Sunday, January 31, 2016

Happy February

I write during the final hours of January 2016. Tomorrow we begin the shortest month of the year. Smallest of months, yet it has a lot packed into it. February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The next day is the feast of St. Blaise and the annual blessing of the throats. Tradition says that Blaise was presented with a young boy choking on a fish bone. He was miraculously cured after Blaise blessed him. February 10th ushers in the great season of Lent. Now is the time to prepare for Lent. Find a good book to accompany your Lenten journey. In this Year of Mercy, make sure to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession to experience a flood of God's tender mercy for yourself. On Ash Wednesday don't be afraid to receive blessed ashes. That black cross shaped smudge on our foreheads speaks loudly that "I am a sinner who resolves to repent of any sin and follow Christ!" The Pauline Books & Media Centers around the USA and in Toronto offer a wide variety of daily Lenten reading. For those who commute often, there are books on CD that you can use while on the road. See their addresses at the Pauline website: One of the books which offers daily Lenten reading uses the gospel of each day to read and pray over. Another term for This form of praying and reading and taking the Word to heart is called "Lectio Divina", or holy/devine reading. It is called Lenten Grace from Pauline Books & Media.
One of my family's neighbors is a Presbyterian. She once told me she was a vegetarian. During one Lent she had given up eating meat. That Lent marked a change in her lifestyle. For some of us "giving up" may mean giving of our time to do a good deed, a work of mercy. That might entail slowing down to notice the needs of someone in our family or our neighborhood, perhaps a senior citizen, who needs a ride to the grocery store, or to a doctor's appointment. Or, giving up may mean giving up complaining or just plain being negative. When you are about to put in your two cents worth about something, just cut it out. That's giving up some of your ego to let Christ take over. The Year of Mercy askes us to practice the "works of mercy." The list of seven spiritual and seven corporal or bodily works goes like this:
The Corporal Works of Mercy are: Feed the Hungry Give drink to the thirsty; Clothe the naked; Shelter the homeless; Visit the sick; Visit the imprisoned; Bury the dead The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: Counsel the doubtful; Instruct the ignorant; Admonish the sinner; Comfort the afflicted; Forgive injuries; Bear wrongs patiently; Pray for the living and the dead.
If you or someone you know is struggling to be free of the scourge of pornography, I recommend a brand new book which offers help on how to be rid of this moral addiction. The book is called "Cleansed, A Catholic Guide to Freedom from Porn." This too is from Pauline Books & Media.
February brings us Black History Month, and Presidents' Day when we celebrate Lincoln's birthday on Feb. 12, and George Washington's on February 22. Happy and holy February!

A Correction

The Actor whom I site in the blog about Risen, the movie, has an older brother Ralph Fiennes. It was Ralph who starred in The Constant Gardener. Joseph Fiennes played in Elizabeth and many other films. I look forward to writing more. Good movies, religious and secular, can help evangelize our culture. Have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Movie to Bolster Our Faith

Last night a few of us Sisters, Daughters of St. Paul from the Boston community went to the Cinema at Legacy Place in Dedham, Mass. to view a new movie: Risen. The wide theater screen certainly gave a "you are there" feeling of being in first century Palestine. The story's focus is on Clavius, a Roman Tribune, the commanding officer of all the troops in turbulent Judea. The film shows Pontius Pilate as a slippery sort of politician. The Tribune, played by Joseph Fiennes, is a master of military tactics. Although a pagan who worships Mars the god of war, he displays some feeling for his own fallen soldiers as well as a minimal respect for the Hebrew population. Pilate leaves the Tribune no peace as he calls on him continually to quell the rumors that Jesus has risen from the dead. Pilate wants to eliminate any mention of a risen King of the Jews. After making Clavius question "witnesses" at the tomb of Jesus, the Tribune is charged with producing the dead body of Jesus or face dire consequences. Clavius was too honest to lie. The film shows Clavius as being present at Jesus' death and witnessing the centurion Longinus' faith, as well as his own mighty efforts to seal Jesus' tomb. The film shows his trailing the Apostles to Galilee where he actually meets the Risen One. What happens next is for the reader to find out by going to see the film when it comes out February 19. Fiennes is an excellent actor. Some of you may remember him in the Constant Gardener, a film hard to watch but with a powerful social justice underpinning. I would recommend the film for teens on up. The opening scenes of Roman soldiers quelling rebels of the Jewish Zealot Party may be a bit too "real" for a younger audience. Fiennes plays his role very well. I am happy the film is coming out at the beginning of Lent. It is a good way to meditate on what Jesus endured for each of us.
Here is part of a conversation about the film quoting the main actor: Joseph Fiennes:
I think we got it right, and it seems there's an overwhelmingly positive reaction from theologians and Christian ministers from whom we sought council during filming and the editing process. I'm just a small component in that. It's like a detective story. Clavius goes on this mission, and on that mission, his conditioning and his understanding of the world as he knows it is undone, irrevocably. That was a big challenge, really, to get that believability to the character and also to remain true to Scripture and also to make it a great cinematic event.
Enjoy these last few days of January. God bless you and go to see Risen when it's in your neighborhood!

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year

This is my very first post of 2016. As I write I hear the popping sound of fireworks welcoming this new year. On New Year's Eve in our Boston chapel, we Sisters, Daughters of St. Paul, prayer together an Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. Our readings and reflections were mainly from Pope Francis' writings. When I stay up to midnight and beyond, I find myself running on "slow and stop" speed the next day! We Catholics celebrate New Year's Day with a Mass in honor of Mary, the Mother of God. Jesus entrusted the first 30 years of his life to his mother Mary. So we can do well to imitate the Master and entrust ourselves to Mary as we enjoy the gift of a brand New Year. We have already begun the Year of Mercy. We celebrate God's mercy extended to us in many ways: through our families who put up with us and know how to live with our quirks and character flaws; God's mercy flows through us to others as we forgive offenses done to to us, and when we admit our sins and mistakes and ask forgiveness. Pope Francis says to practice the Spiritual Works of Mercy as well as the Corporal Works of Mercy. The homeless in our own neighborhoods, the kids who misbehave in religious ed class, and on and on goes the list.