Celebrating Easter in a world turned upside-down

Salt + Light Media invited me to share a reflection for Easter Sunday, based on the Gospel reading. You can read the full version here. 

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“Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.”

-John 20:1 

Our experience of Lent this year has been intensified by the distress and restrictions caused by the worldwide pandemic, resulting in a situation many of us would not have imagined six months ago. At the same time, since mid-Lent we have been distanced from Mass and the immersive liturgies for Holy Week. How do we celebrate Easter when our world has turned upside down and we know that the global dark days are not over?

Sharing in the sufferings of the world certainly makes this Easter unique for me, but this is not the first Easter where joyful celebrations have felt out of place or even impossible. Several years ago, my Easter was a time of grief and loss: a close friend had just died of a devastating illness and two family members became seriously ill. Something inspired me to take Saint Mary Magdalene as my guide that Easter, and she has accompanied me through my Lents and Easters ever since. Initially, I chose her because of her immense grief at Jesus’ Crucifixion, but the more I prayed with her, the more I was moved by her relationship with Christ.

Saint Mary Magdalene is the perfect guide through Holy Week and Easter because, even before she met Jesus, she knew darkness and grief on a level that most of us can only imagine: Jesus healed her from seven demons. The Gospels don’t provide any details so we don’t know much about it, but it must have been a terrible experience of darkness.

When Jesus healed her, her desperate soul must have seen the first glimmer of hope—a hope that blossomed as she became Jesus’ follower. We don’t know how long Mary accompanied Jesus during his public life—a month? a year? Maybe long enough for that new, fragile hope to begin to take root in her heart. Nonetheless, her overwhelming sorrow at Jesus’ Crucifixion hints that her Lord’s suffering and death crushed her tender, newfound hope. She comes to visit Jesus’ tomb not because she has hope but because she carries immense grief. (Continue reading here.)

A Eucharistic Offertory for the Media

To continue with the theme of praying for the good use of the media, and in reparation for the misuse of the media, I’d like to invite you to pray a contemporary version of the original prayer, written by Blessed James Alberione, which he encouraged us to pray daily after communion. Originally entitled, For Those Who Thirst for Souls as Jesus Does, the current (adapted) version is entitled: A Eucharistic Offertory for the Media. In praying this prayer, you will be joined by all the Daughters of Saint Paul around the world. 

As you can see, the prayer has three main themes:

  1. Reparation for the misuse of the media
  2. Prayer for those using the media
  3. That we may all use the media to communicate Christ’s saving love

A Eucharistic Offertory for the Media

(Pauline Offertory)

Based on a prayer of Blessed James Alberione

Father, in union with all those celebrating the Eucharist throughout the world, I wish to unite myself with the heart and intentions of your beloved Son, Jesus, who offered his life for our salvation:

— that the media may always be used to support the good of each person and the common good; to uplift the sacred dignity of every human person, especially those who are poor and most vulnerable; to nurture marriage and family life; to bring about solidarity, peace, greater justice, and equality for all people; and to build respect for the gifts of God’s creation;

— in reparation for the errors and scandals spread throughout the world through the misuse of the media;

— to call down your mercy upon those who have been deceived or manipulated by the misuse of the media, and led away from your fatherly love;

— for the conversion of those who have spread error, violence, or a disregard for the dignity of the person by wrongly using the media and rejecting the teaching of Christ and his Church;

— that we may follow Christ alone whom you, Father, in your boundless love, sent into the world, saying, “This is my beloved Son, hear him”;

— to acknowledge and to make known that Jesus alone, the Word Incarnate, is the perfect Teacher, the trustworthy Way who leads to knowledge of you, Father, and to a participation in your very life;

— that in the Church the number of priests, religious, and lay people who are dedicated as apostles of the media will increase in number and grow in holiness, making resound throughout the world the message of salvation;

— that all those who work in the media with good will (writers, artists, directors, editors, technicians, producers, advertisers, and distributors) may grow in wisdom and uprightness, living and spreading worthy human and Christian values;

— that the undertakings of Catholics in all forms of media may continually increase, so that by more effectively promoting genuine human and Christian values, they will silence the voices that spread error and evil;

— that well aware of our inadequacy and unworthiness, we may recognize our need to draw near the font of life with great humility and trust and be nourished with your Word, Father, and with the Body of Christ, invoking light, love, and mercy for all men and women.

New Year update: “Hidden in Christ”

A Happy and Holy New Year!

I love the beginning of a new year. I think it’s because, ever since I have focused on creativity and found myself enjoying the blank page when I begin writing, I have developed a special affinity for potential. There is something special and sacred about looking to the future and seeing the promise of so many possibilities. (And this is even more beautiful when I have taken the time to look back and seen how abundantly and lovingly God has been at work in my life in the previous year! And God has been so amazingly, so tangibly, present in my life in 2018.) I think that, in many ways, playing with potential is part of the divinely-given gift of creativity, (which is a tiny, limited way of sharing in the creativity of the Most Holy Trinity, who created us in God’s own image).

This year has started off uniquely. First, I caught a really bad cold just before Christmas that has turned into a bit of a time-& sleep-monster, eating up the first 10 days and nights of 2019. It is improving, but with such miniscule progress that I’m not sure when it will let up. Second, the end of 2018 brought a few surprises that have shifted somewhat my focus in our Pauline mission. This shift means I’ll be spending less time online, but perhaps more time on my next book. And of course, this happens just as I released my new book, Just A Minute Meditations To Grow in Self-Esteem, and started a new Facebook Group, where I was looking forward to offering audio meditations!  (More about that in another post.)

On top of all of this, the Holy Spirit seems to be “giving me” a new book—even before I have finished the one I’m working on. Of everything that has happened this year so far, I find this so deeply moving. What a gift! I am praying that I will be open and receptive, and somehow able to “capture” his inspirations on paper.

Praying and discerning with all of this, here are my tentative plans for 2019:

– I will try to blog weekly here, on Windows to the Soul, mostly about writing inspiration, spiritual inspiration, and my journey with my next two books, which I am going to try to focus on.

– I will also try to stay in touch online via my Facebook Author Page and Facebook Group via messages for now.

– My Twitter account and some of my other work—including on the amazing group My Sisters (on Facebook)—will be mostly, temporarily, on hold. (I miss you all on My Sisters!)  But Sr. Kathryn has great plans for My Sisters for 2019, so if you haven’t checked it out, I highly encourage you to do so. It is a great way to find resources and support for your spiritual life, and you can try it for the first month for only $1.

Above all, know that you are in my prayers daily. Here is a short Writer’s Prayer which I wrote a while ago, but have never shared. It seems to be especially appropriate for me at this time:

 

A Writer’s Prayer
“Hidden in Christ*” 

My Jesus, I adore You, I love You, I thank You!

Today, as I sit down to write in this “hidden,” unseen apostolate, I pray You: bless me—my mind, will, and heart! Bless my desires. Bless my efforts. Teach me how to work, when to push forward, when to pause to listen, and when to relinquish control. You are the Artist par excellence: in carpentry, in sand-drawing, in creating a life perfectly harmonious with the Father’s plan and the needs of humanity, in creating a new heavens and a new earth!

Make me Your artist, a writer after Your own heart. I offer You all: work, write, craft, in me as You want. May my writing and all my thoughts, words, and actions, always serve Your glory and peace to humanity.

*Col. 3:3 where Saint Paul tells us, “Your life is hidden in Christ.” 

 

Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

Do you have prayer intentions I can pray for?

Today, the Pauline Family begins our Novena to Mary, Queen of Apostles, which this year we celebrate on Saturday, May 19th, the day before Pentecost.

This year, I would like to offer the Novena for all of you! If you have a specific intention, I will pray for you specifically if you send it in to me. You can put it in the comments below, or email me: https://windowstothesoul.wordpress.com/contact-me/

My theme this year is Mary as Communicator. In addition to the traditional novena prayers, I will pray this prayer daily, as well as renewing my Marian Consecration. You can join in the Novena with me simply by praying this prayer for the next 9 days!

Mary, Woman of Communication

O Mother of our Lord Jesus, woman open to the gift of the Spirit, you are the true communicator because you revealed to us the Word of the Father. He sends his Son into the midst of the men and women of every age, so that they might discover his infinite love for them and learn to communicate among themselves as brothers and sisters.

You are the loving Virgin who made herself available to God; the temple of God who silently welcomed and guarded the great mystery of the Word made flesh in your womb, so that our eyes, blinded by sin and by our restless human longings, might contemplate the living Christ and see in him the face of the Father.

You revealed your beloved Son to the poor and the wise in the eloquent poverty of Bethlehem and in the simplicity of the little house in Nazareth. You followed him with total dedication as he carried out his mission, traveling the paths of the world with him up to the moment of his sacrifice on the cross.

In silent adoration, you awaited his glorious resurrection.

After his ascension, you remained in prayer with the apostles in the upper room, so as to welcome the Spirit, who helps us understand and communicate, renew the world, and transform our lives in such a way that Christ, your Son, might always live in us.

O Mary, our Lady and Queen of communication, we pray for all who communicate the Gospel. Help us all to transmit a little of your light, your unshakable faith, and your vigilant, hope-filled love. Help us to work in a concrete way to give birth to a new world by working to establish the Kingdom of God.  – from Live Christ! Give Christ! Prayers for the New Evangelization 

 

Make this Holy Week one-of-a-kind with Cinema Novena: PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST

A “COOL PRAYER” FOR HOLY WEEK: A CINEMA NOVENA!

Join us in praying this nine-day Cinema Novena: PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST

Let St. Paul lead you closer to Christ through nine days of prayer,
 using

  • a film clip from the new movie,PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST
  • a reading from the Letters of Saint Paul
  • a reflection
  • old and new prayers to Saint Paul
  • listen to James Faulkner, the actor who portrays St. Paul, reading from the Letters of St. Paul

This cinema novena will make this year’s Holy Week unlike any other!

Sign up for the novena here. (The Novena is available for free, beginning on March 23.)

Then, check here to find the showing of Paul, Apostle of Christ nearest you.

 

 

MORE ABOUT THE CINEMA NOVENA:

Paul, Apostle of Christ is nine unique days of prayer, supported by powerful, living depictions from the life of Paul, the great evangelizer and lover of Christ. This online novena will help you live in communion with Christ, for whom Paul preached, prayed, suffered, and ultimately gave his life. No other apostle preached, taught, and suffered as much as Paul, who did all for the sake of love. It is a way of drawing closer to Christ in your daily life.

You can begin the Novena any day you’d like, but you can join with the sisters praying it starting March 23 or March 24, 2018.

Sign Up for the Novena Today!

Upcoming Events for Lent (Online and in MA)

Our new online Catholic community, My Sisters, continues to grow and develop! It is a small, gradually-growing, but vital spiritual community. I have found it a wonderful community to engage with some amazing people of faith, sharing their struggles, joys, and insights. And I’m also preparing a substantial amount of content for the site. I am most excited about our very first online Lenten retreat, which will become available on Saturday, March 3, 2018:

Daughters of Saint Paul Sr. Mary Lea Hill (author of Prayer and You, Blessed Are the Stressed, and numerous other titles–she is belovedly known as the Crabby Mystic), Sr. Margaret Michael Gillis (national vocation director for the Daughters of St. Paul and engaging popular presenter with a fascinating New York/Staten Island-version accent) and I are co-hosting our first online Lenten retreat on the theme: Seeking God’s Will: How To Listen to God in Daily Life. Here is more information below:

 

Following the retreat, on the evening of Monday, March 5th, I’ll be offering live spiritual accompaniment on this theme of learning to seek, love, and live God’s will in the My Sisters private Facebook Group.

If you are interested in growing spiritually, nurturing your faith in everyday life, or simply want to make a retreat at your own schedule/pace, I invite you to think about joining My Sisters.

 

And on March 10, 2018, I will be speaking at the 2018 Women and Men’s Conference for the Fall River Diocese with the theme, Be on Fire, Set the World on Fire! I’ve posted the flyer below. Registration ends on March 1, so if you live nearby, you’ll definitely want to register as soon as possible.

Personally, I’m excited to visit Fall River–it’s been a long time since I’ve been there–and I’m really looking forward to meeting Father Dave Dwyer, who does such amazing Catholic media evangelization!

 

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV, invites you to come to be set on fire with love so that you can set the world on fire with love!

Pray for 10-year-old Cristy: please share!

Special Prayer Intention Through Blessed Alberione’s Intercession

Please join all the members of the Pauline Family in praying for ten-year-old Cristy Dangond, who is so beautifully witnessing to how to trust in Jesus as she continues treatment for cancer. Cristy and her family have been a beautiful witness to me during this difficult time. Cristy’s parents, Fr. Ed Riley, Fr. Mike Harrington, and all of the Daughters of St. Paul make this particular request. Her parents are members of the Pauline Family as postulants in the Holy Family Institute.

 

Christina Dangond is a young girl who was diagnosed in 2012 with a rare form of cancer when she was 6 years old. Christina is now 10 years old. She has proven through her vitality, unbreakable faith, strength and courage, that one can go through the most difficult tests in life with a beautiful smile and a supreme confidence in Jesus.

A kindred spirit to Blessed James Alberione in the desire to spread the Gospel of Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, Christina and Blessed James may be separated by time but are joined through eternity: One needs a miracle to live, the other a miracle to be canonized a Saint. Please join us in praying daily through the intercession of Blessed James for the miraculous cure of Christina with complete confidence in and gratitude to Almighty God the Father through Jesus Master, His only Son, in the Holy Spirit! Prayer is below. Won’t you join us!

Prayer for the Intercession of Blessed James Alberione

Founder of the Pauline Family

profileAlberione

Most Holy Trinity, who has willed to revive in the Church the apostolic Charism of St. Paul, revealing yourself in the light of the Eucharist to Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family, grant that the presence of Christ the Master, Way, Truth and Life, may shine the world through Mary, Mother and Queen of the Apostles.

Glorify in your Church this apostle of the new evangelization, and raise up men and women open to the “signs of the times” who, following his example will use the modern means of communication to lead all of humanity to you.

Through the intercession of Blessed James grant me the grace that I ask for at this time: the complete healing of Christina Dangond from all of her cancer.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Thank you everyone. Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and forever! Jesus I trust in you!

Help us spread this message to everyone!