Pope Francis on New Years Day: Mary is the Answer

In his address on New Years Day, Pope Francis said, “as we start a new year, it is a good time for Christians to also start anew, leaving behind past burdens and baggage, and starting over from what really matters.”

Catholic News Agency said the Pope also added, “Today’s feast tells us that if we want to go forward, we need to turn back: to begin anew from the crib, from the Mother who holds God in her arms,” he stated.

We all wrestle with “New Years Resolutions.”  And many of us struggle with changes we need to make in our lives.  By focusing on Mary the Mother of God we can leave “the baggage” we carry with us in our daily lives, and move ahead.  Consider all the changes Mary went through!

Catholics mark January 1st each year to celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  On some years (when the date falls on a Sunday), this is a holy day of obligation.

Pope on New Year’s Day: Devotion to Mary is a must

Pope Francis Gave a Surprise Phone Call

For as long as I can remember, the Pope has been one of the most important role models in my life. I never imagined that the leader of our Catholic Church would be so down to earth and friendly. Recently Pope Francis received a letter from an Italian boy, and he really went the extra mile. Instead of just reading the letter he responded. I don’t mean through letter either. Pope Francis gave a surprise phone call to this student recently.

Pope Francis is gaining a reputation for being a very down-to-earth person. Despite his position at the Vatican he seems to live a really simply life. Personally, I believe that his deeds reflect the type of leadership that we need as Catholics. He lives the life that we should all strive to live. The Pope has that humble aura that even doesn’t intimidate people, and the fact that Pope Francis gave a surprise phone call to this student affirms that.

You can read more about Pope Francis’ conversation with the Italian teenager here: “Hello, It’s the Pope”: Francis Calls Student

Encourage Stray Catholics to Come to Mass

I came across this article earlier today: “Invite Catholics back to Mass,’ Bishop urges Faithful.” Found in the beginning of the article were these statements: “Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton said that only one in five baptized Catholics attend church every Sunday. The other four have somehow lost contact with the Church.”

I am aware that there are Catholics who are no longer attend Church every Sunday, but I never imagined there would be so many (4 out 5 baptized members???).  This is just so sad for me to hear, and I know you feel the same way too. It’s just awful that people have found the Lord and his Church , but still made the choice to leave. Encourage stray Catholics to come to Mass. They once knew of God’s goodness, and just need a little help remembering it.

If you are a constant visitor of this blog, you must have read one of my posts encouraging Evangelization–sharing the good news of salvation to others who have not heard about it yet. Today I realized that aside from witnessing to those who haven’t received the Gospel yet, we also have a mission to help bring those who have “wandered” back into the fold of God.

Take the chance today to encourage a family member, a neighbor, or a friend to go back to Church. Studies show that 41% of those who have stopped attending Mass would return to the local church if a friend or acquaintance invited them. Be an instrument of God today and encourage stray Catholics to come to Mass.

How Can You Make Christ Known?

I read this very inspiring story from the Catholic Herald today: “Pilgrim walks 1,800 miles to Rio ‘to show people that God is alive.” Fabio Matues, a Catholic pilgrim from Brazil walked 1,800 miles from his home to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day with aims of making Jesus known to others. Walking past over 70 cities and towns, his journey was not an easy one with many nights spent sleeping in his hammock up between trees or along the roadside. After hearing this story it made me think how can I do something similar. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, but how can you make Christ known?

With his endeavor catching the media’s attention, he sure was able to make an impact on the whole world and not only to the people he met in his journey.

Can you make the same sacrifice that this man did? Would you be willing to leave your work and family for months so you could evangelize for Christ? Are you taking part in sharing the good news to the world? There are many small yet significant ways you and I can evangelize to others. There are a lot of people in our community that need to hear about the love and grace of Jesus.

Take this day to think about the ways you can take part in the sharing of the Gospel. How can you make Christ known to more people?

Evangelizing is Something All Christians Should Do

I celebrate with the people of Fargo with the installation and ordination of their new bishop, Bishop John T. Folda. The newly appointed bishop gave a very inspiring message during his Mass of ordination. I was especially moved when he gave these words of encouragement: “We must proclaim Christ, in season and out of season, by our words, whether vocal or written or blogged or tweeted or in any other medium available to us – we must share Christ with all our brothers and sisters around us.” Evangelizing is something all Christians should do in my opinion.

Indeed, we must all take part in sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. As opposed to what a lot of Christians think, we have all been commissioned by God to evangelize. And I believe we all have our own means of doing so. “Proclaiming Christ” is not just limited to preaching, it simply means sharing the good news of Jesus–however and whatever way we can. Evangelizing is something all Christians should do.

Read more about the ordination of Bishop John T. Folda here: “Jesus Is Source of Joy.”

White Smoke! Habemus Papam!

Habemus Papam! After only a little more than a day, a plume of white smoke has been spotted above the Vatican, signaling that a new pope has been chosen. And the new pope is 76-year-old Jesuit Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina, who will now be known as Pope Francis I.

Our new Pope is said to be a pope of many firsts. He is the first non-European pope of the modern era, the first from Latin America, the first Jesuit, and the first to assume the name Francis (in honor of St. Francis of Assisi). The chosen name of our new Pope is said to symbolize poverty, humility, simplicity, and rebuilding the Catholic Church.

As we welcome our new pontiff, may we always remember his first words in the balcony: “Let’s pray always for each other. Let’s pray for the whole world.”

If you want to know more about Pope Francis, you can do so here: “Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio: a profile“.

This Papal Resignation is Not The First

News of the Blessed Father’s resignation shocked me, as with the rest of the world. It never occurred to me that it was actually possible for a Pope to abdicate his position. I have lived to see four Popes father the Catholic Church–Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and the incumbent Benedict XVI. All of Pope Benedict’s predecessors reigned until they passed away, so it really surprised me how something like this could happen.

However, as I read deeper into the issue of papal resignation, I have discovered that although Pope Benedict is the first pope to resign in over 600 years, he is not the only one to have voluntarily stepped down from the position in the entire history of the church. As a matter of fact, there are a handful of others who have resigned before him, namely:

  • Benedict IX (1032-45) – Resigned after selling the papacy to his godfather Gregory VI.
  • Gregory VI (1045-46) – Resigned after being accused of purchasing to papacy.
  • Celestine V (1294) – Resigned for “his longing for the tranquility of his former life.”
  • Gregory XII (1406-15) – Resigned to put an end to Western Schism.

Should you want to know more about Pope Benedict XVI, and his reason for resignation here is a good read: 9 Things You Should Know About Pope Benedict XVI

We are All God’s Beloved Creations

The Pope’s message from the Vatican yesterday really struck a chord with me. With all the theories and stories on how the world began or how humans came into existence, it is wonderful to be reminded of exactly how and why we were all created.

Contrary to the scientific notion that all of us and everything around us came to be by accident and for no reason whatsoever, the Blessed Father’s message said that, “The Scripture tells us that the origin of the world, our origin is not irrational or out of necessity, but reason and love and freedom.” These words really touched my heart. It made me appreciate the profoundness of my existence–why I am here.

God in His greatness created me out of love and with reason. It is the very essence of love to want to have others outside of oneself to love.  If God did not create people, like you and me, His love would have no one to extend towards. And it is this very same love that caused God to send His only son to die on the cross to save you and me from our sins.

If you want to read more of the Pope’s message, you can do so here: Reason and Love are Behind Creation.

Pope Benedict Knows the Importance of Evangelizing Online

Yesterday was the feast day of Saint Frances de Sales. Saint Frances is known as the patron saint of writers, and that pertains to authors and people like me who simply blog on the Internet. Saint Frances’ feast day has also become associated with the Pope releasing his World Communications Day message. The Pope usually addresses some form of Evangelization in this message, and yesterday Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the Internet and social media. I thought this was so cool because it is specifically what I try to do. I think social media and blogs are some of the best tools we have to Evangelize with.

In his message the Pope touched on many points that you can read here. He acknowledged the great effort that many have already put into their social media efforts, and the commitment it takes to build online relationships and a following. Pope Benedict XVI also stated that unless the word of God is being spread on the Internet, it may not reach the large portion of the population who rely heavily on these tools. If you are a fellow blogger or just enjoy social media check out the entirety of what Pope Benedict XVI had to say.

Flu Season Causing Minor Changes in Some Parish’s Communion

Some parishes across the country have been modifying Communion recently because the particularly bad outbreak of the flu that has been occurring. Some Catholic Churches have put a temporary hiatus on the sharing of the chalice during Mass. This is obviously in an attempt to cut down on the odds that people will infect one another with the flu. The temporary modifications don’t stop with the chalice though. Some churches have also decided to have its parishioners only exchange a verbal gesture instead of a handshake during Mass.

I suppose that you really cannot be too careful with the flu being as bad as it has been the last few weeks. Some of these parishes got word from their diocese to put these changes into effect, but others took matters into their own hands to prevent sickness. The modifications have been met with little to no resistance because people can see the common sense behind them. In due time Mass will be back to business as usual.

Read more about this story: Catholic Churches Adjust Holy Communion to Guard Against the Flu