Day 3 Novena to Blessed James Alberione

Novena to Blessed James Alberione, Day 2

Novena to Blessed James Alberione, Day 1

Today (November 17) is the first day of the Novena leading up to the feast day of the Founder of the Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione, which we celebrate on November 26. If you don’t know about this great media saint (still to be canonized), you are in for a treat!

Two years ago, the novices of the Society of Saint Paul (the brother community to the Daughters of Saint Paul) created a series of images with quotations from Blessed James’ writings and preaching. I thought I’d share one each day of the novena.

This trailer of the inspiring documentary about his life, Media Apostle, is a wonderful short introduction to the visionary, mystic, and saint whom Pope St. John Paul called, “the first saint of the New Evangelization.” 

(You can watch the entire film, Media Apostle, here.)

Blessed James Alberione (1884-1971), the Founder of the Pauline Family (five religious congregations, including the Daughters of Saint Paul, four secular institutes, and the lay association of Pauline Cooperators), was one of the most prophetic figures of the twentieth century. His prayerfulness and his insatiable desire to integrate faith, culture, and the needs of the person transformed this frail Italian priest into a visionary whose tireless and innovative efforts to bring Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life to all of humanity continues to bear fruit today. The first two religious congregations which Alberione founded–the Society of Saint Paul and the Daughters of Saint Paul–are dedicated to communicating the Gospel through the media. The Pauline Family has thousands of members worldwide, each of whom seek to live Christ as Saint Paul understood, lived, and communicated him.

A prolific writer, preacher, teacher, and founder, Blessed James Alberione lived an extremely active and communicative lifestyle. The spirituality which inspired and sustained him is based on the Gospel and the Letters of Paul, which he summed up once in these simple words:

“The Pauline Family
strives to fully live the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
Way, Truth, and Life,
in the spirit of Saint Paul,
under the gaze of the Queen of Apostles….
The aim is to live in Christ the Master
and in the Church.”

 

The Pauline spirituality is, after the Pauline Family itself, perhaps the greatest treasure which Alberione has left, not only to his spiritual daughters and sons, but to any Christian who seeks to authentically engage with today’s communications culture. His spirituality, intended specifically to support those who live, breathe, and work in the media, is characterized by: Eucharistic prayer, integration (unity of life), and transformation in Christ: “For me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).  The communications spirituality Alberione lived and passed on was definitively validated when he was beatified in 2003 by Pope Saint John Paul II.

 

Can Catholics Have Self-Esteem? on Salt + Light TV on Friday (Nov. 16)

On Friday, November 16th, at 7 PM EST, I will be appearing on Salt + Light TV’s Perspectives, for a full-ranging discussion with host Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann about self-esteem, pride, humility…and how all of those connect with the Gospels. (You can watch the program here online: http://saltandlighttv.org/perspectives/ ) As you probably know, I have been writing and speaking about self-esteem for a number of years. Last month, Pauline Books & Media released my new book of mini-meditations on self-esteem, titled: Just A Minute: Meditations to Grow in Self-Esteem. The classic book—See Yourself Through God’s Eyes: 52 Meditations To Grow in Self-Esteem—has proved so popular that we released it as an audiobook last year (available at Audible.com, iTunes, and on CD as well).

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to try to be live on social media during the broadcast (Facebook Page, my Facebook Group and Twitter), in case anyone would like to chat during or follow up after the show. Come and join me!

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Lately, I’ve discovered a few recent gems of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis about culture and faith—many of them direct addresses to writers, journalists, and artists. Here are a few of my favorite quotes that I am pondering in these days. I have included links to the full articles/texts, which are well worth reading in their entirety:

 

Trust in Christ’s truth, which sets us free!

“As Christian journalists, you are distinguished for your positive attitude towards the person and for your professional ethic. You do not merely do a job, but rather you dedicate yourselves to a task and to a commitment. How easy it is, though, to let oneself be carried along by popular opinion, by a dissatisfaction and a pessimism that paralyses and blinds! “By force of habit we no longer stand up to evil. We ‘let things be’, or as others have decided they ought to be” (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 137). Let us as for parrhesia, let us ask for the frankness that comes from the Holy Spirit and that helps us to trust in Christ’s truth, which sets us free. Let us scale the wall of sadness and resignation, and help people to open their eyes and ears, and most of all their heart, to take responsibility for each other and to be aware of being sons and daughters of the one Father.”  – To a group of German journalism students, on November 9, 2018)

“Be pioneers empowered by God!”

“Please be pioneers empowered by God (cf. 2 Cor 3:6). But do not give in to the temptation of domesticating these frontiers: it is essential to go out to the frontiers but not to bring frontiers home to touch them up with a little varnish and tame them. Today’s world, subject to rapid changes and convulsed by matters of great importance for the life of faith, calls for a courageous commitment to educate in a convinced and mature faith, to give life meaning and to offer convincing answers to all who are seeking God. It is a question of supporting the Church’s action in all the fields of her mission.” – Address of Pope Francis to the community of writers of La Civilta Cattolic, June 14, 2013 

 

Spread a Eucharistic Culture

“…Spread, through prayer and activity, a “Eucharistic culture” – in other words a way of thinking and working grounded in the Sacrament yet perceptible also beyond the limits of the Church community. In a Europe afflicted by indifference and swept by divisions and forms of rejection, Christians renew before everyone, Sunday after Sunday, the simple and powerful gesture of their faith: they gather in the Lord’s name and acknowledge that they are brothers and sisters. And the miracle is repeated: in the hearing of the word and in the sign of the broken bread, even the smallest and lowliest assembly of believers becomes the body of the Lord, his tabernacle in the world. The celebration of the Eucharist thus becomes a cradle of attitudes that generate a Eucharistic culture, for it impels us to express in our way of life and our thinking the grace of Christ who gave of himself to the full.”  – Pope Francis, to participants in Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, November 10, 2018

 

The Contemplation of Beauty

“To admire the icons and the great masterpieces of Christian art in general, leads us on an inner way, a way of overcoming ourselves; thus in this purification of vision that is a purification of the heart, it reveals the beautiful to us, or at least a ray of it. In this way we are brought into contact with the power of the truth. I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful.” – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Message at Rimini, “The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty” An exquisite exploration of beauty and how it draws to truth and to the Truth, Christ himself. Essential reading for any artist today. 

 

The Way of Beauty

“One may speak of a via pulchritudinis, a path of beauty which is at the same time an artistic and aesthetic journey, a journey of faith, of theological enquiry. The theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar begins his great work entitled The Glory of the Lord – a Theological Aesthetics with these telling observations: ‘Beauty is the word with which we shall begin. Beauty is the last word that the thinking intellect dares to speak, because it simply forms a halo, an untouchable crown around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another.’ He then adds: ‘Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. It is no longer loved or fostered even by religion.’ And he concludes: ‘We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past – whether he admits it or not – can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.’ The way of beauty leads us, then, to grasp the Whole in the fragment, the Infinite in the finite, God in the history of humanity. Simone Weil wrote in this regard: ‘In all that awakens within us the pure and authentic sentiment of beauty, there, truly, is the presence of God. There is a kind of incarnation of God in the world, of which beauty is the sign. Beauty is the experimental proof that incarnation is possible. For this reason all art of the first order is, by its nature, religious.’ Hermann Hesse makes the point even more graphically: ‘Art means: revealing God in everything that exists.’ ”  – Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with Artists in Sistine Chapel, November 21, 2009

 

Daily Routine: the Hidden Art of the Love Story of Each Person with the Living God and Their Brothers and Sisters

“…The history of the Church is also inseparably the history of culture and art. Works such as the Summa Theologiae by St Thomas Aquinas, the Divine Comedy, Chartres Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel or Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas are unparalleled syntheses of Christian faith and human expression. However, if these are, so to speak, the peaks of such syntheses between faith and culture, their convergence is brought about daily in the life and work of all the baptized, in that hidden art which is the love story of each one with the living God and with his brethren, in the joy and effort of following Jesus Christ in the daily routine of life.”  – Pope Benedict XVI, 25th Anniversary Pontifical Council for Culture, June 15, 2007

Finding God in the Culture

Here a few interesting resources I’ve recently found online:

In last week’s Message to the Information Agency of the Italian Episcopal Conference of Bishops (English translation provided by Zenit.org) Pope Francs reiterates his concerns that journalists focus on the truth, quoting this year’s Message for World Communications Day. At the end of his message, Pope Francis gives a few tips on how journalists and communicators can create “bridges of understanding and dialogue” that can help the truth to emerge:

I hope you will always be ready to listen and to engage in sincere dialogue, to let the truth emerge. I encourage you to focus more and more on the fullness of quality information that can build bridges of understanding and dialogue. Walk, as you have done so far, on the beautiful and tiring paths of thought, of not compromising with anyone. Be free and keep your distance from reductive models. Help to understand the facts in their complexity and their deep meaning.

Perhaps this could become a helpful checklist for the times when we communicate in a tension-filled, potentially divisive situation?

Does my message:

__ give quality information that focuses on context, breadth, and depth (always according to the communication media being used)

__ foster dialogue, that is, build a bridge of understanding between sides, between concerns

__ tirelessly seek the truth, free of compromise

__ free of agenda

__ stay clear of “reductive models” such as taking sides, overpoliticizing, stereotypes, etc.

__ help others to understand the meaning of events, going beyond the facts by giving them a context and a sense of the human complexity of the situation

 

In his homily for the Mass at the closing of the Synod on Young People, Faith, and DIscernment, Pope Francis offers us another tip for those of us who are consciously striving to evangelize: “We are called to carry out God’s work in God’s own way: in closeness, by cleaving to him, in communion with one another, alongside our brothers and sisters. Closeness: that is the secret to communicating the heart of the faith.”

 

This is a fun and fascinating article about the journey of Tim Clemente from cop to FBI agent to Hollywood screenwriter--and how he always puts his faith and family at the heart of his life and career.

 

Paul Asay’s Watching God column on Patheos has had some excellent columns in the past which I have quoted or linked to. In this week’s column, he looks at two new network television shows that explore faith.  Although I do not currently have the opportunity to often watch network TV, I found myself intrigued by his commentaries on both shows and thought you might enjoy it.

 

Finally, in my recent article on the Pauline Media Studies Center blog, I highlight how documentaries have increasing accessibility and value today, and I recommend three good documentaries produced this year.

Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

A film festival for the Synod, and new Catholic games for kids!

At the Synod this week, participants were invited to an international film festival, “Finding Vince 400,” hosted by the Focolare movement celebrating the 400th anniversary of the charism of St. Vincent de Paul, the Catholic Church’s apostle of charity. The film festival ran October 18-21 at the town of Castel Gandolfo, and its goal was to foster a “globalization of charity.” One of the main organizers of the festival is Clarence Gilyard, the well-known actor (perhaps best known for his role in the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger), and devout Catholic. My favorite part of the article published by Crux about the festival is Gilyard’s reflections on how important and influential art is to young people today. Festival organizers hope the festival can become an annual event.

Two new Catholic games have just come out that I’d like to highlight:

Follow JC Go is a new free app for iPhone or Android that encourages young people to go out looking for saints, biblical figures, and Marian devotions, and then interact with them, in ways similar to the popular Pokemon Go! game. Ramon Pane Foundation has already released the app in Spanish,  and it will be available in English and Portuguese in the next few weeks. (Interestingly, Fundacion Ramon Pane, based in Florida, is named after a young Spanish friar who came to the New World with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1494.) Enjoy the game’s “trailer” in Spanish:

 

 

The Adventures of St. John Paul the Great is a 2D platform video game that allows viewers to “play through” the life of St. John Paul the Great! It is available for download here on the website of the Sydney Archdiocese for home or educational use for free on Mac or PC.  Enjoy the promo trailer by game developer Regine Caramancion:

 

“Members of One Another”: Helpful Advice for Catholic Communicators in Today’s Turbulent Climate

Signis, the Vatican-approved organization for Catholic communicators, published a well-written statement for its membership–that is, for Catholic communicators–offering support and a direction for our communication in this time. I am sharing it in full here because it says so much more clearly and eloquently some of what I was trying to say in last week’s post:

 

 

Message from the Ecclesiastical Assistant of SIGNIS on a communication which is sensitive, supportive and close to the victims.

We are living a delicate moment in the Church with the news of thousands of cases of sexual abuse committed against defenseless persons in recent years, accompanied by the abuse of power and of conscience. But it is also a fragile moment due to the public and unjust criticism of Pope Francis by some bishops and cardinals. In both cases, we, as the Body of Christ, want to feel united in facing our pain as a wounded body, and we know how to react, with charity, humility and truth. “So that there are no divisions in the body, but that all the members are concerned about each other. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with
it. “ (1 Cor 12, 25-26).

In his letter to the People of God, last August, the Pope invites us to unite in prayer and penance and in acts of solidarity. ” The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.”
In our mission as Church communicators, I believe that today it is especially important not to lose our sense of being a body, and to offer in our media work a communication that builds unity, that resonates with the universal dimension of the Church, that informs with truth and transparency. We can make visible the actions of many communities striving to be authentic witnesses of the Gospel, and maintain the faithful and affectionate support of Pope Francis and the Church program he encourages.

We also need a communication that is very sensitive, supportive, and that stays close to the wounded, confused victims. Today is a propitious time to focus more clearly on our media, “to look in the same direction the Lord looks”, to identify with God’s little ones and the poor, who are his favorites. It is not our job to please those who take on the trappings of power and an overweening self-importance, nor to accommodate material and ideological interests, even within the Church itself—all of this is against the Gospel of the Lord.

The Pope’s letter holds a special message for a lay association like SIGNIS. Francis exhorts all not to engage in any behavior or attitude that reflects clericalism and undervalues the grace of the baptismal faith of all the members of the people of God. ” Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism. “

With the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit, let us continue to be cheerful in the mission of being faithful witnesses of the Lord Jesus, working for the community that he wants.

Luis García Orso, S.J.
Mexico, September 21, 2018