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Breathing Under Water: Day 1

To mourn for one is to mourn for all. To mourn with all is to fully participate at the very foundation of Being Itself. For some reason, which I am yet to understand, beauty hurts. Suffering opens the channel through which all of Life flows and by which all creation breathes, and I still do not know why. Yet it is somehow beautiful, even if it is a sad and tragic beauty.
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The Meaning of Life

The wonderful old Baltimore Catechism tells us that we were made to know and love God, to serve him in this life, and to be happy with him forever in the next. The world’s obsession with material goods and self-centered fulfillment aside, God’s plan is a radical one full of meaning and glory. But that doesn’t really tell us why he made us in the first place. Was he lonely? Was he bored? Did he feel incomplete? When we look at a night sky or at some of the many exquisite photos of nebulas, solar systems, and planets that technology so wondrously reveals to us, we might imagine that God was merely amusing himself when he called each star into existence (see Psalm 33:6); that he felt the need to stretch his creative muscles when he splashed his dazzling creations across the newborn universe; that in the infinite expanse of his solitude he needed something new and exciting to play with, so he conceived a vast multitude of living creatures in various shapes and sizes, culminating in humanity.
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The View from Mt. Nebo

Franciscan Father Fergus Clarke greets our small group at his community’s residence on Mt. Nebo, a site sacred to three major religions and more than half the earth’s population. He’s dressed in his brown robe, some shockingly cool-looking sunglasses, and a radiant smile. “Welcome to Mt. Nebo,” he says in an Irish lilt that evokes green valleys while we look at miles of dry and desert vistas. “Would you like to see our turtles?”
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Faith and Friendship

Wasn’t the papal visit amazing? You’ll have a chance to revisit it in the December issue of St. Anthony Messenger, which we’re working on now. Our crew was scrambling to produce the official commemorative edition about the visit, partnering with our bishops and the Vatican. That book was a project like no other for us. It will come out October 30, and it’s beautiful. No rest yet, though! Fifty years ago, Vatican II was coming to a close. Our younger readers might take for granted how dramatically the Church changed back then: a complete renewal of the liturgy, with altars facing the congregation, celebrants learning how better to preach (an unfinished project, says the pope), a refocusing of the Church’s mission onto the troubles of the world.
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Pope Francis's Winning Smile

That smile. Oh, that smile. When Pope Francis exited the plane at Joint Base Andrews, it was there. Those present for the welcome erupted. How could you not? His smile—and his wit—have drawn people to him, as well as back to the Church. He seems to be able to spread his message without seeming condescending or authoritarian. But it is a message which he is not afraid to preach. It is a message he most certainly will be sharing during this visit. This morning he is at the White House, tomorrow he is at Congress. Later this week, he will be at the UN, along with that smile.
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Pope Francis: Our Spiritual Guide

On March 13, 2013, Pope Francis caught the world’s attention by choosing St. Francis of Assisi as his patron - and he continued his journey towards becoming our spiritual guide. He quickly showed what that means for him: riding the bus with the cardinals back to the Domus Sanctae Marthae (where he has chosen to live) and paying his own bill at the hotel where he stayed before the conclave. A few months later, he carried a small bag onto the plane for his trip to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.
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On the World Meeting of Families

Our guest blogger is Gina Loehr, who wrote about meeting Pope Francis in the May 2015 issue of St. Anthony Messenger. It feels a bit like Christmas. I’ve been waiting a whole year to attend the World Meeting of Families and now the event is inching closer. Just a few more days! Finally, all of the planning and prayer is about to come to fruition. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen.
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Pope Francis Explains the Call of God

Our blog today is an excerpt from Franciscan Media's new book The Spirit of Saint Francis: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis, edited by Alicia von Stamwitz. In our cities and villages there are brave men and others who are timid, there are Christian missionaries and others who are asleep. And there are many who are searching, even if they do not admit it. Everyone is called, everyone is sent out.
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Blessed Are You: Spiritual Poverty

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 5:3 Interesting, isn’t it, that Jesus begins this beautiful sermon by talking about the poor? It was certainly the earthly life he knew: birth in a lowly stable; growing up as a carpenter’s son.
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Knowing Forgiveness

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. When I found out about Pope Francis' recent announcement that priests would be able to grant absolution to women who had gotten abortions, I was shocked.
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