Sunday, August 12, 2018
Yesterday I posted that I am making a Cinema Divina Retreat. One of the films we watched is a classic, "To Kill a Mocking Bird." The story takes place in a fictional Southern town called Maycomb. Played by the impeccable Gregory Peck, Atticus Finch is a widowed lawyer with two children, his son, nick-named Jem, and his young daughter, Scout. Scout narrates as a grown up Louise when there is no dialogue. Together with Jem, Scout is both carefree and curious about many things, especially the mentally challenged son of the next-door neighbor. From scary hear say, the children named the reclusive son Boo. Scout is the most talkative sibling whose innocent greeting of a poor farmer turns a dangerous situation into a non-event.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
I write this towards the end of my annual 8 day retreat. Usually I make this retreat at our congregation's lovely retreat house in Billerica, Massachusetts north of Boston.I think it is a privilege as well as an annual duty to spend this time on soul work. Our retreat house is graced with lots of walking space, tall trees, shade and a relatively quiet neighborhood. I chose to make a Cinema Divina retreat this year. Each morning at 9:00 AM we gather in one of the living rooms to view a movie. A Scripture selection that reflects the movie's theme is read before the film. Afterwards the Scripture is read again. For those who wish, those who want to comment or add a reflection can do so. This year's theme is Children--"And a child shall lead them." One of the films is "The Florida Project" depicting a small group of children most of whom live with a single parent. The main character Moonie is about 9 years old. She is the leader of the kids who make mischief with little or no parental guidance. This takes place in a motel along a strip of highway leading to Disney World, a fantastic place for children. Bobby, the motel manager, is a steady father figure for the children and for some of the parents who display adolescent life choices.The experienced actor, William Dafoe, portrays Bobby a compassionate heart, and the one truly adult figure for the purple motel's children. Lack of money, danger of eviction, flaunting of rules, profanity riddled vocabularies and other less than grown up behavior show especially in Moonie's mother. She appears to have no workplace skills to help support herself and her daughter. The young mother has frequent melt downs in front of her child who seems all too used to her Mom's behavior. Moonie is adept at panhandling, showing younger children how to beg for ice cream money. Parts of the film are light-hearted, especially the children's conversations as they try to figure out life as best they can on their own. Moonie takes her friend Jancey on a "safari" in a cow pasture as part of their discovery of the world near-by. "The Florida Project" portrays just a few motel situations where children grow up in less than savory environments. In Massachusetts, homeless families are often put up in motels. Motels usually feature one large room, often only one bed, a small refrigerator, and maybe a microwave. I couldn't help but think of families cramped into motel rooms, of trying to manage caring for a baby and other children, providing meals and getting children off to school when classes are in session. The end of the movie "The Florida Project" was certainly a surprise. I do not want to give you any spoilers. I couldn't help but reflect on how many children live in such cramped quarters without playgrounds, with no space for doing homework, and little or no adult mentoring. Religion seemed absent from the neighborhood. Most of the time, right or wrong seemed relative. No one is shown going to any church, or saying any prayers. The families shown had very little comfort. Most of all, they seemed to lack the assurance that God loves them, and that they are precious in his eyes. If you see "The Florida Project" you may be inspired to help the children of the motel population to know that they matter and they can become upright, beautiful citizens. The film might also inspire job trainers to pay visits to motels which have longer term residents. Whatever the outcome, from now on, I will pray for all those, especially single parents, who must reside in motels because they lack their own homes.
Monday, June 25, 2018
I once met an enthusiastic 6th grade religion teacher who prayed regularly to St. Paul. "Sister," she declared as she bought herself a new copy of her beloved Novena to St. Paul, "I taught religion to sixth graders for all my life. With St. Paul's help I was able to succeed!" I was delighted to see someone who was not in the Pauline Family so devoted to our Patron and spiritual Father.
Monday, April 23, 2018
In the USA I have not seen very many sheep mainly because I have not been to "sheep country." A yearly event where I come from is called the Canfield Fair which features farm animals,including lots of sheep and goats. Once when traveling from a diocesan event in San Angelo, Texas we stopped the car to take a closer look at a large flock of sheep. Something about our appearance spooked the animals. All of them began a mass movement away from us except for one curious lamb. Several months ago I was gifted with a trip to Ireland. Sheep are everywhere in the countryside. Our tour included a visit to a sheep farm with a demonstration of how a shepherd dog on his own could round up a flock and move them up a steep hill, and then back to their original corral. It was amusing to see how there was always one sheep sticking its head out of the mass of wooly neighbors to see what was going on. We ended our sheep farm tour with a sheep hearing demonstration. With a strong shepherd brandishing an electric shaver, two sheep lost their thick wool in five minutes! The sheep put up little resistance, partly due to the size of the burly fellow who sheared them. Now when the gospel of John mentions Jesus as Shepherd, I can picture a large sheepfold with several gates to keep to the sheep safe from marauders. Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd, and the gate which protects his sheep. "I know my sheep and mine know me," Jesus tells us. When I was in Italy for a course of study in 2003--2004 every school day we would pass a real shepherd with real sheep. The road we took was one of the boundaries of Rome, large power lines bordered the western side of the road we traveled. Even though we were still in the city, there was plenty of grass available. The flock of about a dozen sheep gathered around their shepherd. Sometimes they would be to our right near the powerlines, or they would be on a little hillside, or grazing close to large super market. Although he was part of a profession dating back millenia, our shepherd carried a cell phone and on rainy days he sported rubber boots and toted a huge black umbrella. Even in the 21st Century shepherds still keep watch over their flocks, and their sheep know the voice of their shepherd. How do we know the voice of our Shepherd? We can "hear" his voice when we listen to his gospel proclaimed in church, or over the media. When our universal Shepherd, the Pope, speaks, we can hear the advice of Jesus being filtered for our 21st century ears. When we read the Scripture, the Shepherd is speaking.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Evangelization in the Modern World, reminded us that the driving force behind our evangelization efforts is the Holy Spirit. Anyone who wants to grow deeper in his or her faith will do so with the help of the Holy Spirit. Why not chose one per day of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit to meditate on and ask the grace to practice that gift?
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Happy Easter! Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Just as the Jews celebrate Passover for a week or 8 days, so we can say "Happy Easter" for seven weeks! The resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal truth of the Christian faith, As Saint Paul attested, "Our faith is vain, if Christ is not risen!" Since he is risen, he was seen by many after his resurrection, we have reason to hope in life everlasting. In the new movie, "Paul, Apostle of Christ", the Saint Luke character played by Jim Caviezel, gathers a group of imprisoned Christians around him to calm them as they face death by wild beasts. "You will feel pain, but it will not last." He continues, "Then you will see Christ face-to-face." He begins the Lord's Prayer with them and all accept their martyrdom peacefully. Paul who saw the Risen Jesus on his way into Damascus was so convinced that from then on, Christ, Crucified and Risen, was the Center of his life. Try to see this movie to help relate the Letters of St. Paul to our everyday life. Another good movie for the Easter Season is called Risen. It should be on Netflicks and be available at Pauline Books 7 media Centers.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
The Holy Week liturgies have been building a sort of momentum to the final days of Jesus' life. Today is called "Spy Wednesday", since the gospel of today tells of Judas' plan to literally "sell out" Jesus--the Master whom Judas has followed for three years. Why did Judas turn traitor? One indicator is the remark in John's gospel that Judas would steal from the common money bag. Another indicator was that he seemed to have sympathies for the Zealot Party, anarchists set on a violent overthrow of Rome's hold on Israel. Jesus had talked about a kingdom "not being of this world." Judas apparently wanted the Kingdom right here, right now! Matthew's gospel says, Judas left and it was night. Judas chose the dark side, the night to do his evil deed. He walked away from the Light which he had been delighting in for three years. How many times do we walk "into the night"?
- I am a Catholic Sister, a Daughter of St. Paul. I grew up in the USA Midwest. I have lived in several states--from Boston to Hawaii, to Alaska, to Texas. I was blessed to have studied in Rome, Italy for almost a year. I have been several times to Guam, once to Samoa, once to the island of Chuk, which was once called Truk. I was stationed in Toronto, Canada. Now I am in the USA. For now I am assigned to Boston. I work in our Pauline Books and Media sales dept. and I write regularly for our digital, on-line newsletters. I also serve in our Dedham, Mass. Pauline Book and Media Center.I am also available for retreats and public speaking.