Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

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


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

Sacred Signs and Symbols: Ad Orientem

By Patrick Angiolillo

I had the opportunity to attend a Novus Ordo Latin Mass celebrated ad orientem for the first time two years ago. It was my first experience of both Latin in the Mass and of the priest facing East, and in this case facing the altar, for the duration of the liturgy.

This experience has in part fueled my academic investigations of ancient Jewish and Christian liturgical texts. Although my intention in my research has been to draw an ever-clearer picture of ancient worship-in-practice, my studies connect to the modern religious experience, and can shed light on why it is we do what we do when we perform certain ritual practices in our religious ceremonies. This includes the ad orientem Mass.

Let me begin in Jerusalem, a place where many great stories begin. The Temple in Jerusalem lies not only at the heart of the ancient city, but at the heart of the ancient Jewish faith as well. Historically, Jews have regarded the Temple as the place where God chose to reside: “the place (המקום) that YHWH your God will choose from all your tribes as a dwelling place to put his name there” (Deut 12:5; cf. ||’s). God’s shekinah, or divine presence, is physically manifest in the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the temple, where the Ark of the Covenant was reserved.

Continue reading Sacred Signs and Symbols: Ad Orientem

Benedict XVI, Children, and the Mets

As a father, being present for the birth of my child was important as a show of support for my wife.  I was there,  as Francesa so pejoratively put it, to “look at” my wife in the hospital bed when she came out of surgery.

Let Daniel Murphy hang out with his kid, alright?
Let Daniel Murphy hang out with his kid, alright?

I am not a Mets fan:  I detest the Mets, their fans, and most of their players.  (Not on a personal level, mind you.  Well, except for my Mets-loving editor here at CH,because with him, it’s personal.)  So when I saw the headline on this story about Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy receiving criticism by some members of the New York media for taking paternity leave, my first reaction was a Mr. Burns-esque “Excellent.”  My more considered reaction was disgust.

To recap:  Daniel Murphy took several days off from work for the birth of his first child.  Because he plays baseball for a living, this decision upset sports radio host Mike Francesa, who said: “You’re a major league baseball player.  You can hire a nurse. . . . What are you gonna do, sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?”  It also upset talking-head and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, who suggested on air that Murphy’s wife should have had a “C-section before the seasons starts.”  Esiason later apologized; Francesa’s station will likely force him to make a hollow apology later today.  (Thankfully, some of Francesa’s listeners already blasted him for being stuck in the past.)  [Update:  Nevermind.  Rather than apologize, Francesa decided to double down.]

To the extent that Esiason’s comments were meant as a joke, I think they’re very funny:  the idea of planning major surgery around April baseball for a team predicted to miss the playoffs is hilarious.  But to the extent these comments were not a joke, and also setting aside the argument that Murphy had the right to take paternity leave under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (the document that governs the employer-employee relationship in Major League Baseball), the criticism of Murphy is alarming.

Continue reading Benedict XVI, Children, and the Mets

Reading Recommendations for Lent

Thank you for the insights you shared with us in response to our post seeking reading recommendations for Lent. Here’s a short compilation of the response, including suggestions from priests, brothers, and lay friends. Most were submitted to CatholicHow via Facebook and blog comments and email submissions, so thank you again for your input.

Have you read any of these books? Why do you think they make good picks for Lent? What books are missing from this list? Post a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Setting Out to Find Meaning in Suffering


Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.

-Blessed Pope John Paul II, Letter to Women

These words of the soon-to-be St. John Paul II, and all of his teachings on the dignity of women, are the foundation of an organization called Endow, Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women. It’s a a Catholic group that brings women and girls together to study encyclicals, other Church documents, and the lives and writings of saints to help us understand our God-given dignity and respond to our culture’s desperate need for an authentic feminine presence. This primarily takes the form of study groups, which look a bit like book clubs. Groups meet everywhere from church basements, facilitators’ homes, schools, prisons, homeless shelters, and safe houses for abused women and children.

It’s been my joy to participate in this group for about 3 years now, first as a participant and over the last year as a group facilitator. No doubt future blog posts will speak more of this experience, but to quickly take a look back… Together, our group has studied John Paul II’s Letter to Women, Benedict XVI’s encyclical God is Love, the life and legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Mater. These teachings and saints have become companions of ours along our journeys, educating us, but more importantly, teaching us more about how to love.

Tomorrow we begin our next study, On the Christian Meaning in Suffering, which uses John Paul II’s apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris as its source document. I expect it will be one of the most challenging to undertake.

Continue reading Setting Out to Find Meaning in Suffering

How Many Ways Are There To Get To Heaven?

Since my last blog post (I’m not counting the one about the New York Times article since it was more commentary than anything else), I’ve felt the need to revisit the reason I agreed to write for this blog in the first place.  I wanted to try to help others live their Catholic faith.  Unfortunately, the more I try to think of things to write, the more I realize how very little I know about being Catholic. I mean, let’s be honest, I’ve only been Catholic for 27 years!

I mentioned before that at the heart of being Catholic is a relationship with God.  This is true in my experience, and has been true for almost everyone I have met that actively lives out their faith.  God’s love is the energy, force, and drive that gives us the passion and courage to make the world a better place.  But, when I think about how people cultivate that love and encounter Christ, I am stuck because there is no simple answer to that question.

Continue reading How Many Ways Are There To Get To Heaven?