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Notes from a Friar: The Mysterious Workings of Grace

When speaking of the word grace, it is important to clarify what grace really is. Grace is not something that we get from God. Grace is actually God working within our whole person. Sometimes you hear people speak as though God would ladle out grace. Rather, grace is the presence of God within us. Grace is God’s presence and strength given to us at particular times when we are called to act virtuously.
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A Revelation on Creation

Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’—like the poem by St. Francis on which it is based—speaks of the fragility of our ecology due in large part to the weakness of our morality. Unless we value each creature as integral to our humanity, we cannot act as responsible stewards of a global community.
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Lost in Laughter

A few years ago I was traveling home from a convention in Indianapolis with two of my coworkers when we suddenly found ourselves way off the beaten—and correct—path. Armed with only a GPS on one of our phones, we slowly worked our way through the back roads of Indiana on our way home. It was a much longer route than we had originally planned, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
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Standing in Solidarity against Systemic Racism

I am a white American male with a college degree and a career, and I was blessed to be raised in a loving, Catholic home by parents who valued education, hard work, and faith. Apart from a few speeding tickets, I’ve had very little interaction with the police and have never felt a chill run up my spine due to being singled out by an officer based on my appearance.
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Accepting God’s Unexpected Gifts

The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation, the mystery we’re examining, more often happens not when something new begins, but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites, and sometimes forces, the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Most of us would never go to new places in any other way.
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The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Though written in simple language, Saint Francis' Peace Prayer provides rich material for spiritual reflection. The following are some of my thoughts on the Peace Prayer inspired by the lines of this prayer and by the example of Francis.
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Praying with the Saints: All Are Welcome

We love, Scripture says, because God first loved us (see 1 John 4:19). That’s also why we pray—because God’s love melts our chill, sparks our desire, ignites our love. The saints exemplify what happens to people who respond wholeheartedly to these divine initiatives: They are transformed, as sparks of love leap up into a great blaze of union with God.
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Be Present

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and suddenly noticed a look in their eyes as if they were circling the moon? The pace of today’s hectic society—with all of its competing priorities, multimedia blitz, and information overload—is full of distractions that pull us out of the present. Tuning in to our breathing can be a way out.
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A Franciscan Response to America's Racial Unrest

The death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, has thrown this country into a crisis. How can we heal? Mark Soehner, OFM, provincial minister of St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati, Ohio, quotes Pope Francis: “My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
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Saint Anthony Novena Day Nine: May Christ Deepen Our Love

"We beg you, Lord Jesus, bind us with the love of you and our neighbor so that we can love you deeply with our whole heart, and not be separated from you." –Saint Anthony of Padua
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