Sixth Anniversary of Pope Francis

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Click to visit an article on Pope Francis’ coat of arms and motto. He kept both coat of arms and motto from his time as Cardinal with the addition of papal symbols. MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO translates to “he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him” from a writing of St. Bede. All Rights Reserved, Vatican and Pope Francis. (c)2019

Jorge Mario Bergolio was chosen as the 266th Pope after Pope Benedict XVI resigned his position of Pope in 2013. Jorge was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1936 to Mario and Maria Bergolio. He had four siblings: two brothers, and two sisters. 
Cardinal Bergolio chose Francis as his papal name after St. Francis of Assisi, indicating his concern for and his commitment to the poor. His focus is towards the poor, and the church meeting its people where they are as well as encouraging mercy by and for Catholics worldwide.

Pope Francis is also a pope of many firsts: he is the first Pope who is a Jesuit; he is the first from the Americas as well as the first from the Southern Hemisphere. He is also the first pope from outside of Europe since the 8th century.

You can find Pope Francis on Twitter and on the Vatican website, where you can read all of his writings (as well as other Popes) and homilies. I’m currently in the middle of reading Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad; an Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness.) The website is a fascinating virtual pilgrimage of its own.

He was inaugurated as Pope in 2013, on March 19. That was nearly exactly one year since I had been visiting and praying at my church.

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Sundays in Lent – 2nd Monday

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“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36

One of the things that I really loved about the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy was the reminder that not only does everyone deserve mercy, everyone has the capability to offer mercy; to others and ourselves.

We were one of the fortunate parish churches that had a holy door for the entire year. I walked over its threshhold a few times over the course of that year, but even on the days that I didn’t cross over and through the doorway, I was aware of it. I almost always read the prayers on the door on a daily basis. I gazed at the picture, and I photographed it more than once hoping to capture all that it offered reflected back in the picture. It was near impossible. You really had to be there.

On the days that I did walk through the door, I would pause at the closed door, read the words on the door, read Pope Francis’ prayer that he provided at the start of the Jubilee, and sometimes say my own prayer, occasionally an Our Father.

I was aware, and I brought that awareness with me everywhere and in everything I did.

The Jubilee Year ended, but the mercy continues.

Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee:

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Busy, Busy Weekend

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Beginning at the top, L-R: Our Common Home book cover, Wonder Woman Pop keychain, Wonder Woman cape hanging at the comic store, March for Truth art, Carnival, Pentecost, Gishwhes Tea Party art, green flower for my hair, Pride flag. (c)2017

Some weeks go by with nothing to do or that rare week that has one or two things every day just to keep the week moving along and easy to handle. Then there was this past week.
On Wednesday, I was invited to a Ramadan dinner, a community dinner to break the daily fast that Muslims globally follow. This dinner is one that the Islamic Center holds every year. It was wonderful, and I was glad to have gone. I’m already looking forward to next year.

On Thursday, I had a church  meeting but that was cancelled, so at the last minute, we decided to pick up my daughter’s friend and go to the evening showing of Wonder Woman. I’m not sure if Thursday counts as opening night or pre-openng night. The movie was amazing, and for a moment I considered going to see it again this weekend. Yes, it was that good. It was also a school night, but it’s Wonder Woman! We’ve been waiting a long time for this one.

On Friday, I started to read (for the second time) Our Common Home: Visual meditations of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ by Michael O’Neill McGrath, the catalyst being the Trump Administration’s short-sightedness on the welfare of our shared planet Earth. I am reading it slowly, and I am planning on using some of Brother Mickey‘s artwork as inspiration for my own tonight. Friday night was also the school’s rec night for my daughter. It was an introduction to the middle school rec nights that they have throughout the year. Then her friend slept over in anticipation of Saturday.

Saturday began with Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast – a day late and a donut short for National Donut Day, and then we were off to our local comic store to celebrate Wonder Woman Day. Free comics, tiaras, and bracelets, pins, and key chains! Fun, fun, fun. After that my son had a birthday party that turned into a sleepover. We brought him home for a shower and a change of clothes. He and my husband went to buy him a bicycle that he’s been promised before the sale ended.

In the meantime, we took the girls out to lunch, then to a local carnival. They dropped me off at church where I was reminded it was Pentecost, something I will reflect further on later in the week. The Holy Spirit is something that I have felt my whole life without knowing exactly what it was that was guiding me. While I was at church, the girls decided on another sleepover at the friend’s house. I went home and drew some art for the March for Truth that I attended virtually continuing with the Wonder Woman theme by using her lasso of truth.

My husband and I began to catch up on Sense 8, only to find out that it wasn’t renewed for a third season. I’ve already joined the online movement to try and bring it back. It is just so much and so wonderfully well done. I can’t help but feel attached to the sensates.

We are currently at our local coffee shop – Starbucks. I’m wearing a green flower in my hair ane a matching Gishwhes shirt for the International Gishwhes Tea Party taking place around the world at this exact moment.

It is also Pride month, and I spent much of last night drawing and coloring a pride flag, mostly for my own amusement, but also to share.

So much done, and this weekend isn’t even over yet. We still need to get the kids back from their respective sleepovers, watch two more episodes of Sense8, decide on dinner, and then prepare for the return of Fear the Walking Dead.

Tomorrow seems just as busy as I renew my driver’s license and get my glasses adjusted. I’ve been getting headaches and they’re barely a week old. I’m definitely seeing better, but I’m not sure constant headaches are worth the benefit. I also plan to get my international driving permit for our trip to Ireland.

I’m not sure if I have time to catch my breath.

While I do, what are some of the ways you cope with the busyness of your lives? If you comment with yours, I’ll include them in tomorrow’s post of some of my hints and tips to get through our days.

The Halfway Mark

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We’re a little more than halfway through Lent. I’ve mentioned before my difficulty in giving up bread. Fortunately, the additions I’ve made to my Lenten journey are working out much better than the bread. I have indeed attended the 9am daily mass unless I had a prior commitment. I’ve remained after mass on some days to join the other ladies who stay daily to pray the rosary. I read the Lenten reflection book my church provided. I’ve kept a Lenten journal, writing in it daily, and using it for notetaking on my retreats. I have also done some art projects. Once they’re completed, and I make room in my media files, I will share them here. I love the burst of creativity that the retreats give me.

Even just a two hour session once a week is enough to breathe a renewed spirit in me, and set me off on a project.

The month of March was full of spiritual opportunities. I was lucky to be able to attend a total of thirteen days of retreats or workshops. I’ve tried to go through the retreat center’s calendar, and I’m able to continue once a month through June. Just the idea that it’s available has me full of adrenaline to keep pushing.

As you can see, I also have my keyboard back, so I’m hoping to do a little catch up from last weekend, especially with my series: Emma Watson’s Book Club, The New 52 for weeks 12 and 13, and another book news. Those book news posts really help me organize my thoughts on the two books. They’re very jumbled up in my mind, I think due to the emotional level of both stories.

I was also asked last week to share my conversion story, which would mean talking to people, like an audience, and it’s not something I want to do, but I do kind of want to share it. When I talk about it, I get a lot of positive feedback, but I’m not sure I’m ready for it. However, after saying all that to the person suggesting my opening up, I did feel as though I might be able to in the future. That was definitely something that surprised me.

I can feel myself growing.

I will absolutely talk more about my church’s parish mission that occured in the early part of this week, but in short it focused on Pope Francis’ life and thoughts, which in general focus on mercy and forgiveness. I was truly blessed that i joined the church around the same time as Pope Francis’ choosing. He is a true inspiration to me, and the three days I spent immersed in his merciful ideas was really what I needed to end this half of Lent, and be able to continue down my path. Related to our parish mission, I will have a story of mercy and grace to share tomorrow.

2nd Sunday in Lent

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One of the goals of Lent is to look back and look forward; to see what’s changed and what needs changing. I’ve discovered that one of those ways to to re-read some of the more directional Scriptures; put them in the context of where I am today. The Scriptures may not change, but I will always, and the reminder in different times is just enough to propel me forward and setting new goals, both earthly and spiritual.

Sometimes, we all need a little direction, and from the moment​ I began to sit in on masses, the readings spoke to me in tangible ways. There’s no reason to think that would change.

In additon to love thy neighbor and lay down one’s life for a friend, the Beatitudes are a step-by-step guide to the good works, tangible things that can be done by anyone, in any order, at any time.

Recently, Pope Francis added a few more to guide us in the modern world, saying that “new situations require new energy and a new commitment.” I will include them at the end.
Matthew 5:2-12

He began to teach them, saying: The Beatitudes*
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Pope Francis’ addition on 11/1/16: New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age

Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.

Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness.

Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.

Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.

Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.

Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.

“All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness,” Pope Francis said. “Surely they will receive from him their merited reward.”

8/8 –  Year of Mercy

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On this last Sunday of he Year of Mercy, I look forward to the next year as I try to continue with ther merciful acts that I did in this past year. Not only the acts of mercy done for others, but for me as well. One of the lectures I went to last year was how to bring mercy into my own life, and to give myself mercy. We are our own worst critics after all.

In addition to today being the last day of the Year of Mercy, it is also the Feast of Christ the King and the last Sunday of the Catholic Year. Advent begins next week as we wait for the Nativity and the birth of Jesus.

As long as this year was, allowing me to cross the threshold of the holy door and visit shrines, take a variety of one day pilgrimages, pray and meditate on mercy and moving forward with myself in all the ways that I want to move forward, it also went very quickly. I was less concerned with the plenary indulgences as I was with giving myself a gift of myself.

From Pope Francis’ Instagram today:

“Even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us.”

6/8 – Year of Mercy – Service

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In two weeks, the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy will conclude with the closing of the Holy Doors across the world, including at my home parish, and so this is a time to think back, to reflect on the past year, and what it meant to me personally.

In addition to the several things I’ve done or experienced in the past year, one of the ways to be a part of the year of mercy is by doing merciful acts.

In the Catholic Church, there are seven Corporal Works of Mercy:

1. Feed the hungry

2. Give drink to the thirsty

3. Clothe the naked

4. Shelter the homeless

5. Comfort the sick

6. Visit the prisoners

7. Bury the dead

Earlier in the year, I was asked to volunteer for a ministry, a committee to plan and implement our church’s first Morning of Service, where our parishoners come together on and off site to do volunteer works along the lines of those corporal works. Our day of service was held yesterday to great success.

We had over two hundred people offer their services and dozens more donate items. There were groups making pet beds, rosaries, Welcome Bags for the Ronald McDonald House, visiting nursing homes, painting community rooms, building homes for Habitat for Humanity and a plethora of other works that look small and insignificant until you put them all together and see how they impact those on the receiving end.

In my short time with this parish, I have seen so many giving so much in the name of service. It astounded me at first, but now it makes me happy to be part of such a giving group as this. I continue to try and do my part to varying degrees and varying amounts of success, but I try, and that is most important.

I can’t express the feelings granted from giving. It is overwhelming and almost too much. It defies description.

While next year, there will be no jubilee, no Year of Mercy, what was begun this last year by Pope Francis and taken on by parishoners all across the world will continue through our committees, our ministries, and our parishoners.

Once the step forward is taken, it cannot be taken back.