“Through the Year with Pope Francis” Book Giveaway!

"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others." - St. Augustine

Since I've built up a large collection of extra books and resources, every week I give some away absolutely free, no strings attached.

Each giveaway lasts seven days with a new one beginning every Friday. You can enter any time during the week. Check out my past giveaways here.

PopeFrancis banner

Thanks to Our Sunday Visitor, and in honor of beginning 2014, today I'm giving away FOURTEEN copies of Through the Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections. Edited by Kevin Cotter, the book offers rich and thought-provoking reflections from our Holy Father.

Through the Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections

edited by Kevin Cotter

Our Sunday Visitor, 384 pages, paperback
Released on December 9, 2013

Through the Year with Pope Francis"I want the Church to go out onto the streets, I want us to resist everything worldly, everything static, everything comfortable, everything that might make us closed in on ourselves."
- Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013

Pope Francis has been called the "pope of the people" as he captures minds and hearts with his joyful faith, with his warm, direct and loving attention to those he meets, and with his attention to the poor and needy.

Now you can start - or finish - every day encouraged by the same engaging spirit alive in these 365 short meditations written by Pope Francis.

Let his words inspire and challenge you, push you deeper into Scripture, raise your prayer to new heights, or simply fill you with gratitude for God's personal love for you.

Join Pope Francis and let the flame of faith catch fire within you, as it slowly catches fire across the world.



I'm using Rafflecopter to help with the giveaway, which is great because it gives you multiple entries for commenting, posting on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc. Click below to enter:

(If you're reading this through email or RSS and don't see the giveaway widget, click here.)

The winner(s) will be randomly selected next Friday and the books will be sent out, free of charge, shortly thereafter.

In the future I'll be giving away more books and resources, sometimes multiple items per giveaway! So subscribe via feed reader or email to ensure you never miss your chance to win.

(Since I'm covering the shipping costs, only residents within the continental United States are eligible to win.)

What the Vatican Changed in “The Joy of the Gospel”


Speculation swirled last week when the Vatican mysteriously removed the text of Pope Francis' groundbreaking exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), from their website. Many theories floated around, from the innocent—maybe the translation needed updating?—to the more radical—was the Holy See redacting certain passages?

As it turns out, the changes were fairly insignificant. Within the last few hours, the Vatican re-published the exhortation online and I used software to compare the old and new versions. There were several changes. For instance, the new version features hyperlinked footnotes and internal links to other Church documents (e.g., when Pope Francis mentions Evangelii Nuntiandi, the text links to Pope Paul VI's work.) They also adjusted several grammatical errors (e.g., "is" to "are", "peole" to "people".)

However, the new document features no substantial changes. Below you'll find the most significant adjustments (strikethough indicates removals while bold indicates additions):
Paragraph 5 - "Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart."

Paragraph 9 - "In this sense regard, several sayings of Saint Paul will not surprise us..."

Paragraph 11 - "With this freshness newness he is always able to renew our lives and our communities..."

Paragraph 15 - "Many of these them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face..."

Paragraph 28 - "While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if it the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity

Paragraph 28 - "This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed cluster group made up of a chosen few."

Paragraph 42 - "Some things are understood and appreciated only from the standpoint of this assent, which is a sister to love, beyond the level range of clear reasons and arguments."

Paragraph 53 - "We have created a disposable “throw away” culture which is now spreading."

Paragraph 84 - "Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, while we are distressed by the troubles of our age and far from naive optimism; our greater realism yet the fact that we are more realistic must not mean that we are any less trusting in the Spirit or less generous."
So for all those worried about bad translations or the Church adjusting official papal teaching, rest assured! It seems the only reason the Holy See removed the text was to make it easier to read and understand (thanks to the hyperlinked sources) and to update a few minor typos.

Download Pope Francis’ New Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)”!

Joy of the Gospel

At 6:00am ET this morning (noon Rome time), Pope Francis released his first apostolic exhortation, titled Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). It comes on the heels of his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), which he composed alongside Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. This exhortation, however, is his first solo teaching document as pope. Here's a summary according to an early press release:

The highly anticipated The Joy of the Gospel will answer a number of evangelization-related questions, including:

  • How to foster conversion in the Church in order to make her people more faithful and effective in communicating God's love to others?
  • Why is the place of missions in the modern world? What are the obstacles believers' own lives sometimes place in the way of others' coming to faith?
  • What are the questions people have about faith?
  • What attitudes make it hard for people to be receptive to the Christian message? How does Jesus answer the most fundamental questions of human existence?
  • Is there a difference between evangelizing and proselytizing, between proposing faith and imposing it

An apostolic exhortation is simply a teaching document on a particular theme to encourage and challenge people. It's meant to inspire Catholics to action rather than define Church doctrine. Also, popes usually issue them in response to a synod of bishops, which is a gathering of Church leaders focused on particular theme. Pope Francis has written Evangelii Gaudium in response to the October 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

However according to Catholic News Service, Pope Francis informed the synod last June that he would not be working from their synodal draft documents. Instead, he planned to write an "exhortation on evangelization in general and refer to the synod," in order to "take everything from the synod but put it in a wider framework."

Interestingly, the very first apostolic exhortation was published in 1975 by Pope Paul VI after the 1974 synod on evangelization. Titled Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World), the document aimed to define evangelization and explore how to carry it out in today's increasingly secular world.

Although the document bore Pope Paul VI's signature, large chunks were written by a young Polish bishop, Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II. As we all know, that same Pope John Paul would instigate the New Evangelization, a springtime of faith and the topic of the 2012 synod to which Pope Francis devotes his exhortation. It's beautiful to see this harmony among popes and how this new exhortation fits neatly into the teaching history of the Church.

Speaking of Pope Paul VI, to better understand Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) you might check out Pope Paul's 1975 encyclical Gaudete In Domino (On Christian Joy). He explores a wide variety of different types of joy and shows how to cultivate joy in our own lives.

Now, I ran into some roadblocks last time when trying to make the Pope's work available in multiple digital formats, so this time I'll simply link to documents on the Vatican's official website. Enjoy!

Joy of the Gospel Download
(Image credit: Catholic Philly)

Lead with Mercy: The Pope’s Compelling Approach

Heal the Wounds

In two groundbreaking interviews, one with Jesuit newspapers around the world and another with an atheist newspaper editor, Pope Francis has rattled some Catholics with his strong emphasis on healing and mercy. Some take it as a dismissal of the Church's moral teachings, or at best a belittling of them. Others worry the Pope is too soft on spiritual or liturgical norms.

But as Fr. Robert Barron points out, the Pope's strategy of leading with mercy instead of law is often a far more effective approach:

"The Pope is not suggesting that rules—moral, spiritual, liturgical, etc.—are unnecessary or unimportant, but he is indeed suggesting that they are secondary to the central reality of encountering the living Christ...
If I might proffer a perhaps trite analogy: when attempting to attract a young kid to the game of baseball, you don’t begin with the rulebook; rather, you begin with the beauty and majesty and rhythm of the game—and then you trust that he will come in time to understand the nature and purpose of the rules from the inside...
What we find today, the Pope is implying, are millions of people who are, in the spiritual sense, gravely wounded. They are alienated from God, stuck in the no-man’s land of moral relativism, adrift with no sense of direction, and tempted by every form of errant desire. They require, therefore, not the fine points of moral doctrine, but basic healing."


Read the rest of Fr. Barron's article, "The Field Hospital is Open: Reflections on Pope Francis’ Interview", or watch his video commentary below.

(If you can't see this video, click here.)

Next Page »

  • "There is only one tragedy in the end, not to have been a saint." - Léon Bloy