Novena to St. John Paul II Begins…Today!

Today, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the last public apparition of Our Lady of Fatima (and the Miracle of the Sun), we are also celebrating Day 9 of our Novena to Our Lady of Fatima, as well as the last “official” day of our annual #MediaNuns Mission Appeal. (You can celebrate Our Lady of Fatima together this weekend as a family by watching one of the well-done films on Our Lady of Fatima–check out my list of recommendations here.) 

As you might know, we have been praying the Angelus together on Facebook Live at noon every day, as well as praying the Rosary together at 8 PM on Facebook Live. The number of people joining us in prayer has been inspiring! (Our biggest night so far was Monday, with over 16,000 views!) We’re hoping tonight will be the biggest night of all–it’s a wonderful way to thank Our Lady of Fatima for proving again what a wonderful Mother she is–not just to Jesus, but to the entire Church.

 

 

It is striking to me that the Novena to St. John Paul II begins today (9 days before his feast on October 22). For me, St. John Paul is the Pope whose devotion to Our Lady is so pronounced. His multiple (sometimes mysterious) connections with Our Lady of Fatima are everywhere, once we start looking. Father Raymond de Souza shares the highlights in his insightful and concise article here.

I have been praying often to St. John Paul II, and I probably made a novena to him before his canonization, but this year is the first time I am consciously making a novena to a canonized saint whose hand I have touched, and whose life touched mine in numerous ways. So I decided that I would write my own novena prayer, highlighting experiences that we have shared and the ways that he touched my life. I am sharing part of my personal prayer below, in the hopes that it might inspire someone else. (I have to confess that I have taken out a few of the more personal details.)

Saint Pope John Paul, thank you for the many ways that you said “yes,” to God, overcoming any fear, and giving the world both the encouragement and the witness of your words, “Do not be afraid! Open your hearts to Christ!”

You gave so many gifts to the Church: the call to the New Evangelization, your witness of prayer and union with Christ, the beautiful articulation of God’s plan for every human person in the Theology of the Body, your appreciation for beauty and the arts, your many beautiful and profound writings, your devotion to the Truth, your understanding of what it means to be a communicator for Christ and witnessing how to do it, your closeness and preferential option for youth, your surrender to God’s will in your illness.

Now from heaven, you continue to accompany the Church you led so wonderfully here on earth. You know that your homily during your Mass on the Boston Common, and your encouragement, led me to embrace my vocation. You were always a special friend of young people, encouraging them to boldly follow Christ. When I finally met you, I could see the love of God the Father for  me shining through your eyes. I told you then that I loved you, and I continue to love and trust in you as my spiritual father and guide.

Now, I trustingly turn to you once again for inspiration, guidance, and for your intercession. In your powerful prayer to Jesus our Way, Truth, and Life, intercede for the Church to courageously continue setting out “into the deep” for the New Evangelization in these challenging times where the dignity of each person, the freedom of religion, the  value of every human life, the nurturing of the family, the care of all creation, justice for those who are oppressed, and concern for the common good, are all under threat. 

In a special way, I also ask you to beg God for my personal intentions:
(mention them here)

I trust in your prayers, St. John Paul. Continue to accompany me! You inspired me to “Follow Christ” unreservedly; I am one of “your” vocations; I count on you as “my” Pope and my spiritual father! Thank you.

If you, too, are part of the John Paul II generation (or, as one of my sisters puts it, “a John Paul II groupie”), you may want to begin a novena to him in preparation for his feast on October 22nd. You can write your own prayer, as I did. You can add it to other prayers. Some of my other favorite options include:

http://totus2us.com/podcasts/novenas/novena-to-st-john-paul-ii/  (Marian focus)

and

http://www.philipkosloski.com/novena/ (with a little-known fact about St. John Paul for each day, too!)

Here, you can find the “official prayer” from the Vatican offered at St. John Paul’s canonization here (thanks to Catholic News Service for the unofficial English translation.

This novena prayer is also beautiful and is posted on the site for the Saint John Paul II National Shrine (in Washington, D.C.), which I hope to visit someday!

 

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Video Challenge: Did we communicate the heart of our mission in less than 2 minutes?

October is one of my favorite months of the year. Fall colors, pumpkin-flavored everything, maple syrup, and the bittersweetness of the end of the warm weather and beginning of winter… Fall is often also a good season for movies, which is why I have a whole potpourri of movie reviews to put up. (They are half-written, but not yet complete.) If you miss my film reviews, definitely check out our Sisters’ movie review blog at: www.bemediamindful.org/reviews . (You may never come back to mine because Sr. Hosea and Sr. Nancy’s reviews are wonderful!)

This week, my days and evenings are pretty much taken up with our Mission Appeal and Novena to Our Lady of Fatima, but I wanted to share with you a new video we produced that for the Mission Appeal, which, I believe, powerfully communicates who we arefrom the perspective of those who are touched by our mission. In years past, we have found it so challenging to “capture” our  missionwhich is primarily spiritualin words, images, and videos, but I think this video does a pretty good job. I’d love to know if you agree! Please send in your feedback by voting in the poll below! (Or you can write in a comment, too!)

 

What do you think?

 

If you know someone who might be interested in participating in the New Evangelization by prayer and/or offerings for our #TheWordHeals Mission Appeal, please share the video above or one of our “broadcasts” on Facebook Live (which we are doing from Oct. 5-13, 2017):

God bless you!

Join in Live Fatima Rosary Novena Starting Tonight!

Join in Live Fatima Rosary Novena Starting Tonight!

thewordheals FSP pics

Today, my community the Daughters of Saint Paul, began our #TheWordHeals Mission Campaign, which will run in a concentrated way during the Novena to Our Lady of Fatima (ending on the 100th anniversary of the public apparitions on October 13, 2017). We are inviting people to collaborate with us in the New Evangelization to spread the healing Word of God through prayer and offerings.

Our Mission Campaign goal is ambitious, but we have so many wonderful projects just waiting for funds to go forward. You can see sisters’ stories of how the Gospel has changed people’s lives by visiting www.pauline.org/thewordheals or visiting our Ask a Catholic Nun Facebook Page!

InvitetoPray

If you can’t make it to any of our live online prayer times, you can still join us by praying the Novena prayer daily for nine days:

Novena Prayer

Need a writing getaway?

 

Calling any Catholic who writes in any genre! If you need a getaway to get started or complete a writing project, this retreat looks like the place to go. Writing support and encouragement from committed writers, plus time to write and the possibility of constructive critiques.

Your Word Is My Delight Catholic Writers’ Retreat is held by the Catholic Writers Guild every other year. I have always wanted to go; maybe someday I will be able to! You can find more information here. 

Promoting Hope: Tips for Communicators from SIGNIS, part 2

Below, I continue to share some of the best “tips” from June’s 2017 Signis World Congress, for communicators who seek to build a culture of peace and tell stories of hope. I think this could be a helpful post on today’s anniversary. Respect for others–especially for others who are different from us–lies at the very foundation of building a culture and world of peace and hope. As Pope Francis put it in this year’s World Communications Day Message:  “Confidence in the seed of God’s Kingdom and in the mystery of Easter should also shape the way we communicate. This confidence enables us to carry out our work – in all the different ways that communication takes place nowadays – with the conviction that it is possible to recognize and highlight the good news present in every story and in the face of each person.”

FROM SESSION: Interactivity and Dialogue: A Modern Expression Of The Christian Tradition?

“The Church is called to adopt not just technology, but God’s ‘way,’ the way God acts that seeks encounter.” – Gilles Routhier, Laval University

Communication in and by the Church is contemplating the way God has entered into relationship with humanity, and doing the same…. What is original in the Church is that contemplating how God “evangelizes” converts the Church’s communication practices.” – Gilles Routhier, Laval University

* * *

FROM SESSION: Finding Truth in an Age of Digital Propaganda

Director of the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island, Professor Renee Hobbs invited us to become more aware of the growing use of propaganda and propaganda techniques today. I was late to her presentation, but I can pass on one concrete tool she told us about: visit www.mindovermedia.tv

* * *

FROM SESSION: The Art of Being Human in a Digital Milieu

“Our technology diet shapes us just as much as our food shapes our bodies! It is forming us into a different way of being human. Is this the way humanity is meant to go? Am I contributing to becoming less human? Or am I evaluating and discerning with media? Are we truly free when we engage with this evolving digital milieu?” – Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH author and Director of Institute for Pastoral Studies, University of Dayton

“Who decided we needed to be digitally connected 24/7? There are other dimensions of being human that need to be held sacred…

“In the art of being human, where do we as Catholic communicators insert contemplation, silence? …And how does what we produce bring [those with whom we engage] into deeper contemplation in their personal lives?”- Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH author and Director of Institute for Pastoral Studies, University of Dayton

“Faith ‘Mediamorphasis’:

1. Shift from speaking to listening.

2. Shift from transmission to witness.

3. Shift from networking to community. (It is not about numbers, but about communion.)

4. Shift from strategy to art/handicraft.” – Moisés Sbardelotto (Journalist and researcher on religious uses of the internet)

 

“We shouldn’t let the digital technology drive us…we have to influence and shape it, so it follow us, not we follow it.” – Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH author and Director of Institute for Pastoral Studies, University of Dayton

 

* * *

Jim McDonnell, program coordinator of the Congress, succinctly and eloquently summed up the themes of the Congress—and the main issues of the day for communicators who want to be bringers and bridges of hope. I shared his words with my community of Daughters of St. Paul because I found them so resonant with the “signs of the times”: the needs of people today and the challenges we face as communicators of the Gospel of hope:

1. The challenge of the new

2. The power of creativity

3. The need for collaboration and

4. The commitment to hope

 

Promoting Hope: Tips for Communicators, Part 1

This past year has been full and beautiful in so many ways, but the beginning of September gives me the opportunity to “reset” some priorities that I haven’t been taking enough time for, especially: writing (including this blog) and exercise!

A great way to get back into writing is to pick up where I left off: which was right in the middle of sharing my experiences at the Signis World Congress in Quebec City in June. Rather than try to sum up each of the presenters and conversations, however, I thought I would share a few of the best standalone “gems” of the insights I received.

 

FROM PANEL: Emerging Spirituality and Religion in the New Media Age

“People are locating their spirituality in the context of their everyday lives—diverse, pluralistic, networked, experiential, relational, digitally-integrated, incarnational.” – Elizabeth Drescher, author of Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of American Nones (Oxford University Press)

“The boundary between the digital and the local is eroding: there are not two separate spaces. How can we facilitate those moments of integration?” – Elizabeth Drescher

“How can we [as Church] be fully established in this culture of digital literacy? What can we do to have practices of faith that go through smartphones?” – Moisés Sbardelotto (Journalist and researcher on religious uses of the internet)

* * *

FROM PANEL: Faith Formation, Storytelling and Social Media

“We must be a transformative presence within this digital culture that is searching for authenticity. As Karl Rahner puts it: ‘The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic or nothing at all.’ – Nancy Usselmann, FSP Pauline Center for Media Studies

“To show mercy and love to others, we have to become mercy and love. To show Christ, we have to become Christ.” – Nancy Usselmann, FSP Pauline Center for Media Studies

* * *

FROM SESSION  A New Direction for Vatican Communications

“The challenge of creating, of building a masterpiece in the universe of communication: Michelangelo in the digital era—this is what we need!” – Mons. Lucio Adrian Ruiz (Vatican Secretariat for Communication)

* * *

FROM SESSION:  Building Peace and Hope in  a World of Cultural and Religious Diversity

“Our [Catholic communication] culture must not mirror the world in numbers of ratings, likes. We must offer solid, beautiful, content. Even if we reach a small audience—you  never know the results—they reach others.” – Father Tom Rosica, CSB, Salt + Light Television

“[Communication must] shift from debate to dialogue: intergenerational; inter-religious; political; to an open-ended process that puts the person in the center; the richness of the various perspectives can be transforming.” – Patrice Brodeur, University of Montreal

Gems from the Catholic Writers Conference Online 2017

cwglogoThe Catholic Writers Guild’s Online Conference—just held this past weekend—is a fantastic conference for Catholic writers who are just starting to write, writers who are seeking to publish or are publishing their work for the first time, and for established authors who want the companionship of a like-minded writing community that offers spiritual support (as well as writing support), or for those writers who simply want to explore or deepen the connection between their writing and their life of faith.

This year, my schedule allowed me to participate in only five of the workshops—and I missed three that I really wanted to attend—but I have to confess that I really enjoyed connecting with other writers.

Just a few takeaways:

  • Colleen C. Mitchell’s amazing workshop on integrating our writing with our everyday life, especially her personal witness of how she keeps writing during challenging times. Her witness inspires me.
  • How Terri Ong’s presentation connected St. Therese of Lisieux’s “Little Way”  with the writing life. If you’ve read much of this blog, you know that, for me, St. Therese articulates Saint Paul’s spirituality in a contemporary, accessible way. More and more, I see how essential the humility and obedience to the Holy Spirit are to the believer’s ability to respond to their call to write. The Founder of my community, Blessed James Alberione, encouraged us to pray these words often—and now I start every writing session with them: “By myself I can do nothing, but with God I can do all things. For the love of God, I want to do all things. To God, honor and glory; to me, the eternal reward.”
  • Although I have read dozens of writing books, published 7 books, and been studying writing craft for over 15 years, I can always learn something new. I learned a new way to improve the manuscript that I hand in to my editor and some ways to fix problems in developing a scene. But the best part? Connecting with other writers who consider writing a call from God, and a way to serve God’s People. Plus, I was delighted to be able to volunteer to moderate some of the workshops, and so contribute a little back to this lovely writing community.
  • Finally, I was reminded how important writing is to me. For a number of reasons, I have had to put writing on hold—at least, the “deep writing” that I feel called to do. These reasons included transition, a different schedule, new responsibilities, and my preoccupation with several difficult circumstances. The precious gem I received from this conference is a deeper insight into how much “deep writing” energizes me and assists me in doing other important apostolates that I carry out. No matter how busy I am, I cannot completely put it aside any more. I’m eager to find ways to write deeply again—even if it is just 20 minutes a day. 

A profound thank you to the Catholic Writers Guild, and all of those who worked so hard to bless dedicated, hard-working Catholic writers the training, tips, and encouragement we need to continue writing.