11: Spiritual Poverty and Helping Hands

Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and poverty doesn’t manifest itself in the same way as in other places. The numbers of people needing food and shelter are exponentially less, even when considering Switzerland’s size.

But there can be another kind of poverty, a spiritual poverty.

In this short episode of the Faith Full Podcast we talk a little about the poor in spirit, and the need for a bit more compassion in our approach to each other.

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10: Praying At A Lego House For God

How do you pray? Is there a wrong way to pray? U.S. Catholic Bishops put it this way: “Prayer is our response to God who is already speaking or, better yet, revealing Himself to us.” It’s like a phone is always ringing and God is just waiting for us to pick it up and spend time with Him. But how do you do it? It can be through recitation, through meditation, or maybe through the work we do.

In this episode we meet John Kraemer, a man who over two decades has offered as prayer his efforts to build a church each year out of tens of thousands of Lego pieces.

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9: Fr. Jamie Dennis, a Blind Priest Guiding the Faithful

Father Jamie Dennis stands at the altar during the St. Lucy Mass

On the way out of Jericho a blind man named Bartimaeus sat begging on the roadside. The Gospel of Mark tells us Jesus is passing by, and Bartimaeus cries out for Him to have pity. Jesus stops and asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him. 

“Master, I want to see,” he says. 

Jesus replies, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” And he received his sight, and then followed Jesus. You can see with your eyes, yes, but you can also see with your mind, heart, and spirit. In this episode of Faith Full we meet Fr. Jamie Dennis, a Catholic priest who is blind, whose journey to helping others see the way to God has not always been easy. 

“Here is sort of the blunt truth and I’m not trying to put the Church in a negative light, I’m just stating a fact: the Church hasn’t always been good at dealing with people who are, quote unquote different. It’s difficult.”

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You can skip to a section from this episode:

Growing up while losing vision
On his path to the priesthood
On why the Latin Mass and Byzantine Liturgy are more accessible

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8: Blind Catholics Keeping the Faith in a Pandemic

Fr. Jamie distributes Communion

For some Catholics who are blind, the experience of the Mass can be very different than for sighted people. In normal times, it can be a tactile experience.

But not during the pandemic.

In Scripture, Jesus is recorded as saying where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them. And that goes for times when the two or three need to be two or three meters apart for social distancing. As with many Catholics, those who are blind have found technology as a way to continue to express their faith even when so much of life is disrupted. Many are also helped by an organization in New York, the Xavier Society for the Blind, which for 120 years has kept coming Catholic and inspirational materials in Braille and audio formats.

We’ll learn more on this episode of Faith Full.

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(In this episode we hear from four people: Skip to Donna Slivoski, Roger Erpelding, Fr. Jamie Dennis, or Malachy Fallon)

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7: Blessings on a German Breeze

Sunset with the episode title: Blessings on a German Breeze

The world remains gripped by a pandemic; an unseen, but very present coronavirus has caused us to rethink a lot of things: how we work, how we spend time, how we show respect and communicate. I’ve been sitting on a fun anecdote (from a German news site) for a while, and thought these dark days are as good a time as any to share. So coming up: the story of a giant Jesus Christ and the two German monks, in this short episode of Faith Full.

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6: Penance, Prayers, and an Incorrupt Heart

A golden reliquary with the darkened incorrupt heart of St. Jean Vianney

In times of struggle for the institution of the Catholic Church, some look for inspiration and intercession from the Saints. St. Jean Vianney is said to have faced regular attacks by Satan, yet his ministry in the face of those has positioned him as the Patron Saint of Parish Priests, having walked the Earth during a time of great difficulty for the Catholic church in France. The incorrupt heart of St. Jean Vianney is touring the U.S. during another time of trial in the Church. More on that, and the young man traveling with the relic in this episode of Faith Full.

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In this episode we have two interviews. (Skip to Fr. Stephen Dominic Hayes talking more about St. Jean Vianney)

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5: Zealot’s Axe | The Conversion of Joerg Jenatsch

We live in a moment when our faith traditions can lead some people to stereotypes right away. If you identify yourself as anything, a whole host of political or social positions may be thrown at you, or attributed to you, without nuance. This isn’t just a modern trend, of course, and today we’ll hear an extreme example of a lack of religious nuance from Switzerland’s past. The Catholic-Protestant relationship, and the murder of Joerg Jenatsch..in this episode of Faith Full.

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4: Of Relics, Saints, and Solace

If a loved one dies, it’s natural to want to hang on to something to remind you of them—maybe a ring, maybe a favorite book or picture. That’s the same idea, in a very basic way, behind the relics of the saints held in high esteem by many faith traditions. And in Pittsburgh, oddly enough, there is said to be the largest Catholic collection of relics outside of Rome.  Join us for a visit to Saint Anthony Chapel in this episode of Faith Full.

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3.5: A Grandfather’s Faith

“Grief can bring on death, and heartache can sap one’s strength. When a person is carried away…sorrow is over.”

The Book of Sirach contains a lot of wisdom but these lines above on death seem too callous to me.

It’s true, if we let grief consume us it can interrupt the lives we’re still blessed to live. But the funeral isn’t the end of the grieving process.

In many ways that process never ends, it just changes.

And sometimes part of that process involves a grandson’s story about his grandfather.

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3: Facing Terror, Finding Hope

How do we know our faith is really faith? It can be easy for us to say we believe something, but if there’s nothing depending on it, is it a deep-seated truth? C.S. Lewis wrote once that it’s easy to believe a rope is strong if you’re just tying a box. But if your life hung by that rope, your faith in it would be tested to a new level.  In this episode, a priest held hostage by Jihadist militants in the Philippines.

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