Mary Asks More than Détente [Pope Francis Bookclub]

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In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.In this week's selection, Pope Francis discusses the way Moses is developed, morally and spiritually, through prayer, especially through the act of turning away from unworthy petitions. When God proposes to give Moses a new people t … [Read more...]

Finding Fellowship in Exile [Pope Francis Bookclub]

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In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.This chapter is called "The Solitude of Prayer" but, as I read Pope Francis's meditations on exile -- the first, individual one, experienced by Adam and Eve, the Babylonian exile endured by the Jews, the state of Christians described … [Read more...]

Fumbling (sometimes productively) with Prayer

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I have an essay up today at Fare Forward on some of my experiences muddling through prayer, while I've been trying to get my Catholic sea legs: Since my conversion, I’ve had a lot of awkward moments at the dinner table. It’s not that I’ve been having awkward conversations about my decision to leave atheism and be received into the Catholic Church. It’s that my friends keep pausing and looking inquisitively me at meals, and then saying, “Should I wait for you to say grace?” If I’m not reminded by … [Read more...]

God’s Call to Restore Our Common Sense

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Today is the feast of Saint Augustine, my confirmation saint.  In celebration, this morning I made sure to leave some time to pray the Office of Readings in the Divine Office, and I was particularly struck by this passage from Jeremiah (4:1-3): If you wish to return, O Israel, says the Lord, return to me. If you put your destestable things out of my sight, and do not stray, Then you can swear, "As the Lord lives," in truth, in judgment, and in justice; Then shall then nations use his name … [Read more...]

Learning the Wrong Lessons from St. Maximilian Kolbe

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When I was in church to celebrate the feast day of Saint Maximillian Kolbe (who has previously been one of my saints of the month), I tried to reflect on his life and his example during the moments of silent prayer in the liturgy. In those moments, I asked God to strengthen my will, and make it more like his.This is one of those prayers that I wind up frequently making whose fruit tends not to be in having my request granted, but in realizing it was a kind of stupid request in the first … [Read more...]

A Countervailing Saint for My Comfortable Month

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This time, when I went to Jen Fulwiler's Saint Generator, the man I pulled turned out to be a veritable Jean Valjean.  Here's what happened in the life of Saint Conrad of Piacenza. One day while hunting, Conrad ordered attendants to set fire to some brush in order to flush out the game. A strong wind carried the flames to nearby fields, forests, towns and villages, and Conrad fled in panic. An innocent peasant was imprisoned, tortured into a confession and condemned to death for the fire. R … [Read more...]

Reworking my relationship with John the Baptist

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Since I was on holiday in Ireland, I prorogued picking my next Saint for the month until now, and, this time, I drew a familiar face: John the Baptist.I knew this saint from before my conversion (unlike poor Blessed Scammacca who I'd never heard of before drawing him from Jen's generator), and he's already helped me out once.  When I was on College Jeopardy, one of the categories in the first round was "New Testament Places" and I deliberately avoided the column, figuring I knew nothing … [Read more...]


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