CNN anchor: ‘There is something about Pope Francis that has reawakened my faith.’

carol-costelloCarol Costello, anchor of CNN Newsroom, recently wrote a column sharing how, after years away from her Catholic faith, she feels drawn to pray for forgiveness and Christ’s love after seeing the example of Pope Francis.

I remember the day I stopped praying. It was the day after my little brother, Jimmy, died of cancer. He was 25. I was so angry at God.

I was 27 at the time, and, like most young people I had stopped going to church. But, on that day — that terrible day — I desperately needed to understand why God took my brother. I called the nearest Catholic church, looking for a priest. A lady picked up the phone. “Can I talk with Father?” I asked.

I wish I could say her answer was “yes.”

Instead, she asked me if I was a member of that particular parish. “Does it matter?” I asked. (At the time I lived far from my home parish.) I don’t remember how she responded, but the answer about my being able to see Father was clearly no.

I don’t know if all Catholic churches would have shut me out, but I figured, at the time, it was part of the long list of rules the Vatican required Catholic leaders to follow. I cried for a bit, then decided I would never ask God for anything. Clearly, his conduits on Earth did not have time for me – a lifelong Catholic – and sinner – so why would he?

Ever since, I’ve considered myself a lapsed Catholic. Until Pope Francis.

There is something about Francis that’s reawakened my faith. And it’s not because he opened the floodgates to allow sin in the eyes of the church. He still argues against things I passionately support, but I find myself — like many other lapsed Catholics — enthralled.

I can’t wait to go church next Sunday. And, yes, I will bow my head and pray for forgiveness, and if I’m worthy, Christ’s love.

Read the rest at CNN.

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What if I don’t get anything out of Sunday Mass?

bored-in-church1This time of year, many people feel a pull, or have an interest in, returning to the Catholic Church of their upbringing. Many of our listeners are among this group of non-practicing Catholics who would like to dip their toes back into the waters of Catholicism. But sometimes dipping the toes doesn’t have the “wow” factor that is expected. What then?

Margery Eagan, the spirituality columnist at Crux, has some words of wisdom for both those who are coming back to the faith, as well as practicing Catholic who feel that Sunday Mass each week isn’t feeding them. Eagan writes:

I’m not sure where any Catholic gets the idea that one hour on Sunday could ever be enough to sustain a spiritual life; or that next to no effort could help build up faith. I don’t know why anyone thinks — when feeling that subtle attraction to, or yearning for, mystery — that ignoring all will somehow bring heavenly trumpets to their ears.

Islam tells Muslims to pray five times a day. Five times a day! Evangelicals focus on developing an intense, personal, and time-consuming relationship with Jesus Christ. And many are in church for hours and hours every week.

So are Catholics just gypped here on out-of-Mass advice?

Actually, no.

“Seek and ye shall find” implies, at least to me, seeking with some perseverance. “Ask and you shall receive” does not say ask once, and give up. You may remember the Catholic Catechism warning, “Without prayer your faith will die.” St. Paul says to “pray without ceasing.” I know, that’s a bit tough. “Everyone needs half an hour of prayer each day,” says St. Francis de Sales, lowering the bar considerably. “Except,” he says, “ when we are busy. Then we need an hour.”

Far be it from me to lecture my dear disgruntled friend on Easter Sunday — or anybody else who tells me they’ve had it with Catholic politics or left the Church, as he did, because it leaves them cold. I’m a beginner myself on this path.

But if he or someone were to ask, sincerely, about coming back to the faith, I think I’d say: Spend some time, go a bit deeper, read the Gospels, read St. Paul, sit for a minute in silence. Then sit for two minutes. Then five, then more.

See what happens.

You’ll likely be surprised. I know I was.

Read the full article at Crux.

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Baseball: A Catholic sport?

baseball-picBaseball season is upon us, and John L. Allen, Jr. over at Crux has put forward a list of the 9 reasons why Catholicism is to religion what baseball is to sports. The similarities are quite interesting. Here are a few:

1. Both baseball and Catholicism venerate the past. Both cherish the memories of a Communion of Saints, including popular shrines and holy cards.

2. Both feature obscure rules that make sense only to initiates. (Think the infield fly rule for baseball fans and the Pauline privilege for Catholics.)

3. Both have a keen sense of ritual, in which pace is critically important. (As a footnote, that’s why basketball is more akin to Pentecostalism, since both are breathless affairs premised largely on ecstatic experience. I’d go into why football is pagan, but that’s a different conversation.)

4. Both baseball and Catholicism generate oceans of statistics, arcana, and lore. For entry-level examples, try: Who has the highest lifetime batting average, with a minimum of 1,000 at-bats? (Ty Cobb). Which popes had the longest and the shortest reigns? (Pius IX and Urban VII)

Read the rest at Crux.

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