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My Faith: Why I’m going back to church for Good Friday
Brian Spadora chose son William's middle name: Ignatius, after the saint.
March 28th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Why I’m going back to church for Good Friday

Editor’s note: Brian Spadora lives and writes in New Jersey, where he attends Seton Hall University School of Law. Follow him on Twitter at @brianspadora.

By Brian Spadora, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Like many Catholics my age, I am Catholic in name only. I went to Mass every week as a kid and attended a Jesuit high school and college. My wife and I married in a Catholic church, and both of our children were baptized. But I haven’t been a churchgoer since I became too old for my mother to coerce me into a pew.

I haven’t even made the effort to attend Mass twice a year like “Christmas and Easter Catholics.” For my entire adult life, my Catholic faith has been a sort of cultural vestige, like the Italian, Irish and Slovak ethnic heritage from which I’m generations removed.

Despite this, this month I decided I am returning to the church. This turn of events is not quite as miraculous as the multiplication of loaves and fishes, but it’s pretty surprising. It began, innocently enough, with a half-serious promise to my devout Catholic mother.

When Pope Benedict XVI announced last month that he would step down from the papacy on February 28, I emailed my mother, “If they choose a Jesuit pope, I promise to go to Mass at least once every month.”

My irreligious lifestyle felt safe. There had never been a Jesuit pope, and the oddsmakers didn’t include any Jesuits among their favorites to succeed Pope Benedict. I didn’t give the promise too much thought; it was somewhere between wishful thinking and “when pigs fly.”

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Then, along with the rest of the world, I heard the announcement that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina became Pope Francis, the 266th pope – and the first Jesuit.

I was in the car when I heard the news, and I literally cheered aloud. While I had long ago left the church behind, my regard for the Jesuit order never wavered.

The elevation of a Jesuit to the papacy is enough to do what years of prodding by my own mother couldn’t.

I owe nearly everything I value in my life to Jesuit education. I entered St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1990 as a rambunctious 14-year-old with authority issues. My four years there upended all my conceptions of religion. St. Peter’s, or “the Prep” as we alums call it, taught me how to be an adult, a friend and a Christian. The Jesuits taught me how to love.

During my junior year, a group of friends and I participated in the school’s retreat program. We spent a weekend with faculty retreat leaders in an old house on the Jersey shore, cooking meals together, laughing and praying. We spoke openly about our joys and our pain, as well. We learned that each of us carried within him a burden that could be lightened only by friendship. Our retreat leaders didn’t need to tell us that relieving the burdens of others was the purpose of Christianity. Instead, they lived that example.

Where my previous religious education had prescribed belief, my Jesuit education encouraged thought. Religion was no longer something that stipulated obedience but a practice that demanded action. The Jesuit leadership of the Prep encouraged us students to be, in the words of former Jesuit Superior General Father Pedro Arrupe, “men for others.”

We were fortunate to attend a school like the Prep, and it wasn’t enough to study hard and get good grades. We had an obligation – to ourselves and to God – to serve one another and our communities. The relationships I made during those years remain the strongest in my life, including with my wife, whom I met when we were 17, while she attended the Prep’s sister school.

This teaching was firmly in line with the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Society of Jesus, as the Jesuits are formally known, in 1540. St. Ignatius had been a Basque soldier, as well as something of a ladies’ man, until his conversion while convalescing after a cannonball shattered his leg. In his writings, most notably in his “Spiritual Exercises,” St. Ignatius espoused a theology based on loving deeds rather than loving thoughts or words. St. Ignatius calls us not merely to worship Christ but to imitate him.

As a teenager, I naturally fell far short of the standard my Jesuit teachers had called me to, and I continue to fall short as an adult.

I grew alienated from the church due to what I perceive to be inflexibility on issues like contraception, homosexuality and the role of women in the church, but I continued to look to the example of service the Jesuits set through institutions like the Jesuit Refugee Service.

In times of crisis, I’ve turned to contemporary Jesuit writers, particularly Father James Martin. Although I left the church, the Jesuits never left me.

I’ve remained close to the Prep and the Jesuits whose instruction was so valuable to me. When my son, William, was baptized in 2008, the ceremony was held in the Prep’s chapel. The school’s president, Father Robert Reiser, once my teacher and now a treasured friend, was the priest. My closest high school friend, Michael Zakhar, was the godfather. My wife, Tara, and I chose William’s first name together, but she allowed me to choose his middle name: Ignatius.

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Now there is no longer the church I left and the Jesuits I embrace but a church led by a Jesuit.

I know the church won’t transform immediately into the type of institution I’d like it to me. It would be unreasonable and selfish for me to expect otherwise.

As a cardinal, Francis expressed conservative views like his opposition to adoptions by homosexuals, a view with which I disagree assiduously. On the other hand, he admonished an audience of Argentinian priests for forgetting the church’s obligations to society’s most vulnerable.

“Jesus teaches us another way,” he said. “Go out. Go out and share your testimony; go out and interact with your brothers; go out and share; go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit.”

Francis seems intent on refocusing the church toward its duties to serve those in need.

So on Good Friday, I’ll be returning to the church with hope that Francis’ example will inspire me - and Catholics in general - as his fellow Jesuits have always inspired me.

I’m keeping my word to my mother and returning to Mass, where I will pray for the strength to follow the example of St. Ignatius, loving others not in word only but in deed.

The opinions expressed are solely those of Brian Spadora.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (652 Responses)
  1. Ennos

    Thanks to all the intolerance against religion I am seeing, I have become closer to God after being away for years and years. Pure evil walking this earth. From the ultra conservatives to the far left. Sad.

    March 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If your relationship to god has anything to do with the opposition you are an idiot.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  2. Bucephalas1

    What is the opposite of a black hole then?

    March 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  3. JP

    I don't think the author realizes that the current Jesuit Pope came in second in votes last year. So it's not exactly astonishing that he was elected this time.

    March 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • brianspadora

      The fact that Cardinal Bergoglio finished second last time wasn't disclosed until after he was elected this time, so he wasn't seen as a likely candidate. When Benedict announced he was stepping down, Cardinal Bergoglio wasn't listed among the most likely candidates to succeed him.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
  4. Mark

    This is your brain on drugs – religion.

    March 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  5. Mike

    Why are there so many atheist trolls to be found in the CNN belief section? If you don’t believe, why hang out in the belief section? Why are they so driven to post vehemently about what they don’t believe? They proselytize atheism harder than any person of faith I’ve heard. Are they trying to “save” those poor believers? If not, I guess they’re simply being rude. The atheists talk of tolerance, but the majority of those posting here sure seem to be lacking it. I just don’t see what all the atheist fuss and furor is all about. I’m certain they’re going to tell me all about it though!

    March 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      ... and once more, number 12 on the list of the most irritatingly stupid arguments heard by religionists here.

      12. Failure to recognize the reverse of the coin:
      eg: “This is the Belief Blog why are you here?” – Nothing exists without its opposite – darkness/light, hate/love, apathy/passion, belief/unbelief. Unbelief is coequal with belief in the conversation.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • rr

      thanks for posting! exactly my thoughts too.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Mike

      GOP dude. I'm not arguing with anyone. Simply wondering why athiest hang out where you don't believe the subject matter. I think I've figured it out though... they're drawn to it like a moth is to light. See what I did there? I've got to admit that I'm a little proud of that.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • DisBelief Blog

      Was this supposed to be a place where just Christians come to hang out and reaffirm eachothers faith? I think that site is ChristianMingle, not the "Belief Blog". There is no one on here that doesn't have a belief, so why wouldn't everyone be welcome?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why are you here, Mike? It's not as though you have entered into a philosophical discussion, after all. Why bother to read the comments at all?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I think it's interesting that believers question the reasons for agnostics' and atheists' comments here. I have said before that were the only posters here believers, you guys would leave in a heartbeat. You'd have nothing to react to.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Samuel

      We all get together here and say "This is what I believe" and everyone else get's to say "This is what I believe" and that is just fine. The problem you have Mike is that there are competing ideas with what you believe and you don't want to hear about what other people believe and want to maintain an insular confirmation of your faith where you don't have to constantly defend it. Either that or you wish you had some argument that actually defends your faith without having to dive into the realm of "miraculous magic" to explain why you believe what you believe.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • BFOTO

      Well said Mike. Like another article on CNN right now says...the internet is just like junior high. Religion, or beliefs, are all across the spectrum from fundamentalists believers to fundamentalists atheists. Like all things we see what we're looking for. However, all religion, theistic or non-theistic, at their core teach principles on how their followers should lead their lives. Navigation markers, if you will. In fact, belief in a deity is not central to many religions. It is those Jesuit values that Brian got from his education in a Jesuit school that are what is important to him, not the dogma of the Catholic faith.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Garp

      Perhaps it is because the have a greater voice than religious people but are not given a platform to speak it, like one of the biggest news media corporations. Why won't CNN give atheists or agnostics an opportunity to express their views of religion and how religion affects them.

      How would you like to live in a world where your beliefs would draw threats to your life? Try pretending to be openly Christian in Iran or Saudi Arabia to understand what's being conveyed.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Mike,

      you have done nothing that hasn't been tediously done over and over again already – which is why it is on my list.

      "Why do atheists post here on the Belief Blog?" is so trite and overused here that it has become a cliché.

      Happy Easter.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What I don't get is why it bothers you all so terribly. If you believe, why does it matter what anyone else says? If your belief is so fragile that you're threatened or upset when others ridicule it or ask questions about it, whose fault is that?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Jim

      I agree that this forum should welcome comments from believers and non-believers. After all, both religion and atheism are founded on no more than a belief, and neither one belief is superior or more proven than the other. So Mike is a little off base asking what non-believers are doing here. But I see his point about atheists and their condescending, self-righteous comments to articles like this. I think it's ironic that the atheists commenting here are so convinced of the superiority of their beliefs, that they fail to see how their actions are not all that dissimilar than ones that they'd be quick to criticize if done by believers. I really don't see a lot of believers slamming atheists in these comments. I think that's the behavior Mike was questioning.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • The real Tom

      As I said, if it bothers you so very much, then don't participate. If you are so annoyed when others don't accept what you believe without question, then don't come here.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      BFOTO,
      What is a fundamentalist atheist?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jim,

      "But I see his point about atheists and their condescending, self-righteous comments to articles like this.

      I challenge you to look critically and objectively at what the atheists actually post.

      Sure some will address the article directly and may even be condescending and self-righteous. I think you will find that most of them are directed not at the article, but at pompous pontificating Christians who attack atheists – just like this thread.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • sandalista

      Your cult was and is trying to convert non believers for thousands of years. Either through torture, blackmail, threats or simply burning 'heretics' to a crisp. I think it is finally time to return the favor by the 'Brights' and enlightened people who have the capacity of critical thought.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • The real Tom

      If you believers don't like the responses of atheists and agnostics to some of your extreme brethren, then why don't you tell them to stuff it? When posters like Live4him start blathering their fundie nonsense, why don't you speak up and tell them to stop?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Brown

      Of course atheists and agnostics are welcome to come to the discussion. However, some atheists do in fact troll around sites about religion in quite a religious fashion, like they can't stay away, and are not convinced of their position, which would be o.k. it that was the case, but many atheists go the extra mile so to speak just to make a lot of noise. Why? It there is no moral truth(s), why bother so much? If anyone wants to have an actual discussion (atheist or religious) why not pose a challenging question rather than come around all the time like a baby who got a hold of the pots and pans banging them all around because they think the noise if fun.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, please. This site isn't going to be a center for serious thought and discussion. It's an anonymous blog, open to all and not monitored for content. If you want to have a serious discussion, you are in the wrong place, simply by virtue of the design of this site.

      I'm sure there are plenty of other sites that offer an opportunity for serious and thoughtful discussion. They probably require registration and involve moderators. If you are going to get on here and complain because this place allows the riffraff, don't bother.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Brown,

      ... mostly to call BS on religionists who endorse legislating their beliefs.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Second that. The asshat Live4Him opposes the use of any birth control. There's another idiot who goes by SoldierofConscience who thinks no woman should try to prevent pregnancy and that all abortions should be illegal. There are other ninnies who'd like to force our schools to teach creationism as if it were a valid theory of speciation.

      I don't care if these morons are a serious threat or not. I'll call them on their idiocy as I wish.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • faith

      don't get me wrong. i love atheists. they are a terrific bunch with lots to offer and they are very witty. just don't ever say anything against them. they take their faith in nothing very seriously, like a cult

      April 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  6. corbinsworldofsports

    What a wonderful story for today, Good Friday! Thanks for sharing.

    March 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • brianspadora

      I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comment.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  7. GlamRocker

    Keep your church out of my family and I'll keep my family out of your church.

    March 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • A Conversation

      @Glam...great post–admit it though, you worked all day on that one didn't you? Multiple drafts?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Garp

      Well said Glam,
      I don't want the warped ideals of religious fanatics to have anything to do with my life. It's bad enough to listen and read their nonsense and its madness when you see their beliefs be put into law.

      May truth and science over come fear and religion.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Alex

      Sounds like a plan...

      April 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    There is no evidence of resurrection or of the Resurrection. Perhaps there was and the Christians mislaid it along with the empty tomb.

    Even Paul could see that this might be a problem:

    "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. ... If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

    Today is Good Friday and it is remembered that the source of the faith of all Christians was nailed to a cross and died. They are of all people most to be pitied.

    March 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Yay for taking things scriptures out of context and twisting them to make a point. Now, let's give some context to what Paul was *actually* saying:

      1 Corinthians 15:12-20:

      "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."

      Paul was saying in these verses that there were some that were saying Christ was not risen from the dead (namely some Gnostic sects whom Paul had regular battles with, theologically) and Christ's death and resurrection are the foundations of the Christian belief system. If Christ had not been resurrected, then Christianity had no value. He wasn't actually debating whether Christ had resurrected.

      That's why it's important to understand the context of scripture when reading it.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Thank you, DamianKnight. It is more transparent than I made it out to be:

      "Paul was saying in these verses that there were some that were saying Christ was not risen from the dead ... and Christ's death and resurrection are the foundations of the Christian belief system."

      Indeed. Since there is no evidence of resurrection, what can we say about the foundations of the Christian belief system? Paul knew that you (and he) are to be pitied.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Of course it's vitally important to understand the context; everything is context. The better you understand the context, the more you come to realize how utterly stupid it is to believe the bible as the christians do.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Ah! Evangelist Emeritus Moby Schtick
      you used the s-word! Typical xtian / atheist interaction! lol

      March 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I sure did--about a book, not a person.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Bru-ha-ha

      I'm not Catholic, or athiest (if I had to put myself in a "camp" I'd call myself agnostic, but willing to ponder and consider the possibility). I always find it amusing how excited and "up-in-arms" athiests get when involved in conversations like this one, and how the tone of what they write seems to be so patronizing toward those people who happen to believe in God (or god...whatever).

      March 29, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Tom,

      That's not what he was saying....at all. If Paul was going to go on a boo-hoo-pity-party, he would have used the fact that he was tortured and thrown in prison, instead of talking about the Gnostics. But you would have to read and understand the context in which he was speaking. I've tried to explain it to you. I have the evidence that Christ was resurrected. It's abundantly clear to me. However, I don't believe you would understand or believe the evidence if I presented it, because it would not be something you could perceive with your five senses.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Damian

      I think I missed your response if there was one on the other thread and you mentioned you believed in magic because you've seen it. If you've written this already, my apologies, if not please give me the short short version of magic you've actually witnessed that cannot be explained by natural phenomenon

      March 29, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Chuckles,

      Sorry, I lost where the thread was and didn't feel like going through 25 pages of comments to try and find it. 🙂

      It's less that I have actually "seen" the magic. I don't generally associate with people involved in it. It's that I have seen the affects of having dealt in witchcraft. I've seen how it affects people afterwards, I've seen how it has captured their lives, ensnared them and bound them. And I've unfortunately had the opportunity to meet a few of those evil spirits that have done the bondage. But yeah, it's not fun times and it's not something I really like to focus on.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Damian

      I think I'm still missing it. What do you mean exactly? After effects how? What demon did you meet and how did you know it was a full blodded demon?

      I mean, I guess I understand if you had a bad experience you wouldn't want to revisit it and the coping mechanism would be if someone hurt you, it was a demon possessing them rather than the person, it helps shield your emotions. I honestly and I think obviously have no idea what you are referencing in terms of events, I'm only asssuming here but I still am having a hard time understanding what you mean here.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Damian, how do you perceive something without using one or more of the five senses?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Du.ckles
      Can u explain why Vi.k.ings were revered by women for their ra.p.ing skills? I didn't get it the last time!

      March 29, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Atheist, Me?

      Um... what? I think anyone saying that women liked being ra.ped, regardless of time period, was probably fu.cking with you.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "It's that I have seen the affects of having dealt in witchcraft. I've seen how it affects people afterwards, I've seen how it has captured their lives, ensnared them and bound them. And I've unfortunately had the opportunity to meet a few of those evil spirits that have done the bondage. But yeah, it's not fun times and it's not something I really like to focus on.'

      I call fvcking bullish!t. What a crock of manure.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Du.ck.les
      Oh so u were messing with me, were you? lol smh

      March 29, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Lol – he must have got upset when he first saw the neighbor kids watching "Charmed".

      March 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Atheist, Me?

      First, why the need to separate Duckles? I mean go for it, change the name, but it isn't a bad word?

      Second, Whoever told you women liked being ra.ped sure wasn't me, probably a fellow troll like yourself.

      Third, it looks like the troll did a pretty good job, well done handle stealing troll!

      March 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Agnes, he was probably traumatized by an episode of "Bewitched"!

      March 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Chuckles,

      Well, number one, it's only happened once...maybe twice that I can think of. It's not something that "hurt me", per se, but it was just a very terrifying experience and one I choose not to relive, especially on a public message board. Tell you what. I'll tell you all about the experience, but gotta meet up with me at Outback for Aussie cheese fries and I'll go over it with you, so we don't have to talk through trolls making fun of your name and interrupting a conversation with ignorant comments.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • The real Tom

      It isn't Chuckles' name I'm about to ridicule, dear.

      Witchcraft. What a doofus.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @HotAirAce,

      With all due respect, one can't perceive things without the five senses, if one is only dealing with the physical world.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Opportunity to meet those evil spirits."

      Oh, my. Laughing here.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Damian

      Fair enough, I guess I'm just *hella* confused is all. can you at least explain what you mean by effects without relating the story?

      Are you saying there were rituals involved? That someone erupted into boils and the like?

      If you want, write it to my email, howdystranger12@gmail.com (it's my dummy account I use when I do promotional stuff)

      March 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      DK, with all due respect, that doesn't answer the question.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      DK
      "taking things scriptures out of context and twisting them to make a point"

      It's what the creationists on here do all the time

      March 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Agnes Interruptus

      (tapping foot waiting to hear this one . . .)

      March 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Agnes Interruptus

      I have a special sense, too. I'm get a feeling about a couple of triangles.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      There's likely black, braided hair and the sun involved, too, Ag.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Alright, Chuckles, I emailed you.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Chuckles, you must post the contents of this extremely serious missive from DK. It's of the utmost importance to national security!

      March 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Tom

      Without going into too many details, I got it and (surprise) I'm still heavily skeptical. The long and short of it is, There was a weird, totally explainable event and Damian believes it was magic.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Yeah, I'm sure it was tantamount to the planchet on the ouija board moving "all by itself" and some girl getting levitated at a slumber party.

      What an idiot Damian is.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  9. FreedomIsFreedom

    Excellent story! Totally awesome. A man who really understands the spirit of the Christian church. Refreshing to see.

    March 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Salero21

      That it's mostly a coffee klatch?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • FreedomIsFreedom

      By the way, I am a "non-believer". But how can anyone argue with what this man believes? We would all be so much the better for contributing to the world in the ways he describes.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • A nodoby

      A pope that seens to innately understand what it means to imitate Jesus. His washing of the feet of detainees and women seems so like the Jesus who spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, in the Gospel of John. What an outrageous act that was. Choosing to reveal his divinity to a woman! A Samaritan! And, an adulterus, no less. What shocking behavior for a repsectable male rabbi of the day. The last person a "canonical lawyer" of the day would have approved of! He even asked to drink from her cup. The very idea.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Dippy's sub

      "Adulteress" not "adulterus."

      March 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • brianspadora

      Thanks very much for your kind sentiments. I am glad you enjoyed the piece.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  10. Chrysler K Car

    This is the best car that has ever been made. It's got seats and a steering wheel and tires and an engine, I mean this thing is without a doubt the best car ever made ever anywhere. I mean I havn't actually driven anything else, or even been within 50 feet of any other car, but I was born on the backseat of this K-Car and I just know this is the best of the best. It really doesn't get any better than this. Sure I have a lot of repairs and problems with the engine and oil leaking, but I can't imagine any other type of car would do better, I mean this was my parents car, so it's got to be the best...right?...

    March 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Simple

      lol, I get it 🙂

      March 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Aaron

      It's easy to make fun of Christians; it's hard to ignore the historical person of Christ. The tomb was empty, it's a historical fact backed up by both the bible and extra-biblical information. If the tomb wasn't empty Christianity ended with Jesus' death. Instead it spread through the entire Roman empire in less then 30 years- a generation where many of the witnesses were still alive. It was strongest in Jerusalem and had thousands of followers in the few years after the crucifiction. Followers who knew where Christ was burried and knew he was no longer there. Be warned that if you start with the empty tomb you may end up finding the risen Lord. Many athiest in their attempts to disprove Christianity have surrendered to Christ when faced with the truth- Josh McDowell being one of the more famous who converted and wrote many books about his research.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      There's no proof of any such thing as the "empty tomb."

      March 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Samuel

      "The tomb was empty, it's a historical fact backed up by both the bible and extra-biblical information."

      Extra-biblical information verifying Christs empty tomb? lol

      You have a book that makes a claim with ZERO evidence outside that book that there was a tomb or that it was empty. None. Zilch. Zip. Nada.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Josh McDowell's arguments are very, very poor and are easily refuted by anyone not using confirmation bias in their reasoning. There is no record of an "empty tomb" that has anything to do with "Christ" whether "full" or "empty." Just because people repeat something a lot does not mean that it is true.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • exCatholic

      "The tomb was empty, it's a historical fact backed up by both the bible and extra-biblical information."

      Romans did not remove the bodies from crosses after the criminals had died. They left them up there until the vultures had picked the bones clean as a warning to others not to transgress. Read about the actual slave revolt that the Spartacus story is based on.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Aaron
      " If the tomb wasn't empty Christianity ended with Jesus' death. Instead it spread through the entire Roman empire in less then 30 years"
      Once the Emperor converts, the empire tends to follow. It happened in England when Henry VIII converted to Protestantism.
      btw McDowell's sources do not provide independent confirmation of the historicity of Jesus.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Aaron, where can one find this extra-biblical information about the allegded empty tomb? And while information is nice, can you point to any facts?

      March 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Embarassed

      K Car
      If you come across a Gremlin in your search, let me know, you think you had it bad? Denim interior and I still wear the magic underwear, sigh.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  11. Ich habe eine Frage

    Why is it that so many atheists on this blog have to poo-poo anything and anyone who says anything about their beliefs? Bambi's mother taught us, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say nothin' at all."

    Yes, we get it, you all think you're so much smarter than believers, you all want proof of God and because believers can't produce proof you will believe, you enjoy being superior. And so secure in your superiority, you have to try and convince everyone of your superiority. If believers want to believe, let them. Why do you have to try and rain on their parade?

    March 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Salero21

      Do not even bother to pretend you are a good Christian we know you are an ATHEIST in DISGUISE

      Begone you trailer park discard SON of HELL 🙂

      March 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Explanation

      Tim: I love X-men.
      Jim: Cool, I love the Lord of the Rings.
      Tom: very cool you guys but Star Trek is way cooler than either of those.
      Tim: You wish Picard was as cool as Prof X!
      Jim: Haha! They are the same guy you guys!
      John: Hey you guys, the best book ever is the bible and you better have faith in Jesus or you are going to burn in agony for eternity, for real... and it's all because you didn't come to church on Sunday and decided to go to the movies.
      John: Guys?
      John: guys? whered you go?
      John: GUYS!!!! WHY DO YOU ALWAYS LEAVE ME WHEN I'M BERATING YOU FOR NOT HAVING MY FAITH!! ARGHHH!

      March 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Ihre Antwort

      You need to hear the truth about things over which you have been deceived. Your position is inferior only to the degree you have believed lies.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Let me try to explain...

      I think it's funny Christians wants everyone to pay attention to their religion, they want it included in laws and gov't and public school, they put up billboards and have TV channels dedicated to it. And then when atheists pay attention they say "you shouldn't even care, why not just ignore us".

      March 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Simple

      You forgot to mention how Christian react when atheists put forth their ideology and "want it included in laws and gov't and public school, they put up billboards and have TV channels dedicated to it" I don't think the phrase "Ape shlt" is too far off of their normal reaction...

      March 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I have never seen Atheists put forth laws based on atheism, if they did I would be against it.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Simple

      But you have read the blogs about the billboards right?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Yes I have, and I don't have a problem with anyone expressing their beliefs, but if one expresses an opinion, don't be surprised when the opposition does too. That's my point.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • sandalista

      Ich habe eine Antwort: We rain on your parade because your cults have hindered scientific progress for millenia...and to this day. From astronomy to mathematics, from art to stem cell research. I don't care what you believe as long as your cult doesn't tell me who to love, whom to marry, how to live, or threaten me with eternal torture if I don't buy into this nonsense.
      Keep your noses out of politics and other people's lives and nobody gives a rat's azz about you and your beliefs.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Ich habe eine Frage

      That would all be well and good except:

      1) I'm not part of a cult.
      2) I, nor anyone else on this blog is hindering any scientific progress.
      3) I'm not telling you how to live, how to love, who to marry nor have I threatened you with eternal torture.
      4) Everyone has the right to their own political beliefs. I have mine, you have yours. It's the wonders of free speech. I didn't discuss anything political here, anyway and I'm disinclined to.

      So...you are mad at certain people and taking it out on others who have nothing to do with it. This is a forum to discuss theological beliefs and you want to silence people have a certain theological belief simply because you don't believe in it. Way to go, Adolf.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "This is a forum to discuss theological beliefs and you want to silence people have a certain theological belief simply because you don't believe in it."

      Where have people advocated that you, or those who agree with you, should be silenced? Disagreement is not persecution. Quite the complex you have there....

      March 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  12. jms58

    Religion is for people who can not cope with mortality.

    March 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      I as a Christian I am not afraid of death. My late mom died without showing any fear on her birthday!
      If all you think about is mortality then you are not living.
      Christ came so that we might have life and have it abundantly. I don't think you coping with mortality every day is the best way to live. Sounds depressing!

      March 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Rinsewind

      Look, I'm fine with mortality. I'm fine with atheists. I don't push my beliefs on others. But I do think it is perfectly possible to be a reasonable, rational person and believe in God. I'm also good with any kind of religion–I just practice the one where I feel comfortable. Is it possible I'm wrong, and that there's nothing out there? Sure. But belief enriches my life.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Simple

      It's for those who are unable or unwilling to be good for goodness sake.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Whatever happened to respecting a person's faith? If you don't agree with anything a church or religion says, so be it. Because I believe in God doesn't mean I am stupid, ignorant or intolerant. I have friends of different faiths and I respect them. I may not agree with their views but I have a better understanding of them. Learn why people believe what they do before you speak out of your ass.

    March 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Why people believe their religion

      A. Mommy and Daddy repeatedly told them it was true.

      B. They trainwrecked their lives so badly that they were willing to do anything to make it better, and some church preyed on their vulnerability.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • sam

      OUTRAGE!

      March 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • No Gods No Master

      No but at the same time you should not push your religious beliefs into the public sphere. Nor let your religious leader influence you to vote for a particular politician solely on relilgious grounds

      March 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Do you respect every belief equally? Really?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I'd be perfectly happy to live and let live–but when some religious nutter tells me that when I become pregnant I lose my rights or that my gay friends are lesser beings under the law because their god says so, their beliefs become my business.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Are you sure Atheusm has no influence on your politics

      March 29, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Atheusm"

      Considering it's not a word, yeah, I'm pretty sure it's not influencing much of anything for anybody, Nii.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      People get automatic repect from me until they prove otherwise...

      Beliefs don't get that favor.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Aaron

      To "Why people believe their religion" – my parents didn't teach me Christian Faith, I have an IQ of 146, I'm college educated from a top secular university, happily married for 15 year with 2 kids, make six figures a year. I think your flippant view of why poeple have faith shows a lack of intelligence on your part; not theirs.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Aaron, why do you believe in Christianity and not another religion? Which faith was most dominant in the society in which you were a child and is it the same society you have lived in for most of your life? (United States, Western Europe, etc)

      March 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Simple

      I find it hard to believe a person with an IQ of 146 would claim there is real evidence of Christs empty tomb outside of the bible knowing that the best of such evidence is from writers several decades after the events who also talk about Hercules as being a real person who would hang out with the soldiers. Are you positive there wasn't a decimal point somewhere in your IQ score?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Fine, Aaron. Why so incensed? Why not explain what led you to your faith instead of getting all irritated about someone's post?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • JMEF

      A lot of people need a crutch to get through life another person, drugs, alcohol, friends, or maybe a make believe deity, takes all kinds, many can pass on the deity and do not want the dogma to be forced into the public square. Believe what you want but why can you not keep it to your community of believers?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  14. Tam nguyen

    as catholic the church require you must confess one a year and keep your Sunday mass if you can follow that you shouldn't call yourself catholic, as the one follow god you shouldn't let anyone's words or act influence your faith, should build good connection with god and practice what he teach us to do that love everyone & god and that is it.

    March 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • sam

      Huh?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I want the Catholic Church to excommunicate me....they won't do it.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Alex

      "must confess one a year"

      Not must. It is a recommendation.

      April 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  15. Anne Modarelli

    Bravo!!!! I couldn't have said it any better!!!!!! Bravo

    March 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • brianspadora

      Thanks for the comment! I am glad you enjoyed the piece.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  16. brian

    Speaking of "Jesuits." They were the ones who put Galileo on trial for saying the Earth revolved around the sun. They also instigated the Inquisition – which lasted for 600 years in one form or another.

    March 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I didn't expect some kind of bloody Spanish Inquisition!

      March 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • sam

      No one EVER exp – oh never mind.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Rinsewind

      The Spanish Inquisition was initiated by the monarchy and Dominicans, not Jesuits.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      NOBODY expects ...

      Oh never mind.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAn7baRbhx4&w=640&h=360]

      March 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • brianspadora

      I don't believe any members of the Inquisition taught at my high school. Can't say for certain, though, as a few were kind of old. 🙂

      March 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  17. William Donohue

    Good Friday – don't expect a Mass – just services... Are Jesuits even Catholic?

    March 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      He doesn't say that he is expecting to attend a mass on Good Friday.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  18. Steve

    Thank you for the nice article, Brian. I am always hopeful when someone points their attention toward God. Please do not take seriously the negative words you find here in the 'SoundOff' section. Your faith is a bond between you and God. That's all it can be. The words of these tools are meant to deter you from your personal growth and happiness. I would go so far as comparing it to an army of monkeys sent by an enemy you never challenged. Their only weapon is to chatter loudly. I can't begin to imagine why they would spend the time. I understand your decision. Trying to grow into a better man the way that good men taught you is a fine undertaking.

    March 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Growing into a better man does not require religion.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Cheesemaker
      We know that is why we keep telling most of you Atheists here to grow up!

      March 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Nii, do you have trouble with English?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Atheist, Me?

      I am not the one worshipping an immoral, abusive, invisible authority, figment of imagination.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Cheesemaker why is it like u sound like someone I know?
      How can an imaginary person abuse you?

      March 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Atheist me?

      It is the concept, I went to Catholic school, I was told Satan was after my soul, I was told I was unworthy of god's love but if I only "believed" he would love me anyway. I was a child. That is abuse whither the god exits or not. Great religion you have there....

      March 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • brianspadora

      Thanks very much, Steve. I'm not bothered at all by the comments, not least of all because they seem to have nothing to do with the piece I wrote. They seem to have me mistaken for an evangelical preacher who thinks all non-believers are going to hell.
      @Blessed are the Cheesemakers First of all, I love your handle. Second, well of course you don't need religion in order to be a better person. You don't need to read MLK's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," or practice mindfulness meditation, or donate money to help people afflicted with cancer. But all of those things can potentially help a person be more compassionate. This piece I wrote was meant to convey an aspect of my efforts to be a kinder person. That's all. If it's not helpful to you, that's fine. It didn't run with any kind of a guarantee. I don't consider myself "saved" or "converted" so I sure as hell am not trying to save or convert anyone else. If someone wrote an article about a diet or a workout that you thought was useless, would you spend much time posting several comments on it?

      March 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  19. Christopher

    Think this article speaks to people from all walks of life. Reminds me very much of my relationship growing up with my very devout grandparents. Though they are long since gone, they taught me more about love and life than anyone. For them, things like reason, compassion, and fairness came very naturally. They never had to preach anything, as their lives made their morals and values self evidently right!

    March 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Chris
      I thank God for the lives of your grandparents.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Atheist: you are stupid, ignorant and foolish!
      Xtian:Why?
      Atheist: Because we Atheists are smart, intelligent and wise. Christianity is a religion and since Atheism is not a religion that means what we have you don't!
      Xtian: I love u as myself do u understand that?
      Atheist:I am so smart that I don't!
      Xtian(to himself): Is this guy dumb or an Atheist or both?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      That is not an accurate representation of most christian/atheist interactions.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Atheist, Me?

      You don't have to create your own straw man to argue with,

      I would be happy to oblige, but you ran away yesterday.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Moby
      Just look up this page, ok?

      Cheesemaker
      I sleep too, ok?

      March 29, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Well you made a specific accusation against me in the form of a question so I thought you would be interested in the response, and considering it was the middle of the afternoon and over 24 hours ago I think it is safe to assume you avoided responding.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      I live in Ghana so afternoon for you is night for me!

      March 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Warrior King

      Ahh, an Akan Christian. No wonder.

      March 29, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      It is 10:49pm in Ghana right now, when I posted the response to your question yesterday it was 7:15pm.....something doesn't add up....hhmmmmm

      March 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • brianspadora

      Thanks very much for the kind words. I am grateful.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  20. Leucadia Bob

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf_UChwEsDE&w=640&h=360]

    March 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.