Friday FaithPost – New Pope Francis Books

Pope Francis and Children's Book

I previously shared resources for daily Lenten prayer, reading and reflection. If you’d like inspirational reading in a more traditional book format, check out these two recent releases by Pope Francis.

First – a children’s book adults will enjoy:

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The release of this quite cute book was recently featured on Vatican Radio and also on Good Morning America.   The video from GMA is worth watching for the brief interview with siblings Luca and Ruby who reminded me instantly of literary sibs Charlie and Lola.

The second book, The Name of God is Mercy, features transcripts of widely ranging interviews with Pope Francis conducted by long time Vatican reporter, Andrea Tornielli.

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A couple of days ago, I listened to a really good conversation about this book and Pope Francis on our local NPR station. The talk show included a number of guests, including National Catholic Reporter’s Vatican Correspondent – Joshua McElwee.

When thinking about God’s name, I was curious as to whether the Muslim 99 Names of God, often prayed with beads similar to a rosary, included “The Merciful” as one of them. Not surprisingly, “The Merciful” is included along with “The Most Compassionate”  and “The Forgiver” in the sacred list.

 

An App to Know: 365 Days to Mercy App

365 Days to Mercy

Just a quick post to share an interesting, free app I discovered this evening. The good people at the venerable Our Sunday Visitor present the 365 Days to Mercy app. It’s available for both iOS and Android. If you have an iPad and you search the App Store for it, you’ll need to search for “iPod Only” to see it and download it.

I’m excited what will hopefully be a transformative Jubilee Year of Mercy. This app looks like a good way to celebrate it.

And, you’ll note that I’ve added a count-down timer to the left column so we can see how many days until the Jubilee begins!

Stuff You Should Know: The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained in Just 6 Minutes

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I’m starting a new feature which I’ve been thinking about launching for a while. The name comes from an excellent little book by the highly esteemed John L. Allen Jr. – “The Catholic Church: What Everyone Needs to Know.”  Typically any book with the subtitle “everyone needs to know” should be taken with a measure of suspicion – who is this author and why does he think I need to know this? Of course John L. Allen Jr. is an expert on today’s Catholic Church and thus I’ll trust his judgement.

So here I am posting about what I think you should know. Pretty presumptuous, right? Perhaps.

But hear me out. I’m a fellow teacher to readers, many of whom I imagine are teachers, connected to the world of education and/or people of faith. I peruse the web daily to learn and discover information, links, and resources which inform both my teaching and my life of faith. So, what I’m sharing in this category are only the items which I think are most valuable for my personal and professional life. Perhaps you’ll find them valuable too.

We’ve been praying daily in my classes for relief for the continually escalating refugee crisis in Europe. Pope Francis asked us to pray for this as one of his monthly requests (last June) and he’s used particularly strong words to exhort people of faith to hospitably welcome refugees.

Before class prayer yesterday, I showed my students this graph, which I think speaks for itself:

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Tomorrow, as a companion, I’m going to show the photo at the top of this post.

But today, I showed this excellent video. It covers much ground in about 6 minutes and is a must-see for anyone who wants to understand this crisis. I particularly like how it notes and summarily dispels some key objections that many in Europe and elsewhere are using to block the entrance of refugees. Really, please take 6 minutes and watch this now. It’s that important…

 

OSU Talk on Laudato Si by Cardinal Turkson

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On Monday the 3rd I trekked down to the OSU campus for a presentation the National Catholic Reporter called “a watershed event for climate discourse.”  Cardinal Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was the featured speaker.   The first cardinal from the nation of Ghana is a key advisor to Pope Francis and some even perceive him as a possible future pope. 

After Cardinal Turkson spoke for about twenty minutes on Laudato Si, he sat down with OSU President Dr. Michael Drake for a brief “fireside chat.”

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The inspiring evening concluded with an encore performance by a local gospel choir.

Please see below for the images of the notes that I took during both parts of the presentation. Click on the image of each page to enlarge it for easier reading.

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The Year of Mercy 2016 & Pope Francis’ Word Cloud

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Yesterday, I was excited and encouraged to hear that Pope Francis has declared a Year of Jubilee to reflect upon and celebrate mercy. This type of annual designation, which typically happens only every 25 to 50 years, will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception this December and end on the Feast of Christ the King in 2016.

National Catholic Reporter yesterday quoted Pope Francis’ announcement of this celebration during a penance service:

“I am convinced that the whole church — that has much need to receive mercy because we are sinners — will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time,” Francis said in announcing the year.

“Let us not forget that God pardons and God pardons always,” the pope continued. “Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness.”

“We entrust it as of now to the Mother of Mercy, because she looks to us with her gaze and watches over our way,” Francis said. “Our penitential way, our way of open hearts, during a year to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God.”

The pope also said he wants the church to live the upcoming holy year “in the light” of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Luke: “Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.”
The “word cloud” above is based upon an analysis of what Pope Francis spoke about in his just completed second year of his papacy.  I wonder – if someone made a word cloud of what I speak about in my Religion Class, how similar would it look to Pope Francis’?

Weekly Lectionary Gospel (4th Sunday Ordinary Time) & Reflection Resources on the Gospel

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Happy February and the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time.  Don’t get too used to those green vestments as we’re only 17 days away from Ash Wednesday on February 18th.

In a previous post I gave a link to the folder where I place an illuminated version of the weekly lectionary gospel.  I’ll continue to post to that location.  I’m planning on posting links each Saturday or Sunday to the gospel for the upcoming link. See above for what this week’s file looks like:

You can get the PDF version here.  And the editable PPT version here.

Disclaimer – Since I don’t seek to profit from these files, I don’t cite the source for each of the images found through a Google Search.

As mentioned previously, my students use the weekly gospel file as a focus for the prayer they lead at the start of class each day.  Frequently, a student offers a particularly meaningful reflection on the gospel.

Here’s some other Catholic sites which offer reflections on weekly and/or daily gospels:

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My daily go-to site is from Creighton University in Omaha.  They have many resources – the monthly calendar is great as it offers a link to the scripture for the day at the USCCB website and a brief reflection from a Creighton staff member.  I find the reflections to be down-to-earth, relevant, and useful in my own reflection.

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Thinking of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, they offer a brief video reflection on the scripture for the day found here.

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A few Catholic publishers offer scripture reflections.  Long respected RCL Benziger offers a reflection and resources.

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The Jesuit Loyola Press has this site with resources geared to different age levels.

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Other notable sites include: A Catholic Moment.

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 Evangeli.net

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A Catholic Mom – resources for the littlest ones.

A few more of note – Pencil Preaching; Daily Bread, Center for Action and Contemplation (Fr. Richard Rohr) and the very brief Brother Give Us A Word.

A Catholic Look Back at 2014

As mentioned in our “About” statement, the three of us teach at a Catholic High School.

As such, we thought it would be meaningful to share a few of our favorite “2014 Review” lists from favorite Catholic websites.

Crux, a relatively new blog related to the Boston Globe and headed by the highly-esteemed John L. Allen Jr. (formerly of the Nat’l Catholic Reporter) has their year-end review here.

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A look back, albeit with a different theme comes from the always engaging and relevant Busted Halo.

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Busted Halo also says good-bye to the show of well known Catholic – Stephen Colbert – selected as the National Catholic Reporter’s “Runner-Up” Person of the Year.  (To see who was the NCR Person of the Year, click here and prepare to not be surprised).

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One last set of data from 2014 – Crux’s summary of 10 telling numbers from faith and religion surveys.