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Papa Francis The First | His Holiness Papa Francisco

3 views of Pope Francis after the South America tr...

Posted on Jul 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I bring to your attention three interesting analysis pieces about Pope Francis following his trip to South America.

First, check out George Weigel at National Review. My impression is that Mr. Weigel has drawn a line through the pontificate (at least one aspect of the pontificate), but probably only in pencil rather than in ink. Excerpt:

Has the Vatican Already Forgotten the Lessons of John Paul II?

[…]

John Paul was wily enough to let Casaroli continue his diplomacy behind the Iron Curtain, so that the Communist powers couldn’t publicly accuse this Pole of reneging on previous deals and acting as a front for NATO. Yet while he never would have put it as Ronald Reagan did when the future president said that his idea of ending the Cold War was that “we win and they lose,” the Polish pope knew that this was indeed a zero-sum game: Someone was going to win and someone was going to lose, not so much for reasons of power but because Communism was based on a false understanding of the human person, human community, human origins, and human destiny. And by restoring to his own Polish people the truth about themselves, John Paul II helped them forge tools of liberation that Communism could not match, while reinforcing the similar strategy of resistance by “living in the truth” that was being deployed by secular, anti-Communist human-rights activists such as Václav Havel, using what Havel famously called “the power of the powerless.”

The people in charge of Vatican diplomacy today seem to have missed all this or forgotten all this — or are, perhaps, deliberately ignoring it (not least because of the overwhelming archival evidence that the most important concrete effect of the Ostpolitik was to open the Vatican to serious penetration by Warsaw Pact intelligence services, an unhappy fact I thoroughly documented in the second volume of my John Paul II biography, The End and the Beginning). Those guiding the Holy See’s interface with politics today were born and bred in the Casaroli School. And they are busily replicating Casaroli’s accommodationist (or, if you prefer, less confrontational) formula. This seems clear, if unfortunately clear, in the Vatican’s diplomacy with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and in the Holy See’s refusal to describe what is afoot in Ukraine as a gross violation of international law: an armed aggression by one state against another. It seems evident in the welcome that was afforded Raúl Castro in the Vatican several months ago. Now, to judge from the just-concluded papal visit to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay, Casaroli 2.0 seems to be informing the Vatican’s approach to the new authoritarians of continental Latin America.

[…]

Read the rest there. He also comments on the Commie-crux or the Sickle-fix.

Next, look at Sam Gregg’s hard-hitting piece at The Stream. Excerpt:

Don’t Cry for Me Argentina: Pope Francis and Economic Populism
The notion of a Latin American “Third Way” between capitalism and socialism is utopian sentimental nonsense.

[…]

In the first place, Francis discussed the injustice inflicted by “a system,” by which he seems to mean economic globalization. This “system,” he argued, has resulted in “an economy of exclusion” that denies millions the blessings of prosperity. Francis then specifically attacked “corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties” as part of an “anonymous influence of mammon” and “new colonialism.”

Some of this rhetoric is hard to distinguish from that used by Latin American populists, ranging from Argentina’s long-deceased Juan Perón to Bolivia’s Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa. Leaving that aside, one wonders whether Pope Francis and his advisors have ever studied the respective merits of free trade versus protectionism. My suspicion is they haven’t, since tariffs and subsidies are precisely what allow already-wealthy countries to limit developing countries’ access to global markets. By definition, it’s protectionism that is an economy of exclusion — not free trade.

Likewise while the historical record of multinational corporations in developing nations isn’t lily-white, they have bought desperately-needed investment and jobs to Latin America. Francis lamented that new forms of colonialism often reduce developing nations to being “mere providers of raw material and cheap labor.” Yet if developing countries stopped capitalizing on what’s often their comparative advantage in the global economy — i.e., their lower labor costs and vast natural resources — it’s hard to see how they could generate enough wealth to lift millions out of poverty.

Moreover, whoever might be the “loan agencies” the pope has in mind, developing nations need infusions of foreign capital if they want to diminish poverty.

[…]

Finally, check out the formerly nearly ubiquitous John L Allen at Crux. Excerpt:

Under Francis, there’s a new dogma: Papal fallibility

[…]

In that context, it’s especially striking that Pope Francis appears determined to set the record straight by embracing what one might dub his own “dogma of fallibility.” The pontiff seems utterly unabashed about admitting mistakes, confessing ignorance, and acknowledging that he may have left himself open to misinterpretation.

Whether such candor is charming or simply confusing, leaving one to wonder if the pope actually means what he says, perhaps is in the eye of the beholder. In any case, it’s become a defining feature of Francis’ style.

A classic, almost emblematic case in point came during the pontiff’s airborne news conference on the way back to Rome on Sunday after a week-long trip to Latin America.

During a 65-minute session with reporters, Francis embraced his own fallibility at least seven times:

[…]

To be clear, it’s hardly as if Francis was backing away from his stinging critique of what he termed in Bolivia a global economic system that “imposes the mentality of profit at any price” at the expense of the poor.

On the contrary, he took another swipe during the news conference at what he termed a “new colonization … the colonization of consumerism,” which the pontiff said causes “disequilibrium in the personality … in the internal economy, in social justice, even in physical and mental health.”

What he added, however, was a dose of personal humility in acknowledging a lack of technical expertise and a capacity for error when he speaks on such matters, both in the substance of his positions and in the way he formulates them.

[…]

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Pope Francis leaves weird Bolivian Jesuit Communis...

Posted on Jul 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

FranciscoEvoRegalo_LOsservatoreRomano_090715From Vatican Insider:

This morning Francis lay the two presidential honours he received Wednesday from President Evo Morales in La Paz, at the feet of Our Lady of Copacabana. One of these featured the hammer and anvil with a carving of a crucifix

Before leaving Bolivia, Francis placed two gifts he received on Wednesday from President Evo Morales at the foot of a statue of Mary. One of these, a chain with a chunky medallion, had the figure of the crucified Christ carved into a wooden hammer and anvil. This image had been drawn by Fr. Luis Espinal, the Jesuit priest who was assassinated in Bolivia in March 1980.

“This morning,” reads a statement issued by Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, “Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel of the private residence of the Archbishop Emeritus of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father presented two decorative honours that were conferred onto him by Bolivian president Evo Morales during his courtesy visit to the Presidential palace in La Paz , to a statue of the Our Lady of Copacabana, patron saint of Bolivia.[So… it doesn’t go back to Rome.  However, didn’t Fr. Lombardi say that it wasn’t going to go into a church? ““Certainly, though, it will not be put in a church,” he said.” HERE This Pope is full is surprises.]

Francis accompanied this gesture with the following words: “The President of the nation was kind enough to offer me two decorative honours on behalf of the Bolivian people. I thank the Bolivian people for their affection and the President for this courteous gesture. I would like to dedicate these two decorations to the patron saint of Bolivia, the Mother of this noble nation, so that she may always remember her people and from Bolivia, from the shrine where I would like them to be, that she may remember the Successor of Peter and the whole Church and look after them from Bolivia.”

“Mother of the Saviour and our Mother,” Francis prayed, “You, Queen of Bolivia, who from the height of your Shrine in Copacabana attend to the prayers and needs of your children, especially the most poor and abandoned, and protect them: Receive as a gift from the heart of Bolivia and my filial affection the symbols of affection and closeness that – in the name of the Bolivian people – Mr. President Evo Morales Ayma has bestowed on me with cordial and generous affection, [uh huh] on the occasion of this Apostolic Journey, which I entrusted to your solicitous intercession.”

Francis concluded his prayer by saying: “I ask that these honours, which I leave here in Bolivia at your feet, and which recall the nobility of the flight of the Condor in the skies of the Andes and the commemorated sacrifice of Father Luis Espinal, S.J., may be emblems of the everlasting love and persevering gratitude of the Bolivian people for your solicitous and intense tenderness. At this moment, Mother, I place in your heart my prayers for all the many petitions of your children, which I have received in these days: I beg you to hear them; give them your encouragement and protection, and manifest to the whole of Bolivia your tenderness as woman and Mother of God, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.” [I’m pretty sure he means that God lives and reigns forever and ever, although Mary now lives forever and she is Queen of Heaven forever.]

So, the contraption isn’t returning to Rome.

OL Copacabana

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How to Discipline Teens...

Posted on Jul 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Our guest blogger is Roy Petitfils, author of What Teens Want You to Know (but won’t tell you)

I once watched a teacher whom I knew didn’t really like teenagers try to discipline a classroom of high school students, telling them she really loved them and cared about them, and that she was doing this for their own good. You should have seen the eyes roll, the smirks, and the looks of disdain the teens had for this teacher! It wasn’t because of the punishment per se but because they knew their teacher didn’t like them. Being disingenuous about her love for them didn’t help at all. On the other hand I’ve disciplined young people in the classroom, on retreat, and with clients, to great success because they know I genuinely love and care about them.

Here are a few things we should be aware of when disciplining teens:
Use non-inflammatory words. Teens are highly emotional, and a poor choice of words on our part can set up barriers to effective dialogue.

Have a positive tone of voice. Maintaining a direct and even tone to our voices helps to keep a situation from getting out of hand and allows us to get our message across without a lot of resistance.

Practice good facial expressions. Our body language and other nonverbal signs communicate the vast majority of what we want to say. We can use good words and have a positive tone to our voice—even though that is difficult to do if our facial expression is negative—but if our face is saying something else, it will negate the essence of our message.

Reinforce your message in good times and in bad. It is important for teens to hear what we think about them in times and situations that don’t necessarily merit praise or chastisement. This will help build trust and go a long way toward alleviating any feelings that lead them to think, “They only love me when I’m doing something good.”

A prayer
Lord Jesus, during your encounter with the woman caught in adultery, your tone of voice, word choice, facial expressions, and demeanor demonstrated your great love while offering admonishment and encouragement. Give me the graces of gentleness, compassion, and solidarity with the young people I hope to help grow into the fully realized sons and daughters of God you desire them to be. Amen.

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

*****
Photo: CREATISTA/Shutterstock

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How to Discipline Teens...

Posted on Jul 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Our guest blogger is Roy Petitfils, author of What Teens Want You to Know (but won’t tell you)

I once watched a teacher whom I knew didn’t really like teenagers try to discipline a classroom of high school students, telling them she really loved them and cared about them, and that she was doing this for their own good. You should have seen the eyes roll, the smirks, and the looks of disdain the teens had for this teacher! It wasn’t because of the punishment per se but because they knew their teacher didn’t like them. Being disingenuous about her love for them didn’t help at all. On the other hand I’ve disciplined young people in the classroom, on retreat, and with clients, to great success because they know I genuinely love and care about them.

Here are a few things we should be aware of when disciplining teens:
Use non-inflammatory words. Teens are highly emotional, and a poor choice of words on our part can set up barriers to effective dialogue.

Have a positive tone of voice. Maintaining a direct and even tone to our voices helps to keep a situation from getting out of hand and allows us to get our message across without a lot of resistance.

Practice good facial expressions. Our body language and other nonverbal signs communicate the vast majority of what we want to say. We can use good words and have a positive tone to our voice—even though that is difficult to do if our facial expression is negative—but if our face is saying something else, it will negate the essence of our message.

Reinforce your message in good times and in bad. It is important for teens to hear what we think about them in times and situations that don’t necessarily merit praise or chastisement. This will help build trust and go a long way toward alleviating any feelings that lead them to think, “They only love me when I’m doing something good.”

A prayer
Lord Jesus, during your encounter with the woman caught in adultery, your tone of voice, word choice, facial expressions, and demeanor demonstrated your great love while offering admonishment and encouragement. Give me the graces of gentleness, compassion, and solidarity with the young people I hope to help grow into the fully realized sons and daughters of God you desire them to be. Amen.

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

*****
Photo: CREATISTA/Shutterstock

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How to Discipline Teens...

Posted on Jul 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Our guest blogger is Roy Petitfils, author of What Teens Want You to Know (but won’t tell you)

I once watched a teacher whom I knew didn’t really like teenagers try to discipline a classroom of high school students, telling them she really loved them and cared about them, and that she was doing this for their own good. You should have seen the eyes roll, the smirks, and the looks of disdain the teens had for this teacher! It wasn’t because of the punishment per se but because they knew their teacher didn’t like them. Being disingenuous about her love for them didn’t help at all. On the other hand I’ve disciplined young people in the classroom, on retreat, and with clients, to great success because they know I genuinely love and care about them.

Here are a few things we should be aware of when disciplining teens:
Use non-inflammatory words. Teens are highly emotional, and a poor choice of words on our part can set up barriers to effective dialogue.

Have a positive tone of voice. Maintaining a direct and even tone to our voices helps to keep a situation from getting out of hand and allows us to get our message across without a lot of resistance.

Practice good facial expressions. Our body language and other nonverbal signs communicate the vast majority of what we want to say. We can use good words and have a positive tone to our voice—even though that is difficult to do if our facial expression is negative—but if our face is saying something else, it will negate the essence of our message.

Reinforce your message in good times and in bad. It is important for teens to hear what we think about them in times and situations that don’t necessarily merit praise or chastisement. This will help build trust and go a long way toward alleviating any feelings that lead them to think, “They only love me when I’m doing something good.”

A prayer
Lord Jesus, during your encounter with the woman caught in adultery, your tone of voice, word choice, facial expressions, and demeanor demonstrated your great love while offering admonishment and encouragement. Give me the graces of gentleness, compassion, and solidarity with the young people I hope to help grow into the fully realized sons and daughters of God you desire them to be. Amen.

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

*****
Photo: CREATISTA/Shutterstock

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BOLIVIA: Holy Communion from paper bags at papal m...

Posted on Jul 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

For the most part, in recent times I have tuned out from the papal mega-Masses. However, I saw a report that at the mega-Mass in Bolivia, Holy Communion was distributed from paper bags.

I was ready to believe that, since the Holy Father had vested for Mass in – I’m not making this up – a Burger King (ironic symbol of Americanist imperialism and consumerism which promotes the eradication of the rain forest for the sake of corporate beef).

15_07_10_BurgerKing_01

However, when I reviewed the video of the Mass, I found that they weren’t paper bags after all.  Watching the video, more carefully, the Blessed Sacrament was in some sort of bowl which was wrapped or covered with what looked like a cloth – perhaps paper – bag.

You can see clearly, if you are patient, that there is a container within the white material, with a rounded edge.

15_07_10_Mass_09

 

15_07_10_Mass_10

15_07_10_Mass_11

So, let’s not say that Holy Communion was distributed from paper bags, as if there were only paper bags, like pop corn.

Don’t get me wrong.  Do I like what they did?  No.  You might not want to watch the video of the distribution of Communion.  It was appalling.  These mega-Masses with Communion for all have to stop.

Please?

Moderation queue is ON.

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What Is a Saint?...

Posted on Jul 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The following is an excerpt from the book “Fearless: Stories of the American Saints” by Alice Camille and Paul Boudreau.

We are tempted to reply at once: “a very holy person.” Ah, but what is holiness? That is a more complex issue. We can’t point to a foolproof lifestyle to define what holiness is supposed to look like. Some canonized saints of the Church were kings and queens in palaces; others begged on the streets of their cities. Some were wellborn and educated, while as many were peasants, unsuccessful students, or simpleminded.

Some saints ranked among the popes, bishops, priests, and religious; others were farmers, doorkeepers, parents, even children. Some prayed and wrote in solemn cloisters; others wandered the countryside preaching. Some performed miracles, and many others are remembered for great wisdom or compassion. More than a few were martyred by methods artists have rendered in magnificent horror to impress such tremendous love and sacrifice upon the religious imagination. Others died of old age in their beds, with loved ones gathered around them.

Those of us who grew up with images of saints encircling our spiritual sensibilities are impressed above all by a certain mythic quality endowing these figures. They seem to exist without the temporal anchor that weighs heavily on the rest of us. In their soulful union with God, saints appear to float above history and its gritty concerns. We may be hard pressed to locate most of these sacred personalities on the globe, or to pin them down to a particular generation. We know them, rather, from their writings or what others have said about them. For the most part, the average saint remains locked in a timeless vacuum of plaster, stained glass, holy card, and legend. He or she, frankly, is not of this world, unlike the rest of us.

A wrench gets thrown into the mythmaking process once the element of proximity is added to the mix. The hometown celebrity can never quite escape the history of having been the ponytailed girl in algebra class or the young man who mowed lawns. Locality and familiarity make the saints of the United States most striking for those of  us anchored in the soil of this country and its uniquely experimental history. The shiny surreal saints we grew up with—faraway figures from places like Assisi, Avila, Padua, or Hippo—seem to have inhabited the celestial communion forever. We have largely lost them behind a haze of hagiography, which means “idealizing or idolizing biography.” Our homegrown saints are different. They share a story we have heard from secular history books. The U.S. saints step (and sometimes stumble) out of the pages of that history, traveling territory we know by heart as
citizens of these same neighborhoods.

In their remarkable proximity to us, the saints of this country are reminders that all saints really do start on the ground: in some city or village, among a particular people, bearing the values and ideas of their generations. From their precise perch in time, there is information they don’t have, or perspectives they can’t imagine, that will seem flatly apparent in future centuries. Wrapped in threadbare mortality, each has flaws that become part of the lumber of their sanctification. The saints of our land drop anchor in the common cultural waters that are still in the process of shaping us. This makes their stories especially relevant as we seek a way of holiness for ourselves.

Making intercession through the saints is a time-honored tradition among Catholics. We might well utilize the special graces of these women and men who achieved sanctity by sweat and tears—and sometimes blood—on these shores. But the goal of this book isn’t to present more holy lives to admire, nor to add to our chain of heavenly advocates. We can be sure no saint purposefully aimed to be canonized, or sought to be the object of veneration and prayers! These American lives are uniquely offered for our contemplation—to imitate their motivations if not always their methods—so that we too might be numbered among the holy ones in our own time.

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Pope Francis given Hammer and Sickle “crucifix...

Posted on Jul 9, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

FranciscoEvoRegalo_LOsservatoreRomano_090715

“No está bien eso”

A little tempest has been stirred around the “gifts” (aka traps) that Bolivian Pres. Morales gave to Pope Francis during his 4 hour stop in La Paz.

Morales, a socialist who dedicated his last election to Chavez and Castro, gave the Pope a “crucifix” in the form of a hammer and sickle as well as a small pectoral “cross” with the same design.

Check the ACI version of the story in Spanish. HERE

Gifts at these meetings of heads of state are worked out ahead of time. So what gives with this?

Alas, the Pope put on the damn pectoral “cross” thing, which is a little hard to understand.  I have a theory about that, below, but only a persistent grilling of Fr. Lombardi has the potential of producing the authentic explanation.

In any event, and this is what we have to pay attention to, when the Pope saw the “crucifix” (much larger than the little pectoral “cross”) he said, “No está bien eso… That’s not right.”

The conservative/traditional element are predictably blowing arteries at the sight of the Pope with these … things.  I, too, am disturbed.  After all, the hammer and sickle is a symbol of extermination of both human dignity and human beings numbering in tens of millions.  It is a symbol of oppression and degradation of billions that by far outstrips the swastika.

Some will counter, “But Father! But Father! The connection those noble yet humble proletariat crosses of mercy have with the Jesuit priest who was killed in the 1970s outweighs the …!” Blah blah blah.

Can you imagine anyone daring to put something like these into the hands of St. John Paul II?

Times have changed.

Look at the photos and the video.  Francis is clearly unhappy when he saw the large version of what was on the smaller pectoral “cross”.

Could this have been a Pres. Bartlett moment, like the one with the flag of Taiwan?  In The West Wing, Bartlett mistakenly accepts a controversial Taiwanese flag which stirs a hornet’s nest with the PRC on the eve of a state visit.  Bartlett didn’t see the flag (why is another, not relevant, issue).  In this present Bolivian case, Francis might not have noticed the symbol on the small pectoral “cross”, but he reacts sharply – negatively – when he sees the larger version in wood.

I think that Morales move was sheer manipulation and political theater for his commie base in Bolivia.  it was a trap set for Francis to score points. Francis was polite in accepting this “gift/trap”, much as would a kind grandfather when given an inappropriate gift by an errant grandson.

I suspect that we haven’t heard the end of this one.  In the meantime, keep your cool and wait for additional information.

The moderation queue is ON.

And, warning, keep the knuckle-head stuff and spittle-flecked nutties out of my combox.  If you want to rave, go over to the Fishwrap where they have no charity or reason filters.

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The Wisdom of Proverbs...

Posted on Jul 9, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

In my bedroom is a clock with the inscription “Take time to laugh.” The clock was a college graduation gift from my friend Jill. The advice inscribed on the clock is from the poem “Take Time,” a favorite of ours. Less than a year after we graduated, Jill passed away unexpectedly. That saying—along with the memory of my friend—now serves as a daily reminder to live my life to its fullest.

My house is filled with little quotes and quips. They adorn my dresser, my walls, my refrigerator, my office. I have even incorporated them in my home decorating. They serve as a source of comfort, a challenge, or a gentle reminder.

When I was growing up, my family responded to most situations with a saying, a quote or a passage. An especially troublesome day was met with, “God only gives you what you can handle.” When I was not feeling so charitable to others, I was reminded, “Do unto others….”

So perhaps that is why I’m so drawn to the Book of Proverbs in the Bible.

The Book of Proverbs was initially attributed to Solomon, but actually has a number of sources that are mentioned later in the book. It was probably completed in the early part of the fifth century B.C.

The beauty of the Book of Proverbs, though, is that it speaks about a wide range of actual life experiences. At any given time, there’s something there for everyone. And it doesn’t ignore life’s challenges. I know that I don’t have to be perfect to enjoy the proverbs.

In fact, chances are it has something pertinent when I’m not perfect. And I can learn from that. Just as that quote from my friend reminds me to laugh, the Book of Proverbs reminds me to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. Next time I might just get it right. As a full-time working mom of four kids that’s very comforting.

That’s why I find the Book of Proverbs to be the most welcoming book in the Bible. There’s something in there for everyone. We all have our own life struggles and experiences. Take those experiences with you into Proverbs.

Photo Credit: Photoxpress/Mele Avery

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The Wisdom of Proverbs...

Posted on Jul 9, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

In my bedroom is a clock with the inscription “Take time to laugh.” The clock was a college graduation gift from my friend Jill. The advice inscribed on the clock is from the poem “Take Time,” a favorite of ours. Less than a year after we graduated, Jill passed away unexpectedly. That saying—along with the memory of my friend—now serves as a daily reminder to live my life to its fullest.

My house is filled with little quotes and quips. They adorn my dresser, my walls, my refrigerator, my office. I have even incorporated them in my home decorating. They serve as a source of comfort, a challenge, or a gentle reminder.

When I was growing up, my family responded to most situations with a saying, a quote or a passage. An especially troublesome day was met with, “God only gives you what you can handle.” When I was not feeling so charitable to others, I was reminded, “Do unto others….”

So perhaps that is why I’m so drawn to the Book of Proverbs in the Bible.

The Book of Proverbs was initially attributed to Solomon, but actually has a number of sources that are mentioned later in the book. It was probably completed in the early part of the fifth century B.C.

The beauty of the Book of Proverbs, though, is that it speaks about a wide range of actual life experiences. At any given time, there’s something there for everyone. And it doesn’t ignore life’s challenges. I know that I don’t have to be perfect to enjoy the proverbs.

In fact, chances are it has something pertinent when I’m not perfect. And I can learn from that. Just as that quote from my friend reminds me to laugh, the Book of Proverbs reminds me to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. Next time I might just get it right. As a full-time working mom of four kids that’s very comforting.

That’s why I find the Book of Proverbs to be the most welcoming book in the Bible. There’s something in there for everyone. We all have our own life struggles and experiences. Take those experiences with you into Proverbs.

Photo Credit: Photoxpress/Mele Avery

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Tips for Connecting with Teens...

Posted on Jul 8, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Teenagers are not always the easiest people to connect with. It can be done, though, says Dr. Roy Petitfils. In his book, What Teens Want You to Know: but won’t tell you, he offers a few practical tips to parents for “seeing” teens:

Be aware of your assumptions. As much as possible begin every interaction with an open mind. This is not easy, but it’s difficult to see the reality of the young person in front of us when our vision is being blurred by our preconceptions and assumptions. Adolescence is a time of rapid change on every level. When I was teaching in the classroom, every day I had a note on my desk that read, “These are not the same kids that were here yesterday; get to know these kids.”

WhatTeensWantYoutoKnow

Make and keep eye contact. I know, it sounds too simple actually to be effective, but I’ve found this to be a very useful tool in counseling, mentoring, and parenting. The reason it’s so effective, especially today, is that many teens spend their days looking into their cell phones, tablets, computers, and the like. The amount of real eye contact they experience is minimal. So when you do engage with teenagers in this way, it has an impact on the person, even if only unconsciously.

Smile. The majority of teens today are wary of adults. They don’t necessarily assume that we’re mean or out to get them, they just don’t tend to trust us. A genuine smile tells them we’re not the enemy. It also tells them they are someone worth smiling at.

Ask open-ended questions and listen. Even if their answers are brief or they act a little weird about this, it is usually because they are nervous. But teenagers like the attention, and appreciate your effort to let them know you care about what they think. When we make a habit of asking them questions and then patiently listening to them while they answer, teens feel seen. They experience this as us focusing on them in a positive way, and it contributes to their positive self-esteem. It’s another opportunity to build trust and a pathway for open communication.

For more ways to connect with teens, check out What Teens Want You to Know: but won’t tell you.

*****

Photo: VGstockstudio

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Tips for Connecting with Teens...

Posted on Jul 8, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Teenagers are not always the easiest people to connect with. It can be done, though, says Dr. Roy Petitfils. In his book, What Teens Want You to Know: but won’t tell you, he offers a few practical tips to parents for “seeing” teens:

Be aware of your assumptions. As much as possible begin every interaction with an open mind. This is not easy, but it’s difficult to see the reality of the young person in front of us when our vision is being blurred by our preconceptions and assumptions. Adolescence is a time of rapid change on every level. When I was teaching in the classroom, every day I had a note on my desk that read, “These are not the same kids that were here yesterday; get to know these kids.”

WhatTeensWantYoutoKnow

Make and keep eye contact. I know, it sounds too simple actually to be effective, but I’ve found this to be a very useful tool in counseling, mentoring, and parenting. The reason it’s so effective, especially today, is that many teens spend their days looking into their cell phones, tablets, computers, and the like. The amount of real eye contact they experience is minimal. So when you do engage with teenagers in this way, it has an impact on the person, even if only unconsciously.

Smile. The majority of teens today are wary of adults. They don’t necessarily assume that we’re mean or out to get them, they just don’t tend to trust us. A genuine smile tells them we’re not the enemy. It also tells them they are someone worth smiling at.

Ask open-ended questions and listen. Even if their answers are brief or they act a little weird about this, it is usually because they are nervous. But teenagers like the attention, and appreciate your effort to let them know you care about what they think. When we make a habit of asking them questions and then patiently listening to them while they answer, teens feel seen. They experience this as us focusing on them in a positive way, and it contributes to their positive self-esteem. It’s another opportunity to build trust and a pathway for open communication.

For more ways to connect with teens, check out What Teens Want You to Know: but won’t tell you.

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Photo: VGstockstudio

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Expanding Our Faith...

Posted on Jul 7, 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.

Last week, my parish went through a huge change that a lot of other parishes across America have experienced. In an attempt to combat the current shortage of priests, my parish was assigned to form a pastoral region with a neighboring parish. Basically, that means that my parish will now share one pastor with this nearby parish. It hasn’t been an easy change for anyone. Mass times have changed and ministries have merged, leaving many people in both parishes upset with the disturbance of the status quo. The situation is less than ideal, but I’m still looking forward to working more closely with our neighboring parish because I think it will strengthen the Body of Christ as a whole.

I think a lot of us periodically forget that our faith goes far beyond our parish communities—I know that I do. Many of us spend a great deal of our time helping our home parishes, and that is a very good thing. It becomes a problem, however, when we focus so much on our own parishes that we totally forget about Catholic communities beyond our community, our state, and even beyond our nation.

The universal Church is just that, a universal community of believers.

All the believers in the world make up this Body of Christ, and as St. Paul reminds us, every single member of the Body is essential: “Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another” (1 Cor 12:22-25).

I firmly believe that, by encouraging my parish to work together with our neighboring parish, the Lord will do great things.

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Photo: jokerpro/PhotoXpress

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Ask a Franciscan: Is Every Encyclical Infallible?...

Posted on Jul 2, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Q. I know that the pope’s infallibility is not a personal trait but is part of his office as the successor of St. Peter. Even so, is every encyclical infallible?

A. The short answer is no. Vatican I’s decree “Eternal Pastor” taught: “The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when discharging the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, and defines with his supreme apostolic authority a doctrine concerning faith or morals that is to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in St. Peter, exercises that infallibility which the divine Redeemer wishes to endow his Church for defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.”

Infallibility is a guarantee that neither the pope teaching individually as the Church’s supreme pastor nor the pope teaching in communion with the whole college of bishops can mislead the faithful on an issue essential to salvation.

Encylicals remain very important teaching documents. No pope since 1870 has designated an encyclical as an exercise of papal infallibility, which requires three conditions: 1) the subject is a matter of faith or morals, 2) the pope must be teaching as supreme pastor, and 3) the pope must indicate that the teaching is infallible.

Since 1870, the only such teaching is the 1950 definition by Pope Pius XII of Mary’s assumption. Some people have argued that every canonization is an infallible statement, but that opinion is not official Church teaching.

Recent encylicals have been addressed to the whole Church, but the 2013 edition of Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Almanac lists 288 encyclicals since 1740, most of them written to bishops of a single country. Many of them were drawn up for the anniversary of a saint, a Holy Year, or another Church event.

Pope Leo XIII wrote the most encyclicals: 86 between 1878 and 1902. Blessed John XXIII broke new ground when he addressed Peace on Earth (1962) to the usual audience and added “all people of good will.”

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Photo: TTstudio/Shutterstock

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Living a Good Christian Life...

Posted on Jul 1, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

We talk a lot about being committed to living a Christian life, but what does it really mean? Going to Mass on Sundays, receiving the sacraments and actively praying are all good ways of being a witness to the Gospel and living a good Christian life. But how do we really connect with people, especially young people who are seeking answers to the meaning of life in this increasingly secularized, individualized and materialistic society?

Let’s take for example the message of chastity. Where and how do you think a young person today is going to hear the message from Church that sex is beautiful but should be saved for marriage? Well, they’re probably not going to hear it in Church. They’re going to have to hear it from other people. The Church can teach us lots of wonderful things but if people don’t see it being lived out, chances are they’re not going to pay attention.

I know that actions always speak louder than words. When I start feeling down about some scandal or imperfection in our Church’s history, I look to people like Mother Teresa or even our new Pope Francis and know they love the Church, so there must be something to this Catholic faith worth looking into.

And to boost my understanding even more I like to look into the lives of the saints. They may seem like historical figures, but when you really learn about their lives, you find out that they were just like you and me—struggling with their faith. If we can follow their example and emulate their qualities, then we, too, can become role models for others, especially our children.

Catholic saints are ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives. I recommend you try the “Saint of the Day” app which has made it much easier for me to find out more about them in an easy and convenient way. It’s available for both iOS and Android devices.  

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Photo by Nancy Bauer / Shutterstock.com

 

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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."