“Am I Worthy? ” Reflection by Maria Shriver



The other day I was in conversation with my friend Matt.

Matt is a healer, a spiritual teacher, a health expert, a convener, a connector, a wanderer, and a world traveler. He’s someone who defies any one description. I love people like that — individuals who choose to live and work outside of the box.

Every so often, Matt shows up at my door (yes, he does) and we get to talking. Our conversations open my mind and enable me to see my purpose in life with more creativity, more clarity, and more conviction. What a gift.

The other day I asked Matt, “Is there anything that connects all of the people you work with? All of the men and the women? The rich and poor? The strong and the weak? ” He said to me, “Yes, there is.”

Whether they realize it or not, he said, everyone the world over asks the same question: “Do I matter?” They want to know, “Does what I do have meaning to others? To myself?” And underneath of that, what they really want to know is, “Am I worthy?”

“If you can come to believe that you’re worthy,” Matt said, “then your entire life shifts.” The key to feeling that way is all in your own mind.

Change your mind about that fundamental belief, and Matt says you can change your world, and the world at large. Wow! I love that because it’s so true and so empowering.

As Pope Francis said this week in his surprise TED Talk (see video link below), YOU are the future. You are the key and you hold the key. Think about that! Focus your mind on that concept. Wrap your mind around the power that resides within each and every one of us.

This message gets me so excited because I believe it 100 percent. I’d much rather talk about that than Donald Trump’s first 100 days. Focusing on what grade to give him takes me away from thinking about what I can do to make my world, and the world at large, better.

I have a vision for humanity and it starts with me. As Pope Francis said, it’s up to each and every one of us to lead. It’s up to each and every one of us to think about how we want to walk through the world with humility, tenderness, and a respect for the other. It’s doubly important to do this, he said, if you are in any position of power — perceived or otherwise.

I hope President Trump and all of our elected leaders from every party absorb Pope Francis’s message and challenge themselves over the next 100 days to walk out into our communities and into our world with the intention of making it better. I hope they think about the values that he spoke about: Caring, Tenderness, Respect, and the Intersection of Power and Humility. I hope they re-read the Parable of the Good Samaritan, as I have done, and think about how it is the story of today’s humanity. I hope they will think about the pope’s message that none of us are any better than any other of us.

In today’s Sunday Paper, we share with you the voices of a few Architects of Change who are working in their own ways to make the world a better place. As Pope Francis said, we are all worthy of answering that calling. We are all worthy of challenging what is, imagining what can be, making a difference, moving humanity forward and ultimately, uniting it. We can do that by being the best version of ourselves and sharing that with one another.

Over the next 100 days, I’m going to double down on making the changes I want to see in the world. I believe that we all have the power within us to make this a better world — not just for you, but for everyone whose paths we cross. These are exciting, empowering, and inspiring days. Let’s get moving.




New book documents Shriver’s search for the ‘Real Pope Francis’

The Pilot

BOSTON — “Intrigued.” That is how Mark K. Shriver, president of the Save the Children Action Network, said he felt as he watched Jorge Mario Bergoglio become Pope Francis in March 2013.

“His first couple of actions — from asking for blessings from the people before he blessed them as the new pope, to paying for his hotel bill, to washing the feet of those young juvenile delinquents at the Casa del Marmo — really caught my eye,” he recalled.

“Seeing all these early actions of his made me question, ‘Is he for real, or is this some kind of public relations stunt?'” Shriver said.

Click here for full article


Pope Francis reiterates a strong ‘no’ to women priests


During a press conference Tuesday aboard the papal plane from Sweden to Rome, Pope Francis said the issue of women priests has been clearly decided, while also clarifying the essential role of women in the Catholic Church.

“On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the final word is clear, it was said by St. John Paul II and this remains,” Pope Francis told journalists Nov. 1.

The question concerning women priests in the Catholic Church was asked during the flight back to Rome after the Pope’s Oct. 31-Nov. 1 trip to Sweden to participate in a joint Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

While there, the Pope participated in ecumenical events alongside Swedish Lutheran and Catholic leaders, including the first female Lutheran archbishop in Sweden, Antje Jackelén. She is the head of the Church of Sweden, the largest denomination of Lutheranism in Europe.

After stating that the issue of female ordination is closed, the Pope added that women are very important to the Church, specifically from a “Marian dimension.”

“In Catholic ecclesiology there are two dimensions to think about,” he said. “The Petrine dimension, which is from the Apostle Peter, and the Apostolic College, which is the pastoral activity of the bishops, as well as the Marian dimension, which is the feminine dimension of the Church.”

Pointing out that the Holy Mother Church “is a woman,” Francis said that the “spousal mystery” of the Church as the spouse of Christ can help us to understand these two dimensions.

“I ask myself: who is most important in theology and in the mysticism of the Church: the apostles or Mary on the day of Pentecost? It’s Mary!” he said.

The Church “doesn’t exist” without this feminine dimension, or “maternity,” the Pope said, because the Church herself is feminine.

Pope Francis did express that he thinks women “can do so many things better than men, even in the dogmatic field,” but he clarified how it is still a separate dimension from that of priests and bishops in the Petrine dimension.

From the beginning of his papacy, Francis has been clear on the issue of women priests, while still emphasizing the unique and important role of women in the Church.

In a press conference returning from Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5, 2013, he answered the same question: “with reference to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and says, ‘No.’ John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That is closed, that door.”

He said that on the theology of woman he felt there was a “lack of a theological development,” which could be developed better. “You cannot be limited to the fact of being an altar server or the president of Caritas, the catechist … No! It must be more, but profoundly more, also mystically more.”

On his return flight from Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 28, 2015, the Pope again said that women priests “cannot be done,” and reiterated that a theology of women needs to “move ahead.”

“Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly,” that female ordination is not possible, he said.

Among concerns surrounding the Pope’s trip to Sweden, and the hope for continued progress on the path to communion between Lutherans and Catholics, was the issue of female ordination.

This is alongside other social and ethical issues, such as homosexuality and abortion, which are points of division not only between Catholics and Lutherans, but also within the global Lutheran community.


Pope Francis Offers New Beatitudes

Nov 1 2016 – 1:26pm |by  Cindy Wooden – Catholic News Service

Pope Francis greets people before celebrating Mass at the Swedbank Stadium in Malmo, Sweden, Nov. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)





The saints are blessed because they were faithful and meek and cared for others, Pope Francis said.

At the end of an ecumenical trip to Sweden, Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of All Saints with a Catholic Mass in a Malmo stadium. He highlighted the lives of the Swedish saints, Elizabeth Hesselblad and Bridget of Vadstena, who “prayed and worked to create bonds of unity and fellowship between Christians.”

The best description of the saints—in fact, their “identity card”—the pope said, is found in the beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

And, he said, as Christian saints have done throughout the ages, Christ’s followers today are called “to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus.”

 New situations require new energy and a new commitment, he said, and then he offered a new list of beatitudes for modern Christians:
  • “Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.
  • “Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness.
  • “Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.
  • “Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
  • “Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
  • “Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.”

“All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness,” Pope Francis said. “Surely they will receive from him their merited reward.”

Registered Catholics in Sweden number about 115,000—just over 1 percent of the population. But with recent waves of immigration, especially from Chaldean Catholic communities in Iraq, local church officials believe the number of Catholics is double the reported figure.

Reflecting the multicultural makeup of the Catholic Church in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, the prayer intentions at Mass were read in Spanish, Arabic, English, German and Polish, as well as in Swedish.

Finding Peace in Your Decisions

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In the last few weeks, I’ve written about the power of silence, the importance of taking a breath, the art of listening, and the mystics (yes, the mystics).

Today, I want to take a page from the Jesuits (yes, the Jesuits). I was educated and deeply shaped by the Catholic sisters and by the Jesuits. Pope Francis is one of the individuals I admire most in the world, not just because he is a Jesuit, but because of the way he walks his talk, lives his life, speaks his mind, and embraces change.

When faced with difficult decisions or life-altering change, the Jesuits have a process to help guide them to the answer. Devised by Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, it’s called the discernment process (see here). The process of discernment walks you through a step-by-step process that’s meant to help you come to the decision that is right for you.

The truth is, some of us are better than others at making decisions. Some make snap decisions. Some labor forever, weighing the pros and cons. Some take too many other people’s opinions and feelings into account (that would be me). And some just know how to deliberate, discern and decide.

I share this process of discernment today because so many people I’ve spoken to lately about the election tell me that they are struggling. Struggling to decide. Struggling with whether to vote or not. Struggling with what’s right or wrong for them and/or for the country.

Making big decisions is tough for everyone. So, I thought, why not take a page from the Jesuits and follow the age-old, tried-and-true formula: the process of discernment. I’ve used it myself, and I’m using it to make other decisions (although not about this election, because I’m very clear about that decision). I’ve found the process illuminating and helpful in times of turbulent change or indecision in my own life.

All of us who have the opportunity to vote for the next president of the United States have a personal decision to make. It can be hard with all of the noise and back and forth to know what to do. All I know is that this great country of ours has always been a melting pot—different religions, races, and political affiliations—living together in pursuit of the common good. It’s important at this time to remember that there is a common good, there is common ground, and there are common dreams we all share.

So, before you lose your mind in reaction to someone who is voting differently than you, or who tells you that they’re not voting at all, remember what I wrote about the mystics. The mystics go to a place beyond words. They go to that wordless space, that place within all of us. It is there, they believe, that we all meet our compassionate, loving, honest, non-judgmental selves.

In this final week before Election Day, get quiet and clear about your own decision, your own vote. Get clear about your own process. And if you’re still struggling— if you still feel undecided— check out the Jesuits’ discernment. I share it with the goal of simply helping you to find clarity and peace in these turbulent times.

Discern. Decide. Be at peace with your decision and allow others to be the same.

Pope Francis’ Advice for College Students

Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 4. (CNS photo/Gaby Maniscalco)

Francis to Freshmen -This Pope has a reputation for saying surprising things. Remember when he found common ground between Christians and atheists? Then there was the time he told a newly-married graduate student not to worry “if the dishes fly.” Sometimes his advice is like talking to your favorite grandpa and other times he really rocks the boat. We’ve been offering advice to college freshmen for more than a decade, so as our new edition of The Freshman Survival Guide hits the shelves we wondered if any of the Holy Father’s advice applies to new college students. Not surprisingly, the answer is a big fat YES. Even though he jokes that he’s “from the stone age,” his advice to young people is surprisingly relevant. Here are seven tips from Pope Francis for those beginning the college journey.

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Source: Pope Francis’ Advice for College Students