Tag Archives: Catholic

A Look at the Francis Effect

Daily Mail – Pope Francis Kissing a Baby

I remember “working” at my grad student job at Boston College in the Roche Center for Catholic Education with both eyes locked in on the live feed focused on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. I, along with much of the world, awaited the simple, yet dramatic, sign of white smoke that would signify a new era of Catholicism.

Though we get to experience something similar every four years in the United States, this type of event is different. Electing a Pope is not usually something that happens as often or as regularly as the election of the President of the United States. This particular papal election was even more significant in that it was preceded by the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, an event about as unusual as a total solar eclipse occurring at the passing of halley’s comet (6 times in last 2,000 years to 5 papal resignations). It was, to say the least, a monumental moment in history. Continue reading A Look at the Francis Effect


Pope Francis on the Family… and Beyond

By Matt Keppel

Two weekends ago, I had the immense blessing to be in Philadelphia to witness the beautiful representative of the Catholic Church that is Pope Francis. The conference that he was attending, and closing, was on the family and the life of the family within the Church. Following the World Meeting of Families, he is going to follow up his historic visit to the United States with the Synod on the Family. So, it would seem that family is significant on Francis’s list. After listening to him multiple times this weekend, I can attest to what he believes about the life of the family: love.

Just as Francis has been clear about some issues regarding families, he has been interestingly vague on others. On nearly every street corner in Philadelphia the throngs of people were confronted by men, young and old, asking us (mostly men, really) to sign a petition intended for Pope Francis that he might make a definitive statement about marriage being between a man and a woman. And yet, at the World Meeting of Families what did he tell us about families? That they are called to love the members within them; children are valuable to us because they are our future; our grandparents are our familial memory; and the love of the family should be lived out to bring love and joy to our communities. Many of us standing there were shocked. Francis finished his Saturday evening address without addressing what so many people had hoped he would: same-sex unions. Continue reading Pope Francis on the Family… and Beyond

Pope Francis Addresses Congress

Pope Francis Addresses Congress

Today, we have been witnesses of a historic event. For the first time in history, a Pope has visited the United States Congress. In the joint congressional session, Pope Francis spoke on a plethora of topics that concern the Catholic Church. From poverty and immigration to capitalism and climate change, the Pontiff captivated his audience of politicians from the moment his presence was announced.

For those interested, and I would highly suggest to do so, NPR has a play-by-play of the speech. We also have the transcript of Pope Francis’s speech to read at your leisure.


Papal Preperations: 9/22

As I type this the Pope is in the air flying from Cuba to Washington, D.C. Tomorrow I will be one of the people lucky enough to see him celebrate Mass, I will have a gallery of pictures to post but until then:

Here are some of the numbers behind the Popes visit to The Catholic University of America.  If you missed any of the posts over the last few weeks here is the one from 9/14.

The Altar has been set up and the sound checks are starting.
The Basilica is set for Francis to see. 10,000 plus chairs have been labeled and are ready for Mass.   Screens have been set up for those waiting in line to get in to the Mass.
News trucks for the over 1,600 credentialed press are pulling into lots around campus. The Pope is coming!

Why My First Funeral as a Pastoral Associate Made Me Nervous


By Brian Romer Niemiec

In the Newton Catholic Collaborative there are between 200 and 250 funerals per year. As a result, it is often the case that one of the pastoral associates will lead the wake service, be present at the Funeral Mass, and lead the service at the cemetery. I have been shadowing my colleagues over the last month, and this past week I was deemed ready and handed my first funeral assignment.

I arrived at the wake service a little nervous and worried about making small talk, and about what I was going to say during the reflection. After all, I’m an introvert. I hate small talk. I’m not good at it and I never will be. What am I supposed to say, “Sorry for your loss, but at least the Patriots won…?” I don’t even route for the Patriots!

But, before I knew it, I was through the door, meeting the family, and starting the prayer service.  As I worked my way through the beginning of the service, I realized that some of the family members had started crying. For some reason the raw human emotion of the moment took me by surprise, and then I started to get really nervous. I had been planning to talk about salvation, resurrection, and all the great cheery theology that we believe in as Catholics during my reflection, but that wasn’t what this family needed. They missed their sister/mother/grandmother.

Continue reading Why My First Funeral as a Pastoral Associate Made Me Nervous

Oh, To Be a Ninja.


By Michelle Keefe

Being fairly new to the profession of teaching religion, I came into the job (at an all-girls Catholic high school) just bursting with zeal for my faith and the students in front of me. I was ready to set hearts on fire through osmosis, with a contagious energy and passion for Christ!

I was so excited to start being a mentor to these young girls, to start bringing young MTDers (Moralistic Therapeutic Deists… stay tuned for more on MTD!) into a more mature faith, and to walk with them on that journey.

What I wasn’t expecting was just how hard it is to be taken seriously as a religion teacher:

“Religion? Oh, that’s my easy class.” “Yea, our old teacher would just let us re-do the tests or make corrections on assignments until we got 100s.” “You’re so passionate about your faith, you should become a nun.”

What I quickly realized was that as soon as I say “Religion teacher,” the students put me into a box. They think they have me figured out. They are not phased by my energy for faith; in fact, by about October, they are kind of numb to it. They expect me to love Jesus and to love my faith, and oftentimes don’t see why it’s so personal and meaningful. Duh- it’s because I am their religion teacher. So much for osmosis.

I was talking to one of my colleagues last year, who also happens to be Catholic, but who teaches math. She had started up a rosary group with some of the girls and I had asked her how it was going. She said something to me that sort of haunts me. She said one of her students came up to her after math class and asked,“Mrs. Stanley, you’re doing the rosary group, right? But you teach math…? So… you’re like a ninja Catholic, right?”

Continue reading Oh, To Be a Ninja.

Into the Darkness: Catholic Culture in a Troubled World

By Claire Bordelon

I made the mistake the other night of tuning into the VMAs. After watching for about 12.5 seconds, I changed the channel, but was still disturbed. What has happened to our culture? This thought has crossed my mind many times, but has really stayed with me over the past few days. It’s also a question posed by many amid the decline of spiritually and intellectually engaged communities. We no longer have the luxury of existing in a world where Christian sensibilities operate in harmony with the cultural landscape of our communities. It’s tempting to respond to this rift by clinging to the Church, and surely this must be a part of our response. However, devoting oneself to the Church doesn’t mean completely disengaging with culture.

There is a trend among some to preserve their faith by rebuking every aspect of the world, putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the threatening culture they so fear. However, this extreme separation adopts a sense of fatalism that is more threatening to the Spiritual vision than anything Miley Cyrus has ever done. If the world is continually in decline, with no hope of conversion or change, we may as well just wait around, absenting ourselves from the public sphere as much as possible until Christ comes to destroy everything.

Continue reading Into the Darkness: Catholic Culture in a Troubled World

Je Suis Catholique: A Catholic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

by Patrick Angiolillo

In the wake of the horrifying attacks in Paris that occurred at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters on January 7, as well as those others in the ensuing days, we have seen the swift response from the world, not least of all from the people of France themselves.

Immediately following the tremendous events of that day, leaders the world over spoke out against the form of radicalized, fundamentalist religion that led the Muslim gunmen to commit their heinous act of violence. Pope Francis, along with French bishops, as well as French Imams, and hosts of political leaders from different countries have voiced their sorrow and rage in reaction to the terror attack. The hacktivist group known as Anonymous even released a video in which a speaker, hidden by a Guy Fawkes mask, declared war on radical terror organizations like Al-Qaeda. The group claims to already have shut down a French terrorist website.1

While these reactions all share a deep opposition to the acts of violence witnessed, the particular response from different figures is, understandably, quite different. The hacktivist group has already begun their campaign to shut down terror websites, just as political leaders and government agencies have already mobilized their respective responses to the attack.

Religious leaders, however, have a different kind of role in the matter. Fr. Federico Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office expressed, in a matter of hours after the attack, the pope’s—and the Church’s—opposition to this example of the radical use of religion: “Whatever may be the motivation, homicidal violence is abominable. It is never justified: the life and dignity of all must be firmly guaranteed and guarded; any instigation to hate refuted; and respect for the other cultivated.” Indeed, he added that the pope said he “joins the prayers of the suffering and wounded, and of the families of the dead.”2

A religious leader or a religious group has a different responsibility in the aftermath of crises like the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Religion itself, and, as we see today, Islam in particular, has been abused by the ideologizing forces of terror organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS (or ISIL). The leaders of these religio-poltical groups use religion—use God—in order to justify their twisted agendas. Pope Francis summarized the phenomenon this way: “Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext.”3

What, then, is the responsibility of the world’s religions, and of world religious leaders in the wake of such attacks? How does our Catholic faith play into this puzzle? Continue reading Je Suis Catholique: A Catholic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

A Curious Incident of Ecumenism in the Night

by Patrick Angiolillo

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end. Amen.

So beings “An Order for Compline” from the Book of Common Prayer according to the use of the Episcopal Church.

As a recently matriculated student to Yale Divinity School, I have found myself in a new place, with new friends, and among new religious traditions. At Boston College, I was never for lack of Mass, prayer, or all things Catholic. As a member of several Catholic student groups on campus, I had ample opportunity to discuss everything from the Bible to Church teaching to recent issues facing the church and her leadership. “My cup overflows,” as the Psalmist writes.

But, as with many things, life kept moving, even though I probably did not want it to. I graduated. And now I have begun my studies in Bible here at YDS.

I have already connected with the school’s Roman Catholic Fellowship group, and I have fast become a regular at the college’s Catholic Chapel, the aptly named St. Thomas More chapel. I have, in my several short weeks here, already dug my roots into the soils of New Haven.

But there has been, for me, a conspicuous lack of Catholicity. Or, perhaps more precisely, there is an abundance of catholicity, such that my Catholicism is unique.

This melting pot of Christianity at YDS has its advantages and disadvantages. I have found myself extremely at home with many new friends whose lives have been shaped by a very different forms of the Christian faith. But, equally so, I have found my comfortability stretched and tested at times, particularly with regard to liturgy.

None of this is to pass a value judgment on YDS or any of my Christian brothers and sisters. Indeed, the mission of the school and its demographic composition are not considerations of this article. What I mean to note is the beauty of this community of Christians who have come together to learn, prayer and grow as individuals and groups.

And such has been my project. I have exposed—and will continue to expose—myself to many Christian traditions, to their worship, and to their faith. Continue reading A Curious Incident of Ecumenism in the Night