Enter To Win Today: Risen DVD Giveaway

RISEN is the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. It’s a great faith story of a soldier’s search for Christ.

Here at Windows to the Soul, I decided to take part in a blog tour that a number of Catholic bloggers joined in order to encourage people to see this film, and to encourage filmmakers to make more films about faith. (See Reconciled to You’s blogpost here.) If you haven’t seen Risen yet, you might want to follow the blog tour to learn more about it and decide whether to get a copy!

As a special bonus on the blog tour, I’m hosting a Rafflecopter Giveaway for 3 readers who live in the USA to win a RISEN DVD! (You must be a US resident to enter.) For my blog on May 27th, I will post a downloadable lectio divina guide for watching the film that you can use personally or with your family or prayer group.

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway by clicking on the image below:

Terms and conditions are posted below. 

Open to Residents of the US only. Giveaway ends May 27, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST. Winners will be selected randomly via Rafflecopter.com and be notified by email. Each winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Sr. Marie Paul Curley will send the prize to each winner directly. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to Sr. Marie Paul Curley and Pauline Books & Media (the ministry of the Daughters of St. Paul). We will not share or sell the information in any way, and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner, unless you sign up for the newsletter, which you must confirm separately that you want to receive. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send Sr. Marie Paul Curley an email! Read the privacy policy of Pauline Books and Media here.

Can You Be a Contemplative on Twitter?

media_joyCatholic World Report’s online magazine has a wonderful interview with a sister of my community, Sr. Helena Burns, Media Apostle: the Church’s New “Media Saint.”  Among many other efforts at evangelization, Sr. Helena wrote and produced the documentary on the life of our founder, Media Apostle: The Father James Alberione Story.  The film is a truly-inspiring documentary that is not only a fascinating biography of one of the most prolific founders in the Church, but it’s also full of insight into media spirituality. The interview on Catholic World Report is an informal commentary on how we can engage with media today as faith-filled Catholics.

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What I’ve Learned Blogging a Book (So Far)

It’s now been almost a year and a half since I started blogging my book on discernment.  Recently, I took a six-week hiatus from both this blog and that one so that I could finish the rough draft of the book. I have the last chapter of the book still to post up on the blog, and I plan to continue posting after I’ve finished the book, but on a less frequent basis. Actually, I’ve already moved from posting three times a week to once a week.

In developing the content, I initially followed How To Blog a Book by Nina Amir, which offered excellent ideas and suggestions for getting started. However, as I continued blogging, I realized that some adjustments to her method would serve the blog, the book, and my readers better. But the biggest question is: Would I blog a book again?

The answer: Yes, I would, but I’d do it differently. I’ll share a bit here what I’ve learned up till now, as several people have requested hearing about my experience. Keep in mind that I’m only half-way through the process–I still have to revise the manuscript from blog to print, and the book still has to be released!

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT BLOGGING A BOOK:

* Immediate interaction with readers, through receiving and answering questions and taking polls. I feel like I have a much better understanding of readers’ concerns—of both core audiences of the blog/book. Feedback from readers helped me see when I was being unclear or unhelpful, and also shifted the focus of some of my chapters.

* The rough draft of the book was written on schedule, even through the travels of a book tour and various other circumstances that normally would have derailed the book being written.

* The book, even in its infancy stage, has already reached hundreds of readers, some of whom told me how helpful it’s been.

* Connecting to current events (such as the broadcast of a cable TV show about young women discerning religious life) enabled me to reach a broader audience than my book might usually do. For example, a Muslim mother and her daughter wrote in to comment on a blogpost about discerning religious life. How cool is that!

WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY (& WHAT I’VE LEARNED SO FAR):

* To build an audience, I committed to a new blog post three times a week. Because of the subject matter, short blog posts weren’t always helpful for readers, some of whom requested that I write longer blog posts and completely cover a topic in one post, rather than breaking it up. This was incredibly helpful in getting the book written, but ultimately it became very stressful and hard to maintain for 16 straight months.

* The rough draft of the book is much longer than the final draft will be, in part because of the need to repeat key information or give the proper context in every blogpost. (Lots of people will just read one or two blogposts, and thus will miss earlier explanations or contexts.) This means the initial revision process for the book is going to take up to twice as long as it usually does. Not that it’s not so hard to cut out repetition, but I foresee that the structure of the book may need to change significantly from the blog.

* In the future, what I would do is blog about a topic, rather than trying to blog the book chapter by chapter. And, in all likelihood, the revision process on my rough (blogged) draft may actually change the content enough that many topics and paragraphs are similar, but the book “hangs together” in a whole different (and more cohesive) way, while the blog has more “in the moment” information that is easily searchable.

* I began using Twitter and Facebook and even Google+ to publicize my blogposts. But because it was so time-consuming to blog three times a week, I didn’t give the attention really needed to the social media I started using. In addition, I didn’t publicize the blog nor build the blog’s audience very well. I’m hoping that, once I revise the book, I can put some energy into publicizing the blog so that people who would appreciate it can find it, and perhaps decide to read the book as well! I also hope that a better known blog will help Catholics unfamiliar with discernment, so that they discover how helpful the spiritual art of discernment is to the spiritual life.

Journeys of Faith Help Us To See: in Life and in Film “Risen”

Even though my blog has had new  posts, I’ve a secret. The truth is that for the past two weeks I haven’t been online much. I wrote those entries before I left on my trip to Rome and scheduled them to post. So I was deeply touched this morning, after my return, to discover how many of you are happy that I’m returning to weekly blogging, “liking” my posts and sharing them.  A huge thank you!

I prayed for you while I was in Rome, especially in three places that are more meaningful for me:

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One of the chapels at the Generalate of the Daughters of St. Paul, at the “Casa San Paolo” where we had our meetings. I prayed for you there especially upon my arrival and on World Communications Day on May 8th.

 

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At Saint Peter’s, I carried all of you in my heart through the holy door for the Jubilee of Mercy.

 

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At the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, I prayed for you at Mass and then at the tomb of St. Paul. I feel  I received many graces.

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Praying at the tomb of St. Paul the Apostle.

I was blessed to be able to visit Saint Paul’s Basilica twice, participate at Mass there twice, and pray at St. Paul’s tomb several times. (My second visit was a half-day mini-retreat.) I suspect a few people thought I was crazy to make a retreat at Saint Paul’s Basilica when there is so much to see in Rome, and I still hadn’t done half of the things I’d like to do there, but it’s such a special place for me. I found out recently how often our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, used to go and pray there—especially when he was starting the film apostolate—and so it’s grown even more meaningful for me to pray there. Unknown to me, he and I prayed for the film apostolate in the same place, some 65-75 years apart!

My trip to Rome was a beautiful opportunity to deepen my understanding and living of the apostolic mysticism of our Pauline spirituality. It was also a wonderful opportunity to reunite and meet with many Daughters of Saint Paul who are communicating Christ in various ways throughout the world. I feel like I am overflowing with good news to share about my own journey of faith…and I’ll be blogging about that!

I wanted to add to my earlier blogpost about traveling as a writer, with pilgrim eyes of faith. Another advantage of traveling as a writer is the way the lack of familiarity puts you in touch with living in the present moment. When we are away from home—and especially if we are visiting outside of our country—we realize how very much of our lives is out of our control, and how much we depend on God and others for our daily needs. I found that when I placed my trust in God for the things that I would normally take for granted (for example, finding food that fit within my restricted diet), I received so much more than what I needed! God blessed my little acts of faith with abundance. This kind of entrusting ourselves to God’s care (usually received through others’ goodness) is an essential aspect of pilgrimage, and it also creates space in us to receive. Being more receptive to the unexpected is, of course, a wonderful way for writers in particular to relate to the world around them, as it compels us to live fully in the present moment, attentive to the “fingerprints” of God in our day. The pilgrimage journey of faith opens us up as writers to notice and live within the action of God.

RisenDigitalReleaseWhile I was on the last days of my journey of faith this week in Rome, the film Risen, which is a cinematic journey of faith, released digitally. You may have read my review of Risen when it was released in the theaters, where I talk about the film as an excellent “launching pad” for prayer, reflection, and dialogue about faith and what it means in our lives. Risen is now available digitally on iTunes, Amazon digital download, and several other places. (The full list of available sites to stream or download a digital copy is here.) In two weeks, Risen will release to DVD, and as a way to help people become more aware of the film, I’m participating in a Risen blog tour, as well as a special DVD giveaway, courtesy of Sony. (I’ll post the details soon—check back!) For the film’s release, I will make available a reflection/prayer guide for the film that you can download and use personally or with a group.

Traveling as a Writer: See with New Eyes

One of my favorite places in Rome: beneath the statue of Saint Paul outside of Saint Peter's

          One of my favorite places in Rome: beneath the statue of Saint Paul outside of Saint Peter’s

Traveling was never my cup of tea. I’m more of a “stay-at-home” kind of person. But my life as a Daughter of Saint Paul and communicator/writer/producer has called me to travel much more often that I would normally choose, whether it’s last year’s book tour to seven cities in North America, or this year’s trip to Rome for a congregational seminar to deepen our understanding of the Pauline spirituality. I’ve also become a rather cautious traveler, especially when I don’t know the language of the country I’m visiting or traveling through, and even more so now because of my restricted diet. But perhaps my caution makes the trips even more exciting, as I take on a “pilgrim perspective” of relying on God to provide. Once I’m on the road or in the air, I invariably find that I really enjoy the new experiences, especially meeting people, experiencing firsthand what another culture is like, discovering how faith is “incarnated” in that culture, and taking in all the new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Traveling internationally is even more of an adventure, as I am immersed in what is even less familiar. It opens me up to seeing things in a new way.

I’m especially blessed when I travel because often I’m traveling to visit or stay at one of our convents. (We Daughters of Saint Paul are in 50 countries around the world!) And no matter what language or culture a Daughter of Saint Paul is from, our common “spiritual culture” is so strong that I always feel at home.

During this trip (I’m actually in Rome right now), I am trying to be a real pilgrim, and use the newness, lack of familiarity, and my limited understanding of Italian, to pay more attention to my surroundings, and to see with new eyes. I also want to drink in the sacred atmosphere—both of the new places, and of the special places that I have already come to love while I’m in Rome.

I used to think that traveling as a writer meant carrying a notebook or my laptop everywhere, tapping away on my keyboard in airport lobbies–and I actually do that. But more importantly, as a writer (and as a human being), I want to use the awareness of being less comfortable, of being in less familiar surroundings, to “wake me up” to the reality of others’ experience. Traveling as a writer means opening wide my eyes, ears, and heart, so that I can enter more fully into the experiences of others.

Glad to be back to blogging…

Thanks for your patience as I gradually find my way back to blogging weekly. Here’s my update on just a few notable events—some of which have prevented me from blogging the past couple of months!

* Our Pauline digital apostolate has some new features: online novenas, courses, and retreats. I’m in the midst of preparing an online version of a few mini-retreats that I’ve given, which I hope will become available in the fall (on the Eucharist and on God’s love for us), but first we had to put in the structure and put together the website. There are already some wonderful resources there, especially some lovely ones by Sr. Kathryn Heremes.  Visit: www.lightalongtheway.com to check it out!

* A 10-day get-away in which I focused solely on completing the rough draft of my next book about discernment. I’m letting it sit for about 6 weeks to gain perspective, and then I’ll begin to revise.

* The privilege of guiding a seven-day retreat for a group of our senior sisters

* A trip to Rome to participate in a seminar on Pauline (apostolic) mysticism

* Continuing to develop plans for the Communicators’ Retreat coming up in October

It seems this is one of those times when the Lord is “stirring the waters” inside me, offering multiple opportunities to deepen the spirituality of communication from several perspectives: the writings of the Founder of the Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione; the wonderful book In a New Light: Spirituality and the Media Arts by Ron Austin; the Pope’s Message for the 50th World Communications Day; and preparing for the seminar on Pauline mysticism which is, of course, all about the mysticism of communication. All of these have been wonderful companions during this time of reflection. In particular, I’m seeing the connection more clearly between:

  • the need to keep our gaze on Christ the Master-Communicator—including our thoughts and our hearts, our focused attention
  • the importance of attentiveness or “being awake” so as to live in the present moment (which includes Alberione’s insight about the importance of sanctifying our thoughts and attitudes)
  • the “spirituality” of encounter, wherein it is possible to discover the sacredness of every interaction with another person

In the eyes of Alberione, the call to holiness of life and holiness of communication are intimately connected and could be described as the “integration” of our entire person and life in Christ, Way, Truth, and Life; an integration in which we are transformed in Christ and thus all our communication is also transformed.

Insights into Film Spotlight with Salt+Light Radio

spotlight (1)This week on the Salt + Light Radio Hour (April 23, 2016), Deacon Pedro and I talk about the movie Spotlight, which won the Oscar for Best Picture this year. Spotlight is the story of how an investigative team of reporters at the Boston Globe uncovered and reported the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston and then throughout the United States. I grew up in the Boston Archdiocese and have spent much of my life missioned here, including when the Boston Globe’s stories were running, so I went to the first possible screening that I could.

My full review: Spotlight: An Intense and Powerful Film.

Spotlight is not an easy film to watch because of its subject matter. Rather than take an easy, superficial approach of sensationalism or discrimination, the filmmakers simply allow the reporters’ investigation to unfold onscreen, allowing the moments of suffering, scandal, and truth-telling to resound in the souls of the audience. The film is not perfect, but it is more than just well-crafted; it is a respectful attempt to capture the complexity, drama, and immense impact that the sexual abuse had on the lives of individuals and on the Church. You can find my full review–along with a wonderful reflection from Father Ron Rolheiser on how we as Catholics can best respond to scandal–here.

You can listen to Salt + Light Radio Hour on The Catholic Channel at Sirius XM 129, on Relevant Radio, on Catholic radio stations all over Canada and the USA (here is the list of times and stations and all the ways you can catch the Salt + Light Radio Hour!), on Roku, and online.