Pope Francis’ Super Bowl LI Message

Is this the start of a new tradition?

“By participating in sports, we are able to go beyond our own self-interest and – in a healthy way – we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity and respect the rules.” Hear that bit about respecting the rules, Brady? He’s talkin’ to you. #deflategate

Catholic News Agency has the full story here. Apparently it will be shown as a commercial during the game’s broadcast. New Evangelization for the win!

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PARISH REPORT: Pastor Teams Up With Groupon to Offer Penance Discounts

confessional catholic humor

(AoftheANews) – APPLETON, WI – Father Gordon Zolla, pastor of Our Lady of Best Intentions in Appleton WI, had a problem: how to inspire his parishioners to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

“I’m not a fire and brimstone sorta priest,” he told AoftheA News. “My parishioners would turn a deaf ear if I preached we’re required to go to confession at least once a year, or to have mortal sins forgiven. Subjects like hell and damnation are a turn off around here. Still, the sacrament is important, and I wanted to give my flock an incentive to use it.”

So he turned to Groupon, the popular on-line discount provider, to motivate his parishioners.

“Everyone loves a deal,” he said. “People are always looking to save a buck. People don’t spend money at Confession, but they do “spend” time. So I thought, why not come up with a way where the parishioners will save some time? That’s how I came up with the 70% Discount Penance Coupon. When I assign a penance – a decade of the rosary, for instance – if the penitent hands me the coupon, they only have to say 3 Hail Mary’s.”

Our Lady of Best Intentions’ office manager, Belle Mont, set up the Groupon deal, adding the link and parish code in the weekly bulletin. Parishioners can download the coupon from the Groupon site onto their smartphone and show it to the priest during confession, or print it out at home ahead of time.

Parishioner Rick Otta is a fan. “It’s great. Father’s penance was a Holy Hour in the adoration chapel, but with my coupon, I got it down to 18 minutes.”

Photo credit: mikecogh via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

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The #MarchForLife Defining Moment

As I write this, Vice President Mike Pence is speaking to the crowds gathered in Washington DC for the annual March for Life. For the first time in the history of the pro-life demonstration, a vice-president is a keynote speaker, and not only that – it was carried live by CNN.

CNN is covering the March for Life. Live. Let that sink in for a moment.

True, they’re calling it an “anti-abortion rally” or some such thing, but it’s being covered. President Trump deserves a lot of credit for this, mentioning the March’s lack of coverage during his interview with ABC on Wednesday, and adding support to the event by having VP Pence speak. Is this yuge? Well, it certainly is a departure from what we’ve seen the previous eight years, that’s for darn sure. The previous decades even. So yeah, it’s huge.

There’s a temptation to get carried away by the positive nature of these changes, though. These changes are incredible, no doubt, and we have every reason to be amazed and to celebrate. And hopefully we’ll see just as much – if not more – support next year. Revel in the realization that we don’t have an ardent supporter of abortion in the executive office. But let’s not forget that abortion won’t end in America until hearts and minds are changed. The battle over abortion is largely a spiritual one, and while we have science, truth, and God on our side, it will still take time, effort, sacrifice, and lots and lots of prayer to end this scourge.

Don’t get me wrong – Trump and Pence aren’t perfect in every respect, but they appear to be ardent allies of the unborn. We need them to also be defenders of the unwed moms, the problem pregnancy centers, the sidewalk counselors, and the pharmacists and doctors striving to abide by their firmly held convictions. Appointments and policy proposals will reveal much of their commitment and intents. Time will tell, and I remain cautiously hopeful.

Of course, there are some Catholics who are convinced this “support” is just the latest hoodwink move by the GOP, and Trump is an awful person who really doesn’t care. The GOP gleefully tramples the seamless garment whenever it’s expedient, playing the pro-life movement for suckers. All sorts of evil is being planned in the shadows while Pence and Co. stands in the light upon the rally stage. They aren’t pro-life enough, if at all.

Okay, maybe they aren’t. It sounds to me, though, that the Chicken-Littles are more bound to their political biases than to promoting the cause of the pro-life movement. What’s happening in Washington is a new pro-life movement moment, and that is worth celebrating.

Perhaps years from now, we can look back to this day and hour as when the tide began to turn – continued to turn. The country is more pro-life than the media reports, after all. Could this be the movement’s defining moment? It is too early to tell. “Early days still”, as I’ve heard it said. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, there are many souls to win, and many babies to save from the mills.

We are firmly upon the path, but we’re still a far ways from reaching the destination.

Photo credit: franciscansoftheimmaculate via Visual Hunt / CC BY

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Donald Trump, the Inauguration, and Alternative Facts

So here we are, the Monday following Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States of America.

We made it to Monday!! Our nation remains standing! Woo hoo!! (hey, our nation’s survival is no foregone conclusion anymore, right, so I say celebrate with each passing dawn. Cos you never know…one day, that flash of brightness in the eastern sky might not be the sun rising, if you know what I mean.)

Unfortunately, our nation also remains as divided as ever, as witnessed by the protests that occurred during the inauguration ceremony Friday, and the dozens of Women’s “We 💓Abortion!” March-a-thons that took place nationwide on Saturday. Only a naive person would think our nation could be healed so soon after such a rancorous presidential election season, and 240 years of a constitutionally-limited representative republic.

Then, on Sunday, came Trump administration spokesperson Kellyanne Conway’s appearance on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, and they argued about the size of the crowd for Trump’s inauguration. During the interview, she said: “You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts.”

That started a furor all over social media, and for good reason. Alternative facts? Really? That’s rather brash, and it’s a continuation of the adversarial tone the Trump team has been using towards the media. More division. Many of the #NotMyPresident people took offense at Conway’s use of ‘alternative facts’, as you can imagine.

All this got me to thinking. Surely there’s some common ground that can be reached, where everyone can agree on facts, on the inauguration, on crowd size, isn’t there? Isn’t there some way we can end this division and come to some form of agreement? At least regarding this issue? Isn’t there?

Why, yes there is. 

(I can’t take credit for the meme – saw it on Facebook.)

Top photo credit: TheNoxid via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

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