CE’s Best of 2013

Time moves in one direction, as our own Fr. Ed Broom likes to tell us. Now the secular world has said good-bye to 2013 while we Catholics slowly wrap up Christmas and look forward to continuing the liturgical year.

If you are like us here at Catholic Exchange, this year probably flew by so quickly that you still date your documents as 2012. It has been a great year of growth for our website and the wider Catholic world experienced many new events. Whether it was the elections of Pope Francis, changes in our bishops, or even small alterations on the local level, it has been quite the year.

So, to say good-bye to 2013 and to look forward with great joy to this new calendar year, I’d like to offer a small recap of our most read and best written articles of the last year. We publish four articles a day in addition to our daily homily and saints of the day, so it is often difficult to find the “Best of”. As an editor, I’m equally biased towards all our fantastic authors and picking articles was a lot like a child picking his favorite candy. But, we think you’ll glean some enjoyment from our selections.

Our Culture and Our Faith

We are called to engage the world, and sometimes that means knowing what our culture values and how to best be informed about it. In the Common Core debates, many of you read and recommended Two Moms vs. Obama’s Common Core. Meanwhile, our very own Gail Finke frequently brings you the latest in the ongoing struggle for religious liberty in our nation.


However, we at CE find that the best way to evangelize and resist the secular culture that surrounds us is to know our faith better. Overwhelmingly, our most popular article featured Stephen Beale showing you the 21 Things We Do When We Make the Sign of the Cross  and the Nine Ways the Eucharist Is Hidden in the Old Testament while H.W. Crocker III told you about the Ten Great Things About Catholicism.

Prayer and devotionals are an essential part of our faith, and we have quite the team to show you the many ways you can obtain greater friendship with God. Judy Keane taught us about the Holy Hour: The Power of Three O’Clock as well as prompting us to Remember the Angelus.

Sarah Reinhard always has a beautiful way of bringing the Mother of God into our lives and how She enriches our prayer life. The top two are Turn to Mary With Your Prayer Life and The Surprise of the Immaculate Conception.

Cari Donaldson released her new book, Pope Awesome, this year but still managed to find time to tell us how she was Rescandalized by the Gospel and the adventures of parenting in Glorified Bodies.

Finally, we are pleased to have added several fantastic writers to CE this year. Haley Stewart held a series on how the Catholic faith empowers women, especially in The Saints Empower Women and Empowering Women Through Mary. Not to mention her echoing of Pope Benedict XVI, You Were Made For Greatness, Not Comfort. We were also pleased to bring you Micaela Darr, a promising young writer who, with only two columns, has impressed many of us, especially her timely piece The Advent of a Mother’s Heart.

Habemus Papam, and some new Bishops Too!

Pope Benedict XVI heroically led the Church in the new millennium and produced a fantastic body of work. It was a surprise to many that he stepped down on February 28th this last year. Of course, many of you read his moving Farewell Angelus. On March 13, 2013 Pope Francis became the first non-European Pope in centuries to sit on the cathedra of St. Peter and his short tenure has already generated much discussion.

Our top articles regarding Pope Francis are:

  1. Pope Francis and Divine Mercy by Judy Keane
  2. Pope Francis’ Misunderstood Message on the Economy by Stephen Beale
  3. The Pope, The Sinner, And Me by Dr. Greg Bottaro
  4. Francis on God’s Mercy to Atheists: Nothing New But Still Refreshing by Robert Hutchinson
  5. Much Ado About Popes by Amy Welborn
  6. Future Bishops and Popes: How Much Authority? by Russell Shaw

In America we saw the USCCB election of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz to be our head liaison to the Holy See.  Sean Fitzpatrick told us the Five Things to Expect from Abp Kurtz.

Wisdom for the Ages

A new feature we were happy to introduce were the writings of modern spiritual masters through our unique partnership with Sophia Institute Press. Thanks to Sophia we were able to publish some fantastic excerpts that, while written many decades ago, still resonate with all of us and hold valuable insights into the spiritual life.

Fr. Killian J. Healy gave us a brief glimpse into developing a dialogue with God in How to Hear God Speaking to You. Fr. M Raymond showed us the holiness of everyday in Make Your Work An Act of Worship and Romano Guardini reminded us about the importance of silence in Why Be Still & Silent at Mass?.

As well, Sophia Institute Press gave us a look into Nothing Short of Miracle by recounting the miracles of John Paul II and Mother Cabrini’s First Miracle. In each article, Particia Treece uses her abilities as an historian and story teller to beautifully recount the modern miracles that happened within living memory. They demonstrate that God is still working miracles and there are still saints for all time living in our own time.

A Healthy Debate

I always appreciate the many voices and varieties of opinion among our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Catholic faith is universal but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a friendly debate. Kevin Tierney brings us a bi-weekly column about the Theology of the Body and it certainly makes for an interesting discussion, especially in Theology of the Interior Body. Likewise, Sean Dailey discussed The Lost Art of Catholic Drinking while Gemma Myers pondered the same topic in Merry or Drunk? A Catholic Reflection on Drinking.

Parenting is always a hot-button issue, especially in how to bring your children to the faith. Dr. Gregory Popcak and Haley Stewart both weighed in on bringing children to Mass. New contributor C.W. Lyons shared his views about Halloween and whether it was appropriate for Catholic families in The Mystery & Modern Mayhem of Halloween while Sean Fitzpatrick offered another point of view on the subject when he called us to Reclaim All Hallows’ Eve.

We here at CE are also not afraid to take on the tough questions of the faith. Stephen Beale sought to answer “Did Jesus Really Go to Hell?” From the Canon Law perspective, Cathy Caridi sought to answer a sensitive question in Divorced Catholics and the Eucharist. Lastly, Dr. Bottaro comes at it again in his discussion of Emotional Pornography.

Last, But Not Least

As I said before, this list is not inclusive of the thousands of articles we bring you each and every year. Midst the many articles from writers, professors, and religious you may have a few that have truly helped you or that you found thought-provoking enough to keep and share. Let us know! We exist for you, our readers, and my inbox is often filled with letters of gratitude for the work our authors do. We also welcome your constructive criticism.

As this New Year dawns and I reflect over this last year I do want to give you all my gratitude. We are a small, very efficient team here at CE and sometimes that means many working hours to keep this site going. It is all worth it because we know how many of your read us and how much of an impact we can have. It is for you that we keep this going so I want to give you all a great big thanks for taking time out of your day to stop by. While it is hard to know each of you, we do keep you all in our minds and prayers and I ask St. Dominic’s help every day that we do a good work for you.

Merry Christmas to you and I pray that you have a Happy New Year. May Christ ever be in your life, my dear reader.

Michael J. Lichens


Michael J. Lichens is the Editor of Catholic Exchange. When he's not revising and editing, he is often found studying and writing about GK Chesterton, Religion and Literature, or random points of local history. He holds an A.M. from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a BA from The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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