Category: Gaudete et Exsultate

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“My power is made perfect in weakness”

When the Church takes up someone’s cause for sainthood, one of the things they look for is heroic virtue. Drawing from Pope Benedict XIV and St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic Encyclopedia defines “heroic virtue” as “…a habit of good conduct that has become a second nature, a new motive power stronger than all corresponding inborn inclinations, capable of rendering easy a series of acts each of which, for the ordinary man, would be beset with...

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What did Pope Francis say about rigid priests?

In an address to bishops in Madagascar, Pope Francis warns his audience not to let the fear of not enough priests justify them being undiscerning in priestly formation and accept men into the priesthood who aren’t striving for holiness. He says, “I appreciate your efforts to ensure the formation of authentic and holy workers for the abundant harvest that awaits us in the field of the Lord.” Then the pope goes on to warn against...

Where Peter Is – LIVE (sort of, not really)

I was asked to give a talk about Pope Francis at the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While I’m only one member of the WPI team and this isn’t an official WPI event, I wanted to let you all know about this event and extend an invitation to any faithful readers in the West Michigan area. The talk is on Sunday, July 21st (3:00pm- 5:15pm, Mass to follow) and the title is: Transformed...

Grace and Mercy Is Everything

What is grace, and how exactly does grace “work”? I don’t want to suggest to anyone that I have the full answer, but over the last few years, Pope Francis’ theology has reminded the Church, in important ways, about what grace actually is and what it is not. When I say, “Pope Francis’ theology,” I am primarily referring to the way Pope Francis prioritizes Mercy, the essential, most foundational proclamation of the Christian faith. Pope...

Christ Is the Path to True Manliness

In recent years, there have been several movements and programs designed to appeal to men’s innate desire for authentic masculinity, but have they been truly successful? In their desire to lead men from their enslavement to sin to true freedom in Christ, are they focusing too much on the external manifestations of “manliness”? One of these new programs is Exodus 90. It was produced by Those Catholic Men, an organization “with a passion for men’s...

Holiness isn’t about trying harder

I’ve noticed that “growing in holiness” is usually presented by popular Catholic media as something like “We just gotta pray more and try harder, then the Lord will make us holier.” As if becoming holy will take a lot of work, but God makes it possible. Similarly, we often speak of grace as sort of a spiritual vitamin or, as one book I recently saw put it, “The Eucharist gives me the energy to pursue...

Ignatius: A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Pope Francis

Finally, we should not neglect the importance of Francis being the first Jesuit pope. In many respects, it appears Francis’ Jesuit background has had an important influence on Pope Francis’ theology. Given the Jesuits lengthy history and its varying roles over time, it would be merely superficial to draw the many parallels between Francis’ papacy and the Jesuit order broadly. Rather, the goal here specifically is to focus on the parallels between Francis’ writings and...

Argentina: A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Pope Francis

Guardini is not the only influence on Pope Francis, of course.  Pope Francis’ theology seems heavily influenced by his pastoral work in Argentina. That is to say, Pope Francis’ theology is pastoral in nature, and it is also shaped by his experiences in Argentina. Pope Francis’ biography on the Vatican website is eager to mention that Francis is a “simple pastor.” Like St. John Paul II, he has an acute awareness of and sympathy with...

Romano Guardini: A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Pope Francis

While well-educated and academically trained, it can be said that Pope Francis does not belong to any one “school.” He is not strictly an “Augustinian” or a “Thomist,” though he cites Aquinas quite liberally. However, one person to whom we can likely grant a place of honor is Romano Guardini, to whom Francis devoted his doctoral studies. Guardini, of course, was one of the great thinkers of the early 20th century whose work heavily influenced...

A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Pope Francis

In God’s gift of faith, a supernatural infused virtue, we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope. Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei It has been suggested before that...

Suffering is a Part of Holiness

Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Without them, there is no humility or holiness. If you are unable to suffer and offer up a few humiliations, you are not humble and you are not on the path to holiness. The holiness that God bestows on his Church comes through the humiliation of his Son. He is the way. Humiliation makes you resemble Jesus; it is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation...

The Lord Speaks in Silence: A Reflection on Prayer

“Holiness consists in a habitual openness to the transcendent.” When I was younger, I often thought of prayer as more or less a mental exercise. I don’t even think I called it prayer, but it was about the closest thing I came to it. My “prayers” constituted nothing more than self-reflection, with perhaps the Golden Rule and other general godly aphorisms sprinkled in like spice. In the worst times in my life, these “prayers” mimicked...

Pastors Gotta Pastor

The Christian faithful need pastors to guide them in the truth, to help form their consciences, and to call them to greater holiness. In the past weeks (regarding the synod), years (regarding Francis’ papacy), and decades (regarding the post Vatican-II Church), many Catholics have rejected their pastors, falling into a state of categorical distrust of the Church under the guise of conscience. It’s true: the Church gives the conscience a high place.  Our experience of...

Can parish life make me holy?

I serve on my parish council at a church in an affluent suburb of St. Louis. Our parish typically gives a generous amount toward various fundraisers, including Archdiocesan special appeals, parish appeals, and missionary and service efforts, locally and abroad. It certainly is a lot to be proud of and I’m so happy to be part of such a generous parish. But the work of building parishioners up in holiness is never-ending, and any critical...

Bishop Barron on Amoris Laetitia and the JPII Generation

I love Bishop Robert Barron. I just listened to his talk from the World Meeting of Families last month in Ireland where he spoke on chapters seven, eight, and nine of Amoris Laetitia and I noticed two things.First of all, in an hour long talk he spends all of five minutes on chapter eight because he sees it as obviously non-controversial. Bishop Barron explains the most contentious teaching in Amoris in his book, “To Light...

Transgenderism – An Apology

I want to apologize. Back in 2015 I attended a conference hosted by Courage, a Catholic apostolate for persons with same-sex attraction and their families. One of the talks during that conference was by Deacon Patrick Lappert, MD, a plastic surgeon, about the Catholic perspective on Transgenderism and gender reassignment surgery. At the time I was really impressed with his presentation and argument. I took notes and after I got home I found a similar...