One year ago, the papal conclave came to a close as white smoke was signaled from the chimney’s of the Vatican. Habemus Papem! We have a Pope! They announced Jorge Bergoglio (in Latin of course) from Argentina. Initially, I was stunned. I was actually a little nervous as some of the things going on in South America with the Church aren’t the greatest, but I wrote about my initial reactions last year.
Since it is Pope Francis’ one year anniversary, I thought I would compose a list of reasons why I am thankful for Pope Francis. I know I am sometimes critical of Pope Francis (and I am not the worst), but I love our Catholic faith deeply, and am not happy when I see the secularists and modernists of the media and enemies of the faith make our Church look bad. We all have our faults and I am working on mine.
But, without further ado, here is my list!
1. I Go To Confession More Often
Pope Francis mentioned the need for us to go to confession more often. I have made it a habit to attempt to go to confession as often as I need to. At an absolute minimum, I am going once every two weeks, similar to Pope Francis. At an absolute maximum, I go twice a week. Prior to Pope Francis’ election and during Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, I was probably going somewhere between once every two weeks to once every two months.
The graces I have seen come from this are great. I am in the state of grace far more often and am able to be in communion with God, that is, I can tell when I’m synchronized with Him. It allows me to discern God’s will more easily. It isn’t always obvious, but it helps. It helps me to avoid sin as I examine my conscience regularly and avoid particular sins that I see that I struggle with more. I also realize that I sin far more often than I thought. I urge you to go to confession more often as well.
2. I Am Praying On A Daily Basis
I’ve always been fond of the Rosary. It’s a beautiful meditation on the Life of Christ through the eyes of His Mother, and our Mother Mary. Mary also promised 15 Graces for having a devotion to the Rosary and to pray it daily. I now pray the Rosary daily, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and I pray throughout the day as I feel called.
My prayer life has always been…difficult, I’ve blogged about it a few times, in my search, to help others who may also be struggling. Prayer is an important factor of our faith, as that is our time to speak to God and for Him to speak to us. If we aren’t talking to God, well, how do we know we are following His Will? Pray daily, carve out time. If you haven’t done your prayers, don’t go to bed. Prayers are greater than sleep.
3. I Spend More Time Learning My Faith
Pope Francis can be confusing at times. The media will run with this as if he’s changing teaching. When the media runs with a headline, I have to go and look up what Pope Francis really said, and then find related Scripture, Catecheses, Doctrine, etc to refute what is going on.
In another sense, I am now forced to learn my faith, so that I can defend it easier, quicker and in turn, live it out. You can’t teach something you don’t know. If you don’t know physics, you can’t teach it to someone. Whatever it is you don’t know about the faith, you are unable to teach.
When we know our faith, we can evangelize people, which leads to…
4. I Evangelize On A Regular Basis
As Jesus Christ told us we are to “go and make disciples of all nations…” (cf Matthew 28:19). That means that when the opportunity presents itself, we must profess the Truth and defend it when it is attacked (which is quite often). If we do not defend the faith, who will?
Evangelization can take many forms, lending out books/cds, blogging, discussions with friends, family or coworkers, social media, the list goes on and on. The important thing though, is to share your Catholic faith. Be a good witness, and challenge those around you to investigate the Catholic Church with an open heart and an open mind. It is critical to bring people to the fullness of Truth. Being silent can lead the individual away from Christ. Share what you know.
5. I’m More Involved At My Parish
I’ve taught Religious Education before, but I am doing it again this year. I’m teaching 10th graders who are preparing for Confirmation in 11th grade (I’ve talked about that before though). I’m also leading a Marriage Ministry with my wife. I won’t list everything I’m doing, but I have been doing a lot more at my parish.
6. I Have a Deeper Appreciation for the Papal Office
Seeing how much the media has twisted Pope Francis to fit into their own image, and in the same hand twisted Pope Benedict XVI into a “mean old man”, I have a deeper appreciation for the Papacy. I’ve spent more time reading into the history of the Papacy, starting all the way from Pope St. Peter to now Pope Francis. I’ve even gained an appreciation for the pre-Vatican 2 Popes.
These Popes were such a blessing to the Church, but we have forgotten about them. I highly encourage you to take a look at some of their encyclicals. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but we spend most of our time talking about Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Francis. While they have contributed much to our faith, the full deposit of our faith as well as many pre-Conciliar Popes have given us much too. You can even read many old Papal documents at http://www.papalencyclicals.net/. Read them!
7. I’m Inspired To Blog More
In the last year, I have had a grand total of 92 posts (including this one). Since beginning this blog I have published 184 times. I have literally done half of my blogging in this last year alone. There is so much going on in the Church today, as well as the world, that I feel called to comment on it. It’s a fun experience.
I hope that you benefit from reading my blog, and I hope that it inspires you to live out your Catholic faith more fully and to share that faith with those around you.