Five From Francis

A child takes off Pope Francis' white zucchetto, or skullcap, during a meeting with children and volunteers of the Santa Marta Vatican Institute, at the Vatican

Photo: AP/Gregorio Borgia

Today marks the first anniversary of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio’s election to the Papacy, and the end of the first year of the Church’s walk under the guidance of Pope Francis. A year ago, I posted five thoughts on the Holy Father’s election. Today, I post five of his most memorable quotes from the last year along with my reflections on those quotes in light of his shepherding of the Church so far.

Bishops and priests must be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.” —Chrism Mass Homily, Holy Thursday, March 28, 2013.

Pastor—the word used in the United States from both Catholic priests and Protestant clergy—comes from the Latin verb pascere, meaning “to lead to pasture” or “to shepherd.” Yet clergy in our culture, and many others, are seen as set apart from mere laypeople. Popular preachers write best-selling books, build personality cults around themselves, and become rich off their flocks. Catholic priests surround themselves with an aura of mystery based on their Sacramental calling. Bishops and church leaders cozy up with the rich and the powerful while overlooking Christ in the powerless.

Francis sees the hypocrisy, and wants it to change. He knows that the Good Shepherd lays his life down for the sheep, and leaves the ninety-nine to chase down the one that is lost. He knows from his days as a priest and bishop in Buenos Aries, washing the feet of the poor and of prisoners what it means to “live with the smell of the sheep.”

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Bloggerhood Etc. 10/28/13

Hot Pockets: Every bite is a different temperature.A lot to choose from this week leads to an extra-long list. Think of it as a top ten (plus one) in no particular order.

Most Honest.Famous brands updated with honest taglines [21 pictures]” at 22 Words. Featuring the above logo and 21 others. How many times have I burned my mouth on one of those things?

Smelliest.Axes of Evil: What happens when a grown woman wears Axe fragrance for an entire week?” by Dalia Lithwick at Slate. I can almost smell it through the screen.

Best Sports Essay.The March Toward Midnight” by Craig Fehrman at SB Nation. We all love the “Cinderella story,” but not all Cinderella’s are created equal.

Coolest Invention.Say hello to a radically redesigned cello — with optical effects” by Tim Hornyak at CNET. I want to see—and hear—this instrument play. Anything but Pachelbel’s canon.

Best Dad Post.Tears of our Fathers” by Dad on the Run. A great review of the 2013 At-Home Dads Convention.

Best Followup.Map: Six Decades of the Most Popular Names for Boys, State-by-State” by Reuben Fisher-Baum at Jezebel. After last weeks map and this one, I find myself wondering how many 90s wedding invitations read …

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of

Jennifer ______


Michael ______

(Please fill in the last names before printing)

Best Photoblog.This Is The Stuff Nightmares Are Made Of. And Most Of It’s On You Right Now” at ViralNova. Actually quite beautiful and not really nightmarish, except for this …

Flea under electron microscope.


Biggest Rout (EVER).Breaking Madden: The Buccaneers and their 44 Greg Schianos” by Jon Bois at SB Nation.

Challenge extended …

Challenge accepted.

22? Eh, let’s double it.

Most Thought Provoking.Those People” by Jennifer Ball at Scary Mommy. Some of us have been “those people” at one time or other. And if what Jesus said is true, he is “those people.”

Most Heartbreaking.A Man Chronicles His Wife’s Battle with Cancer in Heartbreaking Photographs” by Katy Waldman in Slate. October isn’t just about fighting breast cancer or celebrating survivors. It’s also a time to remember those we’ve lost.

Best Video.How Many Countries Are There?” by C.G.P. Grey (via YouTube). A great geography lesson with no easy answer.

Bloggerhood Etc. 10/7/13

Giants run through Eagles in Madden.

Image: Jon Bois/SB Nation

This week’s list begins with an unusual category, before continuing on to some more typical ones. Here we go!

Best Chance the Giants Have to Win a Game This Season.Breaking Madden: In which the Eagles get drunk and give up 2,400 yards in a single game” by Jon Bois at SB Nation.

I. WE GIVE THE GIANTS THE BEST OFFENSIVE LINE IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL. I released all of the Giants’ starting offensive linemen and replaced them with seven-foot-tall monsters …

II. WE GIVE THE GIANTS THE BEST RUNNING BACK COMMITTEE IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL. David Wilson and friends are gone. This is the Giants’ new running back depth chart: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, (and) LeSean McCoy …


The result? 231 points and 2,458 rushing yards in one game! Meanwhile, in real life, the not-so-giant Giants lost to the sober Eagles 36-21.

Best Parenting Post.Two Tales Involving 350 Kids, Entitlement and Lessons in Parenting and Life” by Cornelia Seigneur at The Huffington Post.

Our children will make mistakes. They are not perfect, and we need to own up to that. Heck, we are not either, right? That is OK. It does not mean we, as parents are bad people. It just means our kids are human and like all human beings, they too need to own up to their mistakes.

One of the most important responsibilities of a parent I feel is to teach our children how to say sorry. It is amazing the healing that takes place in our lives and the lives of others, as human beings, when the words “sorry” are communicated.

Best Repost.Caregiver Beatitudes” by Robert Anthony Martin at Abnormal Anabaptist.

In the summer of 2012, my wife and I began a rather interesting journey together.  And by “interesting” I mean the same sort of “interesting” that is implied in the ancient apocryphal Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”. You see, my wife was diagnosed in July 2012 with (to use the medical techno-geeky terminology) Type II invasive ductal carcinoma.  For those of you less involved in the whole process, this is breast cancer.

A year later, she is a breast-cancer survivor.

Best Photo Essay.A Brief History of the Computer” at Time Magazine.

ENIAC, 1946

Photo: Jerry Cooke/Corbis

Best Review of an Awful Album.We Will Rock You: Miley Cyrus’ New Record Is F**king Horrible” by Jon Hunt at l’etoile.

I keep trying to think of a metaphor for this thing, and I keep coming back to this: a clown farting. That’s an utterly witless metaphor, so let me explain. Just imagine — the guy puts on his clown suit and his big red shoes in order to entertain a crowd of engaged children. And instead of producing humor, even of the horn-honking, capering variety, he just blats away loudly. Maybe he ate some beans that day, or just some bad eggs at breakfast. Farts are occasionally funny, at the lowest possible level — we’ve all laughed at them at some point in our life — but an explosion of gas caused by stomach upset isn’t funny, it’s just loud and awful and slightly painful. Just imagine the guy, standing there in his clown suit, frown on his face, unable to stop farting. That’s this album.

Best Question. About 15% of Americans live in poverty, so why is no one talking about it?” by Daniel A. Medina in The Guardian.

In a nation where, according to the US Census Bureau’s poverty statistics released last month, 46.5 million people (roughly 15%) of the nation’s population lives in poverty, the idea that the media would not cover such a pressing human interest story because of financial troubles is misguided, if not inexcusable. It represents a failure on the part of the industry in fulfilling its role in serving the public interest.

Favorite Saint Namesake.Pope Francis’ homily during Mass in Assisi [Full text]” transcribed by Catherine Harmon in Catholic World Report (translation by Vatican Radio).

Franciscan peace is not something saccharine. Hardly! That is not the real Saint Francis! Nor is it a kind of pantheistic harmony with forces of the cosmos … The peace of Saint Francis is the peace of Christ.

Benedict may still be my favorite saint, but Francis is my favorite pope. May God bless him and grant him a long ministry.

Best Video.Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips” by Glove and Boots (via YouTube).

“Welcome to New York City … (now) get out of the way!”

Bloggerhood Etc. 9/23/13

Pope Francis

CNS Photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters.

Best Interview.A Big Heart Open to God,” the exclusive interview with Pope Francis by Antonio Spadero, S.J. in America. An in-depth profile of a beloved man of God, and a huge coup for our country’s oldest Jesuit publication.

Best Counter Argument Based Solely on Facts.Have the People Spoken?” by Rick Reilly at If you listened only to a handful of vocal sports writers, politicians, and Native American activists, you would think the Redskins name-change debate was settled. But knowing the history of the word, how the team got the name, and the opinion of the vast majority of Native Americans, you would be wrong. This is a far more complicated issue than you’ve been led to believe.

Best (and Most Depressing) Infographic.Watch the growth of U.S. income inequality with this animated map” by John Voorheis at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog (via Keep Oregon Working). Not sure how civil society can survive this trajectory if we keep going the way we’re going.

Most Heartbreaking.Whistling Vivaldi Won’t Save You” by Tressie McMillan Cottom in Slate.

Last week, Jonathan Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player who recently moved to the Charlotte, N.C., area to be with his fiancée, had a horrible car crash. The 24-year-old broke out the back window to escape and walked, injured, to knock on the nearest door for help. Now, Ferrell is dead. The neighbor he asked for aid called 911 (“He is trying to kick down my door,” she cried on the phone), and one of the responding police officers shot the unarmed Ferrell 10 times.

Ferrell, who was African-American, may have been too hurt, too in shock, to remember to whistle Vivaldi to signal he was a victim and not a threat.

So much for “post-racial America.”

Best Commentary.Shattering Myths About Homelessness” by Herb Johnson in The San Diego Union Tribune. They aren’t who you think they are.

Best Question.Why Do We Always Specify the Gender of a Stay-at-Home Parent?” by Kathleen Hogan at The Huffington Post. And will the time come when we won’t anymore? I hope so.

Biggest Contradiction.Hating the Poor but Loving Jesus?” by Craig M. Watts at Red Letter Christians. “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45) Jesus’ words, not mine.

And after a short hiatus, the Internet’s favorite puppets are back!

Funniest Video. “Product Testing” by Glove and Boots (via YouTube).

“They might not be crap, but today we find out if they are!”

They are.


Poverty, USA

Living in Poverty, USA. What's life like at the poverty line?

The beginning of Jesus’ public ministry as described by Luke:

(Jesus) came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom  into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me  to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)

January is Poverty Awareness Month, and though the month is almost over, the one in six families who live in poverty in this country will continue to do so. Today of all days, when this passage is read in churches throughout our nation, and throughout the world, we must keep the poor in our prayers and do what we can to help.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25:35-36)

Please visit Poverty USA, get the facts, and find out what you can do to help.