Can you become a saint by sheer willpower?

File:Thomas Aquinas in Stained Glass.jpgFr. Thomas Dubay used to tell this anecdote: The sister of St. Thomas Aquinas once asked him, “How can I become a saint?”

St. Thomas answered, “Will it.”

This story came back to me recently. Trying to accept with peace whatever happens during my day has taught me something: I don’t always want to do God’s will. When I ruin the dinner I’m making my family, for example, and according to my Lenten resolution I must say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” I sometimes say first, “Jesus, I don’t want to trust in you. I don’t want to let go of my anger and frustration.” Or, “Jesus, I trust in you–sort of.”

The words “I trust in you” are a prayer. They aren’t magic. They remind me to trust in God and ask for His help. But they can’t make me trust when I don’t want to. I must open my heart to grace. I must will it.

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Checking Out Pope Francis

After paying respects to the Salvation of the Roman People icon at the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore  (a.k.a. Our Lady of the Snows), Pope Francis’ ecclesiastical entourage took an unexpected detour.  
The newly elected Argentine pope asked his driver to circle back to the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI,  so that Pope Francis could collect his luggage.  After he collected his things, the prelate went to the front desk of the Vatican run boarding house to thank the staff.  Then Pope Francis insisted upon paying his bill. 

Most people might have understood had the Pope had.left the Church pick up the 85 Euro a night tab for a complete pension,  he insisted on trying to pay his way to set a good  example of  what priests and bishops should do.  It is unclear how much Pope Francis actually paid. Moreover, it is humorous but dubious that he claimed that he checked in under a different name. 
This pied-de-terre episode certainly solidifies Pope Francis’ reputation for frugality and fraternity with common folks.  But it may symbolize some of the new Pontiff’s ambitions to challenge the comfortable situations of the Curia and dispel the anti-clerical slight that the Church lives high on the hog on their parishioners’ tithes. 
The early trip to Santa Maria Maggiore may also herald another important aspect of Pope Francis’s papacy.  New Popes are expected to visit all five of Rome’s patriarchal basilicas early in their reign.  Moreover, many recent pontiffs, especially Pope Blessed John Paul II, have major Marian devotions.     
                                                
It is telling, however,  the on the morning of his first full day in the chair of St. Peter that Pope Francis visits  Salus Populi Romani and also brings flowers.  This icon is of particular significance to Romans. For example, when Rome was going to fall from Axis control in World War II, Adolph Hitler vowed to bomb the Eternal City to smithereens.  Pope Pius XII arranged a procession of the Byzantine Salus Populi Romani through the streets and miraculously a fog enveloped the city, so the angry Nazi bombs only fell on a Roman cemetery.  This humble act continues Pope Francis identification with his new Roman Diocese.  

10 Ways to keep your kids Catholic

Watching TV


Watching the events of the last few weeks unfold, I have been struck anew by how many former Catholics there are in the news media. None of them have a clue about what it means to be Catholic. That, coupled with this post at 8 Kids and a Business, got me thinking about how to keep our kids Catholic. I decided to create a list.

Please note: my children are still preteens, so I cannot say, “It worked for us.” But I have done some research on the matter, and observed other Catholic families. I’ve often wondered how my husband and his siblings all remained good Catholics, while some of my siblings did not. I almost left the Church myself in my 20s. I also know that a parent can do everything right, and his children can still choose to leave the Church. We have freewill. This list is not meant for pointing fingers or accusing other parents of failing. It’s meant to help those who are raising their kids now and want to do the best they can.

View the list.