The Year of Faith is over, but I’m just getting started!

christ-king3Today was the Feast of Christ the King, which marks the end of the Year of Faith.  When I started this site over a year ago, I was aiming for at least one post a week during this special year so I could participate in a small way in Pope Emeritus Benedict’s call for a New Evangelization.

This seems like a great day to take stock.  First, some stats:  I ended up writing 66 posts and 4 pages which totaled up to 41,850 words.  I know of a few short spans where posts lapsed for longer than my desired weekly basis, but it appears that I have made it up in numbers.

Beyond the sheer mechanics, we covered a lot of ground this year.  I received some positive feedback on my Five Facts series, but I enjoy writing the reflections much more.  I also truly enjoyed the (partial) refutation of the pamphlet that was left on my car last summer, made even sweeter by the new knowledge that this was how one of my apologetics heroes Karl Keating got started.  I enjoyed participating (and covering) the first annual Catholic Answers Apologetics Conference.

I have received feedback from some that have said that they discovered something new or learned a new aspect of Catholicism, and I would count the entire effort as ‘worth it’ for that fact alone.  Beyond this, the thing I enjoy the most is the personal connections that I have made throughout the year.  I have met some great people, Catholics and non-Catholics, that each offer a new and valuable perspective and I hope these friendships continue.

What’s Next

I have a long list of topics that I haven’t gotten the opportunity to discuss in detail yet.  I also want to finish the refutation of that pamphlet.  I have learned that apologetics articles (especially ones with sources cited) take awhile to write, and I’m not natural at it.  Yet.  So I’ll keep soldiering ahead.  Ultimately, I want to write about things that you all find interesting.  The only way I can know those topics is if you tell me.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone that has contributed, shared your thoughts, asked questions, linked the site, or otherwise lent their support over the last year.  Your support has been a great encouragement.  I pray that the Holy Spirit continue to grant me enough grace to continue, and that this effort brings even more people to Christ.


Simple Ways

This week, I began a new program at our Knights of Columbus Council that encouraged all Knights to participate in very simple activities that add up to meaningful change.  I asked each man to bring canned food to the next meeting or they could pray a rosary for the intentions of the homeless and hungry of our community.  We ended up collecting 105 items for our parish food bank.

This idea was inspired by some great examples such as Pope Francis, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  Each of these holy people exemplify what it means to truly live the Catholic Faith in the world using a simple and humble approach.  On the sign-in sheet for the program, I included the following quotation from Mother Teresa:

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.

I prefer simple ways to practice my faith, here are a few of my favorites:

Bless Your Children

Every night before bed, I bless my two and a half year old daughter.  I trace the Sign of the Cross on her forehead and say “God Bless You”.  She usually says “Thank you, Daddy”.  I don’t know when she figured out to thank me, but it is a constant reminder of what a great gift my child is.

Pray At Work

I make time to say a few silent prayers before particularly stressful meetings at the office.  If possible (and weather permitting), I sometimes take the walking trail around our office building and pray a rosary.  This was particularly helpful during the 33 Day Rosary Challenge and I found that it was a great way to de-stress and face the second half of my work day.

This week, I have been reminded often of the words of Saint Josemaria Escriva (founder of Opus Dei).  The fine folks over at the Catholic Gag Facebook page captured the quotation in a memorable picture that I reflect on often when my work day gets to be too much:

Don't say: 'That person gets on my nerves.' Think: 'That person sanctifies me.' --St. Josemaria Escriva

Build Worship Into Your Day

One of our parish deacons recommended that I end every day by thanking the Lord and praying that my own sacrifices are pleasing to Him.  He explained that we often forget that the daily sacrifices such as patience, prudence, time spent at work, time spent for the care of others, and time spent in prayer are all done as sacrifices for the Glory of God.  I find that I often remember to pray in this fashion right as I’m closing up the house for the night, and associating it to a necessary task that I do every night makes it an easy practice.

My wife has taken to reading the Magnificat every night.  Sometimes we talk about her readings, or she shares something that she thinks may particularly help me.  It’s a great way to reconnect and worship together.

There are also several electronic avenues to deepen your spirituality daily, such as the Catechism in a Year program at FlockNote where they email a small segment from the YouCAT to your email inbox each morning.

Help Me!

I keep coming back to the simple ways that you can help others as a part of your faith life.  I am confident that your parish has outreach programs, charity programs, RCIA sponsorships, and a myriad of other ways that you can help your community.  The Knights of Columbus are a great avenue for practical Catholic men to find new opportunities to give back.

I intend to continue posting the subject of our Simple Ways program here.  If you like the activity presented, I encourage you to participate by mirroring the activity at your local parish, Knights of Columbus Council, or local charity.  For the month of August, we donated canned food to our local parish food bank.  If you couldn’t do canned food, prayer counts: pray a rosary for the hungry and homeless of the world.

If you do decide to participate in the Simple Ways program, send me a short email or leave a comment and let me know how you participated (you can remain anonymous).  If your Knights of Columbus Council is participating, please let me know your council number so I can mention it in our annual program round-up.


Finding God at the Airport

Finding God on a PlaneI have had the inauspicious pleasure of having flown on five flights in the last week for my day job.  It’s not really in my nature to travel much aside from my work duties, so I didn’t have much experience flying until much later in my life.  After the initial novelty of air travel had worn off, I found that I started looking for things to fill the invariable delays caused by rescheduled flights, long tarmac delays, and cheaper one-stop connecting flights.


This all began after a friend of mine suggested that I check out the Catholic Answers podcast to deepen my faith.  It worked, and the format lends itself quite handily to air travel.  You can listen to a few questions, taking breaks for the flight attendant’s safety briefing (yes, some of us do listen to those), take-off, landing, or whatever else happens that prevents your ability to use portable electronics.

Over time I added a few additional podcasts to the fold, foremost among them Jimmy Akin’s podcast.  There are dozens if not hundreds of other excellent options for Catholic podcasts, if there are any others that you enjoy feel free to leave them in the combox and share with the class.


The last few trips, I have packed in a faith-based short book or two.  I prefer shorter books because they’re easier to fit in the carry-on luggage, such as C.S. Lewis’ theology books or anything under a couple hundred pages.  On my latest trip, I brought William T. Ditewig’s “101 Questions & Answers on Deacons” and finished almost the entire book during the two hour flight.

I prefer traditional (dead tree) books because they can be read during the non-electronics segments of the flight and can present you a great evangelization opportunity if someone asks about the book you’re reading.  It’s a little harder for this to happen with an e-reader like the Amazon Kindle because people can’t see the book cover.  Not to say that Amazon Kindle won’t work for self-education purposes… in fact one of the greatest epiphanies I have had while reading on a flight was when reading Patrick Coffin’s volume “Sex au Naturel” on my Kindle… but that’s a story for another time.

My wife has suggested reflection books like the Magnificat for this type of reading as well.


Flight offers some great time for quiet reflection.  During one of my flights last week, I decided to do a rosary.  While praying, I noticed that there was an old lady a few rows up from me that was sniffling a lot.  This made me wonder if she was sick or had just lost a loved one… and then I started  thinking about what kind of stories that everyone else on the flight had.  I ended up saying most of my rosary for the people that were on the flight with me and for those that were missing them back at home, along with my own intentions.

Add to that the flight crew, the safety personnel, the flight attendants… the nervous old man that clearly doesn’t like flying at all… and you can see how your time during take-off can present an interesting opportunity for a different kind of prayer.

For me, I find that quiet time away from my own loved ones makes me reflect on why I miss being around them.  This often leads me to pray for them for my own safe return at the end of my trip.

A Makeshift Retreat?

I wish I could say that I sat down with the firm intent to build myself a spiritual development program that I could use to fill this spare time.  The truth is that these ideas grew organically over time and I have only recently realized that it was adding together to be like a miniature retreat.  It sure beats reading the SkyMall catalog or doing a crossword puzzle!


The Fortnight for Freedom Begins


Today begins the Fortnight for Freedom, an initiative of prayer that has been convoked by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  The reason it has been called is to pray and act to address the threats to religious liberty.  In the Archdiocese of Denver, our bishop has provided a calendar of events to follow and a Facebook event to support the cause.

Providing visible witness

The first activity suggested is a day of fasting, in the style of Good Friday and Ash Wednesday.  I was planning my day such that I could have dinner with my family, so I was presented with a nice opportunity for evangelization when I was asked to lunch by a coworker.  I told him that it was a fasting day in support of protecting our religious freedom, and explained a bit about the Fortnight for Freedom.

He scoffed at this, asking “what is going on that religious freedom is in trouble?”  So many things… marriage redefinition, constant legal attacks against the sanctity of human life, high-level politicians that are Catholic in name only… but I decided to name the Health and Human Services Mandate.  I explained that the enforcement of this mandate was threatening the livelihood of Christian-based businesses, charities, and adoption agencies that wish to operate according to their beliefs.  I explained that this is not only a Catholic problem, that all religious institutions will likely be impacted in some way.  He leaned back in his chair and trailed off without a retort, so maybe I gave him something to think about.

What you can do

First off, pray.  If your diocese or parish doesn’t have activities planned for the Fortnight for Freedom, ask someone about it.  I’m sure the Archdiocese of Denver won’t mind if you follow their calendar of events that I linked above.  Second, act.  Write your congressmen and senators.  Talk to your local politicians.  Pray in public in order to make your faith more visible.  Be an advocate for living your Catholic faith in the public square even in small ways, like I did in talking to my coworker today.  You never know what small act will change a mind.


The 33 Day Rosary Challenge: COMPLETE!

At the beginning of May, I joined the Real Men Pray The Rosary 33 Day Challenge.  The rules were simple: pray the rosary once a day for 33 days in remembrance of Christ’s human ministry.  Here’s what I learned along the way.

I DO have the time

One of the greatest lessons of this challenge was the discovery that I do, in fact, have enough time for prayer in my average day.  I believe this month is probably the first in my entire life where I’ve made a sufficient effort to include structured prayer in every day.  I found it possible to pray the rosary in the gaps of my daily grind, or during times when I would otherwise do something more idle.

Some of my favorite times to add prayer might seem unusual.  I discovered that my Sunday driving route to visit the homebound of our parish was plenty of time to pray the rosary.  Instead of listening to the radio, I turned if off and prayed instead.  This was made especially profound for me because Christ was literally with me on that trip each week.  I tend to do my Apostles Creed, then pray aloud for the intentions of my rosary… on these Sundays, it took the form of talking with a friend who was in the car with me for a minute or two before I went into the reflective prayers of the rosary itself.

Beyond that, my favorite time to pray was putting my two-year-old daughter to bed.  I would whisper the prayers softly in order to keep proper track of my progress and she was usually asleep midway through the third decade.  A few times she would pat my hand with the rhythm of the prayer… it doesn’t get more special than that.

On days when my work schedule would permit it, I discovered that a lap around the hiking trail that surrounds my office building was just enough time to get a rosary in.  If I started as I walked out of the office door, I would finish the final prayer as I walked up the ramp that led back to the parking lot of our building.  It really worked out perfectly and gave me a special deposit of grace that often would help me during a challenging workday.

On the remaining days when life got in the way or the schedule was too hectic, I found considerable peace in waiting for the rest of the family to go to bed and I would pray my rosary in the quiet house before retiring myself.  Sometimes, this was force of will… I was tired too.  However, despite my fatigue, it was always worth it to end my day with prayer… I found I slept better.  It’s the next best thing short of ending your day in Adoration like I did at the Knights of Columbus convention.

I learned the prayers, and kept my word too!

Another (expected) side effect of the challenge was that I actually learned the prayers that I often struggled to remember.  The ‘Hail Holy Queen’ and closing prayer of the rosary would often trip me up, but now I can do them from memory.  I also struggled with the Apostles Creed (as ashamed as I am to admit this) and now it comes much more smoothly.  I still sometimes conflate the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, but it’s better than it was by a long shot.

Because of the daily habit, I also found that I was actually praying for others.  I made it a point to remember in prayer those that needed it… my sick friends, those with ailing family members, those with particular issues to work through, and even my own family.  I often fell into the habit of telling someone I would pray for them, and during this month I did much better at making good on that promise.

I also found that after the second week, I was able to recall and meditate on the mysteries of the rosary itself.  I would have trouble remembering which were the Glorious Mysteries and which were the Joyful ones… what day to pray which mysteries on, and so on.  It is nice to not struggle so much with that anymore.  In addition, I also feel more able to both pray the rhythm of the rosary verbally (one Our Father and ten Hail Mary’s per mystery) while mentally actually meditating on the mystery itself.

The rosary is much more of a ‘whole body’ experience than I expected it to be.


This process helped me cultivate a virtuous habit, raise my mind better to God, find time in my day to pray, and reflect more on the life of Christ.  In general, I consider it a tremendous success and am grateful for the challenge to get out of my comfort zone.  This process has made me appreciate the deposit of grace that comes along with daily prayer, and it truly helped me get through some tough times this month.  It also made me appreciate the dense spiritual beauty of the rosary, something I never fully understood until now.

Will I continue?  In some ways, yes.  There are some other daily devotions that I am interested in trying (the Liturgy of the Hours being foremost), and now that I know I can make 20-35 minutes a day for prayer I might explore some of those more closely.  I will definitely pray the rosary as often as I can, since it honestly hasn’t been that difficult to find the time.

In closing, I strongly suggest that you check out Real Men Pray the Rosary and make your very own 33 Day Rosary Challenge and see what it brings to your spiritual development.  I want to take a moment to thank those responsible for this program.  It has really improved my daily prayer life and helped me overcome that obstacle in my spiritual development.


Real Men Pray The Rosary

rmptr_facebook_2 (2)Last week, amid the noise and gnashing of teeth that is my Facebook page I noticed the news of a truly interesting new apostolate dedicated to promoting the rosary with strong conviction, making a bold claim that ‘Real Men Pray The Rosary‘.  What’s more, they are currently running a 33 Day Rosary Challenge to meditate on the human ministry of Christ… one rosary for each of the 33 years that Christ dwelt among us in the flesh.

The mission of this program immediately resonated with me.  I have been working on ways to add more prayer to my daily life, ways to focus on the mysteries of Christ, and ways to visibly illustrate my internally held convictions.  The problem: it was May 5.  They were already five days into their challenge and I had only just found out about it.

I thought about waiting until June 1st and starting, but I might lose focus and forget… so I did what any real man would do.  I packed up my daughter and off we went to the park.  She’s a two-year-old so she loves to swing and run around the playground, so she swung and went on the slide, and I prayed four rosaries in the middle of the busy park.  I ignored the sideways glances from the group of six or seven teenagers that had congregated to yell obscenities and talk about their latest romantic conquests (I’m being charitable in that assessment, by the way) and carried right on with it.  Eventually the teens dispersed, probably because of the weird guy praying in public.  I’m ok with that.

I picked up the fifth rosary that I needed to catch up later on that night, and have settled into a nice routine of praying the rosary before bed.  Twice this week, I had the good fortune of praying the rosary before my Knights of Columbus meetings.  It’s a very powerful thing, sitting amongst a group of men all praying the rosary.  On Monday I found out that one of my friends, a fellow Sir Knight of Columbus, had entered hospice care so my rosaries this week were dedicated to his strength, the strength of his family, and for God’s Will to be done for him.

This week I have found myself meditating on the mysteries of the rosary a little bit more during the day.  I don’t know if this is simply because I’m becoming more familiar with them or because I am thinking about difficult things like the illness of my friend, but I feel that this 33 Day Challenge is already having a positive effect.

I will join my voice with those that run the apostolate… get those rosary beads out of the drawer and pray them this month!  Don’t worry about catching up, if it had been any later in the month I probably would have just started on an arbitrary day and counted out my own 33 day interval.  I mentioned before that I have a problem remembering the Mysteries, but that doesn’t have to trouble me any longer.  I grabbed the Laudate app (available on iTunes and Android) and discovered that it has an interactive rosary that you can pray anytime and it lists the Mystery of the day on there.  If you don’t have a smartphone, I am sure that your local Church or Knights of Columbus Council has little cards that list the prayers and the Mysteries.  If you’re lucky, they might even have a spare rosary for you too.

Real Men Pray The Rosary and you can too!


Keeping Easter Alive

As we discussed last week, here are some ideas for keeping the celebration of Easter near and dear to your heart.

Continue your Lenten observances.

This year, I aimed to do more spiritual reading during Lent.  I was able to succeed in this, however one of my more ambitious goals was to get through Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica.  Let’s just say that I bit off more than I could chew with that tremendous work.  I have decided to continue my efforts, and I think it is more reasonable to aim to complete this book by the time next Lent rolls around!

What’s this do for you: well, for me it keeps me focused on deepening my faith.  In addition, I will continue reading other Catholic works such as Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth series.  It’s a great way to understand Christ’s life, what better way to celebrate the season of Easter!

No Meat on Fridays?

One of my favorite apologists, Matt Fradd, has decided to continue abstaining from meat on Fridays beyond Lent.  This started a discussion in our household, because I was already thinking about doing this same thing (since it is still present in Canon Law after all).  Interestingly, my wife was also considering a continuance of this beyond Lent so we decided that after Pentecost we are going to keep going with no meat Fridays in our house.

What’s this do for you: it keeps an appropriately penitential spirit throughout the year.  I found that during Lent, I would often remember that it was “no-meat Friday” and think about Christ’s Passion and what he gave up for us.  Why are we waiting until after Pentecost to start this?  Because we figure Easter is a time of celebration and it seems like as good a time as any.

Spiritual Development for your Family

With Easter being a season of celebration, it is no better time to do some course-setting for the upcoming year.  Several different sources have suggested some manner of a spiritual development plan for your family: prayers to do, observances to keep (like no-meat Fridays!), Catholic movies or books to consume… even as far as to create a Family Mission Statement that encompasses what your family wants to be about spiritually.

Do you want to help the poor?  Then your family mission statement should say so and you should take actions during the year to help the poor.  Do you want to deepen your faith?  Then you might focus on watching spiritual movies and reading more books this year.  This is particularly valuable if you have children that are old enough to participate as well so you can help them develop their understanding of the faith better.

What’s this do for you: this helps you act as the spiritual head of the family. This will help you get “on the same page” as your spouse, lead your children with a proper formation, and provide a great example for other families.

Spiritual Development for your Community

You can apply this same concept to your parish or Church community as well.  A great example of this is participating in social programs that are designed to bring people together to discuss their faith and evangelize together.  I am positive that your parish probably has more events than you know of going on, so check with your parish priest or activities director to find out what you can do to get involved.

If you happen to be in a rare parish that doesn’t have anything going on, you can increase your spiritual development by simply attending Mass more, or attending your normal Mass and taking one step out of your way to speak to parishoners around you after Mass.  You might make a friend and get to know someone better!  Some Churches even run evangelization programs, where you can learn how to effectively share your faith with others.

What’s this do for you: These activities help you get out beyond your own perspective and share the Faith with others.  You’d be surprised how much you can learn if you just talk to some other members of the parish.  They might know people in need, or be involved in an interesting program, or simply want to discuss today’s Gospel with you.  It’s all good for you and good for the Church community.

I hope that some of these ideas help you to celebrate Easter and carry on deepening your Faith all throughout the year!


Finding Palm Sunday in strange places


For those of you that don’t know, I am a proud 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus.  The Knights are a charitable, fraternal organization built around the core principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism.  In addition, they require the men in the organization to be “practical Catholic gentlemen” meaning that we live in accordance to the Church teachings and follow the lead of the Magisterium.

This year, I had the opportunity to participate in Denver’s nationally televised Saint Patrick’s Day parade.  The photo included on this post is us arranging our formation in the staging area.  We had about nine Knights in regalia (the chapeau, cape, sword, and baldric) leading two floats from Knights of Columbus councils in our area and cars containing dignitaries from our State Council and State Ladies Auxiliary.  Suffice it to say we had a very impressive showing.

I was one of the Knights in regalia, so I got to march it on foot.  The crowd was incredibly large, estimated at 350,000.  As we started on the parade route, it was somewhat surreal to see the number of people hanging out of windows and practically bursting onto the street yelling their support for the Knights.  At one point, an ebullient person in the crowd shouted “I love you, Knights of Columbus!”

The road narrowed a little, which brought the crowd very close to our formation. I don’t know if it was the sea of green shirts and waving arms, or the fact that the crowd was very close to us, but I was reminded of  the flashback scene in Passion of the Christ where Christ and the Apostles were welcomed into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  I spent much of the rest of the parade thinking about what it must have been like for our Lord to go through the cheering crowd knowing what was in store for him later that week.  As I thought about the rest of Holy Week, I was thankful that I would likely only have sore muscles and a stiff back at the end of my walk through a crowd and would not have to endure anything like Christ would.

I am always grateful when I am reminded in small ways like this of the life of Jesus.  It helps me to reflect on what He went through for us, to feel closer to Him, and to strive to be more like Him in life.  This is one of many different ways that being a member of the Knights of Columbus has helped me draw closer to The Lord.  If you are a Catholic man that observes Church teachings and wants to further their faith, I strongly suggest that you find your local Knights of Columbus Council and inquire about becoming a member.



Five pieces of advice for new RCIA graduates

Next Saturday, my cousin-in-law Aaron will complete his long road through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) process and officially join the Catholic Church. For those unfamiliar, the RCIA program is the process by which adults become full members of the Catholic Church.

It came as somewhat of a surprise when I heard that he had entered catechesis and the RCIA program last year. Since I left Illinois for Colorado, I am often insulated from some family news and this one didn’t reach me until late last year, when I heard this news from my cousin Shanna (Aaron’s wife). I quickly found out that Aaron was taking to the RCIA program with great zeal, and growing deeper into his faith by leaps and bounds.

I must say this came as a relief. I got to sponsor my wife (then girlfriend) through the RCIA program at the local Newmann Center at college, and let’s just say the program lacked the same type of intellectual rigor that Aaron is experiencing. He explained to me the variety of classes, reading assignments, lectures, and rock-solid formation that they are doing in the Pekin, IL and I was tremendously excited to hear all the good work being done for the this class of catechumens.

Having seen two different perspectives on the RCIA program, I thought it might be helpful to provide some advice to those entering the Church this year:

1. Live the Sacramental Life.

This should go without saying, if you had a very in-depth RCIA experience… but live your life within the context of the Sacraments. Ask yourself each week if you are in a state of grace enough to receive the Eucharist. If not, go to Confession and experience God’s Divine Mercy. If you’re married respect your marriage vows, honor your wife and raise your children within the Faith like you promised. Make worship of God through Christ and the sacramental signs he gave us central to your life.

2. Stay strong in your Faith!

You’ve been through a hard road to make it all the way through the coursework, study, readings, and prayer required to approach entry into the Catholic Church. The best advice I can give you is not to rest on your laurels after Easter Vigil and keep growing the gift of Faith that you have received. Buy some books, DVDs, or other resources to augment the lessons taught to you in RCIA. Dig deeper into areas of the Faith that you find interesting. Go to a lecture, conference, prayer retreat, or marriage retreat. It is very easy to backslide if you’re not spending time and attention in cultivating your Faith. (By the way, this step must necessarily include Step #1.)

3. Foster good relationships.

I’m sure throughout the RCIA journey, you have met some pretty incredible people. There’s nothing that says you can’t invite one of them over for dinner, or go out for coffee, or continue the friendship after the Easter Vigil is over. If you’re like my cousin and I, you may even have discovered another “secret” Catholic in your existing family or circle of friends. Lean on that person for support, especially if questions crop up after you have been practicing your Faith for awhile. Use each other to keep accountable for continuing down the important journey that you’ve begun this Lenten season.

4. Lead your home to God.

In addition to fostering good relationships within your Church community, it is important that you also lead your household toward God. Saint Augustine of Hippo called on us to become like bishops of our household, by taking up his Episcopal office (of bishop) in your own home.  In other words, to lead your family like a bishop would:

Take my place in your families.  Everyone who is head of a house must exercise the Episcopal office and see to the faith of his people … Take care with all watchfulness for the salvation of the members of the household entrusted to you.  — Saint Augustine

With any luck, your family has gotten to see a transformation in you as you’ve completed your journey through RCIA and now would be an opportune time to help them further their Faith. Have family dinners together. Pray together. Read religious books or watch religious movies and discuss them together. Instead of carrying on through our busy lives, try to make home a peaceful place that affords at least a little opportunity for prayer and reflection. Heed Saint Augustine’s words and lead your family to God.

5. Lead others to God too.

I have found that new converts to Catholicism bring special gifts to the Church. Share the story of your conversion with others. Utilize the good gifts that you received from your past religious affiliations to bring new perspectives into the Church. Some may have come from a more Bible-oriented form of Christianity, if you did you might be able to lead the best Bible study that a cradle Catholic has ever seen. Some might have been from a more charismatic background, these folks are cut out to help lead parish ministries or assist the poor. Others may have come from a completely different worldview, such as atheism or agnosticism. These people bear a truly valuable story for our society: the story of how they came to have faith.If you feel like you don’t have any special skills, the best way to lead others to God is through your actions.

Don’t become a pew-sitter, get out there and help unload boxes into the food bank for the poor, or participate in a ministry to learn more. Get up and talk about your experiences with your priest, or ask him if he has any other ways that you can live your faith. It isn’t enough to simply have Faith, because in living our Faith we truly open up the opportunity to help those in need and lead others to God.

Don’t be afraid to talk to others about your conversion. Perhaps the only conversation anyone will ever have about Catholicism is the one that you initiate. If you had a good RCIA program that contained some apologetics, you might even be able to answer some of their common objections. If you are interested in learning more about apologetics so you can effectively talk to others about the faith (and are prepared with some of the more common objections), check out Catholic Answers.

On a personal note

I have to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of my cousin, Aaron. I am impressed with the zeal that he shows for the Catholic Church, and I know that he is going to provide a sterling example of how to live a strong, vibrant Catholic life. Even though I can’t be there when he comes into the Church, I will definitely be there in spirit and in prayer.I am excited for the next chance I have to sit down and talk with him about his experience in joining the Church, I know it is going to be a compelling story.


Pope Francis!

Pope Francis IToday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became our new pope, taking the name Pope Francis!

This is another situation where the Holy Spirit throws us a curveball, in the same vein as the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978.  Francis is the first non-European pope since Pope Saint Gregory III in 731, who was born in Syria.  He is the first Argentinean and the first Jesuit pope.

Pope Francis greeted the crowd at Saint Peter’s with some remarks:

“As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome. It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am.

“I would like to thank you for your embrace, also to … the bishops, thank you very much.

“First and foremost, I would like to pray for our emeritus pope, Benedict XVI. Let us pray all of us together … so that he’s blessed by the lord and guarded.”

After these statements, he paused and said “before the Bishop of Rome blesses you, I ask that in silence you pray to God for me.”  This moment was truly beautiful… to watch all of Saint Peter’s Square fall silent and the new pope to bow his head humbly in prayer.  I prayed too, and I must admit that I got a little misty-eyed at the poignant moment.    I can’t imagine what the road from the Sistine Chapel to the Room of Tears must be like, the enormity of the moment and then to walk out on the balcony and see the throng of people elated to greet you… it must be tremendous.  In that moment, to in turn ask those people to pray to God on your behalf… what a wonderful first statement by Pope Francis.

I am encouraged by the little information that I have read so far about Pope Francis… that he is a follower of the most conservative Church teachings and was a strong advocate of pro-life, pro-marriage causes within Argentina.  He was a vocal advocate against secular movements in his country and is considered to be a straight shooter.

It seems that the Holy Spirit has answered our prayers for the right sort of man to lead the Church!  Viva il Papa!