archdiocese of Baltimore streamed it live on their website.

All the presenters, including Cardinal Sean O’Malley from Boston, were first-rate.  Anyone interested in how Pope Francis is shaping the Catholic Church should take some time and watch.


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Pope Francis


I for one continue to be impressed with Pope Francis.  Just the other day, he was photographed hugging and kissing a man who clearly had a very debilitating skin condition.  Without a doubt, the man would be treated as an outcast by most by many, and maybe some of us would avoid contact with him at all costs.  But not the new pope.

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A Pope Named Francis


With so much activity this past week, I didn’t have the chance to post anything about the new Pope, Francis I.

I have to admit that I’ve been really impressed with this man, an unlikely candidate going into the conclave.  The old saying, “the cardinal who goes into the conclave a pope always comes out a cardinal” was proven true once again.  As I sat taking it all in, I remembered something my men’s group was talking about last Sunday.  “Our God is a God of surprises.”  How true.

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Waiting for a new Pope

blacksmokeThe Catholic Church has been on a bit of a roller coaster recently.  When Pope Benedict XVI resigned a few weeks ago, it was the first time in centuries that something like this had happened.

With the help of modern media, people like you and me are more in tune to what’s happening over in Rome than ever before.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but as I watched the television this morning and saw all the ancient rituals played out live, I was struck by my belief that somehow the Holy Spirit is behind it all, and there’s something exciting about watching it unfold.

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What A Week


Wow, what a crazy week this has been!  We started the week with the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict.  As the week went on, we learned that there had been hints for quite some time that if the pope reached a point where he felt he couldn’t fulfill his responsibilities, he would step down.  It certainly is a time to pray for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom!

Next, we’ve had a week of near miss asteroids and meteors falling from space and causing all kinds of havoc.  Funny, almost immediately, people were wondering if the pope, the asteroid and the meteor were somehow divinely connected.

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A Dose of Humility


This past weekend, I started reading a terrific new book by Jim Manney.  God Finds Us is all about the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, something near and dear to my heart.

As it turns out, early this morning I was reading the chapter entitled “It’s Supposed to Be Hard,” and the focus is on what Ignatius had to say about humility.

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Blessed John Paul II

For the past ten years, Roman Catholics have been celebrating the 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is a day to be reminded of the infinite mercy of God, and the grace available to all those who turn to Him and accept that mercy.

This Divine Mercy Sunday, a special event has just occurred in Rome.  Pope John Paul II has been beatified, which is the Church’s official recognition of his saintly life, and another step towards being declared a saint.

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Pope John Paul II

It’s hard to believe six years have gone by since Pope John Paul II went home to the Father’s house.  It is hard to imagine that there will ever be another pope like him. His legacy will be felt and studied for centuries.  In the weeks to come, he’ll be recognized for his saintly qualities and his remarkable life.  For today, I thought this little meditation from the band U2 would be a nice way to remember him.

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Lead Kindly Light

I hope you’re having a good weekend.  I just got back from a quick trip to South Carolina, and today marks the beginning of my parish’s religious education year.  Say a prayer for us 🙂

Over the past few days Pope Benedict has been in the United Kingdom.  The purpose of the visit is to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890).  For those that don’t know, beatification is the last step in the process of being declared a saint in the Catholic Church.

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Peter and Paul

Tomorrow the Church marks the great feast of Saints Peter and Paul.  Years ago, when I was in the seventh grade and getting ready to be confirmed, I chose the name Peter as my confirmation name.  As best I can recall, the sole reason was that Peter and Paul sounded good together.  That’s a seventh grader for you :/

It was only in my adulthood that I began understanding the spiritual connection between me and St. Peter.  Like most of us, when I look back on my life, I can see plenty of good choices, but also plenty of bad.  Sometimes, we get caught up focusing on one or the other, either making us feel great, or feeling pretty lousy.

St. Peter had some pretty amazing highs, but he also had some really deep lows.  He’s the guy who was right there at some of the greatest moments of Jesus’ life.  And in the end, he was the one who denied Him three times.  But in spite of that Jesus loved him all the more, forgave him, and turned him into a Rock.

So, I came to understand what a blessing it was for me to choose Peter as my confirmation name all those years ago, and link his name to my baptismal name.  Peter is a great example of someone on whom the Lord looked mercifully, despite his many failings.

St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us.