Taking a moment to just … be …

Last Sunday was a stressful day. It was one of many.

Sometimes life travels too fast. The plate becomes full to overflowing. Carrying a load of worry and frustration can become oppressive.

Time to off load my burden … time to take out the kayak. Continue reading “Taking a moment to just … be …”

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Surprise! Holy Energy in our midst: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel John 15:26-27; 16:12-15 by Father Steven LaBaire

I am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

In preparation for mass this Sunday:

This weekend we join millions of Christians as we celebrate Pentecost, the 50th and final day of the Easter Season.

Hartwig HKD Holy Spirit, Flickr Creative Commons
Hartwig HKD Holy Spirit, Flickr Creative Commons

Pentecost celebrates the presence of a divine energy called Holy Spirit at work in the wider church.

This holy energy is also at work in our individual lives.

Celebrating Pentecost requires something of the attitude that hearty New Englanders have towards the weather:

“Forecasters will make all kinds of predictions for tomorrow. But, who really knows, where the wind will blow?” Continue reading “Surprise! Holy Energy in our midst: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel John 15:26-27; 16:12-15 by Father Steven LaBaire”

A recovering political junkie eyes a new direction

I am a recovering political junkie.

Having my own office I am can listen to whatever I wish. I’ve always enjoyed talk radio because it keeps my mind engaged (whereas music unplugs me). My husband introduced it to me back in the days when I was home with small children; it became the adult conversation during the day.

gene burns
Legendary talk show host Gene Burns

In these early days talk radio was intellectually stimulating (especially with hosts like Gene Burns). Mostly I listened to conservative talk but would also sample the other side.

I did the same with my news reading: mostly conservative with a dose of the other side.

Talk radio taught me the political process both nationally and locally while at the same time, keeping me entertained. I agreed with most of what was being said and on occasion I would even call in and talk to the host.

After the election of 2008, my husband and I began to watch the talk shows on cable, mostly Fox but MSNBC and CNN too. The presidential debates were like sporting events to us; it’s what addicted me to Twitter. As the debate would progress, I could count on immediate feedback with tweets from the various professional commentators and average citizens like myself. And I could “talk back” if I wished.

election 2012We looked forward to election night believing our candidate would win. It became clear as the evening wore on that we were wrong. Very wrong. Twitter became painful to follow.

A lot of so-called “experts” had egg on their faces that night.

I was a political junkie. It used to be fun. It is not anymore.

I stopped being a political junkie on November 7, 2012 after the crushing defeat of my candidate. It became clear, like an epiphany, that everybody whose opinion I trusted had been wrong. They were all in their own delusional bubbles and while they believed they were proclaiming the truth, it was in realty smoke and mirrors.

I felt utterly duped. I’d been sucker-punched. Nobody on my side saw it coming. I sure didn’t.

The next morning, I started fasting from politics. I don’t normally listen to Christmas music so early in the season but a wonderful channel on Pandora called “Classic Christmas” got me through the next several weeks as I recovered from being a political junkie.

Talk radio is no longer fun. The content is shrill and vitriolic, polluting my mind with negativity. It is not unlike what is going on in Washington with our leaders, made impotent due to their focus on their own position rather than the urgent needs of this country.

My core conservative beliefs have not changed, nor has my desire to stay informed. But I no longer believe in politics.

It all feels like junk. And nothing made that plainer than the last couple of weeks with the election and installation of Pope Francis.

News junkie and Catholic that I am I downloaded the Pope App on my phone so I could stay informed with the news of the conclave. I was able to watch, on my phone, the announcement of Habemus Papum – we have a pope!

pope francisV
Pope Francis

When I found out he was from Argentina, I whooped and hollered and pranced around in my basement office. I had dearly hoped for a pope from either South America or Africa where the Church is vibrant with growth. A new face, a new perspective, a breath of fresh air.

I got my wish. And now I can’t get enough of “Papa Francisco.”

Politicians failed to lead through their empty words. Pope Francis succeeds in leading through his example.

Whereas our political leaders blather endlessly, blaming and destroying each other while the serious problems of our country go unaddressed, Pope Francis seeks to uplift all of God’s Creation as the means for creating a better world.

Whereas our leaders are motivated by their own quest for power, the pontiff seeks to empower all people, especially the least among us: the poor, the handicapped, the disenfranchised. As one of the most powerful leaders in the world, he is doing his best to take the spotlight off of himself and shine it onto his flock.

The image of him stepping out of the pope mobile during the procession to his inaugural mass to kiss, caress and comfort a severely disabled man is unforgettable. He is a pastor, a shepherd. He seeks sincerely to emulate Jesus.

pope with disabled man

Holy Week will soon be upon us. Typically the Holy Thursday mass is celebrated in grandeur at either St. Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran. During the mass there is the ceremonial foot washing after the reading of John’s Gospel, chapter 13, verses 1-15: Jesus washes the feet of his disciples to demonstrate how they are to serve one another; the participants are priests and prominent lay people.

Pope Francis, in keeping with his own longstanding tradition,  has opted to celebrate Holy Thursday mass at the Casal del Marmo prison for minors, a Rome juvenile detention facility where he will wash the feet of some of the young detainees.

Our political leaders, for the most part, appear take advantage of their powerful positions to better their own lives and to advance their celebrity status.

Pope Francis appears to be using his to advance the positions of the forgotten in our society.

i love papa francescoNo wonder I can’t get enough of “Papa Francisco!” His name, his actions truly spell hope. I pray I am not being led into a new delusional bubble but if the pontiff continues pointing to Christ, I can be free from delusion.

I am a recovering political junkie. My gaze is now turned towards the Vicar of Christ whose example fixes my eyes squarely on Jesus, the true solution to the desperate problems of our world.

Click to Tweet & Share: A recovering political junkie eyes a new direction http://wp.me/p2D9hg-qO

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In two weeks Christians around the world will celebrate Easter, the resurrection of our Lord. During the last several weeks, we have been preparing through the observance of Lent, a time of renewal, conversion and repentance. Service to others is a wonderful way to live out our renewal and Pope Francis leads the way. Here are some suggestions that best selling author Lisa Hendey suggested in honor of the new pontiff.

Wish you could have been at St. Peter’s Square? You can be! Experience the announcement of Pope Francis as it actually happened.

I found myself last night watching the reruns of the announcement of Pope Francis. I found myself filling up while watching the white smoke, listening to the ancient peeling bells, and witnessing the joys of tens of thousands.

It was such a beautiful moment, a moment of unity for Catholics and non-Catholics around the world. St. Peter’s Square was filled to overflowing with peoples of all ages, races and stations in life (and I’m willing to bet, various faiths as well).

The word “catholic” means universal and indeed yesterday, the world was “catholic,” united through television, radio and the internet with the crowds standing in the rain, waiting to great the new Pope.

Did you wish you were there? I sure did.

catholic insider logoNow you can experience the moment for yourself, virtually, through the magic of podcasting.

catholic insider fr. roderickFr. Roderick Vonhögen, a priest from the Netherlands, has been using the new media (blogging, podcasting, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) since 2005 to take his listeners to key places and events around the world. His groundbreaking program, The Catholic Insider, was in Rome when Blessed John Paul II passed away and he was there in St. Peter’s Square when then-Pope Benedict XVI was announced to the world.

Now you can experience the anticipation, excitement, joy and emotion of “Habemus Papam!” with this enthusiastic priest whose joy is infectious. I found myself laughing, crying and pondering as I listened.

I felt like I was there.

catholic insider

Go and visit The Catholic Insider where you can listen to the podcast right from your computer. If you have an iPhone or iPod, you can go to iTunes and find The Catholic Insider.

Father Roderick also makes videos on the go. Here is the same report in a 7 minute video:

I listened in my car this morning on the way to work. What a way to begin the day!

Click to Tweet & Share: Wish you could have been at St. Peter’s Sq? You can be! Experience the announcement of Pope Francis as it happened! http://wp.me/p2D9hg-qf

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We have a new Pope! Meet Pope Francis

pope francisCARDINAL JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO: Bergoglio, 76, has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests. The archbishop of Buenos Aires reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope. In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world’s Catholics, Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as the kind of self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly. Bergoglio is known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.

This is such an exciting choice! First impressions – humble, affable, sweet face, asked for our prayers. He will have mine.

Here’s some more background from Father Jay Finelli of the ipadre podcast: http://www.ipadre.net/2013/03/pope-francis-i/

Viva Il Papa!

Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio http://www.state-journal.com/local%20news/2013/03/13/catholic-church-has-new-pope-white-smoke-rises
Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio http://www.state-journal.com/local%20news/2013/03/13/catholic-church-has-new-pope-white-smoke-rises

Click to Tweet & Share: We have a new Pope! Meet Pope Francis http://wp.me/p2D9hg-q6

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