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Pope Francis on Mercy

Image: Pope Francis blesses a child during a special audience with members of Doctors with Africa at the Vatican May 7. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)  The following are excerpts from A Year of Mercy: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis, edited by Diane M. Houdek and published by Franciscan Media.
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My Own Money Story

 
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Mother Teresa: A Soon-to-Be Saint

Mother Teresa was always her own person, startlingly independent, obedient, yet challenging some preconceived notions and expectations. Her own life story includes many illustrations of her willingness to listen to and follow her own conscience, even when it seemed to contradict what was expected.
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Courage in Christ

Image: Volkan Ölmez. My great niece died of a cerebral stroke this past weekend. There were no symptoms or warnings; she just collapsed. The best doctors could not save her life. Anna was a freshman at a Catholic high school in Cincinnati. Naturally, all her peers and friends are distraught. Her parents and her brother are just inconsolable. All of our families are in shock, as are all of Anna’s friends and teachers. What a bright, talented young lady Anna was. She played in the band at the all-boys high school in the same area of town, and was loved by all the students of both schools. She had a bright future and an outstanding personality.
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Religion of the Heart

Illustration: Sean M. Foster. It is my conviction that at the core of every religious tradition lies an experience that is accessible to all of us, if we open our hearts to it. The heart of every religion is the religion of the heart.
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Mother's Day: Her Beauty Is Hiding in Plain Sight

Image: John Ottoson. This Mother's Day, contact a woman in your life who has mothered and mentored you—mom, grandma, an aunt, colleague, or friend—and shower her with love by proving that you see her unique beauty for what it truly is. I'll share a few simple steps for writing her a "beauty letter." It will be the best Mother's Day gift she ever receives.
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Fate vs. Free Will

Image: The story of the Eden Garden. The temptation of Adam & Eve by the devil. Pedestal of the statue of Madonna with Child, western portal (of the Virgin), of Notre-Dame de Paris, France. One of the central debates in human history is the question of fate versus free will. For example, most ancient Greek mythology sends the clear message: you have no ultimate choice, fate always wins out. Recall poor Oedipus who tries his best to avoid prophesy that says he will kill his father and marry his mother on to have it all come true. In contrast, Jewish tradition assumes ultimate choice by humans, especially in their relationship to God. God may cajole, and even occasionally punish, but ultimately, we are free to decide our fate.
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Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: 'One of Us'

A hardworking, intelligent, and culturally savvy young woman made a monumental choice in April 1962. It was a choice made out of love, specifically, the tender love of a mother. The woman: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, of Italy. Her choice: to save her unborn child’s life, even if it risked losing her own. As one of the two patrons of this September’s [2015] World Meeting of Families—the other being St. John Paul II, who canonized her—St. Gianna is a saint not only for expectant mothers, but also for anyone who sees the inherent dignity of life.
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Follower of Saint Francis: Sister Maureen Colleary, FSP

Image: John Mark Arnold.  Why Catholic? No, really—Why Catholic? That’s the name of a popular parish program offered by RENEW International, a Catholic ministry organization that has worked under the Archdiocese of Newark since 1976. RENEW now promotes spiritual renewal programs in over 160 dioceses across the United States, as well as internationally.
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Seeing Teens for Who They Are

Image: Greg Raines. Like many teens I’ve worked with, I didn’t grow up in the most functional of families. I was born to a single mother who worked three or four jobs at any given point to make ends meet. Most nights she worked late. From the age of thirteen onward I spent many weeknights home alone in an empty house feeling lonely, sad, and angry. Of course I couldn’t articulate that at thirteen, but I was hurting, and I wanted to make the hurt go away. I turned to food.
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