One of the delights of my week is taking a solid chunk of creative writing time with Sister Kathryn Hermes, who manages the pauline.org website. We rise, pray, and then leave for a nearby coffee shop where we hunker down for the next three or four hours, drink coffee or tea, and write. Sometimes this is my only truly creative writing time for the week, and it’s definitely the most uninterrupted time. Occasionally we exchange greetings with others who come in for a cup of tea or coffee; usually they stop to ask us for prayers. I love writing in the midst of the very people whom I’m hoping will read what I write.
Last week while Sr. Kathryn and I were out together, a woman stopped and said in a surprised tone, “I’ve never seen a nun with a laptop before!” (Those who know me well will laugh at this! The laptop that I use is practically another limb, because I take it everywhere with me.) Since the woman was so taken aback, I explained that I was a Daughter of Saint Paul and that our mission is to communicate Christ with our lives and all forms of media. She seemed to want more of an explanation, so I tried to capture in a sentence what I do and how it connects to our mission. I failed miserably, as that’s too hard to do in one sentence.
We are preparing to celebrate June 15, 2015 as the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Daughters of Saint Paul. To “kick off” the centenary year on this blog, I thought I would return to my initial inspiration for Windows to the Soul and share with you a little about how Pauline religious life, writing, media, Eucharistic adoration, and Saint Paul all fit together so wonderfully in my life. For me, several phrases really “capture” what life means for me as a Daughter of Saint Paul, and I’d like to share these over the next few weeks.
Contemplatives in action:
“Listening to the heart of the world with the heart of God”
Religious life–with its single-minded focus on God through the vows, and significant daily prayer–makes us Daughters of Saint Paul “tune in” to the media culture in a special way. My three hours of prayer each day allow me to bring the light, joy, and depth of my relationship with Jesus into my daily life…including the people I meet and the media I use. Every Daughter of Saint Paul is called to be a contemplative in action: to see every aspect of our lives with the “lens” of the Gospel. Without spending that loving time of adoration each day, I would never have written the books that I’ve written, and perhaps I never would have been inspired to create this blog.
In Windows to the Soul, I try to see each film, book, website, song, or app as a window to the soul–both of its maker/producer/writer, and of our culture as a whole. Media are not created in a vacuum. What are the beauties and gifts to discover in the latest popular novel? What are the limitations, longings, emptiness, or sinfulness that humanity struggles with today as revealed in the top-grossing film? Only in really getting to know others am I able to offer a perspective that may allow them to draw closer to Christ. Our Founder called it “reading the signs of the times.”
Eucharistic adoration, a prayer that focuses on Jesus-with-us, offers a unique perspective. In the Eucharist, Jesus walks with us on our journey, just as a Daughter of Saint Paul is called to walk with humanity. Under the form of bread and wine, Jesus offers us astounding proof of his love. Using the forms of words, image, light, music, and movement, the Daughters of Saint Paul offer to the world proof of God’s love for humanity, and an invitation to respond to that great love.
Before I start writing any project, I always bring it to prayer. The bigger the project, the more prayer time it gets. I’m not praying so much for the project itself as for the people who will see and listen to it, and for myself that I am open to God’s inspiration (which usually comes in the form of a whisper that I need to be really quiet to hear). When I’m deeply immersed in writing something, my interior resistance falls away and the writing itself becomes a prayer.
Every Daughter of Saint Paul seems to be passionate about communicating Christ. Some of the creative sisters that I’m surrounded with: Sr. Maria Kim Bui tweets; Sr. Rose Pacatte reviews films; Sr. Helena Raphael Burns is making a film and gives TOB talks (in-between watching hockey games, which is one way she gains followers on twitter); Sr. Anne Joan Flanagan tweets haikus on the day’s Gospel reading; and dozens of Daughters of Saint Paul are eager to help you find the resource to help you to grow in your faith at one of our Pauline Book & Media Centers. (Next time, I’ll blog about the New Evangelization and the mission of the Daughters of Saint Paul.)
Quick Facts About the Daughters of St. Paul
Founded: June 15, 1915 by Blessed James Alberione and Venerable Mother Thecla Merlo
Mission: To communicate Christ through our lives and all forms of media; evangelizing with the media.
Spirituality: Pauline, based on Saint Paul’s motto, “For me to live is Christ”; shared with the other nine institutes of the Pauline Family
How many & where: About 2400 Daughters of Saint Paul in 52 countries
In the USA & Canada: About 120 Daughters of Saint Paul in 14 communities
Founded in the US: June 28, 1932 by Mother Paula Cordero
Lay Associates: the Pauline Cooperators
Marian devotion: Mary, Queen of Apostles
Patron saint: Saint Paul
Key elements of the Pauline Charism
- Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life in the Eucharist
- Eucharistic adoration
- the Word of God
- Pauline; to be Saint Paul living today
- technology at the service of the Gospel
- Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:21, and John 14:6