Novena for Peace!


In response to the violence in the United States in the past week, the Knights of Columbus are inviting everyone to join in praying a Novena for Peace from July 14-22, using the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis. Let us pray the novena, and invite others to join us!

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: 
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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:


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

National Film Retreat 2016 Square


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.

* * *

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:



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.

Your Moview Watchlist for the #YearofMercy


Join us in praying our Novena to Saint Paul, which we are praying in reparation for the misuse of the media.

Great Films to Watch for the Year of Mercy

This weekend on my Windows to the Soul segment on the Salt + Light Radio Hour, I talk about three great films with the theme of mercy. Below is a summary of the show and where you can find the complete list of films.

Image Journal is a wonderful magazine and online site that looks at the intersection between art and religion. Every year, their Arts & Faith Community publishes a list of great films according to a certain theme. This year, they focused on the theme of mercy: The Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Mercy.

I’ve seen about half of these films which range from 1921-2014, and I’ve been planning to see several more, but a couple of the films on the list are new to me. I now have a wonderful selection of films to see throughout the rest of the Year of Mercy.

The top three films are genuine classics from the black and white era, and two of them are in French with English subtitles, but don’t let that prevent you from seeing these wonderful films. I would especially recommend these films to those who are interested in looking more deeply at the theme of mercy for discussion or prayer, and film lovers. Because of the depth of the films, they may not work for children.

MonsieurVincentCoverMonsieur Vincent is a wonderfully-crafted film that was given a special Academy Award. (I recently gave it honorable mention in my list of best saint movies of all time.) Made in 1947 and directed by Maurice Cloche, the film is a bio-pic of the saint of mercy, Saint Vincent de Paul. The film doesn’t cover his whole life, but wisely chooses to focus on St. Vincent de Paul as he was beginning his care for people living in destitution, including those suffering from the feared plague and prisoners. St. Vincent de Paul changed society with his great works of mercy in a time where mercy was so greatly lacking. Actor Pierre Fresnay gives a powerful performance of a man who is so taken up with the needs of others that he is fascinating, admirable, and a bit hard to understand because he seems to have no concern for himself.

As we watch the film, we could use Saint Vincent’s interactions with the wealthy, the fearful, and the indifferent as an examination of conscience, because the people who resist Vincent’s efforts or refuse to help represent the same reasons why we refuse to be merciful. Amazingly, this film lacks the sentimentality that usually ruins saint movies. Vincent is a shining and compelling figure, as he literally seems to become the love of Christ for the underprivileged.

gallery-oxbowincident-3-gallery-imageThe Ox-Bow Incident is a 1943 American Western, directed by William Wellman and starring Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews. It has been described as a Western film noir, but I found it reminded me more of a gentler version of a Flannery O’Connor novel. The basic storyline is about two cowboys who are passing through a small Western town when the news comes that a well-respected farmer has been murdered and his cattle stolen. The townspeople form a posse to catch—and lynch—the guilty party. The two cowboys join in, partly to divert suspicion from themselves as suspects. The film explores the themes of guilt, justice, innocence, the legal system, conscience, our common humanity.

This film contains many points parallel points to Pope Francis’ recent video message about the death penalty, where he says:

“It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice. Nor is it consonant with any just purpose of punishment. It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty.” 

In many ways, The Ox-Bow Incident is about the refusal to give mercy; but there are many small moments where mercy is offered. This film is so well-crafted, it deserved an Oscar. (An interesting note: it was nominated for an Oscar for best picture but lost to Casablanca, which is one of my favorite films of all time.)

Film_222w_DiaryCountyPriest_originalThe third movie is the award-winning 1951 Diary of a Country Priest, based on the Georges Bernanos novel with the same name. The screenplay was adapted by the film’s legendary director, Robert Bresson, and is incredibly faithful to the novel. The film stars Claude Laydu in a wonderful performance and is in French with English subtitles. As the title indicates, this is an in-depth look into the daily life of a young, sensitive priest on his first assignment as pastor who, though distressed by the coldness of his parishioners, is willing to make many sacrifices to help them spiritually. The young priest is consistently misunderstood and criticized by all around him, except us privileged viewers who are given access to his daily diary. Laydu’s acting is amazing as a young, idealistic, and holy priest undergoing the dark night of the soul, but all of the characters are well-portrayed. I wish that the character of the priest smiled more in the film. Without giving away any spoilers,  this film is about the little moments of life, the daily choices for grace.

Don’t watch this movie when you’re in a hurry. Understated, subtle, with deeply layered dialogue, the pacing of the film helps us to slow down so we can enter more deeply into the mindset of the parishioners and especially of this young and holy priest whose sole goal is to bring people closer to peace and happiness in Christ. In a couple places, the film could be studied for the priest’s pastoral approach: when to speak, when to be silent, always to speak the truth, to invite others towards Christ rather than threaten, but to be honest about the consequences of bad choices, and above all, to accompany every pastoral effort with prayer.

This is a powerful film portraying the beauty of the constancy of little, sacrificial acts of mercy in daily life. My favorite line of the film is the last line of dialogue of the young priest: “All is grace.”

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There are some other fine movies to watch this summer that include the theme of mercy:


Risen—the story of a soldier’s journey to faith, released to DVD recently.

The Young Messiah, which was just released to DVD, is the fictional story of Jesus’ childhood the year that the Holy Family returns from Egypt.

Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism is a documentary currently broadcasting on PBS (see list of broadcasts here),  will be broadcasting on Salt + Light TV as well, and is already available for purchase online. This documentary is a beautiful tracing of God’s mercy at work in the world through St. John Paul, and behind the Iron Curtain.

Journeys of Faith Help Us To See: in Life and in Film “Risen”

Even though my blog has had new  posts, I’ve a secret. The truth is that for the past two weeks I haven’t been online much. I wrote those entries before I left on my trip to Rome and scheduled them to post. So I was deeply touched this morning, after my return, to discover how many of you are happy that I’m returning to weekly blogging, “liking” my posts and sharing them.  A huge thank you!

I prayed for you while I was in Rome, especially in three places that are more meaningful for me:


One of the chapels at the Generalate of the Daughters of St. Paul, at the “Casa San Paolo” where we had our meetings. I prayed for you there especially upon my arrival and on World Communications Day on May 8th.



At Saint Peter’s, I carried all of you in my heart through the holy door for the Jubilee of Mercy.



At the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, I prayed for you at Mass and then at the tomb of St. Paul. I feel  I received many graces.


Praying at the tomb of St. Paul the Apostle.

I was blessed to be able to visit Saint Paul’s Basilica twice, participate at Mass there twice, and pray at St. Paul’s tomb several times. (My second visit was a half-day mini-retreat.) I suspect a few people thought I was crazy to make a retreat at Saint Paul’s Basilica when there is so much to see in Rome, and I still hadn’t done half of the things I’d like to do there, but it’s such a special place for me. I found out recently how often our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, used to go and pray there—especially when he was starting the film apostolate—and so it’s grown even more meaningful for me to pray there. Unknown to me, he and I prayed for the film apostolate in the same place, some 65-75 years apart!

My trip to Rome was a beautiful opportunity to deepen my understanding and living of the apostolic mysticism of our Pauline spirituality. It was also a wonderful opportunity to reunite and meet with many Daughters of Saint Paul who are communicating Christ in various ways throughout the world. I feel like I am overflowing with good news to share about my own journey of faith…and I’ll be blogging about that!

I wanted to add to my earlier blogpost about traveling as a writer, with pilgrim eyes of faith. Another advantage of traveling as a writer is the way the lack of familiarity puts you in touch with living in the present moment. When we are away from home—and especially if we are visiting outside of our country—we realize how very much of our lives is out of our control, and how much we depend on God and others for our daily needs. I found that when I placed my trust in God for the things that I would normally take for granted (for example, finding food that fit within my restricted diet), I received so much more than what I needed! God blessed my little acts of faith with abundance. This kind of entrusting ourselves to God’s care (usually received through others’ goodness) is an essential aspect of pilgrimage, and it also creates space in us to receive. Being more receptive to the unexpected is, of course, a wonderful way for writers in particular to relate to the world around them, as it compels us to live fully in the present moment, attentive to the “fingerprints” of God in our day. The pilgrimage journey of faith opens us up as writers to notice and live within the action of God.

RisenDigitalReleaseWhile I was on the last days of my journey of faith this week in Rome, the film Risen, which is a cinematic journey of faith, released digitally. You may have read my review of Risen when it was released in the theaters, where I talk about the film as an excellent “launching pad” for prayer, reflection, and dialogue about faith and what it means in our lives. Risen is now available digitally on iTunes, Amazon digital download, and several other places. (The full list of available sites to stream or download a digital copy is here.) In two weeks, Risen will release to DVD, and as a way to help people become more aware of the film, I’m participating in a Risen blog tour, as well as a special DVD giveaway, courtesy of Sony. (I’ll post the details soon—check back!) For the film’s release, I will make available a reflection/prayer guide for the film that you can download and use personally or with a group.

The Young Messiah: Praying with the Movies

A Movie for Lent

I hope you haven’t given up watching movies this Lent, because we’ve been privileged to have some really good movies come out during this Year of Mercy, specifically during Lent! February 19th saw the release of  Risen, the story of Jesus’ Resurrection told from the perspective of a non-believer. On March 16th, another film that I have not yet seen—Miracles from Heaven—will release just in time for Easter. And this week—on Friday, March 11th—The Young Messiah will release in theaters. Based on the fictional novel about the childhood of Jesus by Anne Rice, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, this movie is an imaginative portrayal of the time when the Holy Family returned from Egypt to Nazareth.

The Young Messiah is a beautiful, well-done production of high quality that is enjoyable, fully engaging, and not preachy. It is made for a general audience—it doesn’t presume that the audience s made up of people of faith. So many detailed and excellent reviews have been done about the film (including Sr. Anne Joan Flanagan’s excellent review here, as well as Christianity Today’s interview with director Cyrus Nowrasteh),  that I decided to simply talk about how the film could be a source of prayer.

Imagining the Life of the Christ Child

The Young Messiah is the imaginative portrayal of what it might have been like for the Holy Family as they returned from Egypt to Nazareth. The film is based on Anne Rice’s book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, with the script written by Cyrus and Betsy Nowrasteh. Both reverent and entertaining, the film is based on research of the lives of first-century Jews, and has a Catholic sensibility in its approach.

The strength of the film is twofold: the relationships between Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and their extended family; and an exploration of the mystery of the Incarnation in the childhood of Jesus. In particular, the film explores how much the Child Jesus knew and understood his unique identity as the Son of God and Messiah. The very real dilemma of Mary and Joseph of how to raise the Son of God—how to keep him safe, how much to tell him, is portrayed with depth and realism.

Both novel and film had to approach this time in the life of Jesus imaginatively, since the only Scripture we have from this time reports that the Holy Family returned from Egypt and settled in Nazareth (see Matthew 2:21-23). So the events are imagined, although they often foreshadow future events that are in the Gospels, such as the Baptism of Jesus, miraculous healings, the losing and finding of Jesus in the temple, Jesus’ temptations in the desert, the Crucifixion, etc. Although never quoted, for me the theme of the film is the line from Luke’s Gospel: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor” (2:52).

All of these elements, along with the high quality of acting, direction, and cinematography, make The Young Messiah not just a strong film, but a powerful source for reflection and prayer.

Lights and Shadows in the Film

Set in an atmosphere of oppression, much of the film is made up of a series of threatening encounters with the Roman soldiers (one of whom has been assigned to find and kill the young healer whose actions have been noticed). The film includes some beautiful and moving family scenes,  especially a very touching scene between Mary and Joseph, but the overall threat to Jesus overshadows the film too much. In addition, although Mary must have been worried about Jesus, her portrayal here doesn’t reveal her faith. The Mary in this film is not the strong woman of faith in the Gospel who repeatedly gave an unequivocal “yes” to God.

As with any movie, before taking younger children, a parent should see the film first. Although the story takes place when Jesus is a child, The Young Messiah is not a children’s movie. Sensitive children may be disturbed by the depiction of Satan, Herod, or some of the violence in the film (such as the crucifixions, slaughter of the Holy Innocents, and one of the fights). Focusing on the highlighted conflict between the Jewish people and the Roman soldiers with multiple encounters that are laced with threat casts a negative pall over the life of the Child Jesus that may not be helpful for a child. (The PG-13 rating might be a helpful guide in this case.) But for teens and up, The Young Messiah is definitely a movie that can enrich your Lent, especially if you enjoy or would like to explore praying with your imagination.

Believers may want to consider seeing this film on opening weekend to support the film. The film’s  foreshadowing of future events in the life of Christ makes its release date—just two weeks before Holy Week—a timely lead-in to Holy Week.

Scriptural Cinema Novena with The Young Messiah

Whether or not you see the film, you may wish to participate in our Cinema Novena: The Young Messiah, which is a nine-day novena that uses some of the best moments of the film for our reflection in the light of Scripture. You can make this novena to the Holy Family, or to St. Joseph. If you start on March 11th, you will finish the novena on March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph.



Nine unique days of prayer, supported by powerful, living depictions of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Sign up today to Play, Ponder and Pray:

1. a daily film clip from The Young Messiah 

2. a guiding passage from the Bible with a brief, life-oriented reflection question, and

3. a prayer

Listening: My Lenten Focus


In addition to making the 7 Qualities of Mercy online mini-retreat for Lent, I have decided to focus my Lent around listening. Pope Francis’s Message for the 50th World Communications Day is what inspired me to choose to focus on listening. Listening is a wonderful quality that is a prerequisite for genuine communication—with God first of all, but also with self and with others.  

But first I want to go back to Pope Benedict’s Message for World Communications Day on May 20, 2012. The theme of this Message was unusual: Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization. Since silence is such an important part of listening, I thought I’d begin with this:

Silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved. When word and silence become mutually exclusive, communication breaks down, either because it gives rise to confusion or because, on the contrary, it creates an atmosphere of coldness; when they complement one another, however, communication acquires value and meaning.

Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible. It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other. Joy, anxiety, and suffering can all be communicated in silence – indeed it provides them with a particularly powerful mode of expression. Silence, then, gives rise to even more active communication, requiring sensitivity and a capacity to listen that often makes manifest the true measure and nature of the relationships involved. When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary. Deeper reflection helps us to discover the links between events that at first sight seem unconnected, to make evaluations, to analyze messages; this makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds…

As the Cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by his silence. The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word …. God’s silence prolongs his earlier words. In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence” (Verbum Domini, 21). The eloquence of God’s love, lived to the point of the supreme gift, speaks in the silence of the Cross…  

If God speaks to us even in silence, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God. “We need that silence which becomes contemplation, which introduces us into God’s silence and brings us to the point where the Word, the redeeming Word, is born” (Homily, Eucharistic Celebration with Members of the International Theological Commission, 6 October 2006). In speaking of God’s grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation to communicate that which we have seen and heard” so that all may be in communion with God (1 Jn 1:3). Silent contemplation immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbours so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ, his message of life and his saving gift of the fullness of love…

Word and silence: learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak.

-Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 46th World Communications Day

I’d like to allow the beginning of my Lent to be guided by the above reflection and make a Lenten examination of the quality of silence in my life. The series of slides below (put together by one of our sisters several years ago), contains excerpts from Pope Benedict’s Message that might launch me into deeper reflections:

 Then I hope to move on to Pope Francis’s most recent Message for World Communications Day, with its theme of Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter.  Genuine listening to others is what arouses compassion in me; as I wish to invest the quality of mercy into all my relationships, I think it would be helpful to reflect on Pope Francis’s encouragement to us to listen, perhaps using his words as a way to make another examination of conscience on listening that will be ongoing through Lent:

Communicating means sharing, and sharing demands listening and acceptance. Listening is much more than simply hearing. Hearing is about receiving information, while listening is about communication, and calls for closeness. Listening allows us to get things right, and not simply to be passive onlookers, users or consumers. Listening also means being able to share questions and doubts, to journey side by side, to banish all claims to absolute power and to put our abilities and gifts at the service of the common good.

Listening is never easy. Many times it is easier to play deaf. Listening means paying attention, wanting to understand, to value, to respect and to ponder what the other person says. It involves a sort of martyrdom or self-sacrifice, as we try to imitate Moses before the burning bush: we have to remove our sandals when standing on the “holy ground” of our encounter with the one who speaks to me (cf. Ex 3:5). Knowing how to listen is an immense grace, it is a gift which we need to ask for and then make every effort to practice.

As communicators, we seek to imitate Jesus’ self-emptying or kenosis in our communication. In God’s desire to be close to us, in order to redeem us and heal our broken relationship with God, Jesus emptied himself, taking on our human nature, and giving himself up to a horrific passion and death. Jesus is the full expression of the merciful love of the Father. In every aspect of his person, his life, and his death, Jesus seeks to draw us closer into the embrace of the Trinity.

Pope Francis talks about listening as a form of self-emptying love, similar in a way to Jesus’ kenosis. Listening can be a sort of martyrdom. In truly listening, we imitate Jesus’ self-giving, sacrificial love, by putting ourselves and our agendas aside and becoming deeply receptive to whomever we are listening to. Deep listening enables us to become aware of the sacredness of the other. Even if we are just having an ordinary, everyday conversation, deep listening takes us beyond the surface to glimpse the depth of someone else’s humanity and thus, how beloved they are by God.

Lent is a time to die to ourselves so that we can rise with Christ. Learning to listen better is a concrete way to die to self and to welcome the other in a genuine encounter of love and mercy. When we really hear and understand one another, we are more likely to respond with compassion, gentleness, and mercy.

Above all, as attentive listeners, we can discover God speaking to us:

  • in prayer and in his holy Word
  • within ourselves in the depths of our own hearts
  • and especially in the words and unspoken longings and vulnerabilities of others with whom we relate

In closing his message, Pope Benedict entrusts the work of evangelization through the media to Mary, “whose silence listens to the Word and causes it to blossom.” May our silence and communication this Lent also blossom into expressions of God’s Mercy.

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Join me in making the 7 Qualities of Mercy online mini-retreat for Lent!


Prayer for “Converting” Our Communication

"La conversión de san Pablo (Murillo)" by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

“La conversión de san Pablo (Murillo)” by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo – via Wikimedia Commons

The Conversion of Saint Paul is always a special feast day for me, but this year it has special poignancy because Pope Francis’ Message for World Communications Day this year seems to me to be a personal and community invitation to “convert” our communication.

Here’s my reflection from Saturday on Saint Paul as a model for when we feel powerless and are tempted to “give up.”

For some time, I’ve known what this message confirms for me: I’m a great “hear-er,” but not so great of a listener—which is essential to any communication. Below I’ve posted my prayer for a much-needed conversion in how I communicate—both interpersonally and digitally—based on the Message. It can be used as a prayer or as an examination of conscience. While I will use it today during my Hour of Adoration, I’m planning to re-visit it during future retreats. I think there is something for every communicator to reflect on in his message, which encourages us to speak the truth in love, with merciful love.

Prayer To Become a Better Communicator

(based on Pope Francis’ 2016 World Communications Day Message)

Jesus, living Image of the Father of Mercies, help me to make mercy the distinctive trait of all I am and do, so that my every word and gesture expresses God’s compassion, tenderness, and forgiveness for all.

Father of Mercies, You placed us all on this earth to journey towards the fullness of life in Christ. As a communicator, our primary task is to communicate the truth with love. Bless our every act of communication so that, by selecting our words and gestures with care, we can build bridges, enable encounter and inclusion, and enrich society. Teach us in our communication to avoid misunderstanding and to contribute to healing wounded memories and building peace and harmony.

May mercy so shade our thoughts and speech that the truth we speak, leads us away from judgment, separation, exclusion, or competition, instead leading all towards  conversion, freedom, respect, and unity.

Lord, above all we pray for the gift to listen—a unique form of martyrdom where we renounce closed-mindedness and defensiveness, removing our sandals to stand on the “holy ground” of encounter with the one who is speaking to us. Teach us how to listen, a listening that means acceptance, true understanding, and paying attention: sharing questions and doubts, journeying side by side, and banishing all claims to absolute power and superiority.

Lord, touch all communication with Your own power. We pray in a special way for those who lead and those who form the opinions of others, that they may speak the truth to uplift the oppressed and guide troubled peoples toward reconciliation. We pray that they will have the courage avoid the temptation to exploit differences, stirring up mistrust, fear, and hatred. We pray for harmony in our world, that the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance can be transformed into circles of dialogue, openness, freedom, and respect, so that our human family may be healed and draw closer to each other as true brothers and sisters. Amen.

The Year of Mercy for Writers

This morning, I rose at 4:25 and immediately checked to see if Pope Francis had opened the Holy Door yet. (Of course he hadn’t; I wasn’t sure what time it was in Rome.) But I was excited to begin the Year of Mercy with the Blessed Mother, today being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the woman who received and lived such great mercy that “Mother of Mercy” could easily be her most fitting title after “Mother of God.”

Like many other sisters in my community–and many readers here, I’m sure–I’ve been praying with Dives in Misericordia (St. John Paul II’s Encyclical on Mercy, published in 1980), and Misericordiae Vultus for a few weeks now. Last night, I fell asleep to the questions, “How do want to live this Jubilee Year of Mercy? What will this Year of Mercy mean for me?”

I have to confess that for me, mercy has always been an occasion of deep, heartfelt thanksgiving. But it’s never been a virtue that I’ve thought very much about practicing, except when I’ve struggled to forgive others. Now that I have this opportunity to focus on mercy, both receiving it and extending it, I would like to also give my writing special focus on mercy as well.

In a special way as a communicator of Christ, I can connect with the Spiritual Works of Mercy:

  • To instruct the ignorant
  • To counsel the doubtful
  • To admonish sinners
  • To bear wrongs patiently
  • To forgive offenses willingly
  • To comfort the afflicted
  • To pray for the living and the dead

How can I be a communicator of mercy this year, not just in my life but especially through my writing? In addition to various projects we are working on together here at Pauline Books & Media, I came up with a few more ideas:

  • Write and highlight stories about mercy in my writing
  • Visit more often the online sites where I have previously connected with those who are sincerely seeking to understand the Church’s teaching, and “hang out” there to answer questions about faith and the spiritual life as best I can
  • More thoughtfully practice the works of mercy in my life and write about those experiences
  • Write more about the way the Church practices mercy, especially the sacraments of mercy
  • Open my heart more fully to the needs of the world, especially those for whom mercy is not a way of life…perhaps because they have not received mercy as I have, and be open to where God leads me
  • Review movies that explore the theme of mercy (see link to Sr. Rose Pacatte’s article about “The Cinema of Mercy” below); perhaps even put together a series of cinema divina guides for movies that explore the theme of mercy more deeply
  • Finish my “blogging a book”!
  • To integrate the theme of mercy in the one-day and three-day retreats I am developing

I would love to hear how you hope to live the Year of Mercy, whether in your personal life, your writing life, your ministry, your family, etc. If you share your ideas here, you may inspire me or someone else in their living this grace-filled year!


There are many wonderful resources for the Year of Mercy. (You can launch your celebration of the Year of Mercy by reading what it’s all about here in Sr. Kathryn Hermes’ insightful article.) Here are a few of my favorites: