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Prayer and Spirituality Posts

Friars lead Muslim-Catholic prayer at airport in wake of travel ban

Posted by: Carol Schuck Scheiber   🕔 Friday 10, February 2017 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life,Prayer and Spirituality,Mission & Evangelization
Carmelite brothers Kevin Keller, Matthew Gummess, and Mikhail Woodruff joined Imam Yahya Hendi in prayer at Dulles International Airport on the day the U.S. travel ban was instituted.

Carmelite friars conducted a “ministry of presence” at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, the day that protests erupted around the country over President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries. The friars’ action segued into a spontaneous interfaith prayer service with a Muslim imam.

Brothers Matthew Gummess, Mikhail Woodruff, and Kevin Keller "wandered through the crowd to hear stories, share hope, and offer a friendly prayerful presence,” reports the Order of Carmelites blog. “Brother Mikhail was a voice of kindness and impartiality in conversation with reporters. Brother Matthew offered moral support and chocolates to travelers, airport staff, security, lawyers, and anybody who might need a little boost.”

After they met Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, who was also at the airport, the four agreed to hold an immediate joint prayer service.

“Together with the Imam, those present were called to prayer by Brother Matthew with some verses of 'Amazing Grace.' Brother Mikhail invoked the presence of God in a warm and hospitable prayer. Then Imam Hendi passionately prayed on behalf of the gathering—roughly 50 people from diverse faiths—offering words of peace, justice, and integrity,” the Carmelites report.

61 cloistered nuns visit Chilean prison for Year of Mercy

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 02, June 2016 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality,Liturgy,Consecrated Life
Contemplative cloistered nuns
Cloistered nuns requested meeting with inmates at a women's prison in Santiago, Chile, to "contemplate the face of God ... in the face of people who are suffering". 

In May, 61 cloistered nuns from six monasteries in Santiago, Chile, spent time with inmates at a local women's prison and attended Mass with them, as part of this Year of Mercy. Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who celebrated the Mass, shared with Catholic News Agency that the nuns requested the joint visit, “so the sisters who contemplate the face of God every day in prayer could contemplate him in the face of people who are suffering, going through a hard time in their lives.”

The nuns, who lead a traditional enclosed monastic life, sang a Chilean song and four even danced after they all celebrated Mass. "[It was] a grace to share with them, to really feel like a sister with them, to feel their sorrow, their joy and to become one with them,” said Sister Maria Rosa of the Discalced Carmelites from the San José monastery.

Read more here.

The Year of Mercy runs through November 2016.

Benedictine Sisters of Chicago lead peace walk

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 07, April 2016 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Prayer and Spirituality
Peace walk in response to recent violence led by Benedictine Sisters
"It is important to have our neighbors know we're an oasis of peace in the area," said Sister Benita Coffey, O.S.B. (pictured in the blue jacket) on a recent peace walk responding to the violence that occurred steps from the Benedictine sisters' St. Scholastica Monastery.

The Benedictine Sisters of Chicago organized a peace walk in April to grieve the loss of the life of 18-year-old Antonio Robert Johnson, who was recently gunned down in front of their home, St. Scholastica Monastery. The sisters and their neighbors walked in solidarity against violence and injustice in their north side neighborhood of Chicago.  

The primary ministry of the Benedictine Sisters (O.S.B.) of Chicago is community: to minister in education, social services, pastoral ministry, spiritual development, and social justice, to name a few.

Sister Benita Coffey, O.S.B., who promotes social justice for the Benedictines, shared with the Chicago Tribune: "We've been on this property since 1906 and we are not getting up and leaving the neighborhood. We're going to support our neighbors in whatever ways we can."

Trappist monk's calligraphy inspired Apple

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 15, March 2016 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality,Clergy
Rev Robert Palladino calligrapher
"It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating," shared Steve Jobs on learning calligraphy from former Trappist, Father Robert Palladino.

According to The New York Times, Father Robert Palladino, former Trappist monk and world-renowned master calligrapher, died on Feb. 26 at age 83 in Sandy, Oregon. Palladino is credited with influencing the onscreen fonts and overall physical design of the Apple computers that Steve Jobs would create after auditing Palladino's calligraphy class at Reed College in 1972, four years before founding the company. 

Palladino's vocation to religious life began in 1950 at age 17 when he joined the Trappist order in Pecos, New Mexico, where he first received his calligraphic training, in silence, and later became the principal scribe in 1955. When the monastery moved to the Willamette Valley in Oregon in 1958, Palladino was ordained a priest. However, the reforms of Vatican II led him to leave the monastery in 1968 and settle in Portland where he joined Reed College a year later and was able to continue his advance study in calligraphy. Ironically Palladino never used an Apple computer.

Learn more about Palladino's career and return to religious life as a diocesan priest in Portland here as well as the life of Trappists here

Indiana's Sisters of Providence invite Year of Mercy pilgrims

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 02, February 2016 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality
SPSMW stations of the cross and shrine
Pilgrimage with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana during the Holy Year of Mercy and enjoy beautiful sites for spiritual renewal.

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana are inviting all to make a Year of Mercy pilgrimage to their motherhouse, nestled among 1,200 acres of land filled with gardens and forests, and the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, who overcame personal struggles to establish the order and academy now known as Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. There are many sacred spaces, indoor and outdoor, at the site, and visitors can take guided and self-guided tours. Learn more here.

The White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, is great place to visit and learn about sustainable living and caring for all creation. You may even see some alpacas!

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is beautiful in all seasons. Schedule a pilgrimage by calling 812-535-2945.

Year of Mercy pilgrimage site hosted by Good Shepherd Sisters

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Friday 15, January 2016 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Prayer and Spirituality,Consecrated Life
Sisters of Good Sheherd Year of Mercy pilgrimage site
Bishop Edward M. Rice blesses the Sisters of the Good Shepherd Maria Droste Contemplative Community as a Year of Mercy pilgrimage site for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd Maria Droste Contemplative Community is one of six contemplative communities invited by the Archdiocese of St. Louis to open their doors as a pilgrimage site during the Year of Mercy.

Sister Elizabeth Garciano, the local leader for the Maria Droste Contemplative Community in St. Louis recently blogged about the official blessing by Bishop Edward M. Rice and the great opportunity and privilege it is for them to serve the community at large during this Jubilee Year.

Being a pilgrimage site near Ferguson, Missouri, "in the midst of racial tension" allows the sisters to continue to be an affirmation of missionary life as well as a witness to God's mercy and reconciliation, Garciano says. Additionally, she shares, being a pilgrimage site allows people to get closer to God through Mass, morning and evening prayer, Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary, and eucharistic adoration. 

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd Year of Mercy pilgrimage site event is listed on the VISION Events Calendar. Join the sisters at the Maria Droste Contemplative Community for prayer and Mass during the following times throughout the Year of Mercy:

Weekly Sunday morning prayer 9 a.m.

Sunday Mass 9:30 a.m.

Daily Monday to Friday Mass 7 a.m.

Daily Monday to Friday morning prayer 7:30 a.m.

Chicago churches named Year of Mercy pilgrimage sites

Posted by: Jennifer Tomshack   🕔 Friday 04, December 2015 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality,Mary and the Saints
Saint Ita Catholic Church
Chicago's Saint Ita Catholic Church houses an enshrined relic of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, O.L.M., who is venerated as the Apostle of Divine Mercy. The church is a designated pilgrimage site for the upcoming Year of Mercy.

Parishes around the world are getting ready to celebrate the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis, to begin Dec. 8, 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In Chicago, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich has designated 32 parishes and shrines in the city as Jubilee pilgrimage sites. By walking through the Holy Doors of these sites, the faithful may gain a plenary indulgence offered by Pope Francis.

One of those pilgrimage sites is Saint Ita Catholic Church, which houses an enshrined relic of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, O.L.M. (1905-1938), a Polish nun, mystic, and visionary, who is venerated as the Apostle of Divine Mercy, a devotion to the merciful love of God for all.

Bishop Francis J. Kane will bless the doors of Saint Ita Catholic Church, located at 5500 N. Broadway, on Dec. 13 at the 10:30 a.m. Mass. Starting in January, on the last Sunday of every month for the duration of the Year of Mercy, the church will offer Confession from 2-3 p.m., followed by recitation/chant of Divine Mercy from 3-3:30 p.m.

The Year of Mercy ends on Nov. 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.

A list of the Jubilee pilgrimage sites can be found at www.jubileemercy.org. Information about obtaining a plenary indulgence can be found on the website of the Office for Divine Worship at www.odw.org.

Hollywood star credits parish priest for his success

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 08, June 2015 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality,Catholic culture
Mark Wahlberg
Actor Mark Wahlberg at the recent premiere of the film Entourage.

Movie actor Mark Wahlberg said he never would have been able to get his life back on track as a troubled teen if he hadn't had a strong relationship with his parish priest, according to an interview in Square Mile magazine.

Wahlberg said he was saved from a life of drugs and violence when Father James Flavin intervened. The priest took him under his wing and taught him the importance of faith.

Wahlberg said, “I pray every day and try to go to church every day. My faith in God is what makes me a better man. It’s the most important part of my life.”

Wahlberg, star of The Departed and many other films, is also an executive producer of the former television series and current movie release Entourage. “I never would have been able to change my life and have the success and love that I have in my world today without my faith,” he said.

Read more here.

Sister Helen Prejean testifies for Boston Marathon bomber

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 12, May 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality,Doctrines & Beliefs
 Helen Prejean's congregation, Sisters of St. Joseph's mission: called to work toward the union of God and neighbor without distinction.
 The mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sister Prejean's congregation,
is to work toward the union of God and neighbor without distinction. 

Death penalty opponent and activist Sister of St. Joseph Helen Prejean made headlines and was a trending topic on Twitter Monday for doing what she does best: social justice ministry. Sister Prejean was called to testify for the defense in the sentencing of the convicted Boston Marathon bomber. She said she had met with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev five times and that "he expressed sympathy for his victims during their talks," according to Boston.com. The jury is deliberating a sentence of death or life in prison for Tsarnaev.

Last November at the University of Michigan, Prejean challenged students to ponder the question that calls her to continue to advocate against the death penalty: “Are people worth more than the worst thing they have done?”

Prejean's story has become the subject of movies (including the Academy Award-winning Dead Man Walking, starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn), books, and even an opera. She has inspired national debate on the death penalty and helped drive the Catholic Church’s opposition to state executions. Prejean divides her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling death row prisoners, which has included accompanying six men to their deaths. She also travels around the world giving talks about her ministry.

Read more about her ministry and challenge to college students here.

Shroud of Turin on display to commemorate Salesian anniversary

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 23, April 2015 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality,Church History,Vocation and Discernment
 Shroud of Turin on display 2015
  The Shroud of Turin, believed to have wrapped the crucified
body of Christ, will be on public display through June 24.


The public exposition of the Shroud of Turin officially opened in April at the Italian city's cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

According to Catholic News Service, Pope Francis authorized the public display of the shroud to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Bosco, a 19th-century priest from the Turin region who was a pioneer in vocational education, worked with poor and abandoned children, and founded the Salesian order. The pope is scheduled to visit Turin June 21-22 to venerate the shroud.

The famous relic is believed to have been the cloth to have wrapped the crucified body of Christ. On the shroud is the image of a man that bears "all signs of the wounds corresponding to the Gospel accounts of the torture Jesus endured in his passion and death."

The church invites the faithful to reflect on the shroud's image as a way to grasp the suffering Jesus endured and the love for humanity that sacrifice entailed.

Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin said, "The shroud invites us to never let ourselves be beaten down by evil, but to overcome it with good."

Benedictines of Mary drop fourth chart-topping album

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 07, April 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality
                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Easter at Ephesus album cover of Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles 4th album
"Easter at Ephesus" is the followup to chart-topping albums "Advent at Ephesus," "Angels and Saints at Ephesus," and "Lent at Ephesus" by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, are a young, contemplative order who pray, work, and sing at their monastery just north of Kansas City, Mo. Founded in 1995, these singing Benedictines have released their fourth album, "Easter at Ephesus," which reached No. 1 on Billboard's classical traditional chart and Amazon and iTunes' classical charts.

According to Zenit, the new album "features an array of chants and hymns that are sung with a purity of sound that perfectly evokes and celebrates the Easter season."

Check out the trailer for "Easter at Ephesus" here:

Holy Week around the world

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Tuesday 07, April 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality
Crowds gather to watch Holy Week processions in Seville, Spain
Crowds gather to watch processions during Semana Santa in Seville, Spain.

In the days leading up to Easter, Christians around the world take part in various cultural and religious traditions to remember the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. PBS has compiled a series of photographs that show different festivities.

In Jerusalem, Christian clergy participate in washing of feet ceremonies, while in Spain, Semana Santa (Holy Week) is marked by processions. In the Philippines, penitents dress up as moriones, wearing soldier outfits from biblical times.

While these many traditions are different, they all aim to honor Jesus and remind onlookers of the importance of Holy Week.

See the photos and more traditions here.

Catholic Athletes for Christ helps players practice faith

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 23, March 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality
Catholic Athletes for Christ Logo
Catholic Athletes for Christ helps athletes keep their faith strong while competing.

Ray McKenna, a Washington-based attorney, has been busy recently at baseball spring training camps in Arizona and Florida. As a former minor-league baseball chaplain, McKenna knows the strain that being an athlete can place on religious commitments, so he founded Catholic Athletes for Christ 10 years ago.

“The service is to provide the sacraments to the players so the players are able to practice their faith,” McKenna says.

When he worked as a chaplain, he could give spiritual advice, but could not provide players with the sacraments. "The result of that logically was that players were leaving the Catholic faith and becoming so-called non-denominational, born-again Christians and not understanding and receiving the fullness of our Catholic faith," he says.

The organization now has a network of priests who hear confession and celebrate Mass at stadiums, clubhouses, and practice fields. It also coordinates events with the Vatican’s Church and Sports office within the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Knights of Columbus.

While the organization had only focused on professional athletes in the past, it now has a program for middle-school and high-school athletes as well, helping them to work with their sports schedules to make time for faith.

Tyler Flowers, catcher for the Chicago White Sox, is very grateful for the services that Catholic Athletes for Christ provides, saying, "They do a great job helping us. We can have Mass at the stadium at the majority of places we go."

Read more here.

New book 'Being Catholic: A user's guide' released

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 26, February 2015 Categories: Sacraments,Prayer and Spirituality
Being Catholic: A user's guide
Being Catholic: A user's guide


Catholics of all kinds—committed, curious, questioning, and confused—will find in the new book 'Being Catholic: A user's guide' resources, insights, and helpful suggestions that are sure to enrich your faith and deepen your understanding of Christ’s Good News and the Church’s Great Mission in the world.

The collection of articles by award-winning Catholic authors is now available in paperback and ebook on Amazon.

The essays will help you "hear of the richness of heritage, the wisdom of teachings, and the beauty of traditions available to Catholics and people of good will everywhere."

The articles first appeared in the annual VISION Vocation Guide, published by TrueQuest Communications, on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference.

Follow us on Twitter (@VisionVocation) for a chance to win a copy of the book. See this ‪#‎AmazonGiveaway‬.

First priest, Franciscan, featured on Oprah's "Super Soul Sunday"

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Friday 06, February 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, and Oprah Winfrey
"We really connected, I think it's safe to say. If you care to watch, there's good chemistry
between us," said Father Richard Rohr, O.F.M., about his interview with Oprah Winfrey.

NCR reports that Franciscan priest, Father Richard Rohr, O.F.M., of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico will be on Oprah Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday" on Sunday Feb. 8 at 11 a.m. ET on the OWN network or online here.

The focus of the interview will be one of Rohr's books, which he said Oprah "had highlighted page after page, arrow after arrow. She wasn't threatened by Catholic theology." But the book was so marked up, he said, that "she didn't get to ask one-tenth of what she wanted to say."

He added, "she says she's going to have me back."

Rohr's Franciscan ministry has strived for "45 years to preach the Gospel in a way that makes sense to a spiritual seeker, a person who's more secularly oriented, and to someone who's more theologically oriented," he said.

On the topic of Pope Francis, which Rohr said he is often asked about, he said, "But the brilliance of Pope Francis—and I pinch myself every day that I've lived to see a pope like this—you see that he does bring Jesuit discernment, a kind of clarity of thought. If people want to write him off as bleeding-heart liberal or lightweight intellectual, you see he's really rather strategic. People in management see this. He's strategizing. ... He's strategizing the reform of the church. The discernment of spirits, as the charism is called, is the best of the Jesuit tradition. He's put together the two biggest orders of the church in just one man."

Discover more about the Franciscans and the Jesuits today.

Paralyzed priest walks, thanks to power of prayer

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Tuesday 06, January 2015 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality
Father Murray of Brooklyn, NY, celebrates mass
Father John Murray attributes his healing to prayer after being paralyzed from the neck down.

Father John Murray, a priest in Brooklyn, N.Y., fell four years ago. The accident left him paralyzed from the neck down, with doctors saying he would never walk again.

“'You should expect no voluntary movement.' That’s a quote. 'No voluntary movement for the rest of your life,'” he says.

Murray has since proven those doctors wrong after rising from his wheelchair on a Jersey Shore boardwalk a year and a half after his accident. “I think it's a result of prayer," he says. "Other people’s prayers and my prayers, without a doubt.”

NBC reports that prayer can lead to more everyday health benefits as well, quoting a physician who said that “most studies show religious people have better mental health, are less likely to experience depression, and cope better when they do." Research shows that people who pray daily are 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure.

So, perhaps saying a prayer a day can keep the doctor away!

Read more here.

Joy to the world: Pope Francis calls for happiness this holiday season

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 14, December 2014 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality
Pope Francis holds up a prayer book while speakingPope Francis holds up a prayer book while speakingPope Francis holds up a prayer book while speaking
Pope Francis holds up a prayer book while encouraging listeners to find joy during Advent.

As thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square to have Pope Francis bless their figures of baby Jesus for their crèche scenes, the pope called for a spirit of joyfulness during Advent, saying, “We’ve never heard of a sad saint.”

He encouraged listeners to strive for happiness, saying, “Every family, every people, aspires to happiness.”

This past Sunday was the “Sunday of Joy” during which many priests around the world wear rose-colored vestments to represent the joy of anticipation.

Pope Francis sought to remind the world that in the rush towards Christmas, many people feel overwhelmed. “Think of all the good things life has given you . . . don't forget joy,” he said.

Read more here.

#VoicesofYoungCatholicWomen letter campaign to meet Pope's challenge

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 16, September 2014 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Prayer and Spirituality
Hand with pen to paper and envelope
Saint Mary's College (Notre Dame, Ind.) President Carol Ann Mooney will hand deliver the #VoicesofYoungCatholicWomen letters when she and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, have a general audience with Pope Francis on November 26.

Pope Francis has called on Catholic youth to contribute to the Church’s life and mission. “The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity, and the joy that is so characteristic of you,” he said at World Youth Day 2013. His call to action comes at a time when an estimated 35 percent of Millennial women who were baptized Catholic no longer practice their faith. (Source: General Social Survey.)

Voices of Young Catholic Women group shot
“The Voices of Young Catholic Women project has allowed me to see my academic studies come to life. As a religious studies major and a gender and women’s studies minor, this experience is giving me a tangible experience where I am able to see the intersection of religion and gender,” said Saint Mary’s College student Tori Wilbraham ’15 (seond from the left pictured with the organizing group).
A group of students active in Campus Ministry at Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Ind.) are rising to meet this challenge by organizing a letter-writing response to Pope Francis’ outreach to youth called “Voices of Young Catholic Women" (#VoicesofYoungCatholicWomen). They’re inviting Catholic women of the Millennial Generation (born between 1981-1995) to write the pope about their love for the Catholic tradition and ideas for how the Church might better reach their demographic.

The project asks for examples of how women can be more involved in the Church and conveys the message that young women are a very vital and important part of the Church's life. The students in this initiative are supported by the College’s Division for Mission, including the Center for Spirituality and Campus Ministry. During the development of this project, the division was headed by Sister Veronique Wiedower, CSC, then-vice president for Mission at the College. This month Sister Veronique was installed president of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, the congregation that founded Saint Mary's 170 years ago.

For more about the Sisters of the Holy Cross, click here.

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Virtual choir of Carmelite nuns honor St. Teresa of Avila

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 10, September 2014 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality,Consecrated Life
YouTube screen shot of virtual choir of Carmelite nuns
Virtual choir of cloistered Carmelite nuns sing: “Nada Te Turbe” (“Let Nothing Disturb You”) in an original composition by Sr. Claire Sokol.

As first seen from the Global Sisters Report-"Ninety-three Discalced Carmelite nuns in 24 countries have reached out of their cloistered monasteries to sing together in a virtual choir honoring St. Teresa of Avila on the 500th anniversary of her birth."

View and listen to “Nada Te Turbe” (“Let Nothing Disturb You”) in an original composition by Sr. Claire Sokol here:


The Carmelite friars and Secular Carmelites join them in the 11th century “Salve Regina” chant with an added descant written by Sokol here:

Discover more about the Carmelites here:
Carmelites (O.Carm)-Congregation of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm
Association of British Carmels
Carmelites, Notting Hill, UK
Discalced Carmelite Friars (O.C.D.) Washington Province
Carmelite Friars (O.Carm.) [St. Elias Province]

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Signs and symbols of solidarity for peace

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 08, September 2014 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality
Pope’s first ever photo tweet (retweet/RT) of the Catholic Relief Services image of two Iraqi children escaping violence from ISIS
Yazidi families, escaping violence, take cover under a highway overpass outside Erbil. Photo credit: H. Khalid for CRS.
N for Nazarene Arabic character on Catholic Church door
"The local church’s action is a witness of the 'New Evangelization' in which Pope Francis calls on Christians to proclaim peace in and for the world," says the pastor of St. Mark Catholic Church in Richmond, Kentucky.
After seeing on Huffington Post, the Pope’s first ever photo tweet (retweet/RT) of the Catholic Relief Services image of two Iraqi children escaping violence from ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), I took renewed interest in the facebook campaign in support of the Chritians being persecuted in Iraq represented by the Arabic character for the letter “N.” The “N” stands for Nazarene and was first used by militants to identify property owned by Christians violently forced to leave Mosul, Iraq. Perhaps you have seen the symbol replacing friends Facebook profile pictures throughout the summer?

One of the more impressive signs of solidarity has come from St. Mark Catholic Church in Richmond, Kentucky, which has painted their West Main Street door with this Arabic symbol. Father James Sichko, pastor of St. Mark, told the Richmond Register: “We are all Iraqi Christians. As Catholic Christians, the members of St. Mark stand together in defiance of genocide, of persecution, of hate and the slaughter of Christians anywhere.”

Let these images and symbols continue to be a reminder to #prayforpeace.


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"A long road back" for Rourke

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Friday 16, January 2009 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality

When Mickey Rourke accepted a Golden Globe award recently for best actor in the film The Wrestler, he said, “It’s been a long road back for me.”

(By the way, Mickey’s not afraid to use some colorful language, so be forewarned if you’re a “younger or more sensitive viewer.”)

After roles in the 1980s-era movies Diner, The Pope of Greenwich Village, and others, his life went downhill. Arrested for various misdemeanors, he tried a career as a professional boxer, and like many aspiring fighters got the stuffing knocked out of him, to the point of disfiguring his face. By 1998 he was contemplating suicide.

Then he turned to a Catholic priest, who suggested he pray to Saint Jude, the patron saint of people in difficult and even desperate situations (“hopeless causes,” the phrase usually associated with this saint, always seemed wrong to me because if people were feeling truly hopeless they wouldn’t be praying in the first place).

Rourke wrote a reconciliation letter to his ex-wife, tucked it behind a statue of Saint Jude, and lit a candle. These days he has a statue of the Virgin Mary in his living room and talks about “turning the other cheek.”

"I let my past destroy me.” Rourke said. “I was walking around my adult life with my fists clenched, pointing the finger at everyone but me. But I finally opened my hands and said, Wow! This is a lot easier than walking around with smoke coming out of my a--."

 

Watch more Award Season videos on AOL Video

Movies that matter

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 31, October 2008 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality

For you political junkies wondering what to do once the election is over, or for all those preparing to settle into winter, you might consider making your way through the list of 45 “best films” chosen by the Vatican in 1995 in honor of the 100th anniversary of cinema. Although film buffs may argue with certain selections and omissions, overall it is an admirable compilation that shows a real appreciation for the art of movies and moviemaking.

In the months ahead I will offer some mini reviews and commentary as I delve into these film classics. I encourage you to offer your own reviews or comments. We can also begin to compile our own VISION list of Best Films that can include releases in the past decade as well.

As I look over the list, of the ones I’ve already viewed, I’d have to say Babette’s Feast and Stagecoach top my list. I was happily surprised to see It’s a Wonderful Life on the list—it probably is my favorite Frank Capra film although I do love Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It Happened One Night. But for all around entertaining Christmas films A Christmas Story is one I can and do watch over and over.

I look forward to your comments. Happy viewing!

 

The Vatican Best Films List (1885-1995)

Religion
Andrei Rublev * Andrei Tarkowsky (1969, USSR)
The Mission * Roland Joffé (1986, UK)
La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) *
Carl T. Dreyer (1928, France)
La vie et la passion de Jésus Christ (Life and Passion of Christ) * Ferdinand Zecca and Lucien Nonguet (1905, France) Identified on the Vatican film list as La Passion Pathé
Francesco, giullare di Dio (The Flowers of St. Francis / Francis, God’s Jester) * Roberto Rossellini (1950, Italy)
Il vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to Matthew) * Pier Paolo Pasolini (1964, France/Italy)
Thérèse * Alain Cavalier (1986, France)
Ordet (The Word) * Carl T. Dreyer (1955, Denmark)
Offret — Sacrificatio (The Sacrifice) * Andrei Tarkowsky (1986, Sweden/UK/France)
Francesco * Liliana Cavani (1989, Italy/Germany)
Ben-Hur [A Tale of the Christ] * William Wyler (1959, USA)
Babettes gæstebud (Babette’s Feast) * Gabriel Axel (1987, Denmark)
Nazarín * Luis Buñuel (1958, Mexico)
Monsieur Vincent * Maurice Cloche (1947, France)
A Man for All Seasons * Fred Zinnemann (1966, UK)


Values
Gandhi * Richard Attenborough (1982, UK/USA/India)
Intolerance * D. W. Griffith (1916, USA)
Dekalog (The Decalogue) * Krzysztof Kieslowski (1987, Poland)
Identified on the Vatican film list as Il Decalogo
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (Goodbye, Children) * Louis Malle (1987, France)
Dersu Uzala * Akira Kurosawa (1974, Japan)
L’albero degli zoccoli (The Tree of the Wooden Clogs) * Ermanno Olmi (1978, Italy/France)
Roma, città aperta (Open City) * Roberto Rossellini (1946, Italy)
Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) * Ingmar Bergman (1957, Sweden)
Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal) * Ingmar Bergman (1957, Sweden)
Chariots of Fire * Hugh Hudson (1981, UK)
Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) * Vittorio de Sica (1948, Italy)
It’s a Wonderful Life * Frank Capra (1946, USA)
Schindler’s List * Steven Spielberg (1993, USA)
On the Waterfront * Elia Kazan (1954, USA)
Biruma No Tategoto (The Burmese Harp) * Kon Ichikawa (1956, Japan)


Art
2001: A Space Odyssey * Stanley Kubrick (1968, UK/USA)
La Strada * Federico Fellini (1954, Italy)
Citizen Kane * Orson Welles (1941, USA)
Metropolis * Fritz Lang (1927, Germany)
Modern Times * Charlie Chaplin (1936, USA)
Napoléon * Abel Gance (1927, Italy)
* Federico Fellini (1963, Italy)
La grande illusion (Grand Illusion) * Jean Renoir (1937, France)
Nosferatu * F. W. Murnau (1922, Germany)
Stagecoach * John Ford (1939, USA)
Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) * Luchino Visconti (1963, Italy/France)
Fantasia * (1940, USA)
The Wizard of Oz * Victor Fleming (1939, USA)
The Lavender Hill Mob * Charles Crichton (1951, UK)
Little Women * George Cukor (1933, USA)


What would you add?
Films released prior to 1995?
Films released after 1995?

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Living water?

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Thursday 27, December 2007 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality

"Formula J"
Spiritual Water

The $15 billion-a-year bottled water industry may not seem a likely source of controversy, but surprisingly it is. Critics point to the fact that bottled water doesn’t always differ in quality from tap water, encourages the unsanitary reuse of plastic bottles, contributes to the accumulation of garbage, and leads people to ignore the lack of reliable supplies of drinking water for a billion of the world’s people—including the 30,000 people who die every week from unsafe-water-related diseases and the almost 6,000 children who die daily from diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Now several companies have entered the fray by using religion to market their bottled water. Spiritual Water, for example, a new line of purified municipal water, sells under 10 different Christian labels—including  "Formula J"  with head of Jesus with the Fatima prayer in both Spanish and English on the bottle (see above right)—and claims to help people “stay focused, believe in yourself, and believe in God,” reports a Newsweek story by Lisa Miller. The Spiritual Water company, founded by someone who used to be in the pest-control business, donates a portion of its profits to charity. It also says its containers are ecofriendly because fewer people are less willing to throw out a bottle bearing an image of Mary or Jesus.

In Minnesota, however, a group of Catholic sisters have a different taken on the bottled water issue: They object to the whole idea. “I believe that water is a gift of creation, and it’s a gift for everybody. Nobody’s exempt,” says Sister Mary Zirbes of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minn. “It’s meant for everyone, and therefore it should not be a commodity to be sold. It should be free to everyone.” With the Benedictine Sisters of St. Joseph and other faith groups nationwide, the Little Falls Franciscans have begun a letter-writing campaign and designed and distributed coasters to encourage people to drink water straight from the tap.

What do you think of using religious images in products and advertising?

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Picnic with Mary

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Friday 20, September 2013 Categories: Consecrated Life,Prayer and Spirituality,Mary and the Saints
Picnic with Mary
PARTICIPANTS at the Picnic
with Mary, hosted by the
Sisters of Bon Secours.
The Sisters of Bon Secours in Marriottsville, Maryland, hosted a picnic last Saturday as an opportunity to honor the Virgin Mary as well as a time to faith-share and break bread together with the sisters.

Bon Secours Sister Pat says on her blog, “Well, Mary inspired us to do the simplest of things – to break bread together and to share what was closest to her heart 2000 years ago (and today) and that is to simply to say “YES” to God. So, the idea of having a picnic in her honor and inviting young adults to come and share how God is acting in their lives was born.” Not to worr: The sisters will continue this tradition by hosting another opportunity in the spring as a hike and picnic to nearby waterfalls in Marriottsville.

The sisters asked those who attended to reflect on: “where God seems to be in our lives.” Not a bad question to ask ourselves today as well.

#picnicwithmary #whereisgodinourlives #sayyes

Discover more about The Sisters of Bon Secours in Marriottsville, Maryland and read more of Sister Pat’s blog about the picnic with Mary.

Worldwide fast and vigil of prayer for peace

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 05, September 2013 Categories: Mary and the Saints,Prayer and Spirituality
Pope Francis
POPE FRANCIS is appealing for peace
in Syria and the Middle East

Here is an update from Vatican Radio regarding the vigil for peace in Syria:

"Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace in Syria and throughout the world on Wednesday, once again inviting Christians of every denomination, believers of every religious tradition and all people of good will to take part in the worldwide fast and vigil of prayer and penance for peace, which he has called for September 7th, the vigil of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, whom we venerate as Queen of Peace. First announced at the Sunday Angelus at the start of the week, many local churches have already organized their own initiatives to mark the day. The Holy Father especially urged the faithful of Rome and pilgrims to the city to participate in the prayer vigil to be held in St. Peter's Square starting at 7 p.m. Rome time and continuing until midnight. The Holy Father concluded, 'May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!' "

From the pope's message: This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own. I especially urge the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the prayer vigil here in St. Peter's Square at 19.00, in order to ask the Lord for the great gift of peace. May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!

#peace #popefrancis #queenofpeace

Franciscan friars now accepting texted prayer requests

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Thursday 17, January 2013 Categories: Clergy,Prayer and Spirituality

The Franciscan Friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, who staff 40 parishes, colleges, soup kitchens, and food centers along the Eastern seaboard as well as supporting groups in Peru and Tokyo, are among a small but growing number of religious groups accepting text-message prayer requests, reports this week’s Preaching the News via an article by Patricia Reaney for Reuters.

Franciscans Most Holy Name of Jesus
TEXT the Franciscans: They'll pray for you.

Their “Text a Prayer Intention to a Franciscan Friar” initiative, described as “faith at your fingertips,” offers a novel way for Catholics to connect with those in religious life. “People are always saying to friars, ‘Can you say a prayer for me?’ or ‘can you remember my mother who has cancer?’ ” said Father David Convertino, the New York-based executive director of development for the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Name Province.

"A lot of people text everything now, even more than email, so why not have people have the ability to ask us to pray for them by texting," Convertino said. The intentions are received on a website and are included collectively in the friars' prayers twice a day and at Mass.

Most of the 325 friars, whose average age is about 60, are comfortable with the technology, said Convertino. "If the pope can tweet, friars can text. We have a friar who is 80 who was texting today.”

A number of communities accept prayer requests on their websites. Are there more out there who accept texted requests?

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