Posts Tagged ‘Pope Francis’

The Frustration Factor

March 25, 2014


Do you ever have one of those days where nothing seems to be going your way?  I am having one such day today.  It’s just small things, but sometimes those things add up pretty quickly.  Projects that need to be done for work are being held up; I didn’t sleep well and I am just generally tired and frustrated.


I’ve changed my daily prayers from those of thanksgiving to those asking God for favors. 


Then I remembered something that Pope Francis said about God:  “He is not a wizard.” I know that my prayers are hollow because I can feel it.  I feel guilty asking God for favors because I know it’s not the way to pray.  He is not there to magically make all of my problems go away. 


A day like today reminds me that not everything is in my control.  For example, I can’t will myself to feel more awake.  And those projects that are due for work?  I have to wait until I get all the pieces together before I can finish them.


All of these minor frustrations change the way I pray so much that it astonishes me.  When I’m frustrated, instead of leaning in to God and letting him take control, I wallow and dwell on those things that are not going right.  It’s a habit I hope to break. 


Do you find that you sometimes pray to God as if he were a wizard or a genie that grants wishes? 

Pope Francis and Facebook

December 10, 2013

Facebook recently released the topics that ranked highest on what people were talking about throughout this past year.  For the world list, although unsurprisingly Miley Cyrus was in the top ten, I was shocked, and happily so, that Pope Francis ranked number one.


That’s right.  Pope Francis beat out all other topics throughout the year in discussions—at least on Facebook.  It made me realize how much of an impact social media can have on the world.  If there are that many people discussing the pope, I think that’s good news for Catholics everywhere.  He also ranked highly on the list for the United States, although he didn’t earn the top spot. 


In speaking about evangelization, Pope Francis said at the most recent World Youth Day in Brazil, “Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.”  Sometimes those “fringes,” or those “farthest away” or “most indifferent” can be right among us—our friends, our family, even.  Social media is a way that we can reach out to them in a way that is not overbearing. 


I am glad that Pope Francis made the list of topics that people are discussing.


What do you think about the use of social media today?  Are you surprised Pope Francis ranked so highly on Facebook?  Please share your thoughts! 

Pondering the Pope on Twitter

October 22, 2013

Each day, Pope Francis puts out a tweet from @pontifex.  I am a follower of the Twitter feed for him, and one of the tweets from earlier this week has still remained in my mind.  I’m still trying to figure out what it could mean for my life.


The tweet, which was from Oct. 19, was this: “To follow Jesus means putting him first, and stripping ourselves of all the things that oppress our hearts.”  The concept of this message seemed pretty clear to me: put God first and other things second.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how extremely difficult this is to put into practice.


I began to think of all the things that keep me from Jesus—from material things like television and video games; to feelings like despair and anger; all the way to even seemingly good things like work and family.  It made me ask myself a lot of questions.  Do I put Jesus first when I am making decisions at work, or regarding my family, or am I putting my needs first?  Am I spending too much time with activities other than prayer?  Do any feelings I hold in my heart, especially feelings like anger, keep me from loving Jesus, and others, the way I should?


I don’t have answers for all of these questions because, honestly, my answers change on a daily basis.  The tweet from the pope reminded me that we have to follow Jesus and say “yes” to him every moment of every day.  It’s a tall order, but striving for those “yeses” is worth it.


What do you think?  Are there things that keep you from Jesus? 

Papal Words at World Youth Day, Personal Reflections

July 28, 2013


One of the things that most struck me about Pope Francis’ homily during the closing Mass at World Youth Day was his call for young people to live and share the faith with others. He said, “Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on…”


He told the massive crowd of young people gathered on the beach of Copacabana, “Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.”  It’s a difficult mission, but it is one that he must have thought the youth of the nation could carry out.  I am thinking of my own life, and know that the idea of evangelization is quite a scary one.  How can I evangelize? 


There was something else that the pope said that helped me to understand how everyone can evangelize. He said, “The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1).  What is this new song?  It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions.”  That is something that makes the thought of evangelization not as scary.  If we live our lives with God in every part of our life—our thoughts, our actions, our words, then it will be easier to evangelize because in a way our own example will be a sort of evangelization. 


The pope really caught my attention when he quoted St. Paul, who is a personal favorite of mine, who said, “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Corinthians 9:19). The pope said, “Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.”  It’s a good way to live, and it is something that I hope to strive toward as I go further along on my faith journey.


At the end of the pope’s homily, I had to ask myself, right now, am I being an example of Christ to others by how I live?  Do I put Jesus first in all my thoughts and actions?  The honest answer is, no.  But that leaves plenty of room for improvement. 


What did you think of the pope’s words? 

Way of the Cross at WYD

July 27, 2013

During his address to young people who attended the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day, Pope Francis said, “How our inconsistencies make Jesus suffer! The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own.  Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us: “Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone!  I carry it with you.”


Those are powerful words.

The pope reminds all people, young and old, that life is difficult, but through our difficulties, Jesus is there, helping us to carry our crosses.  He knows what it is like to suffer, and he brings us hope out of that suffering.

As I read and saw pictures of the Way of the Cross from Rio, I was once again reminded of the crosses that I bear.  And I thought of one of the crosses in particular, my favorite station in which Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief.  This station speaks to me so much because as a priest once told me, it is a message of hope—each day we are asked to choose which thief we are going to be like—the one who saw Jesus and had hope, or the one who had no hope.  It is a message of transformation and reminds us that it is never to late too find our hope in the Lord.

What is your favorite Station from The Way of the Cross?  Please share, your reflection may help other young adults out there come to a better understanding of that station.

The photo above is courtesy of For more photos, visit the site.

History of the World Youth Day Cross

July 26, 2013


Tonight, participants of World Youth Day will take part in the Way of the Cross with Pope Francis.  The cross that is used has been one that has been part of World Youth Day since it began by Pope John Paul II.

In 1984, Pope John Paul II gave the World Youth Day cross to youths of the world during the “International Jubilee for the Young” which was held in St. Peter’s Square.  The cross is part of the symbol of World Youth Day and its presence is striking. 

I attended World Youth Day and participated in the Way of the Cross with Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid, Spain, and at the time I did not realize the significance of the World Youth Day Cross.  I didn’t know that the same one was used throughout WYD each time.  This makes it even more moving to know that so many youths have seen the same cross and prayed before it. 

Just imagine how many places the WYD cross has been, and how many youths have seen it!  It’s been to Italy, Australia, the United States, Spain and so many other places. 

Thanks to flickr and the website, I have included a photo of the World Youth Day Cross for those of you who may not know what it looks like from this year’s WYD. 



Modern Day Lake Tiberias at WYD

July 25, 2013


As I heard the words of Pope Francis’ welcoming address at World Youth Day, one of the images he described clearly imprinted itself on my mind.


I can imagine the scene:  Hundreds of thousands of young people, gathered in the rain on the beach of Copacabana, waiting to hear the words of the pope. 


He said to them who were gathered there, “Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias.”


He said, “Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians.”


I really believe that the young people gathered at World Youth Day have already accepted that invitation to renew their faith by their presence there.  But it is something that all of us can do.  In fact, the pope even said during the ceremony that he welcomes all, including those “who are following us by means of radio, television and internet” to the “immense feast of faith!” 


The words remind me that we live in a time in which we can all be united through social media and other means, to connect with the world youth day pilgrims who are there with the pope.  We can travel with them in our hearts and minds, and make a pilgrimage of our own in our faith life. 



At World Youth Day Visit to Hospital, Pope Talks of Darkness and Dependency

July 25, 2013

When I heard that Pope Francis visited the Hospital of St. Francis of Assisi to spend time with those suffering from addiction, I couldn’t help but think that he was living out the motto of World Youth Day, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

It may be a hard connection to make—but for me, the fact that he wanted to spend time with members of society who are often overlooked really struck home the fact that everyone is in need of God’s love.  It was a literal reminder that the “all” in “all nations” doesn’t exclude anyone.

During his July 24 visit, he said, “We must hold the hand of the one in need, of the one who has fallen into the darkness of dependency perhaps without even knowing how, and we must say to him or her: ‘You can get up, you can stand up.  It is difficult, but it is possible if you want to.”

I thought that was a beautiful message for everyone who may be suffering from addiction, mental illness, and other ailments that make it hard for people to live. Perhaps you are the one who needs your hand held, or perhaps you know someone with an addiction who needs your help.  In either case, there is room for faith and hope to grow—in the one being helped, and also, in the one doing the helping.

At World Youth Day, Pope Speaks of Hope, Openness and Joy

July 24, 2013

At Mass in the Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Conception of Aparecida, Pope Francis said, “I would like to speak of three simple attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy.”  His words on hope, especially, struck true to my heart.

Speaking of hopefulness, he said, “How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them.”  What a beautiful sentiment that is—that even in difficulties, God is there.

Especially in my own life as a young adult, I have experienced difficulties that have brought me very close to the edge of despair.  Perhaps you have been there too, due to family dramas, problems at work, addictions, or sickness.  In those circumstances, it is easy to focus on the negative and forget that there is always hope.

The pope went on to say, “Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you!”

I think that is a message that many young people need to hear.  There are so many instances where the young are let down—by their friends, superiors, and even family—that it is sometimes hard to think of God as being there for you always.  But that is the truth.

The pope said in his homily today, “Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts!”

What do you think of the pope’s message?  Please share your thoughts.

Metaphorical Miles at World Youth Day

July 23, 2013

Yesterday Pope Francis was welcomed in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, an international celebration for Catholic young adults that is celebrated every two to three years.  Along the way the driver of his car made a wrong turn downtown where people crowded it so much so that it had to stop.

I couldn’t help but be struck by how that can be a metaphor for our lives.  And I had to laugh to think that even the pope, albeit physically, loses his way.  But how much of that holds true for us in our spiritual lives?  I wrote a post earlier in the week about Pope Francis’ comment to the young adults at World Youth day that they are asking “What is the path for me?”  (He said this before WYD at St. Peter’s Square July 21).

I often feel that sometimes in my life I make a wrong turn in my faith life, literally, or sometimes even come to a full stop.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t make a turn and go back in the right direction.

For the pope, a wrong turn meant that a short ride turned into quite a long one. The same can be true for us—it may take us a while to get where we need to go, but if we keep our focus on the goal, we can make it there.


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