Invitation: Walk in Christ with the Daughters of Saint Paul!

For the past couple of years, I have been assigned to Pauline Digital (our digital publishing apostolate). My assignment arrived as our approach to the possibilities of a digital presence started to radically shift. Up to this point, I have been doing a bit of everything: creating digital magazines and newsletters, helping out with our online Pauline store, putting up websites, and helping with various technical challenges. In the midst of all of this, I have tried to fit in some deeper writing, too–both for our digital media, and new books. It has been a challenging time, as well as a time of growth for me. And now, we sisters have chosen a particular direction that takes advantage of the wonderful possibilities of the internet so that we can really respond to some of the many needs expressed to us. This month, just in time for the beginning of Lent, we have launched a new digital “initiative.”

What if you could have all the things that you long for—readings, retreats, Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, videos, special prayers and meditations, even spiritual accompaniment, and more—all delivered to your computer, tablet, or smartphone every day? The opportunity to have all the resources you want ready for you to watch, read, pray, and absorb, whenever it’s convenient for you.

My Sisters gives you the opportunity to access exactly the spiritual content that you need anytime that you need it.

You can try it out for only one dollar, less than the cost of a cup of coffee. We’re giving you this special trial run because we’re so confident that once you’re part of My Sisters, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

If you are anxious, stressed, or overstretched, and you wonder what holiness can look like in your daily life, visit this online faith community that leads you to more clarity, joy and peace in your daily life. Find spiritual companionship for your journey.

This is a great opportunity to join, not only because you can start a trial month for only $1, but because the spiritual companionship of the sisters and online community–including the mini-conferences, weekly guides, live spiritual accompaniment groups, twice-a-week evening prayer, the live online lectio divina and Rosary, and DIY retreats–can inspire, motivate, guide, and challenge each of us on our walk in Christ.

Up to this point, I have been working in the background, on conferences and retreats. I’m delighted that we’ll be able to offer the first retreat as a Lenten retreat on the theme of living God’s will, offered in early March. While I plan to continue blogging here and at CoAuthorYourLifewithGod.comyou will definitely find me often online here at My Sisters.

Check out these features that My Sisters offers:

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Your Chance to Support Evangelization Through Catholic Media!

webathon1

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

Together we communicate…

IMG_0011Chosen and loved in Christ Jesus, together we communicate the Gospel to everyone (cont’d)

Jesus Way, Truth, and Life, is the center and heart of our lives and vocations as Daughters of Saint Paul. Our prayer together has a wonderful way of uniting us. After prayer, in our day to day living, we sometimes struggle with our differences: of personality, opinions, likes and dislikes, ideas, ways of doing things–even the way of cleaning the kitchen! But no matter what else is going on in our lives, what always brings us together is our mission.

Together we communicate the Gospel to everyone. 

One of the keys to being effective communicators in today’s media culture is the ability to collaborate. I see this lived out frequently in my community, the Daughters of Saint Paul, but I recently witnessed an extraordinary example of collaboration by some other wonderful Catholic communicators.

CathTVlogoPauline Video and Catholic TV are collaborating to create a TV/DVD program, and we recently had a week-long shoot. As with any production, the schedule was demanding, but this program’s was especially so, with many elements that made it much more complex to shoot. Each day required trying something new and often called for new talent, including children.

Despite the long hours, repeated takes, falling behind schedule, and the need to sometimes take a new approach when something wasn’t working, the entire staff at Catholic TV were calm, creative, making suggestions, and working together to make every shot its best. I was so inspired to be there with them and to witness the director’s leadership and the entire team’s generosity and persistence. They encourage me to be a better communicator.

Sometimes “how” we communicate is even more important than “what” we actually say. The love and patience of the staff at Catholic TV will come across in the program itself: not just in the quality shots, but in the creativity, in the focus on the message of Christ, and in the joy visible onscreen. The staff’s very personal witness to the Gospel was not just to the eventual viewers of the program; they also witnessed to me, the other sisters, the talent, and each other.

Happy Feast of Mary, Queen of Apostles

QueenofApostles SmallerHappy Feast of Mary, Queen of Apostles!

Today is a beautiful reminder for Catholic artists how Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the best communicator of Jesus. Mary’s few words  in the Gospels are simple and eloquent, leading us directly to Jesus. “Do whatever he tells you,” is a beautiful example of how every word and action of Mary points us to Jesus. But Mary’s example is even more powerful than her words. She is the ultimate model for an evangelizer through her witness of life: Mary’s entire life is a portal to Jesus  for others. Mary “proclaimed” Jesus through her life, actions, words, canticle of praise, silence. And Mary continues to be a portal to Jesus from heaven.

In his meditations on Mary, our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, specifically honors Mary as Queen of Apostles. (Blessed James not only gave the Pauline Family this particular devotion to Mary, he named one of our sister-congregations after her.) In one of these meditations, he describes the “apostolates” that we are all called to, in order of urgency:

1) Interior life–in other words, working for our sanctification

2) Prayer

3) Witness

4) Suffering

5) Word

6) Action (all active apostolates)

Mary lived all of these aspects of being an apostle. She was present not only at the beginning of Jesus’ mission, at the wedding feast of Cana, but she was also present at the beginning of the Church’s mission, gathered in the upper room, praying with the disciples at Pentecost.

With Mary in mind, Alberione goes on to describe what a real apostle is:

  An apostle is one who bears God within and radiates him everywhere. An apostle is a holy person who stores up treasures and bestows the surplus on others. An apostle has a heart filled with love for God and for people; she cannot restrain or repress what she feels and thinks. An apostle is a vessel of election that overflows, and to whom people rush to slake their thirst. An apostle is a temple of the Blessed Trinity, which is at work in her at full power. An apostle is a person who exudes God from all her pores: through her words, works, prayers, gestures, attitude…  Inhale God! Exhale God!
 

This “inhaling and exhaling” of God–that our relationship with God is our very life’s breath–is what it means to be an apostle. And Mary can show us how. I love how St. John Paul II called Mary the Star of the New Evangelization. We certainly need a  model for all our communication…but often, we need a reminder of where our “apostleship” begins–where all our communication starts: in our hearts.

To Mary, Queen of Apostles
by Blessed James Alberione

I thank you, merciful Jesus, for having given us Mary as our Mother. And I thank you, Mary for having given to the world the Divine Master, Jesus, Way and Truth and Life, and for having accepted us all as your children on Calvary. Your mission is united to that of Jesus, who “came to seek those who were lost.” Therefore, oppressed by my sins, faults, and negligence, I take refuge in you, Mother, as my supreme hope. Turn your eyes of mercy toward me. Bestow your most maternal care on this, your most needy child.I place all my trust in you for pardon, conversion and sanctity. Form a new class among your children, that of the most needy: those in whom sin has taken root, where formerly there abounded grace. This will be the class that will most move you to pity. Receive my poor soul into this class. Work a great wonder by changing a great sinner into an apostle. It will be an unheard-of-wonder, and a new glory for your Son, Jesus, and for you, his and my Mother. I hope to receive everything from your heart, Mother, Teacher and Queen of the Apostles. Amen.

* * *

A last note: I was unable to preview the film, The Fault in Our Stars, opening this weekend. But for those who are interested, I would like encourage you to check out Sr. Rose Pacatte’s reflective, well-balanced review here.

 

Online Lecture “To Evangelize the Culture”

On September 28, I was privileged to be able to attend the John Kelly lecture sponsored by the University of St. Michael’s College. The lecture is entitled: To Evangelize the Culture and was given by Father Robert Barron, who is my favorite online homilist. (Check out Father Barron’s efforts to evangelize culture at www.WordonFire.org.) Given Father Barron’s engagement in the culture, initially I thought that I’d be enjoying a talk specifically oriented towards Catholic artists. Instead, he wanted to give more of the theoretical underpinnings to his work. So we received a wonderful three-part exploration of the title. In only an hour, he explored: What is evangelization? What is culture? and then, how do we bring the two together, or How can we evangelize our culture? I highly recommend the entire lecture, which you can watch here, or streamed here at Salt + Light TV.

My favorite part is the last seven or eight minutes, where Father Barron talks about evangelizing the culture in the light of beauty and the arts. He gives a reasoned analysis of the underlying challenges that our current cultural milieu presents to today’s Catholic artists, and I think it can be quite helpful for those of us who specifically seek to engage in the arts and pop culture.

Feast of Mary, Queen of Apostles

Mary, Queen of Apostles

Today we Pauline sisters celebrate the Feast of Mary, Queen of Apostles, appropriately placed the Saturday before Pentecost, when Mary gathered in prayer with the apostles. It’s a very special feastday for us as communicators of the Gospel, because Mary is the ultimate Communicator of the Word of God.

Our Pauline website has an explanation of what the title means. In the images of Mary, Queen of Apostles, Mary is holding Jesus out–as if to give him away. Blessed James Alberione describes the meaning of this gesture very specifically: “In the ‘Hail, Holy Queen,’ the Church describes her [Mary] to us with very beautiful titles, but the most beautiful is the one we see portrayed in the new painting of the Queen of the Apostles, in which the Madonna does not clasp Jesus to her heart, but holds him out to the Apostles, as her most sweet fruit, in order that they, in turn, will hold him out to humanity.”

What a richly symbolic gesture–holding Jesus out for others to receive! What a great image for all baptized Christians who are called to “communicate Christ” in our lives. And what a profoundly meaningful image for those whose life work is dedicated to communicating the Gospel…always holding out Jesus Christ.

As I was praying the Novena to the Queen of Apostles this week, I was also preparing to start writing a new project. And I started to connect Mary’s motherly journey (once a mother, always a mother) with the creative journey of a new project. A conceiving, nurturing, giving birth, teaching, preparing, accompanying, and letting go (or entrusting to God) are all stages of being a mother and stages of being an artist. I am still pondering how to describe the role of the Holy Spirit in all of this–the Spirit who descends so powerfully on Mary at the Annunciation and again at Pentecost.

Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for all artists who seek to present God in our creative works and in the most important masterpiece of all–our own lives.