How to Navigate the Current Vatican Confusion

Episode 9.5: Confusion Reigns

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you know that the sequel trilogy (episodes 7-9) was a mess. A large part of the problem was the discontinuity Rian Johnson introduced in Episode 8, The Last Jedi. He threw out much of the plot line set up in Episode 7 as he was intent on “upsetting expectations.” This put JJ Abrams in an awkward position of trying to connect Episode 9 to the previous two movies. But the damage had already been done and the trilogy felt more like three independent movies rather than a cohesive and unified story.

I see parallels to the Star Wars sequel trilogy and Pope Francis’ papacy. It feels like he is intentionally disrupting Church tradition out of some desire to modernize Catholicism. But this is creating a mess because much of what he’s doing doesn’t seem to follow the teachings and traditions laid out by Jesus Christ and has been unyielding truth for thousands of years. To me, Pope Francis is creating a legacy for himself instead of continuing the legacy set forth by Christ and previous popes starting with St. Peter.

The obvious example of this papel disruption is Fiducia Supplicans. I’m not going to go into detail about that specific letter as there are many great articles about it that I’ll link to at the end of the article. But this letter from the Vatican is only the latest of a series of statements that have confused the Church’s teachings. And while it hasn’t created an official schism in the Church, it has split the faithful about what the Church believes.

A Legacy of Confusion

My concern is that the pope is setting a precedent of the Vatican being ignored or challenged by bishops and parishes. We are not in a good state when bishops pick and choose what statements from the Vatican they will follow. That’s hardly a Universal Church. In this case, thank God that many bishops sided with Church tradition in rejecting Fiducia Supplicans. But what if, in the future, the Vatican comes out with a document similar to Humane Vitae; something hard to follow but flows from Church teaching and tradition? Certain priests will reject the teaching citing the numerous people who rejected Fiducia Supplicans.

I now find myself in this uncomfortable position where I roll my eyes whenever I hear someone quote Pope Francis or talk about the letters and declarations coming from the Vatican. It’s the same reaction I have when I read statements from liberal politicians. It’s hard for me to hear them out although they may have a good point that teaches me something valuable. But I subconsciously discount the value of that message due to who is the one proclaiming it. I don’t like the fact that I’m discounting the teachings of the person who occupies the Chair of St. Peter and holds the keys to God’s kingdom.

And that’s what saddens me. The Church which I love is starting to feel more like a political party. People change or deliberately confuse Her message to make short-term allies and score political points. The beauty of the Catholic faith has always been that she taught unyielding truth regardless of the whims of society. I liked that St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict didn’t feel the need to radically change Church teachings out of the false sense that all change is progress. No one ever accused them of doing nothing just because they reaffirmed Church doctrine instead of modifying it.

How We Handle Confusing Times

What are we, the Catholic faithful, to do in this climate? We need to act as we’ve always acted in times of confusion and persecution — pray. We need to pray for Pope Francis and those in positions of power that they use their authority to lead us to Christ instead of furthering their agendas or legacies. We also need to pray for each other so that we can look through all this confusion and hear how God expects us to live.

We need to regularly pray the Rosary and ask Mary for her guidance. I like to dedicate the Fourth Glorious Mystery to this request. God assumed Mary into Heaven because he had a special plan for her — to lead us into communion with her son, Jesus Christ. She’s there, waiting for us to ask her for clarity and direction. She may lead us to reading and learning more about the Church’s teachings. She may call us into deeper prayer and adoration. She may ask us to fast. Mary has multiple tools to lead us to Jesus. We only need to be willing to ask and listen.

Are We Happier?

Looking back at the 1990s

In the 1997 movie, Contact, the preacher Palmer Joss poses this question in a faux interview with Larry King, “Are we happier?” He asks if all the scientific and technological progress has made the world a better place. Keep in mind that the movie came out in the 1990s in the early days of the World Wide Web and years before smartphones, social media, and streaming video. Generally, we’ve made astronomical strides in affluence and comfort since the end of the 20th century, and yet people who have access to these luxuries are more miserable and confused than ever. Why?

Why we need the Church’s Wisdom

Let’s jump to Fr. Robert Spitzer’s last book of his trilogy, The Moral Widsom of the Catholic Church. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I think he has some interesting thoughts on this topic of “progress” and happiness. He touches on progressive topics like fornication, homosexuality, abortion, and transgenderism and how they’ve become normalized across the world. As a culture, we’ve “progressed” passed what many consider the restrictive and outdated teachings of the Church. But he also cites numerous studies on how these lifestyles lead to increased anxiety, depression, drug abuse, suicides, and other forms of misery. As sin is mistaken for virtue because we no longer listen to the moral authority of the Church, more people suffer as a result.

People often mistakenly believe that the Catholic Church desires people to be unhappy with all their “rules” and forbidding freedom. The flawed logic is that by moving away from the Church’s restrictive and “outdated” teachings, one will achieve greater levels of happiness. What people find however is a life devoid of purpose and meaning because we are reduced to satisfying base desires instead of challenging ourselves for something greater.

Modern society has basically adopted the five-year-old’s “I want to only eat ice cream all day long” approach to life. While we’ve seen advancements in technology leading to greater safety, more entertainment, and access to more information, I don’t think many people would say that the world is a better place or we’re happier than we were a few generations ago. The traditional “first world” cultures are more divided, aimless, confused, and unhappy than previous generations despite all their progress.

Reaping what we sow

Many books in the Old Testament talk about God punishing the Israelites when they break his commandments. I like to think that God punished them by letting them reap what they sowed. If people aren’t going to follow laws forbidding theft, violence, adultery, murder, etc. then what type of society are you left with? One where sin runs rampant. I’m afraid God is punishing us like the Israelites by allowing us to live with the consequences of a world of reduced morality and religious observance.

We need to re-evaluate the Church’s teachings on their own merits, not how they are represented in popular media like the Atlantic or NPR. The Church has sound reasons for her teachings crafted over thousands of years based on the logic and philosophy of some of the greatest human minds led by the Holy Spirit. They don’t make for an easy life, but it’s a life with meaning, purpose, and direction. It’s a life that is in better harmony with natural law and God’s Will. When there’s harmony with God’s design, there’s happiness instead of confusion and anxiety.

Natural law and God

We look at the First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism. Whenever we meditate on this mystery, we should ask ourselves whether we are living according to our baptismal vows which are summed up in the Creed. Are we living what we profess the Church teaches? Remember, embracing the Church means embracing God’s design manifested in all of us through natural law. If we want happiness, we need to be in harmony with God, not with our social media feeds.

Are you happier? If not, try forming a more harmonious relationship with God. Learn about his design for humanity through the Bible, Catechism, and the Mass. Maybe all you need is to listen to God a lot more and cable news a lot less.

Skipping Mass Makes Life Harder

The Empty Pew Pandemic

Within the last week, I came across these articles about changing church attendance patterns and religious practices. These articles sadden me greatly because so many people have made their lives sadder and harder because they’ve de-prioritized practicing their faith. We need to learn from Mary and the saints’ examples that our lives will ultimately be happier and easy when we chose to serve God.

A person might be entering mid-career, working a high-stress job requiring a 60- or 70-hour workweek. Add to that 15 hours of commute time, and suddenly something like two-thirds of their waking hours in the week are already accounted for. And so when a friend invites them to a Sunday-morning brunch, they probably want to go to church, but they also want to see that friend, because they haven’t been able to see them for months. The friend wins out.

The Misunderstood Reason Millions of Americans Stopped Going to Church

What these articles touch on and what I see in my own life, is a spiritual “quiet quit.” Most people I know who are former Sunday Mass regulars don’t have anything against the Catholic Church. But they started watching live-streamed Masses during Covid. They then skipped a Sunday, and then another, and then another. Since God didn’t smite them and no one asked them to return, their new normal was to be a “Christmas and Easter” Catholic.

“It’s not like they are walking away, saying, ‘I’m now an atheist and don’t believe,’” he says. “They still believe in a God and live life with purpose but are done with the institutional church.”

Why Middle-Aged Americans Aren’t Going Back to Church

Skipping Mass Makes Life Harder

I’ve said this countless times before, skipping Mass and not praying daily makes your day harder, not easier. The articles talk about how people can’t fit in Mass between all the priorities in their lives whether they be work, family, health, or various hobbies. But in skipping Mass, you distance yourself from the source that makes all those priorities and challenges in your life manageable.

Of all the priorities in your life, the last one you want to scale back on is your relationship with God. He’s the one that enables you to move forward and find true happiness and understanding in all that you do. Trouble at work? God can help you. Trouble at home? God can help. Problem with your kids? God can help. No task or challenge is too big for an all-powerful, all-patient, and all-loving God. But we need to form an active relationship with Him through the Church to receive His grace. He wants to help us, but we need to be open to that help.

Many people may ask, “I do believe in God, but I don’t need to attend Mass every week or pray rote prayers to form a relationship with him.” That seems to be the position of many Catholics since the Mass closures during Covid. They stopped going to Mass and their world did not come to a fiery end. But missing Mass is like giving up a healthy diet and exercise in favor of junk food and binge-watching Netflix. Sure, you may be alive and superficially entertained, but you’ve set yourself up for disaster later on in life. We need the Mass because it fills something profound in our souls that nothing else can.

Mary’s Example

Let’s go back to the Annunciation from the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Now Mary had a healthy relationship with God. But God asked her for more… a lot more! Becoming the Mother of God was disruptive, to say the least. But Mary understood the importance of serving God even if it was going to cause hardship and sorrow at specific points in her life. We need to imitate Mary and choose God over worldly comforts and conveniences. God wants us at Mass, not because he needs the praise, but because we need God. It may seem like God asks a lot of us and following him may cause sorrow. But like Mary, we need to understand that those temporary hardships pave the way for profound and meaningful joy.

There are no saints that God didn’t help when they faced their various challenges in life. But when coming to a crossroads, saints choose God over worldly comforts. God calls all of us to sainthood which leads to eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. Satan wants us to choose the seemingly easy life by giving up Mass occasionally knowing that it will lead us further away from God and happiness in this life and maybe the next. The wise, saintly person will choose the road that leads to God knowing that ultimately, his “yoke is easy and burden light” (Mathew 11:30).

How the Rosary Helps Us Live a Flourishing Life

Aristotle’s Idea of a Flourishing Life

One of my new favorite websites is The Art of Manliness. Now women, please don’t think that this post is just for men. This website promotes skill and values closely linked to the traditional concept of “manliness” but many of their articles (except maybe those on style) apply to women. For example, I read an article titled “Aristotle’s 11 Excellences for Living a Flourishing Life.” I think there’s something we can learn from it about how to live a good life by living one of value. Here’s a brief explanation of what Aristotle meant by “flourishing” and “virtue” from the article:

For the ancient Greeks, eudaimonia was considered the highest human good. While the word doesn’t easily translate into English, it roughly corresponds to a happy, flourishing life — to a life well-lived.

Eudaimonia wasn’t a destination — a nirvana that, once reached, initiated a state of bliss. Happiness wasn’t something you felt, but that you did; it was a dynamic, ongoing activity.

What that activity centered on was the pursuit of arete, or virtue.

We tend to think of “virtue” in an exclusively moral sense, as having to do with qualities like courage, compassion, and continence. But for the Greeks, virtue meant doing anything well. Courage was a virtue, but so was speaking articulately. Playing an instrument masterfully was a virtue. Strength was a virtue. Beauty was a virtue. 

The Art of Manliness

Aristotle’s 11 Values

In summary, Aristotle’s 11 values are:

  1. Excellence in Morals
  2. Excellence in Judgment
  3. Excellence in Health and Fitness
  4. Excellence in Attractiveness
  5. Excellence in Wealth
  6. Excellence in Honor
  7. Excellence in Organization
  8. Excellence in Family Life
  9. Excellence in Intellect
  10. Excellence in Public Speaking
  11. Excellence in Friendship

Granted, not all these values are Christian values. For example, attractiveness can lead to vanity. And wealth can lead to greed. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work hard to earn money and provide financial security for ourselves and our families. When we have a certain amount of wealth, we can also be more charitable towards others. And while health and attractiveness are different values according to Aristotle, I consider them linked. Healthy people are generally more attractive.

The Importance of Values

We may have different values than Aristotle. But we can both agree that we need to hold values to lead a flourishing life. The idea is that we need to focus on pursuing excellence in various areas of our lives. I think we’ve lost that drive for excellence as modern society has made it easier to fulfill basic needs of food, cheap goods, and entertainment. But Aristotle and the Catholic Church will tell you that you need to strive for more than just basic wants and desires.

Look at the saints. No one can accuse them of not striving to live up to certain virtues and standards. They weren’t lazy or aimless. They focused on living in God’s grace and doing his will. They had their weaknesses but they didn’t let those weaknesses detract them from living a full life. This is why we call on saints in our prayers; so we can imitate them in living in a complete way. That way will be different for each one of us.

What are Your Virtues?

I think it’s a good exercise to contemplate what values you desire to excel at. Remember, excellence isn’t a destination, it’s an ongoing process. We’ll never be fully “excellent” until we live with God in Heaven. But we can always strive to have a little taste of that excellence. That’s really what God’s grace is — a taste. Here are the core virtues I try to excel at daily. What are yours?

  1. Excellence in mind — always developing new skills and learning new things.
  2. Excellence in spirit — always connecting with God through prayer.
  3. Excellence in body — staying healthy and avoiding unnecessary risks.

We can often become discouraged when trying to live virtuously. After all, it’s not easy. Many times, it’s hard to drive towards loftier goals when our base desires are satisfied. It’s hard to find the will to exercise when watching a football game with a refreshing beer is readily available. It’s hard to read a book when you can binge-watch a series on a streaming service. But this is why we have tools like the Rosary.

How the Rosary Helps Us Flourish

Mary promises us that when we pray the Rosary we will desire heavenly things. Not only that, she promises us all that we shall obtain all that we ask by reciting the Rosary. We have all the tools we need through the rosary to achieve excellence in various virtues. We just have to know what we want, or rather, what God wants of us. When we know them, Mary and the saints will help us find them when we make the effort.

I’m reminded of what I tell my boys every day when we pray in the morning while driving to school — don’t pass up the best help you will receive all day. Of course, I mean asking for God’s help in making the day a good one. It’s not about getting what we want or some obstacle being magically removed (although I won’t pass up the occasional miracle). It’s about God helping us excel in virtue. When you commit to a life of virtue with God’s help, the actual details of the day will work themselves out according to His will.

Mary and her Rosary are the best tools we have to untangle the “knots” in our lives

A Rosary Mystery for a Fruitful Day at Work

One constant in life is that we all need to work to survive. For much of human history, that would have meant hunting and farming. Now, it means going to a job to earn money to support ourselves and maybe a family. Or maybe that means taking care of the family. Since work is such an integral part of our lives, it’s something that requires prayer to be meaningful and fruitful. What Rosary mystery fits the modern worker?

Running out of Wine

If you’ve seen the series The Chosen, you may remember the episode about the wedding feast at Cana (Second Luminous Mystery). The show decided to portray Saint Thomas as the one hired to supply the food and wine for the event. While Scripture only mentions that they ran out of wine, The Chosen portrays Thomas miscalculating the amount of wine needed. Mary asks Jesus to help which he does by turning water into the best wine of the celebration.

I like the Second Luminous Rosary mystery as one specifically for workers. It alludes to a logistical problem similar to the ones many of us face daily. Thomas had a job to do and he messed up. He worried that he would ruin the wedding, embarrass the hosts, and fail at doing his job. He probably felt huge levels of anxiety about how this blunder would affect future business and his livelihood. I’m sure many of us can relate.

Including Jesus in our Work Day

Our jobs are often more of a burden than something joyful or exciting. It can be a source of stress and anxiety as we face rude customers, demanding bosses, complex projects, or inflexible schedules. We can sympathize with the situation at the Cana wedding where nothing seemed to be going right.

We know how this story ends. Mary sees what is happening and asks for Jesus’ help. He turns disaster into a miracle. We, too, may run into disasters at our jobs. We may miss deadlines, produce a subpar product, not meet our quotas, or lose our temper with customers. But we can take a queue from the Cana wedding and ask for Jesus’ help through Mary and her Rosary. Asking for Jesus’ intervention can help us navigate those challenges and anxieties we have at work.

Doing What Jesus Asks

I know that many of us pray the Rosary regularly but we still face countless obstacles at work. You may ask, “Why isn’t Jesus producing miracles at my job like he did at the Cana wedding?” I heard a priest on EWTN talk about how filling those jars with water at the wedding feast was probably a laborious process. It’s not like they had facets in the house and they couldn’t lug those large stone jars to a well. The laborers had to make multiple trips to a well with smaller buckets to fill the large jars that Jesus turned into wine.

The idea is that our faith often requires effort, time, and trust. The workers had to trust Jesus that his seemingly ridiculous request had a purpose. They needed to put in the time and effort to make the miracle happen. The miracle didn’t happen instantly. The wedding feast was at the point of disaster before the miracle occurred. In The Chosen, Thomas kept questioning Jesus about how filling jars with water addressed the wine issue. We too often ask Jesus, “How does doing what you ask help me in this situation?”

I think we can act a little like Saint Thomas regarding prayer at times. We want Jesus to fix the problem ASAP. We tell ourselves that there is no time for prayer and that it’s just wasting our time instead of solving the problem. How many of us justify not spending a few minutes in prayer or walking into a church to sit in silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament because we’re too busy? I think Jesus’ solution to our work-related problem includes stepping back occasionally to focus on him, not the challenge at hand.

Don’t Lose Heart

At our work, we often have to grind away at our tasks. We are like the servants fetching water — entrusting our labor to Jesus. Our efforts at work may seem pointless and Jesus doesn’t seem to help us. We just toil away, day after day, without any relief. It’s in those moments God wants us to put our faith in him, not in our own abilities. We need to learn to let go. When everything is going smoothly, we tend to think too highly of ourselves and not of God. Perhaps, I hard day at work is God’s way of reminding us that we need to include him more into our lives. If we put our trust in God to see us through our work, and work is what we spend a good portion of our day doing, then we’ll remember that God is with us throughout our day.

How to Pray the Rosary All Day Long

Feynman’s 12 Problems

On the Art of Manliness website, I read this article about Renaissance man, Richard Feynman. It talks about how he always kept 12 problems to solve in the back of his mind. They ranged from the very random to the very complex (he was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist after all). He didn’t deliberately try to solve these problems. Rather, he had insights going about his day that helped him slowly get closer to solutions. Even if he didn’t completely solve a particular problem, he enjoyed the process of thinking about it.

Feynman’s “12 problems” is one manifestation of the ongoing projects many of us have. Maybe you have a car you’re restoring that you tool away at a few hours every week. Maybe you’re building something in the garage or restoring an old piece of furniture. Or you’re like me and discover new ideas to write about. But any of us can make prayer into an ongoing project that we work on throughout the day.

The Rosary as an Ongoing Practice

I often do something similar to Feynman’s 12 problems with prayer and the Rosary. As I go about my life at home and at work, I come across various articles, shows, books, and podcasts. Many times, those articles remind me of aspects of Rosary mysteries. I can then integrate them into my Rosary meditations. They provide me with “prayer fuel.” This way, I’m not praying the Rosary in a vacuum of thoughts.

For example, I may read the daily Gospel and then listen to a meditation about the value of patience. That provides meditation content for when I pray the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary whose fruit is patience. One practice, reading Scripture, reinforces the other practice, praying the Rosary. This practice doesn’t need to confine itself to drawing exclusively from spiritual sources. I draw inspiration for Rosary prayer from secular news, books, and shows. My life provides fuel for my prayers and conversely, my prayers provide fuel to face the challenges in my life.

Facing Your Day through the Rosary

This is what I meant in my books’ introductions about the Rosary being the lens through which I see the world around me. No matter the situation, there’s probably a Rosary mystery I can look to that will provide me with guidance or comfort. This is why daily Rosary prayer is so important. You need to constantly add new thoughts and experiences to your prayers so they will grow with you. In a way, the 20 Rosary mysteries act like spiritual scaffolding. What you build on top of it will be uniquely personal because everyone has different experiences.

I challenge you to make the Rosary something persistent in your day. When you consume media and information, try to think about what Rosary mysteries they relate to. When you pray the Rosary, draw on all your experiences and present them to Mary. Feynman may have had 12 problems always on his mind to keep him engaged but you will have 20 mysteries!

Here’s What You’re Missing When You Skip Mass

I’m always saddened when I go to Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday and see all the empty pews. Just a week earlier, the church was full of people to the point where it was standing room only and we nearly ran out of the Eucharist. I hoped and prayed that those who only showed up for Mass on Christmas and Easter felt inspired to come back. And maybe some did, but not in the droves I hoped for.

Lately, seeing all these empty pews at Mass bothers me greatly. I’ve been reading a lot about the deadly effects of sin from Father Spitzer’s books. Prayer, the sacrament of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and regular Mass are all ways we protect ourselves from sin. I’m saddened to see so many people not take advantage of what the Church freely offers to all of us. Sin is like an illness with a well-known cure. And yet, so many of us choose to remain ill.

The Effects of Sin

Father Broom outlines the five effects of sin and how it affects the individual, our neighbors, our church, and our world. Give it a read.

The good news is that protecting ourselves from sin is rather straightforward. See that church? Walk inside it! Here are some specific ways that attending Mass can protect against sin:

  • Reminds us of God’s love and mercy: When we hear the words of the Gospel, we are reminded of God’s great love for us. This love can help us to resist temptation and to turn back to God when we have sinned.
  • Provides us with grace: The sacraments of Mass, especially the Eucharist, give us grace to grow in holiness and to overcome sin.
  • Helps us to connect with other Catholics: When we attend Mass, we are part of a community of believers who are all striving to live a holy life. This community can provide us with support and encouragement when we are tempted to sin.
  • Helps us to grow in our faith: When we attend Mass, we are exposed to the teachings of the Church. This can help us to grow in our understanding of our faith and to live a life that is more in accordance with God’s will.

Fighting Sin through the Rosary

The Rosary is an excellent tool that protects us against sin. Remember, Mary is the Queen of Heaven (Fifth Glorious Mystery) and one of our principal protectors against Satan and his minions. She offers us the Rosary as a way to remain in God’s grace and protection. As I’ve written before, many of her promises are for protection against Satan.

When we pray the Rosary, we are connected to a very exclusive community of saints and angels. They will guide us away from our sinful desires and instead desire what is good and heavenly. God will give us the strength to overcome our weaknesses and do his will. Picture Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemne (First Sorrowful Mystery) and how he leaned on God to see him through his Passion and Crucifixion. We too can lean on God to help resist sin and stay connected to the Church, saints, and angels.


Through the Rosary and our commitment to God through the sacraments of the Church, hopefully, we can bring more people into God’s grace. This will increase love, mercy, and compassion and decrease the guilt, shame, and despair of sin.

Why We Must Attend Mass According to the Saints

I’ve been sitting on this article for almost two months now trying to think of what to say. However, maybe there isn’t anything for me to add to the wisdom of the saints regarding the power and beauty of the Mass. I’m going to link to the article in its entirety.

First, Easter is only a few days away. You’re going to see packed churches soon as the Twice-a-years come to Mass. Here’s some advice if you see someone at Easter you know who doesn’t attend Mass regularly. Show that you’re excited to see them at Mass. Tell them you hope to see them at Mass in the upcoming weeks. Plant the seed of joy and the idea of the importance of Mass in their hearts. God will take care of the rest.

Now over to Fr. Broom and his article on Catholic Exchange.

We Cannot Sacrifice Truth for Inclusiveness

This is such a great letter that I felt like I needed to post it on RosaryMeds without much commentary. I think Bishop Naumann does a great job of explaining why the Catholic Church can’t sacrifice truth in the name of inclusiveness. We need to remember that our faith isn’t some TikTok video trying to grab “likes.”

If we authentically live the Catholic faith, then we are living in an inclusive way. Bishop Naumann does a great job of explaining why we need hold firm to the truth and not bend to society’s ever-twisting norms.

Link Smorgasbord for October 2022

Throughout the day, I often come across articles on the internet that I want to write about. Unfortunately, I either run out of time or couldn’t make the article come together the way I like it. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting and worth reading.

One of my favorite radio shows puts on a segment called “Cleaning out the Sound Fridge” where they play news clips they didn’t find time to air in their usual features. So in that vein, I’m cleaning out the link fridge for October.

I mostly came across Rosary articles this month. Most of the topics I’ve covered in various RosaryMeds articles so I just couldn’t find new angles and themes to write on. But there are also some political stories that I think are important to be aware of.