When to Watch for the White Smoke

03/11/2013 Comments (9)

Soon the cardinals will send up black smoke or white smoke to indicate that we have a new pope. When should you be watching?

Many people across the world are wondering when we should be watching the chimney above the Sistine Chapel to see the smoke that will tell us whether a new pope has been elected.

Here is a quick guide to when to watch and what to expect . . .


The Color of the Smoke

After casting ballots, the cardinals burn them, and this is what produces the smoke. They also burn other things--straw or chemicals--to change the color of the smoke, though precisely what they're burning this time is a bit of a mystery.

As most people know, it is supposed to be black if there is no new pope but it is supposed to be white if there is.

In practice, there have been troubles with the color of the...READ MORE

Filed under benedict xvi, cardinals, college of cardinals, conclave, new pope, next pope, papal resignation

9 things you need to know about how cardinals actually vote in conclaves

03/10/2013 Comments (10)

The cardinals will be entering the conclave to vote for the new pope. How do they actually decide who to vote for? Here are 9 things you should know.

Soon the cardinals will enter the conclave and begin casting their votes for the new pope.

What's going through their minds as they do this? How do they actually go through the process of deciding, on any particular ballot, who to vote for?

Why is the first ballot so important? What patterns does history teach us? And is there any way we can help them?

Here are 9 things you need to know.


1. Why is the first ballot significant?

It is the first time that the cardinals get the "lay of the land" in a concrete way.

Up to this point, they have had discussions among themselves about who would be a good pope, and they have done some informal nose counting to get a sense of how...READ MORE

Filed under cardinals, conclave, new pope, papal election, voting

Conclave: The App

03/08/2013 Comments (4)

Just wanted to let folks know about a neat little app that Logos Bible Software has just released to help Catholics (and others) learn about the upcoming conclave.

The app is FREE and is available both for iOS (iPhone/Pod/Pad) and Android.

They really rushed to get it out so that we'd have it in time for the conclave, and I know people at Logos who spent long nights getting it ready.

It's got some really cool features and material (including some by yours truly) and ways to stay in touch with important Catholic information sources, like the National Catholic Register and Catholic Answers.

Here's a description of the app:

Your free mobile hub for conclave news

Conclave is a...READ MORE

Filed under conclave, new pope

12 things you need to know about the Prodigal Son

03/07/2013 Comments (15)

There is more to the story of the prodigal son than meets the eye. Here are 12 things you should know about it.

On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the gospel reading is the famous parable of the "prodigal son."

It is a moving story that teaches us about God's love for us and his willingness to forgive us no matter what we have done.

But there is more to the story than meets the eye . . . much more.

Here are 12 things you need to know.


1. What does "prodigal" mean?

The word "prodigal" is mysterious to us. Almost the only time we ever hear it is in the title of this parable.

It's basic meaning is "wasteful"--particularly with regard to money.

It comes from Latin roots that mean "forth" (pro-) and "to drive" (agere). It indicates the quality of a person who drives forth his money--who...READ MORE

Filed under forgiveness, gospel of luke, liturgical year, luke, mortal sin, penance, prodigal son, reconciliation, sin

Who Was the Early Visionary St. Perpetua?

03/06/2013 Comments (6)

St.s Perpetua and Felicity are commemorated in Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon) itself. But who were they, and what is their dramatic story?

Thursday is the feast of St.s Perpetua and Felicity.

Many have heard their names. They're early saints mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer #1 (the Roman Canon).

But often we don't know much more than that, which is a pity.

They have a dramatic story, which St. Perpetua recorded herself in the days before her martyrdom. It also records the visions she received during this time.

Here are 10 things you need to know.


1. Who was St. Perpetua?

She was a young Christian woman and martyr, who died just after the year 200 in North Africa. When she was still a catechumen, she and several acquaintances were taken into custody.

According to the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity:


Filed under felicity, liturgical year, perpetua, perpetua and felicity, private revelation, seer, visionary, visions

How Long Will We Have to Wait for Our New Pope?

03/05/2013 Comments (10)

The cardinals will soon be in conclave to elect a new pope. How long will they be in there?

As we look forward to the coming conclave, it's natural to ask, "How long will it last?"

Nobody knows at this point, but it's possible to get a sense by looking at history.

Here are some surprising things you may not have known.


Birth of the Conclave

In the history of the papacy there have been periods in which the chair of St. Peter was vacant for startlingly long periods of time, at least by modern standards.

The longest of these occurred after the death of Pope Clement IV in 1268.

After he died on November 29th of that year, there was no new pope until September 1 of 1271, when Gregory X became pope.

That's a gap of almost three years (and just over 1,000 days).


Filed under benedict xvi, conclave, election, papal resignation, pope, resignation

9 things you need to know about "Maria Divine Mercy"

03/03/2013 Comments (544)

The visionary"Maria Divine Mercy" claims that Pope Benedict was the last pope and the next one will be the False Prophet. What should we think of this? Here are 9 things you should know.

Many people have been talking about a woman who calls herself "Maria Divine Mercy." She has made dramatic claims in the form of alleged private revelations.

She claims to have predicted Pope Benedict's resignation in advance.

She also claims that he will be the last pope on earth, that the next pope to be elected will be the false prophet, and that the Second Coming is about to occur.

What should we make of these claims?

Here are 9 things you need to know.


1. Who is "Maria Divine Mercy"?

We don't know.

According to her web site, she is "a Roman Catholic married mother of a young family living in Europe [and] says she has been receiving from the Holy Trinity as well as by...READ MORE

Filed under benedict xvi, conclave, maria divine mercy, new pope, next pope, private revelation, prophecy, prophesy, resignation, second coming

The Next Pope Will Be God's Choice . . . Right?

02/28/2013 Comments (37)

The cardinals will soon meet in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope. Should we pray for them?

It's common for Catholics to say that a newly elected pope is "God's choice" or that, the Holy Spirit chooses the new pope.

There's a sense in which this is true.

But does that mean that we can just sit back and assume the ideal candidate will be elected?

If so, why do we need to pray for the election of the new pope?

And what has Pope Benedict XVI had to say about the matter?


The Mystery of Providence

Since God is omnipotent, he could stop any particular thing in the universe from happening. Therefore, if something does happen, it is only because God allowed it to happen.

If God chose to allow it, anything that does happen could--in this broadest sense--be described as...READ MORE

Filed under benedict xvi, cardinals, college of cardinals, conclave, election, new pope, next pope, pope

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About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to This Rock magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."