Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on 19 March 2013.

This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 6 August 2017 to 15 August 2017.


General Audiences

Papal Tweets

  • “Jesus does not leave us alone because we are precious to Him.” @Pontifex 10 August 2017
  • “When something makes us suffer, let us listen to the voice of Jesus in our hearts: “Do not fear! Go ahead! I am with you!”” @Pontifex 11 August 2017
  • “Dear young people, you are the hope of the Church. Do you dream about your future? Then take part in #synod18! http://goo.gl/WghUvl ” @Pontifex 12 August 2017
  • “In Mary we see that humility is not a virtue of the weak but of the strong who don’t have to treat others badly to feel important.” @Pontifex 13 August 2017
  • “The journey of entrusting ourselves to the Lord begins every day, starting each morning.” @Pontifex 14 August 2017
  • “Mary’s Assumption regards our future: it turns our gaze heavenward announcing the new heaven and new earth with Christ’s victory.” @Pontifex 15 August 2017

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 3 July 2017 to 9 August 2017.


General Audiences


Papal Tweets

  • “In the name of Jesus we can make known, through our witness, that peace is possible!” @Pontifex 4 August 2017
  • “Other people are gifts to be received with respect, especially if they are weak and frail, because Christ comes to meet us in them.” @Pontifex 5 August 2017
  • “Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, but is able to see a tomorrow.” @Pontifex 6 August 2017
  • “Forgiveness sets our hearts free and allows us to start anew. Forgiveness gives hope. Without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.” @Pontifex 7 August 2017
  • “Today we give glory to God for the work of Saint Dominic in the service of the Gospel which he preached with his words and his life.” @Pontifex 8 August 2017
  • “In witnessing to the faith what counts is not success, but fidelity to Christ.” @Pontifex 9 August 2017

Papal Instagram

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body fat testing

One of the most common measures of how much weight someone needs to lose is based on what’s known as their Body Mass Index (BMI).

The trouble is, BMIs were not designed for this function, and they have severe limitations in diagnosing overweight and obesity. That’s really not what they’re for.

In particular, they don’t differentiate between lean body mass and fat. People with lots of muscle and bone can thus be told they’re overweight even though they’re not carrying much fat.

If you want to determine how much fat you’re carrying, you need to use special tests–the gold standard of which is being dunked in a tank of water and seeing how much of it you displace, allowing your overall body density to be determined.

From that, your personal level of lean body weight (i.e., everything but fat) and fat can be estimated. Info on that here.

In the last few months, through Intermittent Fasting, I’ve lost around 70 lbs, and it’s time for me to start thinking about what my final goal will be.

When I first began Intermittent Fasting, I decided not to initially set a final goal for my weight loss. Instead, I would figure out my ultimate goal as I went along, based on factors like overall health and on my body composition–that is, how much fat I still had on me.

So recently I went to get dunked in a tank to get an initial read on what my body fat percentage is.

Here are the basic results:

  • Current weight: 187 lbs
  • Lean body weight: 140 lbs
  • Fat lbs: 47 lbs
  • Lean body %: 75%
  • Fat %: 25%

That 25% rating is listed as “Fair.” By comparison, the two weights I’m about to mention (below) would both be listed as “Very Poor.” For me the “Good” range would start at around 22% or 182 lbs, so that’s only five lbs away.

Incidentally, based on my present body composition, they estimated my current Resting Metabolic Rate would require me to consume 1881 calories per day. That means I’d need to eat 1881 calories just to lie in bed. Any exercise raises the number of calories beyond that.

I am exercising, and I’m not eating that many calories per day, so I’m losing weight.

As a matter of historical curiosity, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation to see what my body fat % would have been when I was at my peak weight of around 318 lbs and what it would have been when I started Intermittent Fasting at around 256 lbs.

For purposes of the calculations, I assumed the same lean body weight of 140 lbs. It wouldn’t have been exactly that, but it would have been close to it. Here are the results:

  • Fat lbs (at 318 total lbs): 178 lbs
  • Fat % (at 318 total lbs): 56%
  • Fat lbs (at 256 total lbs): 116 lbs
  • Fat % (at 256 total lbs): 45%

So, since my peak, I’ve managed to cut my body fat % by an estimated 31%, and in the last few months by an estimated 20%.

Of more interest is where it’s going to go, because that helps me establish what my final fat loss goal will be.

Our bodies do need some fat to function properly, but there isn’t an exact number that has been established as optimal (note: optimal and average are not the same thing). For a sample of ranges, see here.

Presently, for my purposes, I’m going to assume that somewhere between 10% and 17% is what I’ll shoot for. That would give me the following parameters as a goal:

  • Total body weight (at 17% body fat): 170 lbs
  • Total body weight (at 10% body fat): 156 lbs

These numbers are also historically in line for what a man of my height (6 feet) would weigh before the obesity epidemic began to set in during the 1960s and 1970s. So no, they are not too low, except by the inflated average weights of our own day.

The numbers assume the present level of 140 lbs lean body mass. If I change that (e.g., if–after I finish losing fat–I decide to build additional muscle, which I’m inclined to do), the numbers will rise accordingly.

I would therefore need to lose between 17 and 31 lbs to be in that range.

Precisely how much I lose is something I will continue to re-evaluate as I go, based on overall health, etc.

Then I’m likely to start building muscle (and thus putting weight–of the good kind–back on).

I’m not trying to do both at once, however. My understanding, including from professional trainers, is that it’s almost impossible to do both at once (for reasons I won’t go into in this post).

What I could do is alternate periods of fat loss with periods of muscle building, but that would only slow down the process of fat loss. I’d rather get rid of the fat and then start building muscle.

Wish me luck!

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 28 June 2017 to 2 August 2017.




Papal Tweets

  • “I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him.” @Pontifex 28 July 2017
  • “We call on all people of faith and good will to take action and oppose modern slavery in all its forms.” @Pontifex 30 July 2017
  • “Like Saint Ignatius of Loyola, let us be won over by the Lord Jesus and, led by Him, place ourselves at the service of others.” @Pontifex 31 July 2017
  • “We effectively do good when we do it without seeking reward and in the concrete situations of everyday life.” @Pontifex 1 August 2017
  • “The Gospel is Good News filled with contagious joy, for it contains and offers new life.” @Pontifex 2 August 2017

Papal Instagram

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miracle noodle pho

In the months I’ve been doing Intermittent Fasting (IF), I’ve changed around what I’ve been eating for my one meal a day, and I’ve noted that (as expected) different meal types have resulted in different amounts of weight loss.

(NOTE: In addition to the food choices discussed below, I’ve also been taking my vitamins and nutritional supplements to make sure I’m not missing out on needed nutrients.)



Phase 1: Low Carb IF

When I first started IF, I was eating a low carb diet, and I saw rapid weight loss. This was great, and very encouraging.

However, I’d spent something like 15 years (maybe more) eating low carb, and the number of calories I was eating in the one meal was low enough that I decided to try . . .


Phase 2: The Carb Vacation

In this phase I largely went off the low carb diet I’d been on for so long, and in my one daily meal I allowed myself to eat a more normal American diet–e.g., regular pizza, pasta, etc. (not the low carb versions).

I still kept the carbs somewhat down–e.g., I would eat thin crust pizza instead of regular or thick crust–but I allowed myself more carbs than I had in ages.

I also allowed myself popcorn, which has some carbs but not a huge amount (especially if you do the little 110-130 calorie microwave bags).

The carb vacation was fun, but I noticed that it slowed down my weight loss dramatically. I was still losing, but not nearly as fast, and that began to get discouraging.

So it was time for . . .


Phase 3: Fewer Calories and Carbs

I started drawing down the number of calories and carbs I was eating, with the primary emphasis being on reducing calories. The lower those go, the less the ratio of macronutrients (carbs/fat/protein) matters.

At the zero point, a percentage of nothing is still nothing, and the macronutrient ratios don’t matter at all.

I wasn’t at the zero point, but I wanted to get closer, and as I did so, I saw the weight loss rate increase again. (Still without the hunger you might think would be there; since my body is in fat-burning mode, it has a fuel source and doesn’t need to turn on the hunger signal.)

One food I started turning to in this period was soups–the pre-made kind (Progresso, Campbells, etc.), just for convenience.

Because they’re mostly liquid, soups have a lot of heft to them (meaning: they weigh more in your stomach) and, though their carb counts are higher than what I’d normally want, they typically don’t have that many calories.

A large can of soup has a net weight of around 18.5 ounces (more than a pound of food with all that liquid!), but comparatively few calories. For comparison purposes (based on what I currently have in the kitchen):

  • 1 large can Campbell’s Chunky Creamy Chicken & Dumplings: 340 calories
  • 1 large can Campbell’s Chunky Grilled Chicken & Sausage Gumbo: 280 calories
  • 1 large can Progresso Chicken Noodle: 140 calories

Also, soup is hot food, and that helps, too.

I’ve always liked crackers with my soup, but instead of that I’d allow myself to have popcorn, which is high in crunch factor (satisfying the psychological need to chew) but lower in carbs and calories than crackers.

With the new emphasis on fewer calories and carbs, I saw the weight loss pick up again!

Around this time I also started . . .


Phase 4: Adding a Snack

When I first started doing research on IF, I ran into advisors talking about occasionally allowing oneself a very low calorie snack (e.g., 35-50 calories).

Now, the whole point of intermittent fasting is not to be eating all the time. If you let yourself adopt the “grazing” strategy that has been so prominently recommended in (misguided) diet advice in recent years, you’ll ruin what you’re doing and may actually gain weight.

Consequently, at first I didn’t use any snacks. But occasionally I would have a psychological need to just chew something, even though I wasn’t hungry.

So I re-thought the snacking issue and decided to experiment with allowing myself to have up to 1 snack a day (many days I still have 0 snacks), of a very low calorie variety, on the view that a single bump of <100 calories sometime during the day would not materially throw off weight loss.

I’ve written about snacking ideas here.

Quick tips:

  1. Sliced bell peppers make good snacks
  2. So do homemade pickles

Also: Most pickling recipes are way overcomplicated. All you need to do is put sliced cucumbers into a container, cover them with apple cider vinegar (or another vinegar, but apple cider vinegar tastes better), and leave them in the fridge for a few days. That’s all!

My experience was that, indeed, adding this form of minimal snacking did not materially interfere with weight loss.

By this point I was optimizing the basic strategy, so I carried the optimization further in . . .


Phase 5: Low-Carb Soups and Noodles

As I turned over ideas for further optimization in my head, I started thinking about how to further improve the soup strategy.

The things that make soups satisfying include:

  • It’s got taste
  • It’s got heft (weight, due to all the liquid)
  • It’s hot

So what could I do to get the calories down while retaining the satisfaction level of a well-made soup?

The first thing that occurred to me was egg-drop soup.

All you really need for that is chicken broth and eggs. Everything else is optional (some good options include: black and white pepper, salt or salt substitute, green onion garnish, mushrooms or other low-carb, low-cal veggies).

So I pulled out a carton of chicken broth and a carton of Egg Beaters (which are really colored egg whites, so they’re lower in calorie than whole eggs–though whole eggs are fine), and was very pleased with the results!

Also, my mind drifted back to the various low-carb noodles that exist. The best ones are:

What all these have in common is that they are basically fiber and water, which means they satisfy the need to chew, take up space in your stomach, and have next to no calories.

Noodles (whether low carb or not) also are meant to have basically no taste, so you need to add something to them (e.g., a sauce) to give them flavor.

So I thought: Why not use these in soups?

The different noodles have different properties. Zucchini noodles won’t withstand boiling well, so they need to be put in near the end of cooking.

Shirataki noodles will withstand boiling, and they have a more chewy texture, which would help with the psychological need to chew even better than zucchini noodles.

The downside of shirataki noodles is that they often have an odor that needs to be taken care of by boiling or–better–by dry roasting (i.e., fry them in a pan with no oil), although Skinny Pasta (not the same as Skinny Noodles) claims to have eliminated the odor issue (I’ve got some on order; will let you know what I find).

It struck me that a particularly good bet would be kelp noodles. These don’t have the odor problem that shirataki noodles do, and they can have an almost crunchy texture, which would give even more chewing satisfaction.

But all three kinds of noodles could work: I could get broth (chicken, beef, veggie) or a soup base (e.g., miso, pho, hot and sour), add the noodles, and have a really good, satisfying, low-cal, low-carb soup!

I could even add low-carb, low-cal veggies to the soup and keep everything in the range I wanted.

This seemed so obvious that I thought, “Why hasn’t someone already done this commercially?”

As I was in the store picking up ingredients to do just this, I discovered much to my surprise that someone already had!

Miracle Noodles has produced a line of ready-to-heat-and-eat foods incorporating their product (a version of shirataki noodles), including the Miracle Noodle Pho pictured above. (They have several other, similar products–see the scrolling flavor selector on the right of the Amazon page.)

I’ve already tried the pho, and it was awesome! It comes only with noodles and sauce (you have to add your own veggies if you want them), but it was really good! And a whole package (2 servings) is only 76 calories!

With that few calories, one could even have a big bowl of soup as a snack during the day and another at night.

So that’s what I’ve been doing recently.

I might, for example, have a bowl of nothing but chicken or miso broth and low-carb noodles during the day (keeping the calories to 50 or so), and then another, more elaborate bowl (with veggies and popcorn) during the night.

Also, soup is not the only thing to which one can add to such noodles. Other things can give them flavor.

Thus I’ve been experimenting with low-carb, low-cal mac and cheese (ziti shaped low carb noodles plus a cheese sauce). In this case, to keep the calories low, I’ve deviated from standard low-carb advice and used low-calorie cheeses for the sauce. On a normal low-carb diet, you don’t do that since low-cal substitutes typically have more carbs, but the number of carbs we’re dealing with here is so small that it doesn’t matter.

Other sauces–e.g., pasta sauces–are also totally possible.

So that’s the current phase of my diet, which is based on Intermittent Fasting using low-cal, low-carb noodles in low-cal, low-carb soups and sauces. These aren’t the only things I’m eating (and I am taking my vitamins to make sure I’m getting enough micronutrients), but they are the core.

And the results have been dramatic! I’ve seen more rapid weight loss since implementing this strategy than I have since I started the program.

Of course, I won’t eat this way indefinitely. But I have found this–in my case (no medical advice is being offered here)–to be a useful strategy to incorporate during this phase of my journey.

And, as I’m only 15-25 lbs from what may be my ultimate goal (having lost 128 lbs overall and 66 lbs since beginning Intermittent Fasting), I’m going to be changing my eating plan soon enough anyway.


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Shin-Godzilla-2016I just finished watching Shin Godzilla–the 2016 Japanese Godzilla movie, whose name means “Godzilla: Resurgence”–and it was surprisingly good!

The movie is a complete reboot of the Godzilla franchise, meaning that it is a first contact story.

In this continuity, Godzilla has never appeared in Japan before, so we get to see people struggling to come to terms with a giant kaiju attack in a world where one has never occurred before.

This is unusual in a Godzilla film, as all of the previous sequels have at least treated the original, 1954 movie as Japan’s first encounter with Godzilla.

The film is two hours long, and the first 28 minutes are surprisingly goofy (so my inner MST3K crew was active), but then it gets quite good.

(NOTE: Apparently much of the goofiness in the first 28 minutes is due to the fact that the filmmakers are implicitly criticizing the way the Japanese government reacted to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, in which they were trapped by their own bureaucratic habits, said stupid things in press conferences, and dealt ineffectually with the early stages of the crisis.)

My initial impression (though I’ll need to think about it) is that this may be the best  Godzilla film except for the iconic 1954 Japanese original (the one without Raymond Burr)–which is absolutely mythic.

One of the things I liked about this film is how fresh it felt. After thirty previous Godzilla films, you wouldn’t think there would be a lot of new things to do, but this film managed to find a surprising amount of virgin territory to explore.

Of course, the movie’s plot reflects up-to-date technology, so the fact that everyone has a cell phone results in things appearing online before the Japanese government is even aware of them, and it’s nice to see government officials scrambling to keep up with what the public has already learned through social media.

There’s also an interesting and fundamentally productive cooperation between Japan and the United States in the movie, though it’s clear the relationship has bumps.

Some viewers might want more kaiju action that we actually get in the film. Godzilla periodically goes into dormant periods as his body adjusts to changing circumstances, so he doesn’t mount a constant assault on Tokyo (which he really doesn’t do in any movie). This gives the human characters a chance to devise ways of dealing with him.

When Godzilla is active, though–or at least once he’s up to full steam–wow! At the midpoint of the film Godzilla mounts a devastating attack that is easily the most spectacular thing he has ever done on screen!

Despite the fact that the Godzilla action isn’t continuous, the film is surprisingly quickly paced and doesn’t get boring, even when the puny humans are the focus.

The film also more credibly establishes Big G as a global threat than in previous films. Given the way this version’s biology works, if they don’t stop him now, the human race–and apparently most of the biosphere–is toast.

Perhaps the thing I liked most about the movie was the fact that the humans–and particularly the military–is not portrayed as ineffectual.

Often in Godzilla movies, they aren’t able to even dent him until, at the last minute, a scientist comes up with a magic bullet that suddenly kills or neutralizes Godzilla, ending the film.

In this movie, however, the military is able to do damage to Godzilla before the final climax (in fact, that’s apparently the reason for his longest dormant period).

And when the final confrontation occurs, the humans have mapped out a creative, multi-stage plan to execute, in which they intelligently take down the big lizard in stages.

This plan has them doing things we haven’t seen before, such as overtaxing Godzilla’s ability to shoot rays and wear down his offensive capabilities, as well as intentionally knocking down skyscrapers onto Godzilla so that they serve as huge kinetic weapons and pummel him like giant clubs. Cool!

Of course, there is sequel potential here, and the final shot of the movie hints what the sequel will likely involve.

There are things about the film I didn’t like, but overall it was a fun watch, and I’d recommend it to fans of Godzilla films and other kaiju movies.

Here’s where you can watch it on Amazon.

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This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 9 June 2017 to 26 July 2017.


Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Papal Tweets

  • “When we need help, let us turn to the Father who always looks on us with love and never abandons us.” @Pontifex 23 July 2017
  • “How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage so essential for each and every society!” @Pontifex 26 July 2017

Papal Instagram

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new tardis

In the wake of the 13th Doctor announcement, everyone is focused on the fact the next Doctor will be a woman.

But the TARDIS also has changed it’s appearance (note the St. John’s Ambulance logo that characterized Steven Moffat’s tenure is gone).

Up to now, the Doctor has referred to the TARDIS as “old girl,” but if it also has regenerated, the real question is: Has the TARDIS become a male?

Will she now start calling it “old boy”?

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In this episode of Catholic Answers Live (July 11, 2017, 1st hour), Jimmy answers the following questions:

0:15 What are some of Cy’s favorite books?

2:30 What’s significant about John Paul II’s book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”? (Hint: One thing is that he basically revealed the Third Secret of Fatima in it!)

4:50 Did Joseph Ratzinger ghostwrite many of John Paul II’s writings?

6:35 How to find hidden treasures in John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s Wednesday audiences.

11:50 How to respond to the challenge that Catholicism is false because it bases its teachings on things other than the Bible–the word of God.

16:00 What is the new path that Pope Francis has instituted for people becoming saints?

25:17 – What are some early church sources about the immaculate conception?

31:26 – Can a pope be a heretic personally?

33:40 – What is the earliest evidence for Purgatory?

37:50 – In Acts 11, St. Paul says his proof for the Gentiles in the Church is that the Holy Spirit falls on them. Is this analogous to the Holy Spirit working in other churches today?

44:06 – What are we supposed to be doing in the afterlife?

46:30 – How do we define grace? Someone told me we merit grace, but we also receive initial grace free of merit. So what are the different kinds of grace, where are some places we can find them in the Bible?

54:55 – Can a non-baptized person, who’s married to a Catholic, receive a Catholic funeral and burial?

57:50 – Do dogs go to Heaven?

Resources Mentioned:

The Drama of Salvation by Jimmy Akin

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Use this link to listen to the MP3.

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From “The Green Death,” season 10, serial 5, episode 4.

1st female doctor who

Jon Pertwee comically disguised as a cleaning lady to infiltrate a chemical plant where a world domination plot is being hatched.

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