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Blessed Are You: The Peacemakers...

Posted on Sep 4, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Our guest blogger today is Melanie Rigney, author of Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith.


“Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.”
—Matthew 5:9

We love peacemakers, in theory anyway. Think of all the poems and songs that have been written about the concept of peace over the millennia. In City of God, St. Augustine waxed poetically about peace in and between the body and soul; peace with God; and among people. “The peace of the whole universe is the tranquility of order,” he concluded.
“And order is the arrangement of like and unlike things in their proper place.”

That’s the hard part, the finding in our hearts and souls while not compromising our faith, the proper places for those like and unlike things, whether they be people or views on politics or religion or how to fold the towels or make the bed. Order doesn’t have to mean an authoritarian society. It does imply a sense of harmony and respect. Without it, we will never find peace.

In The Violence of Love, a collection of the writings of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero, tranquility again is used as part of peace’s definition: “Peace is the generous, tranquil, contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.”

What did being a peacemaker look like in Jesus? We think of his last few days in earthly form. We think of his quiet surrender to the guards. We think of his admonishment to Peter for cutting off a guard’s ear, and his healing of it. We think of his calm responses to the jesting Pilate’s questions about who he is. We think of him on the cross, ignoring those who taunt him with questions about why he doesn’t save himself.

As Jesus showed us, peacemakers aren’t always loved or admired. We view their pacifism and equanimity and, yes, spiritual indifference to what happens in this world with suspicion and perhaps a little fear. How can they not raise their voices and denigrate those who oppose them? How can they not take advantage of every physical, mental, and emotional tool at their disposal to short-circuit the endless yammering and just get on with it? How can they not go along with the popular position because it’s easy, and live to fight the good fight another day?

The answers are easy, though putting them into practice is so difficult. Because while those tactics may work in the short term, they’re never successful in the long term. They don’t change people’s minds and hearts. That’s why peacemakers respect the human dignity of those who do them harm. They know what they don’t say or do can be as powerful as any words or actions. They are patient. They are confident in the Lord and the mission he has given them, whether it involves disharmony in their families, their country, their Church, and yes, even in themselves. They know God, not they nor those who are at odds with them, will define success.

To learn more about Melanie’s book, click here.

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Photo: CHOATphotographer/Shutterstock

The post Blessed Are You: The Peacemakers appeared first on American Catholic Blog.

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Knowing Forgiveness...

Posted on Sep 4, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s guest blogger is Nick Luken, a fourth-year student at The Ohio State University, majoring in English and minoring in professional writing. Nick graduated from Roger Bacon, a Franciscan high school in Cincinnati, in 2012.

When I found out about Pope Francis’ recent announcement that priests would be able to grant absolution to women who had gotten abortions, I was shocked.  It wasn’t because the news itself was shocking, though; I was shocked that the mere notion of the Church forgiving people’s sins came as a surprise to people. The Church has been forgiving sins of all kinds for 2,000 years.

I think that many people outside the Church (and possibly some people within the Church) have a warped understanding of the nature of sin and forgiveness.  Lots of people, especially young adults, seem to think that the Church’s acknowledgement of something as a sin serves as a personal condemnation of anyone who commits that sin.  People who think this way appear to believe that since the Church teaches abortion is wrong, the Church must teach that anyone who has an abortion will be doomed to spend an eternity in hell. That’s quite a jump.

The truth is, of course, that the word “sin” simply refers to any deed that leads a person away from God, whether that deed involves speech, thought, or action. That’s where forgiveness comes into play.

No matter what we may deserve, if we simply ask the Lord to forgive us for any sins for which we are truly sorry, we will be forgiven.  This is especially true if we seek out the sacrament of Reconciliation, which gives us total assurance that we receive forgiveness from God and our fellow human beings.  It’s been that way since Jesus said to his disciples in John 20:23: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

It saddens me that people have a hard time seeing how willing God is to forgive us all for our sins. I can only hope that through the Year of Mercy that Pope Francis has declared for the upcoming liturgical year, people of all walks of life may come to see that God’s mercy is endless, and that sin has no power over his eternal love.

Photo: ChristianChan

The post Knowing Forgiveness appeared first on American Catholic Blog.

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Knowing Forgiveness...

Posted on Sep 4, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s guest blogger is Nick Luken, a fourth-year student at The Ohio State University, majoring in English and minoring in professional writing. Nick graduated from Roger Bacon, a Franciscan high school in Cincinnati, in 2012.

When I found out about Pope Francis’ recent announcement that priests would be able to grant absolution to women who had gotten abortions, I was shocked.  It wasn’t because the news itself was shocking, though; I was shocked that the mere notion of the Church forgiving people’s sins came as a surprise to people. The Church has been forgiving sins of all kinds for 2,000 years.

I think that many people outside the Church (and possibly some people within the Church) have a warped understanding of the nature of sin and forgiveness.  Lots of people, especially young adults, seem to think that the Church’s acknowledgement of something as a sin serves as a personal condemnation of anyone who commits that sin.  People who think this way appear to believe that since the Church teaches abortion is wrong, the Church must teach that anyone who has an abortion will be doomed to spend an eternity in hell. That’s quite a jump.

The truth is, of course, that the word “sin” simply refers to any deed that leads a person away from God, whether that deed involves speech, thought, or action. That’s where forgiveness comes into play.

No matter what we may deserve, if we simply ask the Lord to forgive us for any sins for which we are truly sorry, we will be forgiven.  This is especially true if we seek out the sacrament of Reconciliation, which gives us total assurance that we receive forgiveness from God and our fellow human beings.  It’s been that way since Jesus said to his disciples in John 20:23: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

It saddens me that people have a hard time seeing how willing God is to forgive us all for our sins. I can only hope that through the Year of Mercy that Pope Francis has declared for the upcoming liturgical year, people of all walks of life may come to see that God’s mercy is endless, and that sin has no power over his eternal love.

Photo: ChristianChan

The post Knowing Forgiveness appeared first on American Catholic Blog.

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In Family...

Posted on Sep 3, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Recently my brother Tommy’s illness, death and funeral led me to reflect on my family. We are bonded and stick together like glue in times of crisis and in times of joy. Families are always amazing, albeit imperfect, in forming the future of our society and world.

We were a big family, five girls and five boys. So, with Mom and Dad we made a household of twelve. Being the youngest of the bunch, I learned a lot from my siblings. They say I was spoiled, but they taught me lots, from how to wash dishes and how to clean up and make my bed. We were an organized family. Everyone had a part to play and we learned to accept each other’s different personalities and gifts to keep the family together.

As I reflected, I realized the things I learned from my parents and from my brothers and sisters. From little things to more important responsibilities, we progressed in family life. We had our rules and parts to play in the house. Praying at mealtime, sharing the food and waiting for Mom before we began to eat. Prayer at bedtime, Sunday Mass together, homework before play and so forth. As a family we were all different and yet we pulled together in every way possible. That is why there is such a bond of love that still holds us together now that we are all on Medicare.

My brother Tommy, who just passed away, was six years older than me. He taught me about radios and repairing lamps and important stuff like that. I learned how to solder, test vacuum tubes—remember those?—and use tools properly. He helped the neighborhood kids in the construction of a log cabin in Mt. Airy Forest near our backyard. He taught me how to tune up the engine on his old Studebaker before he taught me to drive.

I believe that the greatest blessing I have received in my life is the gift of family. In retrospect, my family was a great training ground for life in a religious community, or for being the father of a big family of my own if God led me that way.

Since Pope Francis is coming for Philadelphia’s World Meeting of Families I guess everyone will have some time to thank God for the gift of family. After all, the family is really the fundamental unit, the building block of society. Give some thought to your family and how God is present within our families.

Photo Credit:  Shutterstock

The post In Family appeared first on American Catholic Blog.

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In Family...

Posted on Sep 3, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Recently my brother Tommy’s illness, death and funeral led me to reflect on my family. We are bonded and stick together like glue in times of crisis and in times of joy. Families are always amazing, albeit imperfect, in forming the future of our society and world.

We were a big family, five girls and five boys. So, with Mom and Dad we made a household of twelve. Being the youngest of the bunch, I learned a lot from my siblings. They say I was spoiled, but they taught me lots, from how to wash dishes and how to clean up and make my bed. We were an organized family. Everyone had a part to play and we learned to accept each other’s different personalities and gifts to keep the family together.

As I reflected, I realized the things I learned from my parents and from my brothers and sisters. From little things to more important responsibilities, we progressed in family life. We had our rules and parts to play in the house. Praying at mealtime, sharing the food and waiting for Mom before we began to eat. Prayer at bedtime, Sunday Mass together, homework before play and so forth. As a family we were all different and yet we pulled together in every way possible. That is why there is such a bond of love that still holds us together now that we are all on Medicare.

My brother Tommy, who just passed away, was six years older than me. He taught me about radios and repairing lamps and important stuff like that. I learned how to solder, test vacuum tubes—remember those?—and use tools properly. He helped the neighborhood kids in the construction of a log cabin in Mt. Airy Forest near our backyard. He taught me how to tune up the engine on his old Studebaker before he taught me to drive.

I believe that the greatest blessing I have received in my life is the gift of family. In retrospect, my family was a great training ground for life in a religious community, or for being the father of a big family of my own if God led me that way.

Since Pope Francis is coming for Philadelphia’s World Meeting of Families I guess everyone will have some time to thank God for the gift of family. After all, the family is really the fundamental unit, the building block of society. Give some thought to your family and how God is present within our families.

Photo Credit:  Shutterstock

The post In Family appeared first on American Catholic Blog.

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"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

-Papa Francis quote

He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.

This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."