John Paul II and John XXIII Canonization Today

Divine Mercy imageToday, Divine Mercy Sunday 2014, April 27th, John Paul II and John XXIII have been declared saints, in a ceremony at the Vatican.

John XXIII was pope from 1958-1963. Despite being elected as a “caretaker” pope, he called the Second Vatican council, which greatly shaped the Church that Catholics know today.

John Paul II was pope from 1978-2005. He was pope when I became Catholic in 2004. His charismatic presentation of the faith, along with his fidelity to Apostolic Teaching played a big role in my becoming Catholic.

Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, ora pro nobis.

Yes, The Pope Is Catholic

saint francisLately, Pope Francis has been making waves due to a few controversial comments, especially regarding gays in the church and abortion. Basically, he’s been accused of downplaying or changing Catholic teaching on core subjects.

In case anyone is worried, yes, the Pope is still Catholic. While there are certain hot button issues that face the Church (and many of these are very important), it doesn’t mean those are the only topics a bishop can discuss.

Just because Francis would prefer to talk about other things doesn’t mean he lacks belief in any other part of Catholic teaching. Nor does it mean the Pope thinks they’re unimportant. The hot button issues of our age have been debated and taught a lot. Almost everyone in the world knows where the Church stands on them.

Can most non-believers articulate where the Church stands on loving your enemy? What about Catholic teaching on the poor? Or war? Likely, those issues are a little more muddled in the minds of other Christians and those who lack any faith.

No Pope or bishop will be able to promote the entire Catechism throughout his reign. He will certainly have his own emphases. There are lots of faithful Catholics in the world promoting Church teaching on various topics, including life and sexuality. The previous popes have also done a great job emphasizing these issues.

Now, Pope Francis is choosing to discuss other topics, ones which might have a big impact on drawing people into the fold who might otherwise never give the Church a chance. Then, the catechesis on all issues can begin.

Picking the name Francis was probably a good indicator of how his reign would be. St. Francis of Assisi, fully and traditionally Catholic, nonetheless made sure that the Church would be exposed to a different perspective from the topics of the day.

So, yes, the Pope is Catholic. Catholic means universal and discussing long held, but previously de-emphasized topics doesn’t make him any less of a Catholic. In fact, it might make him an even better one.

Thank You Pope Francis For Reaching Out

Attribution: presidencia.gov.ar

Attribution: presidencia.gov.ar

I don’t get into polemics much on this blog, because I want this to be a place of edification and prayer. I have had my fill of arguing over things that don’t really matter to 99% of the population.

This post may be a little polemical. I want to thank Pope Francis for his skill in reaching out to people that aren’t evangelized. While this has caused some consternation about his supposed orthodoxy from some Catholic conservatives, many non-Catholics are excited about the approach Francis is taking.

Personally, I like the tone of this papacy. Francis, I am convinced, is perfectly orthodox in his faith and practice. However, he has a knack for framing the faith in a way that makes sense to secularists and other non-Christians.

He reminds me of another guy who boldly reached out to non-believers, so much that many religious people of the time shuddered in fear and anger. Yeah, he reminds of Jesus.

We live in a hugely secular time, when the influence of the Christian faith is waning, at least in the Western world. Pope Francis seems like the right guy for the job, even if that means angering some of the self-proclaimed “righteous remnant” within the Church.

Habemus Papam – Pope Francis

The Catholic Church has chosen a new pope, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina. He has taken the name “Francis.”

 

Pray For The Future Pope

Pope Leo the GreatRight now there is a lot of speculation about which cardinal will  become pope. Honestly, I haven’t really been following the whole thing. I am left to trust the Holy Spirit at this point. I am not trying to sound holier-than-thou, by suggesting this.

The reason is that I honestly feel the Church needs a special kind of leader right now, and as a human, I would have difficulty choosing the right man for the job! The Church is plagued with scandals, and the morale of the laity is pretty low. I think Benedict has tried hard and implemented some good reforms, but one man cannot effectively get rid of the rot, at least not immediately.

I love the Church and am not suggesting God has abandoned us! I am suggesting that the Holy Spirit will choose the right man for the job. Whatever we do, we must pray for the new pope, and the cardinals as they choose him. This is especially important during this Lenten season. Please check out our prayer for a new pope.

Breaking News: The Pope To Resign

I was shocked to read this a few minutes ago!

Pope Benedict XVI, elected in 2005, has resigned as pope. His resignation will take effect on February 28th. He has done so because of weakening health and strength. This rarely happens, and hasn’t happened since 1415. I can’t help but wonder if there is something else going on here. I am Catholic and not a conspiracy theorist at all, but I am just curious if we won’t know more in the coming weeks.

We pray for the continued health of Benedict XVI and for the election of the next pope in the coming weeks.

Thoughts on Respect For Life

An angel face on a graveI am a little late writing this to coincide with the anniversary of the Roe V Wade decision, which made abortion legal by supreme court decision. Prior to that, abortion laws were relegated to the states, and most states banned them.

The older I get, the more respect I have for human life, and all life really. I know the Christian arguments against abortion, and I get them and embrace them. I am sure you know them too. However, I don’t even have to base my thoughts on any Christian dogma or principles. I mainly base them on my humanity. I am always amazed at the greatness and majesty of life. That we can experience consciousness is a gift. To deny anyone else this opportunity just seems naturally wrong.

The human impulse, at its best, is to preserve life at all costs. I see images of firefighters saving kittens, soldiers transporting teier comrades to the base no matter the cost, and so forth. At its worst, the human impulse is to kill, destroy, and make war. Which impulse does abortion fall under? Even if abortion is possible to do, does it make it the best human endeavor? Even The Buddha considered abortion to be one of the five kinds of evil Karma, placing it up there with killing one’s mother or father.

But, isn’t abortion a right? You are not going to find someone who is more interested in preserving rights than I am. I don’t get into politics on here much, but let’s just say my political beliefs emphasize liberty as long as nobody is physically harmed. And that is why abortion cannot be a “right,” not God-given at least. I understand there is debate about “personhood” but I will say that I believe what is growing inside a mother is a life, and therefore it is the job of the government (even a limited one that I believe in) to protect that life.

Let’s pray for an end to abortion,  and to anything else that takes away the value and dignity of human life.

Christians and Social Media: Time To Get On It!

An icon for twitterEvery so often I hear some Christians I know (and sadly, some Church leaders) criticize the Internet and all the tools that keep us connected, such as Facebook and mobile phones. I understand that attachment to these things can cause problems, just as attachment to any material thing can cause problems. Nonetheless, being “wired” is the future of communication. While I am not suggesting we publish a Bible using 27,000 text messages (this figure is actually accurate, at roughly 4 million characters divided by 150…yes I have nerd tendencies), we have to embrace this new media or die.

Social networking is the new form of communication, just as the printing press was the new form during Renaissance. To be opposed to an entire form of communication is problematic, simply because it is a medium and not a message. The way most modern people communicate is social media. Teens rarely check email and rely on Instagram to communicate. Do you know what Instagram is? If you or your church isn’t on Instagram, then how will you communicate with the next generation of believers?

We also have to remember that through social media, information travels quickly. This means negative information spreads like wildfire. If we are not involved in social media, then our detractors get to frame the conversation about us. If we, as real live Christians, are able to be “first responders” to inaccurate and bad press, we can provide a friendly Christian perspective on issues, rather than letting our detractors control the discussion.

I used to work for a school that feared social media. The result was that when negative nonsense about the school was snowballing on Facebook, nobody was there to provide an official response, so the negativity snowballed and we lost about 20 students from the whole incident.

Fortunately, many in the Church have been forward thinking enough to understand this and encourage a social media presence. Either way, I highly suggest your diocese, parish, etc, set up some common social networking accounts (such as Twitter, Facebook, etc) and use them to communicate with your flock and beyond.