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Expanding Our Faith

Today’s guest blogger is Nick Luken, a fourth-year student at The Ohio State University, majoring in English and minoring in professional writing. Nick graduated from Roger Bacon, a Franciscan high school in Cincinnati, in 2012. Last week, my parish went through a huge change that a lot of other parishes across America have experienced. In an attempt to combat the current shortage of priests, my parish was assigned to form a pastoral region with a neighboring parish. Basically, that means that my parish will now share one pastor with this nearby parish.
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Ask a Franciscan: Is Every Encyclical Infallible?

Q. I know that the pope’s infallibility is not a personal trait but is part of his office as the successor of St. Peter. Even so, is every encyclical infallible? A. The short answer is no. Vatican I’s decree “Eternal Pastor” taught: “The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when discharging the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, and defines with his supreme apostolic authority a doctrine concerning faith or morals that is to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in St. Peter, exercises that infallibility which the divine Redeemer wishes to endow his Church for defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.”
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Living a Good Christian Life

We talk a lot about being committed to living a Christian life, but what does it really mean? Going to Mass on Sundays, receiving the sacraments and actively praying are all good ways of being a witness to the Gospel and living a good Christian life. But how do we really connect with people, especially young people who are seeking answers to the meaning of life in this increasingly secularized, individualized and materialistic society?
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Learning to be Human

Our guest blogger today is Jeremy Harrington, OFM, coauthor of A Friar's E-spirations. In dedicating himself to those with special needs, Jean Vanier is a great inspiration to me. His message has wider meaning for the whole human family. That was the judgment of the Templeton Foundation, who gave Jean Vanier, now in his 80s, the 2015 Templeton Prize for “his innovative discovery of the central role of vulnerable people in the creation of a more just and humane society.” Previous recipients include Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Blessed Mother Teresa. The recipient receives roughly 1.7 million US dollars. Vanier is giving his to charity.
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Ask a Franciscan: How Did Evil Begin?

Q. What is the absolute root cause of evil? How can an absolute evil (the devil) come from an absolute good (God)? Didn’t Satan choose something that already existed? If paradise is real, how could evil enter into it? When people speak of “free will,” it sounds as though they mean “without God.” If so, isn’t free will a bad thing? A. According to Genesis 1:27, men and women are made in God’s image and likeness. That image and likeness are not based on gender, race, age or similar factors. Did God have to create anything? No. For that reason, freedom of some sort reflects our being made in God’s image.
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Three Hard Words: 'I Forgive You'

We've all been dismayed by stories of callous shootings and escapes of murderers from prisons in recent weeks. It's enough to knock the wind out of anti-death-penalty arguments, one might think.
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Praying the Psalms

Anyone who prays the Psalms over a period of time is bound to have some favorites. As a Franciscan and a Scripture scholar, I would like to share my personal favorites. “The Lord is my shepherd.” —Psalm 23 As Christians, we especially think of Jesus. He is our good shepherd and pursues us even when we turn against him. The “still waters” he finds for us remind us of Baptism. The banquet he provides reminds us of the Eucharist. In praying the Psalms, I also like to indulge in some fantasy. The oil reminds me of the oil used in Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders.
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Created to Relate: God's Design for Peace and Joy

Our guest blogger today is Kelly M. Wahlquist, author of Created to Relate: God's Design for Peace and Joy. As a woman created to relate, you can tap into a divine peace. It doesn’t matter if you are fighting cancer, battling depression, taking care of aging parents, sleep-deprived from tending to young children, or feeling as though you are under a heap of bills and will never see the light of day. God’s peace has been promised to you since the beginning of creation. Just rest in him and let his peace fill your heart. Here are some ways to break down the barriers to peace while strengthening your relationship with Christ:
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To Pray as St. Francis Prayed

Most of us agree, I assume, that personal prayer can be described as a conversation between two parties—ourselves and God. Speaking for myself, I often find myself giving more importance to my side of the conversation than to God’s. I think, for example, that I have to be more responsible, try harder, clench my fists more so I can pray with greater intensity. And yes, it’s certainly true that we humans have to give prayer our very best efforts and pray with all our hearts.
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Prayerful Preaching

When Fernando Bulhom, an Augustinian canon in Portugal, became a friar in 1220 and took the name Anthony, he had already acquired a vast knowledge of Scripture. After a brief time as a missionary in Morocco and a short time as chaplain for friars in a hermitage at Montepaolo, his talents as a preacher were discovered.
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