Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This is a great funny little video from the minds at C.G.P. Gray on youtube. Thought it was pretty fitting with the direction my blog has taken with the impending sede vacante. Enjoy!


An American Pope? ...Whoa, Hold the phone!

There's talk in some media outlets that Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston is papabile.

I don't believe this will be the case however. First, he is a member of a religious order. The Last Pope with religious orders was Pope Gregory XVI who reigned from 1831-1846, he was a member of the Camaldolese order (a branch of the Benedictine order) and was a monk. So it has been some 166 years since a religious has reigned as pope.

Second, The American church has been rocked by the Sexual Abuse Scandal. While Cardinal O'Malley may not have been directly involved in any of the scandals his predecessor in Boston was Bernard Cardinal Law, which we know was involved in alleged cover-ups of the abuses taking place. It's important to note that Cardinal O'Malley has settled over 101 abuse claims and has stated that he initiated a zero-tolerance policy agaisnt sexual abuse in his Archdiocese. He is also responsible for the first comprehensive sexual abuse policies in the Church. In 2010 he was named the Apostolic Visitor to Dublin and is overseeing the response to the sexual abuses in the Archdiocese of Dublin and its suffragan dioceses and reporting back to the Holy See on the progress to appropriately handle the abuses there.

Thirdly, he's a relatively new cardinal, joining the college of cardinals in a consistory in 2006. He is also fairly young coming in at only 68 years old. I don't believe the cardinals (an overwhelming majority Italian) will want to have an American with a long papacy, and O'Malleys could last 15-20 years.

I also don't believe he has garnered a name for himself, outside of dealing with the sexual abuses here in the states and in Ireland, I really don't hear much about him.

Out of the other cardinals from the United States, 11 of which are able to vote in the consistory (the 2nd largest group with 10% of the voting power) the only one I think would be an absolutely amazing pope would be Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York. In his short rise to national attention after taking possession of his See in the Archdiocese of New York in April of 2009. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals on February 18, 2012 with 21 other new cardinals, which puts him in one of the youngest classes of the College.

Cardinal Dolan has served as the Rector of the North American Pontifical College, as Bishop of St. Louis, as Archbishop of Milwaukee (where he concurrently served for a time as the Apostolic Administrator of Green Bay) and finally as Archbishop of New York. He also serves as the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal Dolan is one of the strongest voices for the terrible health care crisis that is being pushed down the throats of Catholics in this country by the federal government.

Should he be elected, however, I think he would almost instantly be known as the "Laughing Pope" or the "Smiling Pope."  That's not all he has to offer though, he is also a wonderful theologian and is amazing witty and light-hearted at the same time. If we did have a Pope from this side of the hemisphere he would definitely be my number one choice. However, this too is unlikely because of his lack of time being a cardinal. Also, again, his youth I believe will be a downfall to the electors as he is only 63!

So an American Pope? No, probably not. The faithful in America still have some time left, in my opinion before we can expect an American to rise to the seat of Peter, but with the Holy Spirit anything is possible.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Our Father; a lenten meditation.

 Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.

Every other Sunday my entire family gathers at my grandmother's house to share a meal and each others company. We've been doing this ever since I was a little kid, and it's become an integrated part of our lives. My grandmother subtly gave me the beginning  of the faith that I have today, I can remember when I was in elementary school and my grandparent's would come pick me up for the 4:00pm Saturday Vigil at our local parish. She would help me with my religion homework after school. And she quietly offered prayers for me and resources to help me grow in the Catholic faith. My grandparents paid for many of the more expensive retreats and conferences that I attended for church, and they always set the example that faith in Christ was an important aspect of life. She has been gifting annual subscriptions of the Magnificat to me since I was in high school and this past weekend, she gave me a copy of the Magnificat Lenten Companion booklet. That was a really long story for a post that will be completely unrelated to this paragraph, but thought it important to mention...

I started reading the companion yesterday on the "Monday of the First Week of Lent." and I enjoyed the short meditation quite a bit. I again picked it up and read it this morning before I left for work and so that's what this post is really about.

Today's reflection was entitled "Speak, Lord, Your Servant Is Listening." The reflection was based loosely on the Book of Samuel when he responds to the Lord's calling with the phrase "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." It goes on to explain that the prayer should not be "Listen Lord, for your servant is speaking." That got me to thinking that a lot of times our prayers end up being the "Listen Lord" prayer and they don't include the part where we listen for the voice of God. I think it is natural and healthy for us to list our problems and woes in prayer, after all, prayer is supposed to be a conversation between us and our God, but we don't take the time to listen to what he tells us to do about it. We end up telling him what needs to be done. We cannot and should not try to bend the will of God to our own, but to bend our will to His. We should be the one to submit, not the King of Kings. When we submit to His will is when He can really start to work in us, to change our hearts to be more like his, loving. Our salvation ultimately depends on our willingness to submit to the one who gave his life for our eternal salvation.

It's hard for our human nature to do so. The world that we live in is so radically opposed to submitting. It teaches us in doing so we loose grip on our realities, we loose control and that's what everyone wants. The culture tells us if we want something to take it, instant self gratification. The Lord teaches us that sometimes we have to wait for the things that we want, and that if we want true happiness, everlasting happiness, that we must follow him, carry our crosses of sacrifice, and follow his commands.

Each day after the reflection the Magnificat gives a "penance." Today's one was to spend ten minutes reflecting on the meaning of the Our Father. And so, I'd like to share my reflection with you...

First it is a very unifying prayer. The Christian church is very separated today. After countless schisms with Rome, and then schisms from the schism there are countless denominations out there. The Our Father, more than any other prayer, is uniquely universal. It was estimated that over 2 Billion Catholic, Anglican, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians prayed the prayer on Easter Sunday in 2007. It's a very connective prayer in a very disconnected world.

It's also very ancient, Matthew recorded it as the way Jesus taught us to pray some near 2,000 years ago. It's interesting to reflect on how many generations of our families have prayed that prayer throughout the course of history.

Even though it's ancient, its still very relevant and rich with meaning. It has the same effect today as it did when the first disciples spoke it and used it to help spread Christianity throughout the world.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy name.
We are taught to call God our Father. Abba. I've recently become a father, and until I became one I don't think I fully understood the significance of this. Father is such an intimate term, a special bond shared between two people. I love my wife with my whole being, and I would do anything for her, but the love that I feel for my daughter is indescribable. God teaches us that we can go to him with a childlike love and confidence. Obviously we know that our God reigns in Heaven, and as the ten commandments teach us, His name is to be respected and revered above all else.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This line calls us to give obedience to our Father, when we say His will is to be done on Earth and in Heaven, again, us bending to His will and not Him bending to ours. This is not to say that he does these things for His satisfaction, but for the favor of his children. Much like if you tell a child not to do something, its for their own good. When you say "Don't stick that crayon in your nose" you don't say it because it'll make you happy if they don't, but because it will hurt them if they do it. I think that is the same concept seen here. We are asking God in this line to give us guidance and to keep us safe by our willingness to follow His will. 

Give us this day our daily bread.
"Our Father," "Give Us," "Our Bread." This prayer is very communal. We aren't saying, My Father, or give me my daily bread. We are coming together to call the name of God. We are asking Him to give us our daily portions. We we ask him for our daily bread, I think it means that we are asking Him to nourish us in Body, Spirit and Soul. Asking Him to sustain us in faith. I also feel that when we ask God to give us our bread, it's a very charitable move. I'm not asking him to just to sustain me, but rather to sustain all of his creation. It calls us to be very mindful of the needs of our brothers and sisters that have been entrusted to our care.

And Forgive us our Trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Forgiveness is one of the main aspects of Faith in God and also in the Catholic Church. We are always reminded to forgive people when they hurt us. And with the Sacrament of Reconciliation we ask God to forgive us when we hurt him and the people around us. This one is a little bit harder for me.  It's hard for me to just let somethings go quickly. I know its not good for me to hold on to things, and generally speaking I eventually get over whatever it is, but I need to apply this part of the prayer more in my life. In forgiveness we gain a certain amount of freedom. Freedom from anger, frustration and resentment.Freedom to have joy.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
God won't lead us into temptation. I think we all know that. But what we are asking here is more of a, "God, I know I have free will, help me to use it the right way." We come to certain choices in our lives when the two sides are not black and white, and when we hit that grey area where its hard to see what is the will of God, we need to remember this part of the prayer, and ask Him to lead us out of the temptation to choose the wrong choice, and to deliver us from the evil of that wrong choice. We should constantly ask him to free us from the choice of Sin and to help us to remain pure according to his Word. 

This Lent I will be slowing down when praying the Our Father at Mass, and during prayer times. It's important for us to slow down and look at prayers we recite often so that they don't become just words and formulas but they become for us meaningful expressions of our Love of God. I will ask God to help me to forgive more easily and freely. And finally I'll ask God to remind me that His Fatherly love and Grace is sufficient and that all I have to do is ask for it with a child-like heart and complete trust in Him.

I hope this reflection and breakdown of a very common prayer in all of our lives helps you to meditate on many of the other prayers that we carelessly rattle off at the prescribed times and helps you to reconnect to the true meaning of our cherished prayers.

How will you let God have the intimate Father-Child relationship he so desperatly wants with each of His children this lent?


P.S. for those of you hopping over from the Catholic Bloggers Network Keep Love in Lent Link Up please feel free to check out other posts on my blog too, and if you like the content, please follow my blog! Below is a list of other great catholic blogs that participated in the link up, please visit them and show them some love too! Happy Lent.

Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!

Building Rocks (pending)
Sole Searching Mamma: 15 Ways to Experience a More Meaningful Lent
Catholic All Year: My Biggest Lent Fails and How I Learned Mortification...

Four Little Ones: Keeping Love in Lent
Gaels Crafty Treasures Keeping Love in Lent
Bear Wrongs Patiently: Lent for the Scrupulous
Rosary Mom: Keeping Love in Lent
LoveLetters 7.10: Teacups {Keeping the Love in Lent}
Little Saints in the Making: Keep Love in Lent
Blessed with Full Hands: Keeping love in Lent- Praise Him
Normal Chaos: Our Own Personalized Lenten Journey
These Little Blessings: Gifting Love this Lent

Friday, February 15, 2013

Peter Cardinal Turkson, The African Pope?

Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church
Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Coast

Quick Facts:
  • Born October 11, 1948 (age 64)
  • From  Wassaw Nsuta, Ghana
  • Attended St. Therese Seminary (Minor) in Ghana
  • Attended St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary (Major) in NYC
  • Ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ on July 20, 1975
  • Recieved a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) in 1992 from the Pontifical Bible Institute
  • Appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast by PJPII on Ocotber 6, 1992
  • Served as President of the Ghana Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1997-2005
  • Was Created a Cardinal in PJPII's last consistory on October 21, 2003
  • Currently serves as President of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice since his 2009 appointment by Pope Benedict XVI
  • Languages spoken: Italian, French, German, English, Fante, and Hebrew. Understands Latin and Greek

Cardinal Turkson is a member of various commissions and congregations within the Vatican including a recent appointment to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pontifical Commission for the Culture and Heritage of the Church, the Congregation for Catholic Education and finally the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. 

Cardinal Turkson has stated since Pope Benedict's resignation that the church needs a "restore and repair" effort to address the recent scandals that plagued the current Pontiffs administration which included the child abuse scandals, poorly written address that offended Muslim groups, and most recently the Vatican-butler scandal.

Turkson himself however, has been in the hot seat when it comes to Muslim relations having received a lot of flak for screening a video that suggested that Europe was being overrun by Muslims.

The African Prelate also takes the stance that the church needs to focus itself on being relevant in todays world while keeping the traditionalism that the church represents. He said "(the challenge is keeping the orthodox church while) at the same time knowing how to apply it so that you do not become irrelevant in a world that has continuous changes"

While it seems the Cardinal would take a more lax approach to the papacy as in times past, I think it's important to note that likely won't be happening. Cardinal Turkson has made comments about the ineffectiveness of Condoms in the fight on Aids, and has mentioned that contraceptive methods should continue to be unacceptable. From everything I read, he will not be a progressive Pope, but will try to be a more accessible Pope, more in line with the papacy of our beloved JPII. He recognizes the need for the papacy to be not only the upholder of the faith, but also to be the accessible face of the Church. It is in this that the papacy remains relevant in my opinion, and I think he shares that opinion as well.

The media frenzy surrounding the Cardinal right now almost show as though he is campainging for the job, and I seriously doubt he is actually doing that. It is more probably that the media has taken out of context his comments. Any Cardinal should be willing if the Holy Spirit should call him to the Chair of St. Peter. I think the Cardinal realizes he may be called to this Ministry and is ready to listen to the word of God, if it should so say.

My overall opinion on the Cardinal is that he could be a breath of fresh air in the Vatican, he seems not to be as contemplative in nature to Pope Benedict XVI, which would allow him a more Charismatic approach to the ministry. He is also a lot younger than B16, in fact he is just 6 years older than John Paul was when he took the reigns of the Vatican. So we could be looking at a much more permanent Papacy with Cardinal Turkson than almost a transitory Papacy of B16 which only lasted 8 years in total. I think should he be chosen he would serve the church well and it would be a vote of confidence to a blooming, maturing church in the third world.

So will we have a Pope from the African continent? Highly likely, some are giving him a 2:1 shot, and almost every list has him near the top. Of course, that decision is left in the hands of his brother Cardinals and the Holy Spirit.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Habemus Papam?

Well, not quite yet but for the first time since 1415 without laying a Roman Pontiff to eternal rest, we will see the white smoke and hear the bells tolls as the words Habemus Papam are announced to the world.

I've been meaning to get back to blogging for quite some time now, but with a newborn at home it leaves little time for anything extra. I had decided to make my re-entry into the blog world as I journey through lent, but then Pope Benedict XVI came onto my TV this morning renouncing the ministry of the Bishop of Rome and the Chair of St. Peter.

This brought to my mind the course of events that led Josef Cardinal Ratzinger to become His Holiness, the Pope of Rome. It reminded me that after a time of sorrow for the Catholics of my generation came a time of excitement and hope, and ultimately history.

The days leading up to Pope Benedicts election were met with much speculation on who was to take over the vacant See of Rome. Would it be another Italian like in the 455 years between Pope Adrian VI (of present day Netherlands) and Blessed John Paul II? Would it be a pope from the Third world where Catholicism is blooming at very high rates? Would it be an American Cardinal? The media talked about this for days before the white smoke plummed out of the Sistine Chapels chimney.

I was in a political science class across the street from the Universities Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas when the bells started incessantly tolling. We were in class for another 20 minutes and the bells still had not stopped. When class was dismissed I walked over the the chapel and joined the growing group of people that were fixated on the television. We where watching images of the smoke coming from the chapel debating on whether it was white or not. And waiting. The priest at the time thought for sure he would be from Africa, everyone was offering their speculations. Then it happened, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez came out flanked by preists, and said "Dear brothers and sisters; I announce to you a great joy! Habemus Papam!"

The 265th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church would be, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI.

Now already, some sites just two hours after his announcement of resignation, the names are buzzing. An African, Cardinal Peter Turkson? A Canadian, Cardinal Marc Ouellet? A Nigerian, Cardinal Francis Arinze? An Italian, Cardinal Angelo Scola? There are others too, more Italians, A South American, another German.

One this is for sure, The conclave has its work cut out for it. Over the next few weeks leading up to the election of our next supreme Pontiff I will profile some of the Cardinals marked out to be on the short list for papacy. I'll also explore a little deeper the electors who will have the duty of filling the crimson shoes of our Holy Father.

Who do you think will be our next Vicar of Christ?