|Evangelizing is going viral with Catholic memes.|
Pop culture and faith collide in these visually popping images with ironic and often funny concepts called “memes” that Catholics are also utilizing to spread the good news of the Gospel. The National Catholic Register gives us some great tips on how to appropriately exercise our evangelization skills with the help of social media. #whatwouldjesusdo
“Principal Peggy Wertz and I worked alongside a great illustrator and saw Becoming Sister Mary Grace come alive,” said Father Kirby, vicar of vocations for the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. Wertz is principal of St. Mary Help of Christians School in Aiken, S.C., where illustrator Alice Judd is an art teacher.
The book is dedicated to the girls who were part of the St. Cecilia Vocation Club at Mary Help of Christians School when the book was begun. Those girls are now juniors and seniors in high school.
Natalie Gorensek, a junior, was really excited at the launch of the book and stated that, “Everyone knows about marriage and priests, but not everyone knows about nuns. So it’s important we have vocation clubs to get the word out that being a sister is interesting and cool. … Knowing other options (of vocations) is really helpful in spiritual development."
To read more about the book Becoming Sister Mary Grace, check out the artilce published in the National Catholic Register and let us continue to pray and encourage vocations throughout the world.
World Youth Day 2013 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil will be here before we know it! How are you preparing? How are you celebrating? Read how many pilgrims celebrated the 100 day countdown here.
Christ the Redeemer will watch over millions of pilgrims for World Youth Day events this July. Looking for spiritual exerice? Make the effort to view the statue up close. It is one of the most visited attractions in the world and was voted among the Seven Modern Wonders.
|Holy Thursday foot washing rite.|
Holy Thursday marks the first of the three holiest days of the Triduum leading us to Easter. The events of the day now and in Jesus time keep true to an action packed celebration. Simply put, Holy Thursday remembers the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his Apostles. Catholic New Agency beautifully reflects on this complex and profound celebration that also celebrates the institution of priesthood.
Britain’s Queen takes part in Maundy Thursday by giving Maundy coins to deserving senior citizens.
Pope Francis humbly serves the poorest of the poor by washing the feet of twelve juvenile inmates that mirrors Jesus’ washing of the twelve Apostles.
Finally, the USCCB instructs us that the washing of the feet serves, “as a sign of the new commandment that Christians should love one another.”
How will the actions of the events of the Last Supper come alive for you today? How will you live the new commandment to love one another?
In being a member of a religious order and the first Jesuit elected pope, Pope Francis joins 33 other pontiffs who came from religious communities: Here is the list, thanks to a Wikipedia entry on popes:
Learn more about these communities in VISION's Community Search.
We are one week into Lent and the VISION editors want to know how you are keeping up with your Lenten promises!
"When Jesus came to Nazareth, he 'went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day' and read from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah," writes Dan Grippo in the "Preaching the News" column for Prepare the Word. "But if Jesus were to speak in a synagogue, church, or mosque in the U.S. today, how many young people would be there to hear him?" asks Grippo. "Dramatically fewer than in previous generations, according to Pew Research Center."
According to results of the Pew study, “Nones” on the Rise, one-third of Americans under 30 say they have no religious affiliation, a dramatic increase over numbers from just a few decades ago. Many researchers believe the trend is tied to religion's association with socially conservative politics.
"I think the single most important reason for the rise of the unknowns is that combination of the younger people moving to the left on social issues and the most visible religious leaders moving to the right on that same issue,” says Harvard professor Robert Putman, in an NPR interview by Heidi Glenn.
For Father Mike Surufka, a Franciscan priest in Chicago, there are indeed issues that are fundamental to the church but what seems to really matter is more basic: that the parishioner's spiritual needs are being met. . . . Surufka says he is hopeful about the future of religions in America. "There was a theologian from the mid-1900s who . . . described hope as an attitude toward the future that we cannot see, but we trust that somehow it's held by God and that there are possibilities beyond what we can even imagine."
And Putman points out that, "Even with these recent changes, the American religious commitments are incredibly stronger than in most other advanced countries in the world . . . we are a very religious country even today."
What do you think the church can do to encourage a younger generation to encounter Jesus and tap into the spiritual riches of Catholic teachings and traditions?
“To love another person is to see the face of God” is one of the most powerful lyrics that resonate from watching the latest Les Misérables. Being a musical theatre lover all of my life, I was highly anticipating the release of Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.’s production filled with a star studded cast. Having seen the Broadway production ten years prior, one might say I was a fan already, but what happened to me during the 157 minutes in the movie theater made me very proud to be a Catholic where God’s unconditional forgiveness is infinite.
Victor Hugo’s masterpiece novel has successfully reached many audiences through his written work as well as many theatre and motion picture audiences. The musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer under the direction of Tom Hooper highlight many Catholic themes present in this historical French story.
The overwhelming theme of forgiveness and redemption I felt at this viewing of Les Misérables reminds me of the The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant found in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 18. “Then Peter approaching asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.’” (Mt 18:21-22). This is poignantly seen between the Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) character and the Bishop Bienvenu (Colm Wilkinson) who is the first person to show him kindness after his 19 years of prison. Even after this compassion, Valjean steals silver from the Bishop and is arrested, but again, the Bishop forgives and shows love and compassion for him and tells the authorities he gave Valjean the silver. This short scene between the Bishop and Valjean encapsulates this theme of forgiveness, love, compassion 7 times and 77 times over.
Other Catholic reviewers are split. Anita Crane of Catholic Lane said in her title that the movie experience “provokes mixed emotions in a Catholic viewer” from the musical being “mediocre” to the film makers “exploiting characters” and yet later shares that “In my heart of hearts, I hope it [the movie] inspires people to love God and care for orphans.” Where Joseph McAleer of Catholic Review, promotes the film stating that, “this faithful adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel, which was transformed into a worldwide stage sensation by impresario Cameron Mackintosh, is a deeply moral story. Characters rise and fall calling on God for grace and mercy, seeking personal redemption while trying to better the lives of others.” Both very interesting and different Catholic perspectives on the film worth reading.
They and I agree it is not really appropriate to bring your children 13 and under due to the suggestive sexual content, violence and adult themes. However, what Catholic themes came to mind for you? What is your review of Les Misérables? Did you feel the “Fight,” the “Dream,” the “Hope,” or the “Love,” the movie poster suggests?
This film reminded me of how utterly blessed I am to be forgiven by God in spite of and despite my sins. With this gratitude, I too try to forgive like the Bishop forgives Valjean in his sin of desperation.
For her services creating the state-of-the-art St. George’s Park Retirement Village in Sussex, U.K., Augustinian Sister Mary Thomas was awarded an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth in her New Year’s Honor’s List, Zenit reports. Sister Thomas, a native of Ireland, accepted the award on behalf of her religious community, the Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus, and those who provide care in the Augustinian homes: “I recognize that the award is given not just to myself but in recognition, too, of my own religious community and many other professionals who have worked with us over these years to assist the elderly and most vulnerable in our society.”
The Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus order was founded by Canon Peter John Maes in 1842. The sisters were to offer assistance to him in his ministry to the mentally ill. Today the sisters run four care facilities throughout the U.K. Their most ambitious project was the St. George’s Park Retirement Village. The award-winning development includes senior apartments, community building, restaurant, bar, shop, hairdresser, library, gym, game rooms, treatment facility, and lush grounds with a lake and park.
Sr Mary Thomas trained as a general and psychiatric nurse and has spent all of her religious life caring for the sick and elderly. When she was appointed Superior of the Order in the 1990s, she began to realize the sisters’ dream of an innovative new assisted living and care community.
For more on the Augustinian Sisters, read their online listing in the VISION community directory.
God must have a few tricks up his sleeve it seems these days. Last week we had some wonderful news about an increase in vocations and vocational awareness and now this week we have added young people into that mix. I came across another interesting and amazing article about using social media to reach out to teens and young people. Recently, the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia has launched “Video Catechism for Teens”—a free online resource for youths and young adults. The site (www.vcat.org) became available Oct. 11 to coincide with the start of the Year of Faith, instituted by Pope Benedict XVI. The yearlong program of worship, catechesis and evangelization runs to Nov. 24, 2013.
While reading this article found on CNS, I was actually quite excited to see that the Church, in general, is trying to do more for young people. I know that often (myself included in this mix) can struggle with understanding some of the things the Church puts forth. I have that the more questions I ask and the more information I gather, I have come to the conclusion that I have the ability to determine the right choices for me and my faith.
Bob Perron, executive director of the diocese's Department of Youth Ministry stated that, "We wanted to do something where we could help our kids become better catechized, but we knew we had to do it in a different, new kind of format." That format offers young people a four-minute video each month on the site that provides a dramatization of teachings from the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," presented in a way that is relevant to them and will help them understand how they may apply the teachings in their own lives. The dramatizations illustrate experiences and issues that young people face in their own lives and how they can find God in today's culture.
I know sometimes young people have felt pushed aside by the Church or felt that they Church doesn’t seem to relate well to what our generation is going through, and my hope is that this new resource will help us (teens and young adults) see how important we are in the Church.
Today I am reminded of the horrific events that occurred eleven years ago. The date was September 11, 2001 and our country experienced the worst attack on American soil ever. We lost many men and women that day and as time goes on we will never forget those who lost their lives to this tragedy. Families lost moms, dads, sisters, brothers, cousins, neighbors, children, friends and parents. We all lost something or someone that day.
As I continue to read articles, look at pictures, and even recall the events that unfolded, I am reminded of the bravery and courage of the fireman, police, medics, religious, and civilians that risked their lives to protect and save others. Out of this tragedy, our nation came together and a sense of patriotism and compassion developed in our hearts and minds. Regardless of race, sex, or religion, we came together and created a community of love and support for one another.
As we reflect on those events of eleven years ago, let us never forget that tragedy that ensued but let us be reminded of the sense of kindness and togetherness that was created. Let us continue to show sympathy for one another, to be compassionate, and to continue to pray for peace in our world.
I want to thank the men and women that serve our country today and for all those men and women who risked their lives eleven years ago, and for all those who risk their lives today. Let us pray for them, their families, and for each other.
"They were her only caregivers. The sisters got her medical help and are giving the boys some stability. Now the boys are free to claim much of the childhood they were losing. Clearly, we all share responsibility for the Matts and Marks in our nation."Here's Sr. Campbell's full address:
With the end of the Olympics, comes the end of the games that captivated audiences around the world for 17 days. But for one Olympian, these London games have taken on a whole new meaning. For Mireia Belmonte, her medals are more than just physical reminders of her success in London; they are also offerings to the Blessed Mother for her help throughout the games.
According to the Catholic News Agency, Spanish swimmer Mireia Belmonte offered her two silver medals from the London Olympics to Our Lady of Monserrat in Barcelona. The 21 year-old swimmer, and the only Spanish swimmer to win two medals, said in a press conference that both medals were of “equal value” to her.
A devout Catholic, Belmonte is one of many athletes who gave thanks and praise to her faith during the Olympics. To name a few others: Gabby Douglas, Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin, and Jordyn Wieber.
Belmonte trains almost nine hours a day and is beginning her training to prepare for the world championships next year. The swimmer was born in Badalona, Spain, in 1990 and began swimming at the age of four at the recommendation of doctors to help correct her sclerosis.
What a great way to give thanks to God for the gifts he has bestowed upon each of us. Let us all be reminded of the gifts we have each been given and use our talents as best we can each day.
|CORITA KENT in front of some of her work
(Photo courtesy LCWR).
Last month the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. wrapped up an exhibit of prints by Corita Kent, who is mentioned in this year’s VISION magazine article on the “Women of Spirit” exhibit about the history of religious sisters in the United States.
To read more about Corita Kent and the “R(ad)ical Love: Sister Mary Corita” show and see some images from it as well as watch a video, go the NMWA website.
London (Ecumenical News International). While many young people in the U.K. are gearing up for a summer of backpacking or the beach, one group is choosing to stay home and spend their holidays in a more unusual way—doing voluntary conservation work in ancient cathedrals, chapels, and churches. Cathedral Camps, run by the U.K. charity Community Service Volunteers, is seeing about 150 young people from ages 16 to 25 painting walls, polishing spires, ringing bells, surveying tombstones, and cleaning graveyards during the day and sleeping overnight in gardens, presbyteries [church houses], or cloisters. "The experience is a chance to see the hidden corners of some of the nation's most iconic religious buildings in England, Scotland and Wales," said Hannah Foxon, a seasoned camper.
A video about the campers' experiences:
With the opening ceremonies just days away, it got me thinking about what it would be like to be an Olympian. I thought about how awesome of an experience it would be to compete in front of millions of people, representing our country, playing for a medal, inspiring people to come together and for a moment have the world waiting and watching for what might happen next.
However, for most of us we probably will spend our lives being Olympic spectators but for Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, he gets a shot to be on the world’s stage during the London Olympic Games.
Competing this year with his air rifle, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker told Catholic News Service in a phone interview from Fort Benning, Ga. “I'm a little bit more relaxed going into this. I know how to deal with some of the extra things the games bring now."
A Nebraska native, Parker grew up around sport shooting. His dad, Dale Parker, was a competitive shooter for much of his early life. At age 13, Jason Parker's parents bought him a competition air rifle, and he used it to climb the ranks in local and state competitions.
He said his real breakthrough came when he attended Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati. The university had "just a great atmosphere. It was exactly what I needed during my life," he said. Not only did Parker end up making his first international team in 1994 as a junior at Xavier, but he also met his wife, Andrea.
Parker is very skilled in the 10-meter air rifle competition and the 50-meter three-position competition which has led him to a successful career in the military. Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker won the Men's Three-Position Rifle match, to secure his fourth trip to the Olympics and will be competing on the US Men’s Shooting Team.
Parker, a Methodist, said his faith helps him tremendously: on the range, with his family, and in Afghanistan.
Let us pray this week for all the athletes participating in the Olympics and ask God to watch over them. Good luck to all the Olympians!
Speaking on Sunday at a Mass in Frascati near his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, the 85-year-old Pope said going back to the work produced by the Council 50 years after it began in 1962 was essential to the New Evangelization. "Therefore, read it and read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in this way rediscover the beauty of being Christians, of being Church and living the great ‘we' that Jesus formed around himself in order to evangelize the world."
|ANDREW Domini wasn’t the only one at St. Mary-of-the-Woods
who wore out his shoes. Mother Guerin and her sister-companions
wore wooden shoes, or sabots, when working outside.
Last April Wabash College student Andrew Domini came across a CNN Presents documentary on Mother Theodore Guerin, the French nun and now canonized saint who founded the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana in 1840. The program talked about a miraculous healing that had been part of Mother Guerin’s canonization process, Domini was reminded of an aging friend who had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer six months earlier. “He wasn’t doing well, and he’s the kind of guy who gives so much and doesn’t expect anything in return,” Domini told CNN’s Jen Christensen. “I wanted to do something for him.”
So Domini decided to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Mother Guerin to pray for his friend, who didn't know abvout the trip beforehand. He could have driven but said he “wanted to walk. . . . I wanted it to be a sacrifice.” With a handful of supplies in a backpack, he left his fraternity house around 5 a.m. The first night “I asked for sanctuary at a couple of churches, but they told me they couldn’t do that,” Domini said. He slept on couch at a student union building, on a park bench, and inside an abandoned building. Twelve miles into the next day's walk his feet were blistered and bleeding, and a couple gave him a ride for about 10 miles. He walked the remaining two miles to St. Mary-of-the-Woods and crawled the last 90 feet to Mother Guerin’s shrine in the chapel.
After praying at the shrine for his friend, he visited the Sisters of Providence’s welcome center. At the museum there, Sister of Providence Jan Craven, who manages the shrine, approached him. “I swooped him under my wing to find out what brought him here,” Craven said. Since CNN’s program on Mother Guerin had run last month, Craven said her workload had tripled as she’d received hundreds of calls, emails, and letters.
After having something to eat with the sisters in the dining hall, Domini was offered a room in the men’s wing of the facility. He spent two days with the sisters, who talked with him about what Mother Saint Theodore meant to them and about their work. “We’ve been told by a lot of people that when they come onto the grounds, they feel a real sense of peace that we are this oasis in this modern jungle,” Sister Craven said. “We feel this, but because we live here sometimes we need a reminder. Andrew did just that.”
“I’ve been inspired,” Domini said. “I trusted in Providence to get me through this just like [Mother Guerin] did with her journey. We are here to make the world a better place, just like the sisters do every day.”
Read the complete CNN story.
Read more about the Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN.
Ooberfuse, a European electro-pop band released a single in support of the English and Welsh Church’s new vocations drive, according to the U.K. Catholic Herald.
Worth Abbey Benedictine Fr. Christopher Jamison OSB, director of the National Office for Vocation, commissioned the band to write the soundtrack to help promote vocations. Their song, “Call my name,” can be heard here and comes from their forthcoming album Seventh Wave, to be released in August.
Fr Jamison described the single as a “wonderful gift given to the Church. The words are poetic and inspired, worthy of the psalms.”
Their previous single, Heart’s Cry, was the youth anthem for the Pope’s visit to Britain in September 2010.
Band member Hal St. John described the task as a challenge: “When God speaks to us he does so in a strange and other worldly language that it is sometimes hard if not altogether impossible to render into intelligible words. His gentle yet persistent call cuts through the clamour and roar of contemporary life treading as softly as dove’s footsteps. For some, pop music is part of the noise that drowns out the sound of divinity, desensitising us to the transcendent. On the face of it, it seems incongruous that pop music, especially dub-step, should be used to heighten our awareness of God’s call to each one of us.”
The Knights of Columbus report in their April newsletter that support for vocations is up among their membership. "Specifically, Knights raised and disbursed more than $3 million to 2,628 seminarians and postulants in 2011 through their Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP)." That is up from $2.9 million to help 2,697 students in 2010.
The RSVP program, sponsored by the Supreme Council, encourages local Knights of Columbus offices to provide financial and moral support to people studying to become priests, brothers, or religious sisters by offering these local units $100 rebate on every $500 they donate to a student for his or her personal use.
In 2011, refunds totaled nearly $600,000. In addition to the Supreme Council refund, qualifying units receive a plaque honoring them for the moral support they provided, which includes e-mailing and writing letters to students and inviting them to K of C functions.
According to the Knights, since the start of the RSVP, nearly $53 million has been donated to seminarians and postulants and the Supreme Council has refunded local K of C units $9.7 million.
Today marks the 21st anniversary of the death ofJosephite Sr. Irene McCormack, RSJ, at the hands of Shining Path terrorists in Peru. Born in Western Australia in 1938, Irene grew up on a sheep farm and was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
In 1957, Irene entered into the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart and began teaching. At an early age Irene knew she wanted to serve God and educate young people. After 30 years of teaching, she was asked to do missionary work in Peru.
She arrived in Peru in 1987 for missionary work. McCormack's first assignment was in El Pacifico, a low income suburb in San Juan de Miraflores.
On June 26 1989, McCormack left to serve in Huasahuasi. McCormack, with her companion, Sister Dorothy Stevenson, were asked to supervise the distribution of emergency goods by Caritas, a charitable food organization in Peru.
McCormack continued her ministry of providing library facilities to poor children, who had no chance of obtaining books to aide in their school homework. She wanted the village children to know how to read and write. She also focused on training the village people how to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, so they could serve other parishioners in outlying districts.
On December 17, 1989, the priests of Huasahuasi were warned that they were in danger from Sendero Luminoso, so they and the two sisters left the village for Lima. McCormack and Stevenson, however, felt that the church could not abandon the villagers at this time and returned on January 14, 1990. For 12 months Huasahuasi was without a resident priest. During this time McCormack and Stevenson served the people, led the communion services, and provided leadership.
On the evening of May 21, 1991, McCormack was captured by the terrorist group named Shining Path. Following a mock trial, she was found guilty of being an imperialist and working for the Peruvian government by distributing food for the poor. She was then killed by the terrorist group.
McCormack was buried in Peru on May 23. McCormack believed the Holy Spirit motivated her to work in Peru once stating: "This overwhelming experience of the unconditional gratuitous love of God became a reality in my life—not just a conviction.
Below is the morning offering of Sister Irene. As you reflect on this prayer, pray for Sr. Irene McCormack and all those who are involved in missionary work.
God, my Father, you love and forgive me so TODAY I accept all as gift - and ask to find you Lord the Giver in the gift. I choose to face life without fear and to live wholeheartedly in each present moment. May my heart sing today a song of grateful thanks and praise. I am God's work of art! I am precious in His sight.
Read more about the life of Sr. Irene McCormack and other modern-day martyrs and saints here.
Peter Maurin and St. Therese of Lisieux were very strong influences on the work of Dorothy Day. Born on this day in 1877, Peter was a peasant farmer from southern France who immigrated to New York in 1909. For 10 years of Peter’s life he was not Catholic citing his reason for not living as a Catholic should. While tutoring in the mid 1920’s, Peter had a conversion and was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi. He began tutoring for free and like St. Francis, viewed labor as a gift to the greater community.
Peter had a keen mind and he devised a Catholic social philosophy that brought together a multitude of different interest, like sociology, politics, and economics and placed them at the service of the Gospel message. He proposed a social and religious program that was designed to improve social order and to create a society that made it easier for people to be good.
Peter first met Dorothy Day in 1932, when she has just returned home from DC after covering the Hunger March for America and Commonweal. While in DC, Day had prayed to God for inspiration and when she arrived at her apartment in New York, Peter was waiting for her at the kitchen table. For four months Peter worked with Day and together they began a newspaper to inform people about Catholic social teaching. The Catholic Worker began on May 1st, 1933 by Day and Maurin. Along with the newspaper, they also established a hospitality house to welcome and feed the poor and initiated weekly meetings for people who were dedicated to social justice.
Their efforts developed into the Catholic Worker Movement as we know it today. After Maurin left Day he lived out the remainder of his life in Pennsylvania where he worked on the first Catholic Worker owned farming commune known as Mary Farm. Maurin died on May 15th, 1949 on the feast day of St. Dympha, patroness of mental illness.
As evidenced by Day in The Long Loneliness, Day said she would never have begun the Catholic Worker without him. "Peter was a revelation to me, I do know this--that when people came into contact with Peter...they changed, they awoke, they began to see, things became as new, they looked at life in the light of the Gospels. They admitted to the truth he possessed and lived by, and though they themselves may have failed to go the whole way, their faces were turned at least towards the light."
O Blessed Trinity, We thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen
As we continue to celebrate the Easter season and the start of spring, I can't help but make mention of all the new life that is growing all around us. Today as I was driving I was noticing all the beautiful flowers that are starting to bloom, and it got me thinking about what kinds of plants we are going to have in our garden this year.
One really interesting flower is the Pasque flower which is a part of the buttercup family. Known and recognized as the Easter flower, its name comes from the French word for Easter. The Pasque flower blooms from April till June with beautiful purple or red flowers.
Legend says that these flowers grew alongside the tomb of Jesus and were a part of his magnificent Resurrection. Interestingly, the Pasque plant is used to help those who have trouble seeing. Maybe by planting a few Pasque flowers, it will help us see Christ more clearly in the world around us.
WASHINGTON—the U.S. bishops want to provide an opportunity for all Catholics to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, according to a new document from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization focuses on reaching out to Catholics, practicing or not, who have lost a sense of the faith in an effort to re-energize them.
“Every Catholic has a role in the Church, and every Catholic is called to spread the Gospel,” said Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. “But in order to evangelize, a person must first be evangelized. This is really the heart of the New Evangelization.”
The document examines what the New Evangelization is, its focus, its importance for the Church and how dioceses and parishes can promote it.
“The New Evangelization is a call to each person to deepen his or her own faith, have confidence in the Gospel, and possess a willingness to share the Gospel,” the document states. “It is a personal encounter with the person of Jesus, which brings peace and joy. The New Evangelization provides the lens through which people experience the Church and the world around them.”
The document highlights the call of Pope Benedict XVI to pursue the New Evangelization with renewed vigor and joy. It also provides dioceses and parishes with resources to assist Catholics in renewing their faith and sharing it with others.
The full text of the document is available online: click link
Source: US Conference of Catholic Bishops
One of our editors Dan Grippo found this interesting book that focuses on the tensions between Catholics and Muslims. Below is a brief description of the book and a link to its page on Amazon.
Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World
David Carlson Ph.D. (Author)
"If revenge and retaliation are the best responses that our nation could muster after 9/11, then Jesus did not have to come, live among us, and preach a radical understanding of 'neighbor' that includes the enemy."
In the wake of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, as tensions rise between Christians and Muslims, author and religious studies professor David Carlson seeks guidance in the modern-day deserts of monastic communities across America. Are Christianity and Islam destined to confront one other as clashing civilizations? Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World clearly answers "No."
Peace Be With You is the result of more than thirty interviews with abbots, nuns, monks, and other seekers at monasteries and retreat centers. Carlson reveals the untapped wisdom of these men and women in their own words as they speak with hope to a suffering world. Follow the author on this personal, moving, and at times difficult journey, and discover a new yet ancient basis for genuine peace between Christianity and other religions-especially Islam.
"It is time for Christians to use their power to change the conversation," Carlson says, "to ponder Jesus' command to treat the stranger as our neighbor and to treat our neighbor not only as ourselves, but as God in our midst."
|CU's President John Garvey helps paint with students|
Today marks the end of the Easter Triduum and the beginning of the Easter Season, which lasts for seven weeks ending on Pentecost Sunday.
This is a season full of life! Spring time is emerging and all the flowers are in bloom. Birds are filling the air with sweet hymns and new leaves are sprouting on the trees.
From here until Pentecost Sunday, the calendar is full with First Communions, Mother’s Day, Graduations and more. The Church tells us, “This is the perfect time of the year to celebrate life.”
So Enjoy this season of life and goodness. Let the Paschal candle burn brightly in your hearts throughout this season and let it remind you of the Holy Spirit that works within you.
Happy Easter Season!
Today marks Maundy Thursday or as we know it Holy Thursday. It was written in the Gospel of John; Jesus washes the feet of his disciples on Holy Thursday, the day before his crucifixion.
As we look forward to Easter and the Resurrection of the Lord, we begin to prepare ourselves for his death. Wherever in the world Catholics may be preparing to celebrate Easter, their thoughts and prayers are sent to the Holy Land, the land of Christ’s birth. In order to help us get ready for this season’s mysteries, what better place to go than to Jerusalem – the city of the Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection.
Fr. David Neuhaus, the Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew speaking Catholics reflects on Holy Thursday and its importance in our own lives. Take a listen to his reflection and try to spend some quiet time with the Lord today. For more reflections on Holy Week or news about the Church, please check out Vatican Radio.
|Pope arrives in Mexico, March 24, 2012.|
Can you think of three words that describe the Season of Lent and what it means to you?
Well, if you are struggling to find three words or ideas, the Sisters of St. Francis might be able to help you out. Seven sisters from the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania OH, filmed a short video about the season of Lent, sharing in three words what this holy season means to them.
This short yet powerful film describes all the attitudes and feelings we have as we journey through Lent toward Holy Week and Easter. Lent is considered a time of soul-searching and preparation, but it is also a time of gratitude for the great sacrifice Jesus made for us.
So in three words: Thank you, Lord.
Three years ago, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Arizona put their minds to raising funds to build a chapel and monastery in the Southwestern desert. They came up with a fun idea - have young and old alike run in an annual fundraiser named the Nun Run.
This year, their 3rd Annual Nun Run on March 10 attracted 1,135 participants at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Ariz., to compete in a 10K run, 5K run/walk, or opt for a slower-paced 1-mile walk.
"I started off the day full of energy and left with more than I arrived with," said Jill Sciarappo a volunteer and photographer.
The runners wore shirts designed by Sister Fidelis based on the year's motto from Isaiah 40:31 "You shall run and not get weary".
Many people came out for this amazing event from grandparents to young children. The "Nun Run" is trying to raise funds to continue work on building Our Lady of Solitude Monastery. The previous runs all help to fund the chapel and chapel appointments. After the final cosmetic work is completed on the chapel, the main focus will be completion of the Monastery to make rooms for 28 sisters.
Our Lady of Solitude is rising like a vision of medieval beauty on land donated to the sisters in Tonopah, just west of Phoenix. The sisters arrived here in 2005 from Hanceville, Ala., to establish the first Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration monastery in the West and to become the first contemplative community of nuns in the Phoenix Diocese.
The Nun Runs are helping to bring the diocesan community together for this project. "The Lord has inspired a lot of good people to come out and help us," said Sister John-Mark Maria. "A lot of people come together for Our Lord, and I experience that through the Nun Run. I'm very humbled, and I marvel in the Lord's goodness."
So if you see a nun run, go join in and think of the Lord. A young woman was running and wearing a shirt that had a picture of a sister with the words: "Not all habits are bad."
Let's remember to pray for those who are discerning a religious vocation or any vocation and let's continue to pray for the men and women who are priests or sisters, as they continue to inspire and work towards bringing about the Kingdom of God.
Check out more photos of the Nun Run or to get involved.
With moves from soccer greats like Pelé or Ronaldo, sisters and priests from the Diocese of Biloxi and southern Mississippi participated in a benefit soccer game for St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. In a girls vs. boys soccer showdown with a bit of religious flare, the sisters proved superior.
Dressed in habits, the sisters from the Community of Charity and Social Services (CCSS), along with help from parishioners and students in disguise, pulled a convincing 6-4 victory over the priests.
"We thought this would be a fun way to bring awareness of holy life," said Ginny Macken, who coordinated the game. "We had about 100 people out for a great afternoon, with proceeds benefiting the Long Beach St. Vincent de Paul Society. It was a fun competition with lots of laughs. Both the kids and adults had a great time."
Check out these great photos from St. Thomas Catholic Church, the parish that supports St. Vincent de Paul School. Including this one of Sr. Martha Troung, CCSS:
Well, it seems like forever since I last blogged about something going on in the news but I am happy to report that I am back from my week working with the Sisters of St. Joseph and their volunteer program.
I cannot go into too much detail about what I did (I am saving that for our magazine-so check it out in July), but it was a great week. I got involved in so many unique ministries that the sisters provide out in Rochester.
The overarching theme is Social Justice and Peace which stems from Catholic Social Teaching. All the ministries of the SSJ focus on these core components to provide the necessary resources people need in their daily lives. I was involved in education, health care, community and environmental ministries throughout the week and I had the opportunity to meet some really amazing people. It was truly an eye-opening experience to see how many lives we were able to touch just by being present and lending a helping hand.
Some words about Rochester, New York:
Rochester does have its areas of poverty and hardship like many cities but there was a feeling of welcome when I arrived. It was a great place to live and work for a week and I hope that others get inspired to participate in this amazing program and get a glimpse into the lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
sources: City of Rochester
Click here for more information about the Sisters of St. Joseph, Rochester, NY.
The only leap year baby to become Pope was Paul III, who was born in Italy on this very day in 1468. Known as Alessandro Farnese, he became the Pope in 1534. Pope Paul III, convened the Council of Trent in 1545 and he was a strong advocate of the arts. As Pope, he commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Last Judgement on the wall of the Sistine Chapel. According to many scholars, Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated his work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of Celestial Spheres) to Pope Paul III because of his contribution to the arts.
Pope Paul III died in 1549 and is burined in a tomb in which Michelangelo designed. To read more about Pope Paul III click here. Enjoy all the blessings that come with this "leap" day today!
We can look upon Lent as a journey. Think about the journeys we take-long journeys that can take days, even weeks to complete. Throughout this journey we experience ups and downs. We don't really expect them to go smoothly but we prepare for those things and deal with them when they come up.
A new movie, called The Way, is a movie about a journey in search of self, understanding and reconciliation. The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father, Martin Sheen takes us on a journey with characters that we come to care about and relate to.
The story goes that Tom (Sheen) is a California doctor whose son, Daniel (Estevez), dies in an accident while beginning a 500-mile pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela along the northern coast of Spain. When Tom arrives to claim Daniel's body, he decides to carry Daniel's ashes on to Santiago to complete Daniel's pilgrimage. Along the way, the pilgrimage becomes uniquely his own.
Sheen, says of the pilgrim experience, "As we go along, we begin to shed some of the excess weight that we're carrying exteriorly, and then something interesting happens: transcendence-the journey inside." What a great message for Lent as we are taking our journeys towards spiritual renewal.
|Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC with
Rev. Martin Luther King during Civil Rights
rally in 1964. Click here for more about the
moment captured in this iconic photo.
Hesburgh, now 95 years old, was a leading figure in the U.S. civil rights movement and an educator who was considered among the finest of the 20th century.
The citizenship award is very rare, as it is not an honorary award and is given to those who do not qualify through ancestral rules. Previous recipients have included former House Speaker "Tip” O’Neill and former Coca Cola president Donald Keough.
Learn more about the Congregation of Holy Cross.
How can we change course and really deepen our faith this Lent?
According to Jeanne Hunt writing in St. Anthony's Messenger, we begin by cleaning out our spiritual closets and getting rid of those spiritual skeletons that are hindering our relationship with God and others.
"We Catholics and other Christians," says Hung "have long put on spiritual ashes to renew our faith and turn back to God wholeheartedly. Yet, our traditional pillars of Lenten practice need to be regularly revisited and tweaked. We may need to leave our comfort zone and give ourselves a genuine spiritual workout. For Lent to really matter, we must take a hard look at the state of our spirits. Then we can respond in a way that establishes deeper connections with God, our families--and even ourselves.
"God invites us to look at all our relationships with a willingness to make changes. Giving up things that mean little to us, such as candy, soda, etc., are good but that cannot impact the state of our souls. We have to begin to look critically at how we spend time in prayer, what we worship in the secular world, or how we spend our money."
Here is what Hunt lists as her Favorite Lenten Fasts:
Proclaim an electronic fast on weekends. That means no iPad, iPod, Blackberry or computer until Monday morning. Then spend the resulting free time visiting people you love and spending quality time with your spouse and children.
Stay out of unnecessary stores during Lent. Anything beyond the grocery store, pharmacy, etc., is off-limits. Instead of adding more stuff during Lent, give away or throw away three things each day before Easter.
Go green in a big way. Every day perform a Lenten “random act of kindness for the earth.” Keep a journal of your green project work, and after Easter do these acts regularly.
Fast from media during Lent. Stop watching TV or Internet news or even listening to the radio. For 40 days, turn your thoughts to God. Choose to spend your time reading a book or magazine that feeds your soul.
Walk everywhere you can. Limit gas usage to a certain amount and make it last all week. Each day, walk with God. Simply imagine that you and Jesus Christ are running or walking side by side. Talk to him and listen to him.
Hunt recommends that we look at our lives objectively, honestly recognize our weaknesses, and then design a fast that responds to those weaknesses. Above all, says Hunt, "Don’t do something that comes easily. Your Lenten workout should hurt a little."
Enjoy your spiritual exercise!
According to the just released NRVC/CARA Study on Educational Debt and Vocations to Religious Life, seven in ten institutes (69 percent) turned away at least one person because of student loans. In addition, many religious communities ask young people to delay their applications to enter because of educational debt.
“For those entering religious life, the expectation is that they be debt-free,” says Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, Executive Director of NRVC, “but for graduates in today’s economy, where education costs have risen by 900 percent since 1978, paying off loans can take years to accomplish. The burden of student debt has become a serious problem for religious communities desirous of welcoming younger members.”
Of approximately 15,000 serious inquiries to men’s and women’s religious institutes in the past 10 years, one in three (32 percent) involved a person with educational debt averaging $28,000, a figure slightly higher than the $25,000 national average.
The practice of assuming debt places a heavy and growing financial burden on religious communities, the study reveals. Those applying to enter religious life during the past 10 years carried $3 million in educational debt, and if national trends continue, that overall student debt load will likely rise by 5 percent annually.
Men and women whose educational debt is delaying their entrance into a religious community often develop creative strategies for paying off their loans, such as online candy sales, marathon runs, or bingo fundraisers.
“Because religious sisters, brothers, and priests are vital to the life of the church and provide great service to society,” says Bednarczyk: “we plan to bring together key stakeholders to develop strategies to ease this significant and growing barrier to religious vocations.” Time for everyone to put their thinking caps . . .
NOTE: Vocation Match has been tracking this debt trend. In 2011, 40 percent of VISION site visitors who completed a Vocation Match profile said they were not debt-free that was up from 27 percent in 2007. So far in 2012, 38 percent of reader respondents say they are not debt free. Find more VISION reader stats here. Also in a recent Fall 2010 Tiny Snapshot Survey, 49 percent of respondents answered YES to the question: Has debt affected your readiness or eligibility to religious life?
Mardi Gras literally "Fat Tuesday", is the last hurrah before the Catholic season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The name comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival.
What most people don't know is that this celebration relates back to the Christmas Season, through the ordinary time interlude known as Carnival. Carnival comes from the Latin, carne vale, which means "farewell to the flesh." Like many holidays and celebrations its roots are found in pre-Christian traditions based on the seasons. The season starts on Epiphany and ends with a huge celebration on "Fat Tuesday" or Mardi Gras.
Epiphany is also traditionally when celebrants serve King's Cake, a custom that began in France in the 12th century. Legend has it that the cakes were made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus. In the early days, a coin or bean was hidden inside the cake, and whoever found the item was said to have good luck in the coming year. In Louisiana, bakers now put a small baby, representing the Christ Child, in the cake; the recipient is then expected to host the next King Cake party.
There are well-known season-long Carnival celebrations in Europe and Latin America, including Nice, France; Cologne, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The best-known celebration in the U.S. is in New Orleans and the French-Catholic communities of the Gulf Coast. Mardi Gras came to the New World in 1699, when a French explorer arrived at the Mississippi River, about 60 miles south of present day New Orleans. He named the spot Point du Mardi Gras because he knew the holiday was being celebrated in his native country that day.
The official colors of Mardi Gras, with their roots in Catholicism, were chosen 10 years later: purple, a symbol of justice; green, representing faith; and gold, to signify power. By midnight tonight, all the festivities will be over, but the true challenge lies ahead, when we begin our 40 day Lenten journey which begins on Ash Wednesday.
Happy Mardi Gras!
Sources: American Catholic
Are you looking for a religious community that might be a "good fit" for your interests, spirituality, and personality? Here are a couple of tips on maximizing the Vocation Match program.
Use the “Importance Slider” (found under many questions in Vocation Match) to indicate the relative priority a particular question has for you in your search for potential religious communities. This will help us weigh your answers so you are more likely to match with communities that share your values and interests.
By adjusting the “Importance Slider” you can change the number of communities with which you match. Place higher importance on more questions and you will end up matching with fewer communities (because you are being more selective) but perhaps find a better fit. Lower importance on more questions will likely match you with more communities.
|BASILICA of St. Augustine, Annaba, Algeria.|
Pope Benedict XVI has made a personal contribution towards the restoration of the 112-year-old Basilica of St. Augustine in Algeria. The church, located in modern Annaba, overlooks the site of ancient Hippo, where Saint Augustine was bishop. In addition to the pope’s donation, the Papal Foundation has also contributed to the project.
Because authorities in both Algeria and France, as well as a number of institutions, religious orders, and benefactors, are financing the work, Vatican Radio said the restoration is “a symbol of coexistence and fraternity between the two shores of the Mediterranean, between Christians and Muslims, between the West and Islam, between people who seek the truth.”
Since today is Valentine's Day, a day where we express our love for others, I thought it would be neat to post a video about a program that helps former gang members. Father Greg Boyle is the founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that works with former gang members to help transform their lives, create positive communities and "find the person they are really meant to be." The link below takes you to Fr. Boyle talking about the importance of his work and the importance of helping those that are in need.
Homeboy Industries started as a jobs program offering alternatives to gang violence in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Homeboy assists at-risk, recently released, and formerly gang involved youth to become contributing members of their communities through a variety of services in response to their multiple needs. Free programs -- including counseling, education, tattoo removal, substance abuse and addiction assistance, job training and job placement -- enable young people to redirect their lives. Homeboy provides them with hope for their futures and is the nation’s largest gang-intervention and re-entry program – a model to all.
So today as we show our affection for those we love, let's remember to pray for those who need love and support.
Sources: Homeboy Industries Homepage and Huffington Post
Brazil's coastline, its Sugarloaf Mountain, and the iconic "Christ the Redeemer" statue are all part of the logo for the 2013 World Youth Day which was unveiled on Feb. 7.
"In the faith of the nations the heart has a major role," World Youth Day said in a note explaining the heart-shaped logo.
"It represents Brazil's welcome to the world as a nation of generous heart and hospitable people, while also conveying the faith of the disciples who carry Jesus in their hearts," according to Archbishop Tempesta.
Excitement surrounded the unveiling of the 2013 World Youth Day logo, which took place at an event hosted by Rio de Janeiro's Archbishop Orani João Tempesta. A 25-year-old Brazilian man, Gustavo Huguenin, submitted the winning logo design in a contest held by organizers of the international Catholic In his design, geographical and religiously-themed elements come together to form a heart, arranged around Christ's image taken from Brazil's internationally-known statue.
The top half incorporates the outline of Sugarloaf Mountain, the peak overlooking Rio de Janeiro. World Youth Day's traditional "pilgrim cross" is superimposed on the mountain.
Meanwhile, the lower right half of the heart shape combines with the right side of Christ's image to form the shape of Brazil's coastline. The logo shares the green, blue, and yellow color scheme of the country's flag
As we prepare for the next World Youth Day. Let us keep the youth and young adults in our prayers. The next World Youth Day takes place July 23-28th 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.Sources: Catholic News Agency
This week the Benedictine Sisters of Erie got a much deserved mention in the Huffington Post being a group that inspires Faith. Each week the post writes about a well deserving person or group that works in bettering communities by faith and love.
The Benedictine Sisters of Erie are doing just that and more. These women offer services to teens, children, families, the elderly, physically challenged, homeless, and broken. While they may not always have the physical room, they always have their hearts open and welcoming to those in need.
The program that is being highlighted is their Neighborhood Inner City Art House. Since its inception this home provides classes in the arts-visual, performing and literary--- for at risk youth in a safe clean environment. There is no cost associated with attending any of these classes. They thrive mainly on donations and volunteers. The home has had over 2000 volunteers and roughly 500 children use this facility each year. The goal of the art house is to enable children to experience beauty, grow in a positive way, and develop into a fully productive human being.
What motivates this ministry? According to their website: Inspired by the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict we respond to the needs of all God's people. We steward the gifts, talents and skills that have been given to us and extend them through service. Community and non-community ministries alike provide the opportunity for meaningful work that is consistent with our monastic commitment to glorify God in all things.
So if you ever stop by Erie, PA check out this amazing home and see what you can do to help.
The armed forces don't seem like a place where one would be called to serve the Lord or be a minister to faith. The Huffington Post published a really nice article about hearing your call while serving in the military. According to the Post, there are a number of men who became military chaplains, either by a twist of fate or perhaps divine Providence many they found their calling while on active duty.
Many chaplains enter into the military straight from the seminary but some are called directly while still serving. The article talks about Muslim, Jewish, and Christian's who have all been called while serving to become military chaplains.
Brian Wood, now a Catholic chaplain, wanted to be a priest according to his parents but instead of enrolling into the seminary he went into the Air Force. Several Catholic chaplains told him that he should become a priest, he said, citing his "strength of faith and they thought I had a glow to me, that I looked like a priest."
Today, he is a seminarian at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, supported by both his home diocese in Lubbock, Texas, and the Archdiocese for the Military Services. After his expected graduation in June, Wood is scheduled to do three years of pastoral work in Lubbock, where he hopes to remain in the Air Force reserves, before returning to active duty. "I have a strong passion for the military and for my faith," Wood said. "What better way to put those two together than become a military chaplain."
Let us continue to keep the men and women who serve our country in our daily prayers.
What exactly was the influence of Paul the Apostle and Jesus? In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Robert Orlando writes how crucial Paul's role was in developing our Christian faith. As he writes, Jesus was the figure head of the Church and prepared the way while Paul recruited and developed Christianity into what it is today. The influence Jesus had on Paul manifested into our Christian faith today.
According to this article, Jesus' ministry was primarily a message to the Jewish people in preparation for a Messianic kingdom. It was Paul who targeted a larger Greco-Roman community. Gred Ludeman stated, "Without Paul there would be no Church and no Christianity. He is the most decisive person that shaped Christianity as it developed. Without Paul we would have had reformed Judaism....but no Christianity."
Paul's new Gospel broke with the original followers of Jesus, and ultimately gets him almost killed in Jerusalem. However, the central theme fusing the life of Paul in his letters with Jesus from the Gospels was the coming Kingdom of God. This "visitation" was not the Jewish understanding of the general resurrection. When Paul confronted Jesus in his Damascus vision, he also faced a new idea of resurrection -- but there was no kingdom, no destruction of Rome, no end times. In other words, there were no signs of Jewish Messiah.
From this moment forward, the Christian movement pivots from Figurehead to Founder. Paul's interpretation of this vision of the Messiah would determine the meaning of his life, his mission and eventually the Western World.
Still a common argument against Paul as founder of Christianity was the fact that he had a movement to convert to, but again, this is not what is in question. The question is would this original cult of Jewish Christian believers in Judea -- without Paul -- have come to found the Christian church?
History has claimed Jesus "the Christ" as the figurehead, but without Paul the Apostle, the founder, who improvised his message -- free of the Jewish religion -- and broke the resistance of his original followers there would be no church and perhaps not even a Jesus.
So what do you think? Was Paul's role truly this significant?
British bishops plan to use the 2012 London Olympic Games to renew interest in the Catholic faith, with initiatives ranging from fighting human trafficking and homelessness to promoting youth ministry and ecumenical dialogue. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the bishops' conference, called the Olympics and Paralympics "a moment of great opportunity for us all."
"These great sporting events generate all sorts of good ideas and initiatives, particularly for young people, reminding all of us of the importance of good health, the dignity of our bodies, the care of our physical well-being and its spiritual meaning," the archbishop said in a Jan. 24 statement.
The Catholic Church in Britain has been preparing for three years to seize the opportunity presented by the games to evangelize, said James Parker, the Catholic executive coordinator for the games.According to Parker there will also be 100 days of Peace, which encourages churches and schools to promote peace 50 days before and after the Olympics, through various opportunities and programs. The goal is to try and help combat violence and crime.
What a great initiative and what a creative way to get people active in being spiritually healthy and physically healthy. To read more about what the British Bishops are doing check out this article in the National Catholic Reporter.
This week in our parish bulletin our Pastor addressed the issue of poverty and those that are poor. The reason for this was on more than one occasion a woman and her child were begging for money outside our church after mass. While many people suggested she use our Social Services Ministry, she preferred cash. However, the issue of poverty and helping the needy is quite an important one. We are called to take care of those who are poor. The Gospel of Luke is filled with parables and sayings from Jesus telling us that indifference to the poor is unacceptable. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us that our final judgment will depend on how we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger. This is an obligation of all Christians to take care of the poor.
While reading this story in our bulletin, I came across this article in the CNS about Bishop Murry of Ohio writing on this very issue of poverty and taking care of the poor. According to Bishop George Murry in a pastoral letter on poverty, "Jesus said we will always have the poor with us, if each of us stops on our own journey to help a neighbor in need, the kingdom of God will come closer to realization each day". Jesus called upon his followers, he said, "to see and love our neighbors as ourselves. There is a sense that we have lost our historic concern for the poor among us. Sometimes we hear language and share attitudes that deride persons living in poverty," said the bishop, who also is secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The pastoral, "Who Is My Neighbor?" was dated January 2012 to coincide with National Poverty Awareness Month. Poverty "is not a simple problem" because it "involves family dynamics, minimal material resources, missed opportunities, personal fears, complex relationships, cultural norms, geographic locations, isolation and lack of understanding," Bishop Murry said. "Some who are poor are embarrassed to admit they have lost their jobs, their homes, and sometimes even their identity.
Most of our parishes or congregations have Social Services that provide the necessary resources for the poor. Our parish ministry helps out people where ever we can. As our Pastor suggested if you want to help the poor donate to a social service ministry, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate clothing or groceries. These are all things that can help those who are less fortunate and bring about the Kingdom of God.
Here are some words from Blessed Mother Teresa that will help us to really think about the poor: At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in." Hungry not only for food-but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing---but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for a room of bricks-but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ in distressing disguise.
In his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI said Jesus was such an influential man because of his words and deeds, in particular those that were focused on the poor, sick, hungry, and less fortunate.
For us "authority often means possession, power, control, success," the Pope said to those gathered in St. Peter's Square. "For God, however, authority means service, humility, love. . . It means entering into the logic of Jesus who stoops to wash the disciples' feet, who seeks the true good of man, who heals wounds, who is capable of a love so great as to give up his life, because he is Love."
Jesus heals us both spiritually and physically with his miracles and teachings, said Benedict, and he suggested that Jesus' use of words immediately opened up most of those listening to "the will of the Father and the truth about themselves." However, the scribes who "struggled to interpret the Holy Scriptures with countless reflections" were not open to his words.
The Pope highlights the idea that Jesus was powerful not for his control over people or the possessions he had; rather had power because of his unconditional love. Imagine if we saw our own power coming from the love we had for others: our relationships with others, how we treated people, and how we served others instead of the amount of money or political influence we had. What an interesting idea? Think how different the world would be?
It is definitely something worth thinking about especially in your own life. How have you treated people? How will you be remembered? These are some heavy things to consider, but that's what the Pope was calling us to do.
I figured since this is one of the first Sunny days we have had in January (here in Chicago), I would blog about something with a little humor today.
Now I admire and even praise the man in the video below for having the courage to sing in front of all these people, but his rendition of "Looking for a City" will definitely give you a few chuckles.
The performance -- which lasts for nearly three minutes -- might leave you speechless, but the ballad does solicit whistles and applause from a rather brave audience.
Have a great weekend and if you finding yourself wanting to sing, depending on your talents, it might be wise to think twice!
Posted in the Journal Sentinel, a creative and catchy way to approach religious vocations: Religious Trading Cards. These trading cards are unlike the traditional baseball or basketball cards. Rather they feautre highly respected and admired religious leaders in and around the Milwaukee area. Among them is Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki along with a handful of other local Catholic religious leaders featured on a new deck of trading cards circulating near and around Milwaukee.
The initiative, launched last week by two Catholic parishes — St. Monica’s in Whitefish Bay and St. Eugene’s in Fox Point — is meant to draw interest towards religious vocations.
“The biggest challenge today is indifferent families,” parish pastoral associate Monica Cardenas told the Catholic Herald. “We need families to embrace the idea for their children.” Among the others featured: Bishop Donald Hying; former Cardinal Stritch University President Sister Camille Kleibhan; and Father Paul Fliss, interim pastor at St. Eugene’s.
Cards include mini-bios, nicknames, favorite saints and individuals who influenced their interest in religious life. No word yet on the tradability of the cards but a unique way to get people interested in religious life.
In honor of Catholic Schools Week, the National Catholic Reporter spoke on the importance of Catholic education and all its benefits. Out of Trenton, NJ the Briant Family, which includes, Alison Briant Burley, Ellen Briant Reilly, Susan, and Katelyn Briant have all credited their own Catholic education in becoming Catholic school teachers.
Their parents, Doris and Thomas Briant, both products of Catholic education, made sure their children all had 12 years of Catholic education, despite the prospect of all that tuition. "My motivation was to show (our) commitment to Catholic education," Doris said, in spite of the financial hardships.
Crediting those that influenced the family, Tom and Doris praised two people in particular for having a good influence on their daughters: the late Sr. Juliana Naulty, a Dominican Sister of Hope who was principal of St. Joseph School in Toms River, and the late Fr. William P. Gardner, parochial vicar at their parish, St. Joseph.
"Sister Juliana demonstrated to all the girls that being a Catholic educator went beyond the classroom walls," Doris said. "She celebrated with them in their victories and supported them when they were down, (and) she knew the best way to help her students was to help their families. All four were honored to have known her."
Alison Briant Burley said that it was a wonderful opportunity to attend Catholic school and hoped that she could give her children the same experience she was given--an education of the whole person. "I want them to be encouraged and empowered to be their best selves by nurturing their faith and their minds at the same time."
Ellen Briant Reilly began her teaching career in the second-grade classroom at St. Aloysius School in Jackson. She now teaches at St. Joseph School.
Susan Briant has taught the fifth-graders at St. Dominic School in Brick for four years. S
Katelyn Briant a first-year teacher of Spanish at St. Paul School in Princeton.
Did you have a Catholic education? Take VISION's Tiny Snapshot survey on the homepage that is tracking the number of years our site visitors received formal Catholic education.
Today my 2nd Grade Catechesis class makes their First Reconciliation. I stumbled upon an article in The Huffington Post about the art of confession written by verteran Catholic author Paul Wilkes.
As I was reading through the article, it got me thinking of how I addressed to my class what Confession is. To a 2nd grader, the idea of Confession is pretty minuscule. They understand it to be merely a "scary" meeting with the priest explaining why they didn't take care of their pets better or played video games too long. The true art form of confession is missed; however there is something to be said for getting a group of 2nd graders stating the Act of Contrition in unison.
"Small c" confession, says Wilkes, is directed to a higher powe and is a pillar of not only religious belief but also mental health--it demands that we are honest with ourselves.
Confession is realignment--when we sin or betray ourselves, we are unaligned. Until we confess our sins our souls remain confused and out of alignment. This "small c" confession demands self-reflection and change and it's taking an honest look at your true inner self. Confession is not only for those who have committed public or private sin, but also for our daily hurts, neglects, and carelessness that disjoints our soul.d.
Also it seems that confession has lost its vitality because we have such an antiquated notion of right and wrong in the world. So how can we truly understand what confession is all about if we really don't know right from wrong? According to Wilkes, Confession is an art. It is an attitude and a way to live honestly and consciously that can heal our souls. Confession is a realignment of what is best in us and how we can live a better life. Once we realize this and we acknowledge this, we can truly understand the Art of Confession and obtain all the benefits it has to offer.
When confession becomes a practice, a daily reevaluation of one's actions -- an art -- its power continues to grow, instilling a new sense of confidence, a vision of what life truly can be and hold. It is building upon something strong and sure and ultimately reliable.
Not sure 2nd graders can get all that--it's enough that they remember the Act of Contrition. But with practice of saying I'm sorry, they may eventually come to understand the true art of Confession and its importance in their lives.
Unsure of some of the more formal aspects of the sacrament of Confession? Check out the VISION article "How to Make a Good Confession."
Picking up from the previous efforts after the World Cup in 2010, 11 religious orders from Indiana and Michigan are picking up where they left off and are fighting to stop sex-trafficking this year down in Indianapolis at Super Bowl XLVI. According to these congregations, there is an increase in sex-trafficking that is associated with sporting events. Their goal this year is to reduce, if not eliminate, this potential threat at the Super Bowl.
These orders are members of the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan which was established in the 1990s. This Coalition is a part of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility which remains as the pioneer coalition of active shareowners who view the management of their investments as a catalyst to promote justice and sustainability in the world.
When the ICCR held its meeting last June and heard that the Super Bowl was in Indianapolis, "we picked up the ball and started running," said Sr. Ann Oestreich, an IHM sister who is also the justice coordinator for the Sisters of the Holy Cross in South Bend, Indiana.
"In CCRIM, we had done a process in terms of picking one issue that was important to all of our members. Prior to the Super Bowl, the issue of human trafficking came up," Sister Ann told Catholic News Service.
"It's such a broad issue. How do we get at it as investors, as socially responsible investors? So we decided to take a look at the hospitality industry and purchasing stock in their companies so we could get into a conversation with the hotels."
Coalition representatives contacted the federal Department of Health and Human Services for assistance. "We asked for printed copies of brochures on their website, and HHS was kind enough, when they heard what we were doing, to provide 2,000 printed copies of those brochures."
They prepared a fact sheet and their goal was to reach 220 hotels in a 50 mile radius. So far according to Sr. Ann, "the response has been good."
Based on a Jan. 12 conference call with coalition members, "we've got about 50 responses so far for the hotels," she added. About half of the hotels have asked for further info that we're offering them in terms of training, in terms of signing the ECPAT code." ECPAT is an acronym for Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking, which has developed a code of conduct to deter child sexual exploitation.
Once the hotels get the materials they need, the sisters will leave the hotels be and let them do their work. The hope of the coalition is that these hotels will continue to respond and ask for further information even once the Super Bowl is over.
Monday afternoon, the Catholic News Agency reported that Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications emphasized that the presence of Catholics on the internet is essential and important. He noted that in 2009, roughly 440 million Catholics went online.
Commenting at Mercy University in Switzerland during a meeting by the Bishops conference of Switzerland and the Swiss Press League, the bishop stated, "Language, understanding of communities and the visibility are great challenges facing those who want to be present in the new digital continent."
Speaking as a part of the 40th anniversary of the pastoral instruction on social communication, Archbishop Celli stated that society has passed from the "era of information" to the "era of conversation" in which the content is itself the object of dialogue.
The Archbishop touches on something that we here at VISION work on each and every day. We are trying to present the most current and legitimate resources for Catholics discerning on the internet. The most important thing, as the Archbishop mentioned, is allowing all these wonderful resources to be available to Catholics everywhere. Here at VISION, our goal is to do just that. Remember if you have any questions or need any information please do not hesitate to contact us.
Please check out our Facebook page and our website for the most current information on discernment.
As we close out Vocation Awareness Week, we reflect on the recent message of Pope Benedict XVI who has emphasized the need for good spiritual counsel for those who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. The Catholic News Agency along with ETWN, reported the Pope's very important message on vocations.
"I would like to emphasize the critical role of spiritual guidance in the journey of faith and, in particular, in response to the vocation of special consecration for the service of God and his people," the Pope commented this Sunday at his Angelus address.
Also instrumental in the process, he said, are parents "who by their genuine faith and joyful married love, show children that it is beautiful and possible to build all your life on the love of God."
Speaking from the Papal apartments to several thousand pilgrims, the Pope explained his point with references to the Scripture readings at Mass on Sunday.
The Pope concluded his comments by entrusting all educators, "especially religious including priests, sisters, and parents," to the Virgin Mary as they help young people discern their vocation in life.
After speaking on religious vocations the Pope also mentioned the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will run Jan 18-25. He invited everyone "to join spiritually and, where possible, practically, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the Disciples of Christ."
As the Pope continues his series of reflections on prayer this week, yesterday he spoke and explained why the Eucharist is the "apex" of all Christian prayers.
EWTN news reported from the Vatican, that over 7000 pilgrims were tuning into the Pope's message about the value of the Eucharist as a prayer. According to Pope Benedict, "By participating in the Eucharist we have an extraordinary experience of the prayer which Jesus made, and continues to make for us all. Jesus offers us this prayer so that the evil we encounter in our lives may not triumph, and that the transforming power of Christ's death and resurrection may act within each of us."
The Pope's reflections on prayer have been a part of his ongoing set of discourses on prayer and its importance. He devoted mass yesterday to the importance of the Last Supper and emphasized how this meal brings us salvation and eternal life. In his reflection the Pope taught the pilgrims that it was here that Jesus reveled himself as the Pascal Lamb for all. It was also Christ's wish that the supper be "something special, different from other gatherings," and so he "gave something completely new: Himself," in anticipation of his cross and resurrection.
The Pope said that in contemplating the words and gestures of Jesus "we can clearly see that it was in his intimate and constant relationship with the Father that he accomplished the gesture of leaving to his followers, and to all of us, the sacrament of love."
As we continue to celebrate the Eucharist, let us continue to remind ourselves what the Eucharist truly means. As the Pope mentioned, Jesus gave us himself and like Jesus we too must give ourselves to fully appreciate this sacrifice.
|Pilgrims being baptized in the Jordan River|
I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Sound familiar?
For many of us, recalling our baptism is probably pretty hard to do without photos, videos, or stories, since we were so little. However, this weekend hundreds of Pilgrims in Qasr El-Yehud, Israel flocked to the Jordan River to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord reports the Catholic News Service.
Hajeh Mattar and her family made the journey to the Jordan to get baptized and to celebrate Jesus' baptism. According to Hajeh, "I came here to thank God. I came here to thank God for my grandchildren. They have strengthened my faith."
Nearby, mass was celebrated by Franciscan priest Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa. Many, parents were handing their children to him to receive the sacrament of Baptism and many people renewed their baptismal vows by stepping into the river.
This site was reopened in May to the public after many years of planning. Up until this point, people were only allowed by the Jordan River for special circumstances due to the threat of terrorism. Rania Basir, 36, a Palestinian from Jerusalem studying in Cairo, filled empty bottles with water from the river. "This is like a blessing," Basir said.
Baptism is such an important sacrament welcoming each of us into the Church and becoming adopted into God's loving embrace. As we recall our own baptisms, think about how joyous this occasion was and how this first step encouraged us to live a life of faith in God.
The Chicago Sun Times recently reported on a new trail in Northern Israel that gives visitors the chance to walk in the steps of Jesus.
The 39 mile "Gospel Trail" opened officially in December after many years of planning to make sure the most important spots were picked. The trail, which is government funded, starts just outside of Nazareth at Mount Precipice and heads northeast past major sites in Jesus' life. Travelers get a glimpse of the Mount of Beatitudes before the trail ends in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee.
Along the trail are gas stations, farms and houses so if you need a break there are plenty of places to stop along the way. The Department of Tourism is hoping that this new trail will spark business in Israel. Their hope is that businesses will begin to build hotels and restaurants along the way to help rebuild the tourism industy in Israel.
If want to learn more about the Gospel Trail or to simply immerse yourself in the culture visit goisrael.com
Though the Vatican Library is one of the world’s oldest—founded in 1475—it’s turning to contemporary digital imaging technology to address an ongoing challenge: preserving manuscripts and codices, some of which predate the invention of the printing press and can be up to 1,800 years old.
|SCANNING manuscripts at the Vatican Library.
Photo: Vatican Library
But there’s a possible catch: Will future computers will be able read the digital images? To solve that problem Ammenti turned to the flexible image transport system (FITS) format, designed by NASA and European space scientists in the 1970s to store images taken by satellites and orbital telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope.
"If you have a tool that can read FITS today, you can read FITS files from 20 years ago," said Pedro Osuna, head of the European Space Agency's scientific archives. "It's always backwards compatible." FITS’ open-source approach stores all instructions about how to read and process the information in a text header at top of the data. That allows FITS files to be read without conversions to different formats that might be incompatible with future computers, even ones built 100 years from now.
I am sure many of us had heard of the movie/show "Band of Brothers" which follows a group of paratroopers in WWII featured on HBO, but have you ever heard of Band of Sisters?
Band of Sisters, is a documentary film that tells the "unforgettable story of Catholic nuns in the United States: how they responded wholeheartedly to the call of Vatican II, risked everything in their unwavering commitment to social justice, and made a remarkable transformation from 'daughters of the church' into citizens of the world."
After Vatican II, these congregations searched and re-engaged with their pasts and learned that their true mission was to serve those of the greatest need: the poor. Now on the verge of losing what these sisters fought so hard for, they are fighting to preserve their freedom and to be able to continue to help the world.
Scheduled to be released this March, travel alongside these sisters Nancy Sylvester IHM (Immaculate Heart of Mary), Miriam Therese MacGills OP (Caldwell Dominican), Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch RSM (Sisters of Mercy) and their congregations as they take you through their journey and struggle to survive to maintain their mission.
For more information check out their website bandofsistersmovie.com.
While celebrating New Year's Day Mass, the Pope praised young people for securing the future of the church amid a time of great uncertainty where we see "shadows on the horizon of today's world."
Educating youth is a responsibility of all people, said the Pope; and teaching them knowledge of truth and the importance of faith and values is crucial in the survival to the church.
"Young people must "learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent. If they are educated properly, they will become builders of peace in the world."
After Mass, in remarks in English from his studio window, Benedict invited all to pray with him "earnestly for peace throughout the world, for reconciliation and forgiveness in areas of conflict, and for a more just and equitable distribution of the world's resources."
Again, turning his attention to young people, Benedict said that they "look today with a certain apprehension toward the future," and their concerns include "the difficulty in starting a family and finding a stable job." For more on the Pope's New Year's day comments, click here.
At the beginning of each New Year, we all hope and pray that this year is going to be better than the last and we work on making that happen (our resolutions). As we look ahead in 2012 let us work on continuing to strive for a more optimistic outcome and work on being compassionate to each other.
Ministers-on-the-go are among the "Social Media Trends that are Reshaping Religion" according to religion blogger Elizabeth Drescher. The social networking practice of “checking in” wherever you are is taking hold across social media platforms and is being used among many lay and ordained ministers to make their ministries visible and to alert community members that they’re available for conversation at nearby coffee shops or pubs.
Jerry Whirtley, pastor of First English Evangelical Church in Victoria, Texas sees location-based check-ins as digitally incarnational ministry: I check in everywhere I go … If I can interact with somebody because they know where I am . . . , then I think I need to do that simply because it allows me to be more accessible to everyone else who might be looking for me or ask me something."
As the reality of part-time, bi-vocational, and otherwise extra-congregational lay and ordained ministry continues to grow, believers and seekers shaped by digital culture increasingly expect mobile accessibility to everything. So, expect to see an uptick in ministry check-ins on social networks.
Jesuit Fr. James Martin, S.J. recently published a brilliant piece about the hidden life of St. Joseph and his thoughtful ministry of raising Jesus and being a humble servent of the Lord.
In this short film, Martin highlights and examines the life of Joseph and how important he was in Jesus's life as well as ours. St. Joseph is someone we should try to emulate. He was a great example of someone who lived a truly devotional life to his family and to the Lord. Take a couple minutes and check out this wonderful short film. In this season of Christmas, Martin urges us to remember St. Joseph.
Just in time to get you into the holiday spirit. With only 5 days until we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, I thought it would be appropriate to show you some of the boldest, tackiest, silliest, over the top Christmas lights from across the US.
The Huffington Post published a very funny slideshow feature about some of the best (or worst) holiday lights people put up this Christmas season. Regardless, of how they look, it is the season to put out your best and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. Here is just one example of what was put up on display.
Every year, I get more and more ideas about what to include in my Christmas light display. Each year, with the more I add, I find that I become more excited about what Christmas is all about. Spending time with our families or those we love and celebrating all the good times we have had is what the season is all about. Getting together and celebrating each other company is something I enjoy.
So although some of these lights are a bit over the top, I have to commend people for getting into the spirit of the season and celebrating Christmas.
So put up a couple more lights, put on some Christmas music, grab a cup of hot cocoa, and prepare for the birth of our Savior with a little humor and light.
|STUDENTS from Creighton University
in service with the Visitation Sisters.
The VIP program, which was successfully launched this fall, is a year-long internship program where participants provide service alongside the Visitation Sisters in North Minneapolis. The sisters have welcomed two young women as the inaugural participants to the VIP Program: Kelly Schumacher, a Minnesota native and graduate of Augustana College in Illinois, and Beth Anne Cooper, a native of New York and graduate of Hope College in Michigan. Both young women are teaching English as Second Language classes to immigrants and refugees, doing advocacy work, working with grade-schoolers on both schoolwork and relationship-building, coaching youth sports, learning more about restorative justice, and planning service-learning for small groups which includes urban immersion experiences.
The sisters are also in the process of launching the new Monastic Immersion Program, offered by the sisters to women desiring an in-depth immersion into the monastic life. Through the Monastic Immersion Program, women have an opportunity to " ‘try on’ monastic customs and values,” said Sister Mary Frances Reis, contact for Visitation’s Monastic Immersion Program. They are invited to live the monastic life with the sisters for a period of six months to a year. Each participant is expected to enter fully into the sisters’ life of prayer, presence, and ministry during her stay. Prospective participants may come from any Christian faith tradition.
For more information about the VIP Program: http://www.visitationmonasteryminneapolis.org/visitation-companions/visitation-internship-program-vip/
For more information about the Monastic Immersion Experience: http://www.visitationmonasteryminneapolis.org/tag/monastic-immersion-experience/
In the short movie, it carefully depicts and details the pregnancy of Mary and takes viewers through a small mini-biblical recreation of the Nativity via newsfeed updates.
The short movie does a really nice job of recreating the story of the birth of Jesus but it also makes us realize how we have become a society that relies on social media to get our latest news about what is going on in the world. All Joseph and Mary had were each other and the Lord. They had no distractions like cell phones, email, Facebook, Twitter, or computers. Even without all that, the story of the Nativity has been passed down for thousands of years and the message of Christmas still remains the same; A joyous occasion in which a Savior was born who brought goodness and light into the world and saved us from sin and death.
As we continue to wait for the birth of Jesus, let us take a moment to slow down, to put down the cell phones, shut off the computers or TV's and reflect on how significant the birth of Jesus is in our own lives and how he has blessed us. Let us look at the good in our lives and be thankful for what we have been given.
|GIRL SCOUT Troop 2272 outside the Carmel
of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Monastery.
Photo: Celeste Diller; Intermountain Catholic.
The boy was taken aback by this gesture and asked Diaz why he was doing this for him. Diaz replied to the boy that all he wanted was to grab a bite to eat and asked the teenage boy to join him at dinner. They went to dinner and it was here the boy had a change of heart. While Diaz was talking to those he knew at the diner, the boy was impressed he was nice to "even the dishwasher." When the boy asked Diaz why, he responded "I was taught to be nice to everybody." The teen was shocked and responded, "Yeah but I didn't think people actually behaved that way."
It was here that Diaz asked the boy what he wanted out of life and the teen was speechless and had a sad look on his face. When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen that he would have paid had his wallet not been stolen. Without hesitation the boy returned the wallet and also gave Diaz the knife. Diaz gave the boy $20 and hoped this would help the teenager out.
Diaz did a great thing that night opening his heart up to this boy and being generous. "I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world."
As we are awaiting the birth of the Lord, let us be reminded that Advent is a time of giving and being generous. It is a time to focus on helping those who need help and to think about giving gifts instead of receiving them. Had Diaz not stopped to help the boy, he may have ended up in prison that night or worse. Because Diaz offered up what he had he was truly living out the message of Christ and that is to love your enemies and treat those that may hurt you with love and kindness.
The resentment between Occupy Wall Street protestors and corporate America has certainly grown in the past couple of weeks. Each day we learn new information about what the protestors want and what Wall Street has no intention of doing.
It turns out Wall Street is also getting an earful from its investors, including the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Sister Nora Nash, OSF, head of the community's Corporate Social Responsibility mission, recently featured in an article in the business section of the New York Times, actively weighs in on corporate America's practices. A soft-spoken woman, Nash has been quite vocal in offering suggestions to some of the world's largest corporations.
”We want social returns, as well as financial ones,” says Nash. “When you look at the major financial institutions, you have to realize there is greed involved.”
Nash and her community formed a corporate responsibility committee beck in the 1980s after they had lost some of their retirement in the market. They wanted to vocalize the importance of wise investments and fiscal responsibility not only within their own community but also within some of Wall Street's major corporations. Their goal as a committee was to buy the minimum number of shares that would allow them to submit resolutions at a company's annual shareholder meeting.
The group advises executives to protect consumers, rein in executive pay, increase transparency within corporations, and remember the poor.
The Sisters of St. Francis are not going it alone. They have teamed up with the Sisters of Charity Saint Elizabeth and Sisters of St. Dominic (Caldwell Dominicans), both in New Jersey, and many other Christian denominations and religious faiths. They are active in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
“Companies have learned over time that the issues we’re bringing are not frivolous,” says Fr. Seamus P. Finn, a Washington-based priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and a board member of the Interfaith Center. “At the end of every transaction, there are people that are either positively or negatively impacted, and we try to explain that to them.”
The goal of the group is not to bring corporations down, but to get these companies to become more responsible for their actions and be held accountable for their practices. Although success has been sporadic, the sisters believe in their mission.
Click here to read more about the Sisters of Philadelphia's corporate engagement.
This past weekend in Graz, Austria, Gert Hoedl and his team created a stunning ice sculpture of the Nativity. Perfect timing as we are beginning the Advent season. Hoedl and his team have been recreating this ice sculpture of the Nativity since 1996, marking the beginning of every Advent. Their sculpture is one of the largest recreations of the birth of Jesus throughout the world.
Watch how Hoedl and his team created such an amazing sculpture:
As we continue to prepare for the birth of Jesus, let us reflect on what was written in the Gospel of Mark: Be watchful and alert. Remember that Advent is a time to reflect on the blessings we have received and to prepare ourselves for the greatest gift of all: Christ the Lord.
Pope Benedict XVI appealed for the success of the climate change talks that are opening Nov. 28 in Durban, South Africa. Speaking to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict said, "I hope that all members of the international community agree on a responsible and credible response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, taking into account the needs of the poorest and future generations."
The 84-year-old German pope has voiced increasing concern about protecting the environment in his encyclicals, during foreign trips, speeches to diplomats and in his annual peace message. Under Benedict's watch, the Vatican has installed photovoltaic cells on its main auditorium to convert sunlight into electricity and has joined a reforestation project aimed at offsetting its CO2 emissions.
For the pontiff, "being green" is a moral issue: Church teaching holds that man must respect creation because it's destined for the benefit of humanity's future. He has argued that climate change and natural catastrophes threaten people's rights to life, food, health and ultimately peace.
Born in Northern Italy in 1850, Mother Cabrini worked as a teacher in her early life and later ran an orphanage. In 1877 she took religious vows and formed the religious congregation the Missionary of the Sacred Heart.
Her role was to help and work with Italian immigrants and in 1881 she did just that right here in Chicago. She opened up Assumption Church, the first Italian parish in Chicago. Throughout her life, she devoted her ministry to education and health care. She built hospitals and schools and created opportunities for immigrants that may have never had the chance to go to school or receive health care. In 1909 Mother Cabrini officially became a US citizen. After returning to Chicago in 1917, she fell ill and died on December 22, 1917.
In 1946 she was canonized by the Catholic Church. This was a significant honor as she was the first American citizen to be canonized a Saint. Mother Cabrini lived her life by devoting it to helping others. She never gave up and always believed in her mission. What a great role model to have in our lives today. Mother Cabrini is someone we still can look to for help each and every day.
To read more about Mother Cabrini and all her amazing works check out this article published by WBEZ.
|Penn State students held a vigil Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 in
memory of the victims of the child sex-abuse abuse scandal
that hasshaken the university to its core
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon).
In the wake of the Penn State sex-abuse scandal and the ensuing crisis of community the university faces, I received my fall issue of the St. Mary's College Courier, the alumnae journal. I was struck by the eerily prescient comments made by the vice president for mission Holy Cross Sr. Veronique Wiedower, CSC in a letter about the college's core principle of community established by founder Blessed Basil Moreau:
Moreau believed that unity, one of the hoped-for graces of community, was a "powerful lever with which we could move, direct, and sanctify the world." Achieving unity requires all of us to strive for right relationships with self, God, the cosmos, and our neighbors. . . . Especially today, Moreau's vision of community through unity is one that our larger community, which radiates throughout the world and beyond to God, longs to see. This is the time in which we are all invited to model and live in right relationship.
Indeed it is. May we all have the courage and strength to set relationships aright in our educational communities, families, church, and beyond.
Read more about the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
A great article surfaced yesterday in the Chicago Tribune about Christian Comedy. The article covered a comedian by the name of Jeff Allen who has found great satisfaction in telling clean, good humored jokes to Church's throughout the US.
Allen, a born again Christian, struggled early on in his career. A high school graduate, he had trouble finding his way. While performing he fell into dark times as he struggled with drugs and alcohol. On the verge of being divorced he realized he needed to make a change. Upon reading the bible and Ayn Rand, he had a slow conversion. On Aug. 17, 1997 he had his epiphany and that is when he devoted his life to Jesus Christ.
Allen, who now performs over 80 gigs a year, works very hard at keeping his routine clean and humorous. After his conversion, he was forced to find humor without all the expletives, and that has certainly made him a better comedian.
The article also looks into the Christian Comedy industry and how it has ebbed and flowed over the past 20 years. The Christian Comedy Association formed in 2002, focuses on appealing to comedy clubs that this venue is lucrative and funny. While their focus is to keep the humor clean and fun, the industry of comedy itself in Chicago is a dying one. They are trying to bring back the funny without all the trash.
One of Allen's top jokes is one I will leave you with. "I believe teenagers are God's revenge on mankind. One day God is looking down over his creation and says to himself, 'Hey let's see how they like to create someone in their own image who denies their existence.' I looked through the bible cover to cover, and it never mentions how old Satan was when he finally rejected God's authority. My guess? Sixteen."
So laugh a little today and enjoy the humor of life.
I read an interesting blog today on Huffington Post about different ways and places to pray. The author Rick Hamlin finds the best time to mediate is riding the NYC subway. His routine is to read a Psalm or passage from the bible and use his time traveling to work to reflect and mediate on this prayer.
What a great perspective on prayer especially when so often we forget to pray. This weekend at Mass the priest asked the congregation how often they prayed. Many youngsters raised their hands to tell the priest that they usually do not pray. The priest reminded them that a simple prayer of "Thank you" or "I am blest" can go a long way.
Hamlin stated that after he mediates his whole day is better. He has a better spirit and attitude on approaching the world each day. What an idea! To think that a 15-minute subway ride reflecting on a prayer can change a person's whole outlook and inspire him to live better each day.
Even if our prayers are simple they acknowledge that someone outside ourselves (namely God) deserves our thanks, praise, and petitions for the sake of others in need. Another interesting thing about prayer is that it does not have to be done in a church or before meals. You can pray anywhere and in any way you want. That is what is so unique and inspiring.
Taking time to pray is something that we all can work on. Perhaps we will treat others better and be aware of how blest we are. What are some ways we can incorporate prayer into our daily lives? Where are some of the places you pray? These are questions to think about when you pray. Let us know some great ways and places you pray.
In one the NRVC will develop a conversational tool to enable religious institutes to engage in a deeper exchange about the findings of the landmark 2009 NRVC/CARA study on recent vocations to religious life and their implications for apostolic life with respect to community, visibility, communal prayer, and celebration of Eucharist.
The second project will convene three gatherings for women religious in the eastern, middle, and western regions of the U.S. The purpose of these unprecedented gatherings will be for women religious to study the research regarding recent vocations and discuss and reflect on the combined implications of this information for religious sisters as they work together to increase their membership both individually and collaboratively.
To this day I love going to see movies.Being able to curl up in comfy seats (movie theatres have updated their styles), eat an endless tub of buttered popcorn, and sit without interruption, watching and imagining a life similar to that on the screen is magical. The essence of movie making is truly a great one. The ability for movies to be “brought to life” gives us all a glimpse of new perspectives or simply a good quality laugh.
Recently, a new movie has made some buzz about a college women’s basketball team that won 3 national championships in the 1970s. “The Mighty Macs” as it is called, is a film about the Immaculata Women’s basketball team and their coach Cathy Rush who paved the way for women’s athletics in the 1970s. Set outside Philadelphia, this film is about inspiring women to seek out their dreams but also teaches valuable life lessons about hard-work, determination, faith and morals, and friendship.
According to the film’s director, Tim Chambers, he did not intend to make a “faith-based” film, rather he wanted something all ages would enjoy and appreciate.
Cathleen Falsani wrote a great piece in the Huffington Post, which explains in more detail about the movie about a team that changed history. She writes so thoughtfully about the perspective this movie has on faith and on the importance on what is essential in life. She writes, “"Be not afraid." Three simple words that, if heeded, can change everything. They can make a dream into a reality. An impossibility into a victory. Scarcity into abundance. Underdogs into champions. What is surprising about this little-film-that-could is its artistry, heart and universal appeal. Whether you are a sports fan or not, Catholic or agnostic, a girl or a boy, old or young -- "The Mighty Macs" will grab your heart, inspire your soul and send you away feeling like anything is possible if with faith, hard work and a community of sacred friends”.
So if you are looking for something to do this weekend, go root on the “Mighty Macs” at a local theatre. Click to watch the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_VXhJCetwc
Kinley addresses this relationship between good and evil, in his new book "The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook: Slaying the Living Dead Within," which focuses on our inner struggles with temptation and sin and how we can combat our own” inner zombie”.
The article looks at this issue with what is called our “old self” (Rom 6:6), a part of us that resists or tries to steer away from God and all that he does. We have this piece of us, our “inner zombie” that eats away at what we know to be good and true. Although this evil entity really has no authority over us it does creep in on us daily. Kinley writes that Christians are not much for disorder but God likes to throw us a couple curve balls, to really get us to think and engage in our daily thoughts and actions.
Kinley writes, “In doing this, we Christians discover we aren't really any "better" than anyone else. This zombie inside us smells as putrid as any portrayed by Hollywood. And though we have accepted Christ's atoning sacrifice on our behalf (Col 1:13-14), we still struggle with many of the same temptations and sins as the rest of humanity (Rom 7:15-25). We become acutely aware of an inner beast that constantly moans and gnaws at our spirit.” We have to work on suppressing this “inner zombie” and learn to continue to accept all that God has done for us.
So was Jesus a fan of Halloween? I am sure he was especially with all the delicious candy we have today.
Have a Happy Halloween and enjoy the tricks and treats!
|SISTER FRANCES Evans (left)
and her longtime friend
Sister Maggie Hession
with Nolan Ryan when
he pitched for the Rangers.
Talking about her background, she had a few observations about her vocation. “I was a convert. I worked six years in Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio in the lab. There was something different about the sisters. The only thing I can think is, God just shook me by the neck and said, ‘This is what you’re going to do.’ In 1950 I entered convent in San Antonio, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.”
Did they wear habits back then? “We sure did! We wore habits for a long time.” Could they go to baseball games? “Not back then, you didn’t go much of anywhere. I worked in the hospital most of the time. I don’t think we even had television when I entered.
“I was stationed here in Fort Worth in 1967,” she said. “It was beginning to lighten up a bit here and there. I remember well when they went to the shorter skirts and I walked out of chapel and felt the breeze on my knees. I never knew how good that would feel.”
See another profile of the sisters in the Wall Street Journal.
In a quaint Wisconsin town, lies a holy place. Champion, Wisconisn, about three hours north of Chicago, is home to the only official U.S. site where the Blessed Mother is said to have appeared to Adele Brise three times in 1859. According to Bishop Ricken of the diocese of Green Bay, and the Huffington Post, this holy site was officially dedicated on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in December of 2010, and since then has seen a steady flow of pilgrims.
Our Lady of Good Help is the parish that surrounds this beautiful shrine, dedicated to the Blessed Mother. According to Bishop Ricken, the activity is nothing compared to places like Lourdes or Our Lady of Guadalupe, but over the past several years, car fulls of people have made the pilgrimage to try and get a glipse of what Adele Brise saw 150 years ago. Bishop Ricken's has been doing the best he can in trying to accomodate the large amount of visitors without disrupting the "peace of the place."
Only time will tell how the shrine will hold up with the ever changing increase in visitors but according to most people, when you see this beautiful place you can sense "the special presence of Our Blessed Mother."
Click here to read more about Our Lady of Good Help or to get directions on visiting the church.
In a recent Huffington Post article, Jeffrey Small examines the use of prayer today.
Many of us use prayer as a form of wanting or seeking something from God. According to Small, it is not that our intentions of prayer are wrong, instead, we need to tweak our approach to prayer, to help deepen our relationship with God on a different level.
I think Small certainly offers a unique and interesting perspective. He writes about how it is especially important in today's day and age to use prayer in a way that transforms us into better people, while enhancing our relationship with others and with God.
Small states, "A popular conception of prayer is that if we have faith in God, pray diligently and if the cause we are praying for is a righteous one (like the health of another person), then God will intervene in a supernatural way to make our wish come true. Many people can site examples where their prayers "have been answered" in such a miraculous way. But why do many other equally deserving prayers go unanswered?" Small seeks to explain why this is the case. According to Small, we are approaching the idea of prayer in a wrong way, especially today. He finds that there are five ways to deepen our prayer routine that allows us to be fully immersed in God's love for us.
Small writes, "Instead of seeing prayer as a method of asking God for something we want (even if that something is good), maybe we can use prayer as a way of opening up ourselves to God. Prayer can become a means of connecting us with the divine ground that is the essence of existence."
Check out the article to see Small's five ideas to become better at prayer in the modern sense.
Fr. Robert Barron of the Chicago Archdiocese is launching a video series in hopes of "lifting" the Catholic spirit. In a recent Tribune article, Fr. Barron describes his series "Catholicism" airing October 13, 2011, as " a walk through Catholicism from the viewpoint of faith."
This faith series reflects on the life of Jesus, the Catholic vision of God as the Trinity, the missionary movement that began with Peter and Paul, and the reverence of Mary. Airing on PBS will be the first four parts of the "Catholicism" series. The additional six episodes will air on ETWN starting in November.
According to Fr. Barron, this series is about creating a "vivid sense of the concrete reality of Jesus," that will hopefully provide a modern approach to the Catholic faith.
Catholicism Series Trailer
|KATHLEEN TURNER and Evan Jonigkeit in "High."|
Kathleen Turner will reprise her Broadway role as a tough-talking sister (and we do mean tough—the play has its share of nudity, profanity, and violence) who counsels a young drug addict in a planned national tour of the three-character drama High, by Matthew Lombardo.
High bills itself: “When Sister Jamison Connelly (Turner) agrees to sponsor a 19-year-old drug user in an effort to help him combat his addiction, her own faith is ultimately tested. Struggling between the knowledge she possesses as a rehabilitation counselor and a woman of religious conviction, she begins to question her belief in miracles and whether people can find the courage to change. High explores the universal themes of truth, forgiveness, redemption, and human fallibility.”
In his newly released memoir, Life itself, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert writes about his relationship with iconic film director Martin Scorsese, "Scorsese and I were born five months apart in 1942, into worlds that could not have differed more, but in important ways we had similar childhoods. We were children of working-class parents well aware of their ethnic origins. We attended Roman Catholic schools and churches that, in those pre-Vatican II days, would have been substantially similar. We memorized the Latin of the mass, we were drilled on mortal sins, venial sins, sanctifying grace, the fires of hell; we memorized great swaths of the Baltimore Catechism. We were baffled by the concept of Forever and asked how it was that God could have no beginning and no end. . . . Every time I've met Marty, the conversation has come around sooner or later to Catholicism and sin."
|DEFORESTATION of farmland in Cameroon.|
The Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester, Minnesota have been involved in such efforts. They are part of the Carbon Covenant, which itself is a project of Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), founded by Episcopal priest Rev. Canon Sally Bingham. IPL is an organization of 10,000 congregations in 30 states who pledge to cut their energy consumption through energy-efficiency and alternative energy sources. Through the Carbon Covenant, the Rochester Franciscans helped the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon purchase 35,000 tree seedlings to combat deforestation.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester are on VISION.
• Brigham Young University in Utah
• Hillsdale College in Michigan
• Thomas Aquinas College in California
• Wheaton College in Illinois
• Grove City College in Pennsylvania.
The top 5 with the “least religious” students:
• Bennington College in Vermont
• Reed College in Oregon
• Bard College, Vassar College, and Sarah Lawrence College, all in New York.
“It all falls down to what you consider to be religious,” Schwadel said. “If it’s simply attending religious services, then no. Highly educated people are not less religious; in fact, they’re more religious. But if it’s saying the Bible is the literal word of God and saying that only one religion is the true religion, then they are less religious.”
Schwadel found that, among other things, with each additional year of education:
• The likelihood of attending religious services increased 15 percent.
• The likelihood of reading the Bible at least occasionally increased by 9 percent.
Respondents to the GSS were asked whether they believe in God without any doubts; with various levels of doubt; whether they have a different concept of God or a higher power; or whether they didn’t believe in any such thing, Schwadel said. “With more years of education, you aren’t relatively more likely to say, ‘I don’t believe in God,’ " he said. "But you are relatively more likely to say, ‘I believe in a higher power.’ ”
Then again, last year’s Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life U.S. Religious Knowledge survey found that atheists/agnostics scored highest among various faith (or non-faith) groups when it came to basic religious knowledge! —Ed.
World Youth Day, Aug. 19: The Pope assured 1,600 sisters, representing nearly 300 religious communities and institutes, that the church and society continue to need the “Gospel Radicalism” of their religious consecration.
Benedict XVI gathered with the women religious at the Monastery of San Lorenzo in El Escorial
|SISTERS AWAIT the pope's arrival at
the Monastery of San Lorenzo outside Madrid.
Photograph: Andrea Comas, Reuters
After a few words of introduction from Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco, the Pope listened to Belén González, a member of the Siervas de Maria congregation, who spoke on behalf of all the nuns present.
“Your Holiness, we know that the Cross placed on your shoulders by God is heavy. We want you to know that you are not carrying it alone, you can count on us who, in the silence of the cloister or in serving the Church in our work, help you in our simplicity and poverty, and with the strength that we receive from Jesus Christ”.
The Pope thanked the women religious for their “generous, total, and perpetual yes” and expressed his wish that this “yes” might “speak to young people, inspire them and illuminate them”. The Pope explained that consecrated life means “getting to the root of love for Jesus Christ with an undivided heart, and not putting anything before this love.” The Pope asked that, in the face of relativism and mediocrity, they live their “Gospel radicalism” in communion with the pastors of the Church, their own religious institution, and other members of the ecclesial community, such as the laity who give witness to the same Gospel in their own vocation.
“We can’t cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” Those were the words of Rose Hawthorne, later Sister Mary Alfonsa, O.P., a daughter of the great American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who in 1896 went to the slums of New York to care for poverty-stricken cancer sufferers, where she was soon joined by the young Alice Huber.
|DOMINICAN SISTERS of Hawthorne pray
at a new Rose Hill Home facility dedication.
"If you have to be terminal, this is the place to come," one resident told Catholic News Service. "It's the most unusual place I've ever been. You're not conscious of people being ill here. We all have cancer and we're all terminal, but it's serene and there are lots of moments of fun and laughter," she said. "The care is done with love and . . . . the women who care for you gave up their lives for this work and it's their vocation."
|THE ST. CUTHBERT GOSPEL in its original binding.|
I realize I've been on a Jesuit-related theme in recent posts, but here's one more I offer because it reminded me of the item below about the discovery that a painting hanging for years in Oxford University's Jesuit residence was actually by Michelangelo.
Recently, the British Jesuits were again in the news in connection with an artistic and historic treasure: Catholic News Service reports that the British Province of the Society of Jesus has sold the historic St. Cuthbert Gospel—believed to be the oldest intact book produced in Europe—to the British Library for $14.7 million.
The pocket-sized late 7th-century Latin translation of the Gospel of John, produced by monks of Wearmouth-Jarrow in northeast England, was found inside the coffin of Saint Cuthbert, bishop of Lindisfarne, when the saint's grave was opened in 1104. Experts believe the manuscript was placed inside the casket within 10 years of the bishop's death in 687.
The Jesuits will use the proceeds from the sale to restore a historic church and pay for educational work in London and Glasgow. The British Library will make the the manuscript available for people to view either directly or online.
A while back I posted an item about Mother Dolores Hart, prioress of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, a Benedictine monastery in Bethlehem, Connecticut, who before becoming a sister had an acting career which included giving Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss (she's still a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). She's making an appearance this evening in Chicago to kick off the St. Michael Church (outdoor) Film Festival. After screening clips from her films, she will speak on “A Culture of Life: Healing the Heart, Fragmented & Disintegrated.”
Here's a short video with some publicity shots from her acting career, followed by a home movie of a birthday party she attended with Elvis:
In the 1960s on New York City’s Lower East Side, Father Walter Janer, S.J., a Puerto Rican-born Jesuit, started what would become the Nativity Mission School by setting up study halls and recreational activities for local youth as well as opening a summer camp in upstate New York. “We saw how much they had changed over the summer,” said Father Jack Podsiadlo, S.J. current president, of the young people who came through the door. “The idea was to see how many of our kids we could prepare for admission to Jesuit high schools.”
After formally opening in 1971, Nativity Mission Center and its middle school relied on priests, volunteers, and young teachers and welcomed young people whose parents could not afford parochial school tuition. Teachers were always there throughout the school day and during evening study hall. Since then Nativity has sent scores of young men to New York Jesuit high schools like Fordham Prep, Regis, and Xavier.
|THE LOWER EAST SIDE at Delancey St. and the Bowery.|
That decision sent Father Podsiadlo, in the spirit of generations of Jesuit missionaries, on a journey to find an area of New York that the center could better serve, like the South Bronx and Brooklyn, where it plans to relocate in 2012. “We serve the poor,” said Father Podsiadlo, who has worked at the Lower East Side school since 1973. “If they’re not here, then we’ll move to where they are.”
Read the full New York Times article.
Editor’s note: With World Youth Day beginning shortly in Madrid, remember to check out the article on “Pilgrimage: The adventure of walking with God,” which mentions Father Podsiadlo and his walk of Spain’s historic Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, in the upcoming 2012 issue of the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide, available now in print and soon in a digital edition on this site.
The Jesuits are on VISION.
THE SECTION of Guatemala City known as Zone 3 is not a place many outsiders go. In it is a huge garbage dump where hundreds of people live and scavenge for plastic, glass, metal, and other materials they can sell to recyclers in order to get by. Animals also live and feed there, and fires spread smoke everywhere in the tropical heat.
In the summer of 1994 a group of students from St. John's Jesuit High School in Toledo, Ohio, led by the school's then-president Father Don Vettese, S.J., were on a service trip to an orphanage in Guatemala City. Because of an accident and the resulting traffic jam and detour, they got stuck in traffic for about 20 minutes near the dump in Zone 3. The sight left them speechless. Children banged on the van, begging for food, money, and help.
|PART OF the massive garbage dump
in Guatemala City's "Zone 3."
In the 16 years since then the ministry has started programs to alleviate severe poverty in seven countries—Guatemala, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Haiti—and is studying the possibility of expanding to Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and the Philippines. It serves about 13,000 extremely poor people each year. Fr. Vettese would like to extend the program to every garbage dump in every developing country in the world, he told David Yonke of the Toledo Blade.
The plan in each community is to start with a nursery to get the children out of the dump. The next step is to provide education as a key to breaking the cycle of poverty. To that end International Samaritan first builds a grade school, then a middle school.
|BRENDA LOPEZ and three of her children in their
International Samaritan-built home.
Teams of high school and college students from the Toledo area and around the country have traveled to different International Samaritan sites to help in a variety of ways. Some trips focus on construction and renovation while others teach English to dump workers' children.
"We're not trying to convert people to Catholicism, but the fact of the matter is they know we are Catholic. They know we are Christians,” Vettese said. “We're evangelizing through example."
The Jesuits on VISION.
FOUNDED IN 2002, UNANIMA International is a nongovernmental organization (NGO—the international term for a nonprofit organization) made up of 17 congregations of Roman Catholic sisters--whose 17,500 constituents work in 72 countries.
UNANIMA's work is to advocate on behalf of women and children—particularly those living in poverty—immigrants and refugees, and the environment and takes place primarily at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where they aim to educate and influence policymakers at the global level.
In December 2005 UNANIMA International was officially accepted as an affiliated NGO of the United Nations Department of Public Information. Primary campaign areas: women and children; human trafficking; migration and refugees; eco-justice; water; social development; financing for development; indigenous issues; and HIV/AIDS.
FYI, the four central purposes of the United Nations, which was founded in 1945 after the Second World War are:
|One UNANIMA's several campaign|
• To keep peace throughout the world
• To develop friendly relations among nations
• To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people to conquer hunger, disease, and illiteracy and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms
• To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.
"Dear Friends, I just launched http://www.news.va/en. Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI."
That was Pope Benedict's first tweet on the Vatican News Twitter page: @news_va_en. The portal news.va combines information from the Vatican's print, online, radio, and television media.
Benedict put the site online himself by tapping an iPad, said Thaddeus Jones, project coordinator and an official with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Moments later the pope sent his first tweet.
Benedictine University, an apostolate of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois outside Chicago, is offering an “Illinois Back to Work” program in which unemployed Illinois residents earn a college degree and have their remaining tuition and fees covered after all eligible state and federal aid is applied.
See the local news report.
In his most recent “Pastoral Trends” column on the PrepareTheWord.com website, Catholic sociologist Bryan Froehle says the church needs to reach out “to people’s aspirations and culture” in the same way social media does. Images of the Blessed Virgin Mary have always done such reaching out. From the most sublime icons to decals in the rear windows of pick-up trucks, people have used the material forms of their cultures to express their devotion to and trust in Mary.
In downtown Encinitas, California, Jack Quick owns art supply store near a railroad bridge between Vulcan Ave. and Hwy. 101. A little before Earth Day last April, which was also shortly before Easter, he noticed a group of men in hard hats installing something under the bridge. In broad daylight and in full view of the 18,000 cars that pass daily, they put up a nicely executed 10-by10-foot-square rock and stained-glass mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe—on a surfboard. On the nose of the board was the face of Saint Juan Diego, and the words “Save the Ocean” ran along the side. Quick estimates the mysterious workers put at least $1,000 in raw materials and 100 hours of labor into the project. The mosaic seemed to be fastened to 5-by-5-foot plaster boards which were then glued to the concrete wall.
|THE SURFING MADONNA of Encinitas, Calif.|
Give city government some credit though. Encinitas is historically art-friendly, and the city council wants the mosaic to be relocated to a place where the public can continue to view it and has already paid a Los Angeles sculpture conservation agency to test ways to safely remove the piece. Local businesses are raising funds to cover the city's expenses, and several people have offered to buy the artwork. Sources: and he Associated Press
Sources: Articles by Julie Watson for the Associated Press and Jonathan Horn for pyramidbeach.com
Last Monday Republican presidential hopefuls descended on Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire to debate in the U.S.’ first presidential primary state. The school has hosted Republican and Democratic presidential debates in previous election cycles, and while it has sometimes drawn criticism for appearing to get involved in partisan politics, a professor of politics at the college, defended the school's role as being a great example of Benedictine hospitality.
“The Rule of St. Benedict says every visitor should be treated as Christ himself,” said Prof. Dale Kuehne. “If you talk to people about the events at Saint Anselm, they would’ve felt that hospitality . . . regardless of their political or religious position.” Thirty Benedictine monks live in the abbey at Saint Anselm.
|BLESSED JAMES Alberione, S.S.P.|
The Daughters of St. Paul inform me that there is not an official patron saint of film, despite the medium being around for over 100 years! Their worthy candidate is Blessed Father James Alberione (1884-1971), who founded the Pauline Family of 10 communities of which the Daughters are part and that are dedicated to using modern means of communications to spread the gospel.
The Daughters of St. Paul on VISION.
Faith-oriented moviemaking has gotten some attention in the last few months, and we’ve had a post or two on this blog about some recent films that are upfront about religion. Now, actor/director Stephen Baldwin has directed his first music video for singer Cory Lamb’s single Break the Cycle, the title-track of Lamb's new CD. It’s a song about going from the world where you exist for yourself to one where you live for God. For Baldwin, the youngest of the acting Baldwin siblings and a devout Christian, getting the chance to direct the song’s video was a great fit.
Baldwin, who has been in more than 60 movies, told CNN’s Steve Almas he’s been told many times by producers that he should try directing and said he “was pretty jazzed when someone [from the PR agency both he and Lamb use] gave me the song.”
The video was shot for the most part with the help of film students from Florida State University. “They were a real blessing,” Baldwin said. “It was a little bit of a risk to use the kids, but many of them knew as much as the people on the crews of the movies I’ve been in. That’s not an exaggeration.”
Each day before beginning work Baldwin would gather together a small group and pray. It wasn’t a big group prayer, he said, because he wanted to respect the feelings of everyone on the set. “We didn’t want to be too forward with the other members of the crew,” he said. “They knew what we were about. I prefer to lead by example.”
Baldwin has been working on two faith-based films and is also considering a feature-film directing opportunity. Lamb, who describes his music not so much as Christian but as still having a positive message, is touring and wants to go on a mission trip to Haiti with the Christian nonprofit Conduit Mission.
Cory Lamb's music video for his new single Break the Cycle, directed by Stephen Baldwin:
The Dominican Friars from the St. Joseph Province in the U.S. and the Province of Ireland have created the iDoms Reader app. Those with an iPhone/iTouch or iPad can download the app to get access to articles and videos aggregated from the various websites of the Dominican Order. Future updates of the application will provide access to a wider variety of content and introduce extra functionality.
The Dominicans on VISION.
|PEACE PILGRIMS at last year's event.|
|BROTHER PAUL, O.C.S.O. at Gethsemani Abbey|
The first meeting of the working group of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) Educational Debt and Vocations Project took place at the provincial office of the Franciscan Friars, Holy Name Province, in New York City. (The NRVC is a copublisher of the VISION Vocation Guide and VISION VocationNetwork.org website.)
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the NRVC for the study. The goals of the project are:
• To assess the extent educational debt is hindering vocations to religious life; and
• To produce resources that will help address the problem of educational debt as it relates to vocations for various constituencies, including religious congregations, support organizations for vocations and religious communities, philanthropic organizations, and those considering life as a religious sister, brother, or priest.
NRVC will contract with CARA to survey religious institutes regarding their policies, practices, and experience of working with candidates with student loan issues. After the survey results NRVC will develop resources for religious institutes, their treasurers and vocation directors, as well as for those who are discerning religious life.
Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., NRVC executive director, is hopeful that the “study will better equip religious congregations to work with candidates who have student loans so that student loan debt isn’t an obstacle to religious vocations and the call to consecrated life.”
In addition to installing a massive photo of Pope John Paul II dwarfing the columns in Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City, Rome's city government has plastered 30,000 posters of John Paul II around the city on everything from coffee shop windows to taxicabs and buses, according to a CNN report. Streetlamps are draped with banners, and every major Italian newspaper and magazine has issued special editions. Epoca magazine's retrospective issue even refers to John Paul II as a saint despite the fact he will remain one step away after Sunday.
Documentaries about John Paul II's life have dominated Italian airwaves in recent days, and the beatification will be broadcast in St. Peter's Square and in Italian city squares from Brescia to Bari. In a rare move, the Vatican and the Italian government are both issuing stamps to commemorate the occasion. Blessed John Paul II's feast day will be celebrated on October 22.
Follow the Vatican web cam over the next few days to watch as preparations for the Beatification ceremony progress.
The Christopher Awards recognize TV programming, feature films, and books for adults and children that "affirm the highest values of the human spirit."
Father Garramone is a priest and monk of St, Bede Abbey in Peru, Illinois.
The King James Version of the Bible, named after King James I of England, who called for a new translation of scripture from the original Greek and Hebrew, was first published in 1611 and underwent major revisions in in the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1885 "Revised Edition" was the basis of the 1901 American Standard Version which in turn became the Revised and New Revised Standard version, one of the most widely used Bibles in the English-speaking world.
The Sisters of St. Benedict of Beech Grove, Indiana have found what they call a simple way to financially help their Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center: GoodSearch.com.
For more on sisters’ use of GoodSearch, see the community’s homepage.
Why this story made msnbc.com’s “Weird news” is beyond me. Maybe they think anything religious is weird. At any rate, Svyturys-Utenos alus, Lithuania’s largest brewery, had recently run a billboard advertising campaign showing a Franciscan friar holding a glass of beer. Their idea was, friars and monks had been producing beer and other alcoholic beverages since the Middle Ages, so what was the problem?
The problem was Lithuania's conference of monks and nuns, who said in a statement the advertisement made them feel "insulted and trampled upon." They wrote a protest letter to Svyturys, who apologized and withdrew the ad.
Source: Thomson Reuters via msnbc.com
It’s not unusual for individuals to raise money to support the work of religious communities, but last month Diane Molitor-Palmer of Wichita, Kansas found a unique way to solicit donations for five Catholic women’s religious orders who run missions in Africa: She climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, at 19,340 feet the highest mountain in Africa.
|DIANE PALMER and fellow climbers
on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro
The organizations that benefited from her effort were the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Kaduna, Nigeria, Hope for the Village Child; Sisters of Charity, B.V.M., Kumasi, Ghana, the Library and Literacy Center; Adorers of the Blood of Christ, Manyoni, Tanzania, schools for children; Congregation of St. Joseph, Songea, Tanzania, school for girls in rural areas; and the Christian Foundation for Children & Aging, Nairobi, Kenya, education and nutrition.
In late January the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced it would become the first school system in California—public or private—to move to a 200-day academic year at its elementary campuses. But after complaints from parents that the longer year would disrupt family schedules, diocesesan chancellor Mary Elizabeth Galt said that the decision on whether to add instructional days will be left to schools.
According to Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archdiocese planned to add 20 days to the school year because of the clear relationship between time spent in an academic setting and increased student performance. "Elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are responding to this critical national issue in order that our students grow up to be successful leaders in the global workforce," Mahony said in a statement.
Kevin Baxter, the archdiocese's superintendent of elementary schools, said about 10 schools already operate on an extended schedule, and the Los Angeles Times reported that 70 percent of the archdiocese's schools have said they will adopt the extended year; some are expected to phase it in over two years. The move will result in slightly higher teacher salaries and tuition costs, he said.
For years Father Don Senior, C.P. has traveled all over the Middle East without a major incident—until recently, that is, when he and the group he was leading from the Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago found themselves in the middle of what looks awfully like a revolution in Egypt.
They were in Giza, about 20 kilometers outside Cairo and home of the famed ancient pyramids, when the violent demonstrations against the Egyptian government reached that city. “At night we started to hear a lot of gunfire,” said Senior, a Passionist priest, president of CTU, and a member of the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Commission. “We could smell the burning of the Giza police station. On Sunday it became clear to me that we . . . could not just go anywhere, and you sense the anxiety.”
|FATHER DONALD SENIOR, C.P.
on one of his many travels
Senior noted the kindness Egyptians showed them and asked to “remember the Egyptian people in your prayers at this moment of great danger and hope.”
CTU is the largest Catholic graduate school of theology in the U.S. and is sponsored by a number of Catholic religious orders.
Read the full report from Carol Marin of the NBC TV affiliate in Chicago.
In past years when films with religious themes have popped up at the Sundance independent film festival, they’ve tended to be satires or exposés liked Saved! or Jesus Camp. This year, however, religion, spirituality, and faith have moved more into the mainstream, with 12 of the festival's120 films spotlighting stories about religion or characters defined by faith.
“There are definitely more films [exploring spirituality] that ended up in the program this year than in years past,” John Nein, senior programmer for the annual Park City, Utah festival, told Piet Levy of Religion News Service.
Salvation Boulevard features Pierce Brosnan as a popular preacher who frames a born-again Christian follower for a crime, while the documentary The Redemption of General Butt Naked deals with a Liberian warlord-turned-preacher facing the loved ones of people he killed. The Italian film Lost Kisses focuses on a Sicilian community’s reaction to a 13-year-old girl who may be performing miracles. Two films explore Christianity and Islam: Kinyarwanda, set during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the documentary Position Among the Stars about the lives of an impoverished family living in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Japan’s Abraxas chronicles the life of a depressed Zen monk who reconnects with punk rock, while the American comedy The Catechism Cataclysm centers on a priest who loves heavy metal music. Three other American films—Martha Marcy May Marlene; Kevin Smith’s horror film Red State; and Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground—are concerned with cults and fringe religious sects.
The trailer for Position Among the Stars:
Dirty Vagabond Ministries, based in Steubenville, Ohio, is a Catholic apostolate to inner-city young people whose communities typically lack the resources to pay for religious youth workers and programs. The ministry seeks to mentor urban teens through Catholic incarnational theology: Its workers immerse themselves in the slang, fashion, and music of inner-city culture and give themselves to the pain, hopelessness, and anger of urban teens in order to bring Christ, and "be" Christ, with people.
Struck by the absence of visible urban youth ministries in service to Catholic youth, veteran youth ministers Bob and Kate Lesnefsky founded Dirty Vagabond in hope of bridging that gap. As a Christian hip-hop artist and speaker, Bob travels the country reaching out to contemporary teens through rap music and hip-hop culture, while Kate puts degrees in theology and catechetics to use mentoring teenage girls.
The ministry’s main approach is a one-on-one method in which relationships are developed on a personal level so that every individual who visits a Dirty Vagabond Ministries community center is personally heard, loved, and ministered. Dirty Vagabond does not organize large-scale youth events or even seek to draw large numbers of young people. Instead, their hope is to develop new leaders that will remain in the community to mentor others.
Rather than overlook the configuration of urban life, Bob and Kate lead Dirty Vagabond Ministries in addressing the unique challenges of inner-city communities, where the widespread single-parent family structure can lead to a lack of structure, motivation, and attention among the kids who live there.
Their ministry seeks to be a healthy classroom and youth group to a generation of teens who have grown up in a hostile time and environment. Dirty Vagabond Ministries provides resources and catechetical models to develop the faith, character, life skills, and knowledge that lead urban teens to the sacramental life of the church and pastoral leadership within their communities.
Dirty Vagabond Ministries’ How Much Can Be Done in a Year?: