MAN OF THE HOUSE | Little simplicities offer big lessons

On a pleasantly warm evening, 8-year-old Colin and I are hanging out in the front yard of his house. And my grandson gives me a spiritual lesson.

"Aw," says Colin, looking at their well-groomed lawn. "Where did all the dandelions go?" Immediately, I think: Dandelions are weeds. Weeds are bad. I wish my lawn didn't have so many of those dastardly weeds. But ... "I wanted to pick some of them," he says.

Joyous priests, joyous retirement


The retirement age in America is 65 years old, which is relatively young in priestly terms.

Though new retirees sometimes move to Florida, cruise the U.S. in RVs or travel the globe, clergy have at least another 10 years in full-time ministry, maybe more. Retirement age is 75, but with the permission of the archbishop, priests may remain on active duty as health permits.

POPE'S MESSAGE | Like expectant moms, live in joyful expectation of embracing God

Pope Francis embraced a man while meeting disabled people at his general audience Feb. 1 in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. The pope continued a series of talks on Christian hope, with a look at St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians (5:4-11) and what it teaches about the Christian belief in life after death.

VATICAN CITY — Christian hope isn't about believing in something that may or may not come true, like hoping tomorrow's weather will be pleasant, according to Pope Francis.

"Christian hope is the expectation of something that already has been fulfilled and that certainly will be attained for each one of us," that is, knowing Christ died and is truly risen so that all of humanity may gain salvation and live together with God, the pope told his weekly general audience Feb. 1.

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | God helps us find real joy in repentance

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

The readings for the Third Sunday of Advent are filled with joy and hope. Our God is there for us and wants to help us embrace His word so as to enjoy the fruits of His love.

The reading follows an earlier description of God rebuking the proud in their midst. Because God has thus acted, Zion rejoices. "Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! The Lord has removed the judgment against you, He has turned away your enemies. ... The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love."

POPE'S MESSAGE | Just one smile from a loving family can warm coldest world

Pope Francis autographed a woman’s cast at his general audience Sept. 2 in St. Peter’s Square. In his talk focused on family life, the pope said, “Where there is a family with love, that family is able to warm the heart of an entire city with its witness of love.”

VATICAN CITY -- The smile and love of a family can light up the world, bringing warmth and hope to communities that have become cold, lifeless and depressed, Pope Francis said.

"No economic and political engineering is able to substitute this contribution from families," he said Sept. 2 at his general audience talk in St. Peter's Square.

Unlike the ancient city of Babel's "skyscrapers without life," he said, "the Spirit of God, on the other hand, makes deserts bloom."

BEFORE THE CROSS | Lent, a season of joy

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

The prayers of Mass refer to Lent as a "joyful season." But many people think of Lent as a sad time -- either because they're engaged in prayer, fasting and almsgiving and feel sorry about what they're giving up, or because they aren't engaged in prayer, fasting and almsgiving and feel guilty about what they're not giving up. Why should we -- and how can we -- think of Lent as a joyful season?

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