Join in Live Fatima Rosary Novena Starting Tonight!

Join in Live Fatima Rosary Novena Starting Tonight!

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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!

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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

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Recharging

What do you do when you feel like you have nothing left to give?

stranded-918933_1280That’s how I’ve felt through the week after the Clay Pots Retreat. It had been an amazing six weeks where I’ve given classes, retreat conferences, and assisted with our live webathon novena, but by the middle of the week, I couldn’t even think any more. I knew my introverted tank was past empty and I was running on fumes. It’s not comfortable when I feel like I have nothing left, that I’m “poured out,” and emotionally exhausted. In my prayer, even reading the Bible feels like it’s too hard. Fear that I will never be refilled takes over because I don’t even have the energy to deal with my worries.

And perhaps that’s the hardest part of all. When I’m that exhausted, I don’t just stop paying attention interiorly, but I feel stranded in the middle of nowhere, alone and abandoned; maybe even wrecked. Pretty soon, I’m overwhelmed by negativity and I simply want to cry because the emptiness haunts me.

That’s the short version of how I felt by Friday.

But I’d been in this place before, and I had the grace to see it coming earlier in the week. I seized an opportunity to get away for about a day and a half, and I took myself completely offline. In my prayer—when I just wanted to weep for sheer emptiness—I remembered how Jesus sanctified exhaustion. His solution for exhaustion was seeking out his Father…and so I spent several hours in quiet prayer. Most of the prayer time I simply accepted my emptiness, prayed for the people I’ve been interacting with for the past six weeks, and told Jesus I was open to whatever he wanted. 

That simple acceptance of my feelings and my discomfort, in Jesus’ presence—as difficult as it was—changed everything. Suddenly I was no longer stranded alone. Jesus was with me. Simply giving Jesus my poor, empty self and knowing that that was enough for him, made it become enough for me.

It was a very gentle weekend: I prayed quietly a lot, journaled a good bit, spent time outside (beautiful New England fall weather), took some long walks, watched a sci-fi film with a friend, and slept. And by Monday morning, I felt so blessed by the gifts of my ordinary life. But I continue to be aware that, for the next week or two, I need to continue being gentle, undemanding with myself, and creating extra space for quiet and listening. This will allow the “spiritual recharging” that began weekend to continue.

What do you do when you are spiritually and/or emotionally exhausted? I would love to hear your tips and strategies for “refueling” your spiritual life and your creativity!

Your Chance to Support Evangelization Through Catholic Media!

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Every year, we host a webathon to help raise support for our evangelization efforts. This year, we are raising funds to replace our generator, which died last winter and serves our convent, our infirmary, and our entire publishing house. We will be praying a live Novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, daily at 12 noon and 8 PM EST, for the needs of those we serve, and in a particular way for those who pray the novena with us, supporting us with their prayers and sharing their intentions with us.

I hope you can join us: www.pauline.org/webathon2016

Stretching as a Writer (in a St. Paul & St. Therese Style)

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One of the beauties and challenges of religious life is living our vow of obedience. That means that sometimes we get assigned to responsibilities that are new, unfamiliar, and sometimes, seemingly not suited to us. Often, it’s because the superior sees something in us that we don’t see. Once we’ve been working in this new area for a while, we may be surprised to discover that we have gifts that we didn’t suspect. At other times, the superior is willing to “take a risk” on us because she knows that the assigned task needs to go forward, and we are the only one (or the seemingly best person) available at the time.

All of this is a long introduction to saying that, during these past two and a half years, I keep finding myself stretched because of my assigned apostolate in Pauline Digital.

Most nonwriters probably think, “Writing is writing.” They may not realize that every form of writing has its own set of challenges and required skills. I’ve been writing across multiple forms since I was a postulant, starting with children’s direct-to-video programs, but until I arrived in Digital, I did not realize that I am basically a “long form” writer. The only short form of writing that I consistently did (and enjoyed) was blogging, but even a blog can be considered long-form writing when taken as a series on one topic.

It’s also very different to write short pieces on assignment that require quick turnaround. I’ve never wanted to write on assignment because I have always been sure that my mind would totally freeze up and I wouldn’t be able to write what was needed. I have suffered from “mindfreeze” ever since I can remember: if I become afraid or scared enough, my brain stops working almost completely, and originality disappears entirely!

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A possible depiction of Black Blacquer, the villain of my 1st story.

When it comes to writing, mindfreeze has been a problem for me at least since first grade when my grandfather fell asleep while I was reading him my very first completed story. (In his defense, it was after supper, he was ill and probably exhausted, my story was absolutely terrible, even for a seven-year-old’s first effort. What would you expect from a story that is less about the hero and more about the villain, who was originally named, “Black Blacquer”? His attempt to listen to my story probably bordered on heroic.)

But I digress.

I believe many writers, if not most, struggle to discover the confidence to write. And somehow, that confidence to write was tested anew when I started to write on assignment—especially with a tight deadline, in a short form that I already know I’m not very good at. It just felt too much like I’m taking a test that will stump me. But if I stop for a reality check and reflect on my actual experience, I realize I’ve experienced mindfreeze in my writing only once in the past two and half years. I asked for help and someone else was able to complete it just after the deadline.

As I’ve grown as a writer and in my relationship with God, I’ve gradually come to realize that mindfreeze—and my chronic insecurity as a writer—is actually a great gift. Starting every writing session with an act of humility and a profound act of trust in God is the best way that I could begin writing anything. It is writing in the spirit of St. Paul and St. Therese  of Lisieux, recognizing that I am an earthen vessel holding a precious treasure, that I have empty hands but that I offer the very emptiness to God so that God can fill me! Ultimately, what I write is not for me nor ultimately about me, but about communicating what God inspires to say in service of others. Every so often, I need to be reminded that it’s absolutely essential that I “reset” my motivations every day. So I’m grateful that recently, I’ve received this reminder so frequently. I see with new eyes that my struggle in the past couple of years with short forms, quick deadlines, and yes, even mindfreeze, has actually been a blessing—for me personally first of all, but ultimately, I hope, for those who listen to and read what I write.

Invitations from Jesus

By Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

 By Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] , via Wikimedia Commons

This year’s annual retreat was a powerful experience of God at work in my life. I truly experienced the gentle, patient hand of the Divine Master guiding me in his way of humility, gentleness, and meekness of heart. And it was a joy to be able to pray for all of you during my retreat in a more concentrated way. God often “speaks” to me through  nature, and this retreat was no exception. I was amazed when I discovered a heron’s nest with a baby heron. In praying with the passage of Matthew 6 about how tenderly God cares for us—our God who takes care of field flowers and sparrows—my meditations were enlivened by my frequent sightings of chipping sparrows, who are a delight to watch, especially when they hop!

The Holy Spirit is still helping me to “unpack” my retreat experience, but the retreat is already influencing my day to day life and I hope it will also influence how I use the media.

If you’ve been reading previous blogposts, you know that I’ve been praying a lot about how Jesus is inviting me to use social media, especially in light of my various responsibilities. I want to do so much with social media, but time is a big factor. At the moment, I’m on a variety of social media, but I don’t always use them well. After this retreat, I think I’ve finally received some clarity about what I need to do:

1) I’ll be choosing to focus my social media use, limiting myself to interact regularly online in just a couple of ways (and letting go of other social media tools), so that

2) Hopefully, I can interact more directly, frequently, and consistently in the channels that I choose to use.

I’m starting to get queries from people about how to use social media well without letting it fragment their lives. This is going to be an area that I want to start blogging regularly about. If you have any question or insights, I’d love to have you join in the discussion. How have you discerned your use of social media?

Upcoming Los Angeles Media Events

For those in California, especially in the Los Angeles area, the Pauline Center for Media Studies has a couple of excellent upcoming events.

Advanced Certificate in Media Literacy Course for 2016. For more information, and to register, visit: www.media.pauline.org/certificate

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The National Film Retreat: Cinema and the 7 Qualities of Mercy. For the retreat flyer, click here (or on the image)

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This retreat has some marvelous films–if you can go, I highly recommend it!

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On Monday (July 11), I will begin my eight-day annual retreat, so I will not be blogging for two weeks. However, you will be “with me” on my retreat in a special way–in my prayers!  If you send me your intentions,  I will pray for them specifically and individually during the retreat.

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No one has expressed interest in a free copy copy of my book, See Yourself Through God’s Eyes, available in Polish.

If you live in the USA, know someone who reads Polish who might be interested in my book, please contact me, and I’ll send you the book when I return from retreat.  Here’s more about the book:

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For when we struggle with doubts about
our self-worth…

God’s love can transform our relationships with ourselves and others, helping us to grow
in healthy self-esteem!

God’s love for me has become the bedrock
of my identity, my spiritual life,
and a healthier self-esteem.

– Sr. Marie Paul Curley, author

SYTGE4stepmeditationMeditate on God’s Love
in 4 Easy Steps

  1. A story or example from ordinary life that challenges our sense of ourselves.
  2. A passage from the Scriptures in which God speaks heart to heart with us and sheds light on the situation, assumptions, or feelings that the previous story might raise in us. Reading and pondering this short line is the key to making the meditation.
  3. A reflection that allows the Scripture passage to challenge or speak directly to the false assumptions under which we tend to interpret our daily experience, so that we can grow in our trust in God’s love for us.
  4. A short prayer we can repeat often during the day to help us reconnect to God’s love and fidelity.