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Living Our Faith: Spiritual direction

June 16th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Spiritual direction is not only for those discerning vocations to the priesthood or religious life, but for anyone searching for a closer

Spiritual direction is for anyone searching for a closer relationship with God. (Thinkstock)

Spiritual direction is for anyone searching for a closer relationship with God. (Thinkstock)

relationship with God.

A spiritual director accompanies us, helps us to see and listen to where the Spirit is moving in our lives.

By conversation and questioning, a good spiritual director helps directees to make their own decisions.

Scripture, as a place of encounter with God, can serve as a special resource for spiritual direction.

 

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Saint of the Day June 16: St. Lutgardis

June 16th, 2017 Posted in Catechetical Corner Tags:

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St. Lutgardis

Feast Day: June 16

Born in Belgium, Lutgardis was boarded with Benedictine nuns at age 12 when her father lost her dowry. After Christ appeared

Santa Lutgarda by Goya, 1787 (Wikimedia Commons, PD/USA)

Santa Lutgarda by Goya, 1787 (Wikimedia Commons, PD/USA)

to her, showing his wounds, she renounced the world to become a nun and later sought a more austere life with Cistercians at Aywieres. She viewed the loss of her eyesight in 1235 as another form of detachment from the world. Known in her own time as a great spiritual counsellor and healer, Lutgardis is considered among the great medieval women mystics.

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Vatican statistics: 1.28 billion Catholics in world, 1,808 Catholics per priest in U.S.

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The health of the Catholic Church can be measured in many ways, and the Vatican has a special office just for that purpose.

The Central Statistics Office, which operates under the Vatican Secretariat of State, conducts a variety of studies for the Roman Curia throughout the year. But one of the office’s biggest projects is compiling the annual, 500-page Statistical Yearbook of the Church. Read more »

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Pope and cardinals study ‘healthy decentralization’ proposals

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis and members of his international Council of Cardinals discussed the possibility of allowing local bishops rather than the Vatican decide on certain matters, including the marriage or priestly ordination of permanent deacons.

It is “what the pope calls a ‘’healthy decentralization,” said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office. Read more »

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Vatican supports new elections to solve Venezuelan crisis

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Negotiations between government and opposition groups in Venezuela, followed by free and fair elections, are needed to put an end to violence and bring relief to the suffering people, a Vatican official said.

In a letter June 13 to six former Latin American heads of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the Holy See continues to follow Pope Francis’ directives and is “trying to help find a solution to the current serious difficulties.”

An opposition supporter holds a rosary as she prays with others during a June 14 rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas. (CNS photo/Christian Veron, Reuters)

An opposition supporter holds a rosary as she prays with others during a June 14 rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas. (CNS photo/Christian Veron, Reuters)

“The Holy See continues to consider that a serious and sincere negotiation between the parties, based on very clear conditions, beginning with the celebration of constitutionally scheduled elections, can solve the serious situation in Venezuela and the suffering to which the population is subjected,” said Cardinal Parolin’s letter.

The Vatican did not release the cardinal’s letter, but it was posted on the blog Sismografo.

Pope Francis had met June 8 with the leadership of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, which requested the meeting as the country’s political and economic crisis became increasingly violent. Since April, anti-government protests have led to the death of some 70 people, both government and opposition supporters.

Cardinal Parolin’s letter came one day after the pope received a letter from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The letter was posted on Twitter June 12 by the Venezuelan government’s press secretary, Ernesto Villegas Poljak.

Although his government’s violent tactics against protesters have been denounced by the Catholic Church in Venezuela, Maduro has tried to claim he had the support of Pope Francis.

In his letter, Maduro defended the government’s handling of the protests, claiming that the violence was caused by an “extreme right-wing” opposition that was “increasingly smaller and, therefore, more and more insane.”

“The forces of darkness have carried out all kinds of vandalism under the sign of the most abject and brutal terrorism, trying to impose a climate of widespread violence on Venezuela,” he said.

Maduro’s accusations contradict statements by Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, who told Vatican Radio that “the repression” exercised by Maduro’s government “has been increasingly cruel.”

In addition to official security forces, there are pro-government, armed civilian groups, “which is absolutely criminal, so that the situation is extremely serious and that is why we are here,” he said at the Vatican June 7.

However, the Venezuelan president said his government’s crackdown against protesters was justified following the death of a 17-year-old boy.

Citing Pope Francis’ own words in his letter, Maduro said children should not “be robbed of joy,” and he was certain the pope’s “active and guiding counsel would open a new stage in national dialogue.”

Asking for the pope’s blessing, Maduro said he would follow the example of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in dealing with the opposition.

“There are those who have diverted toward the field of destabilization, terrorism and coup. My task is to bring them toward the field of the constitution and political debate. In this, I am rigorously following the example of Commander Chavez,” Maduro said.

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Parish prays for congressman in critical condition after shooting

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Catholic News Service

METAIRIE, La. — More than 150 people attended a prayer service at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Metairie June 14 to pray for the recovery of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and other victims of a shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, early that morning.

More than 150 people attend a prayer service at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Metairie, La., June 14 for the recovery of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and four others who were shot by a lone gunman while practicing in Alexandria, Va., for a charity baseball event. Scalise, his wife, Jennifer, and their two children are parishioners at the church. (CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald)

More than 150 people attend a prayer service at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Metairie, La., June 14 for the recovery of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and four others who were shot by a lone gunman while practicing in Alexandria, Va., for a charity baseball event. Scalise, his wife, Jennifer, and their two children are parishioners at the church. (CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald)

Scalise, his wife, Jennifer, and their two children are members of St. Catherine of Siena Parish. The congressman from the 1st District of Louisiana was gunned down by a lone gunman while practicing with other Republican members of the House and staffers for a charity baseball game.

Scalise sustained a bullet to the hip that also caused serious internal bleeding. After surgery, he was listed in critical condition, and as of early June 15, he remained in critical condition. He has received multiple blood transfusions. Doctors said he would require additional surgeries.

Father Ronald Calkins, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, said the prayer service was for the shooting victims and also for those who mourn for them.

“We come here to pray to God, who is always with us and always supporting us and always helping us,” Father Calkins said. “We pray especially for those who were injured. Of course, we also come just to support each other.”

The group of House members and staff were at a baseball practice to prepare for the 56th annual Congressional Baseball Game, played each summer by members of Congress, when the shots rang out. The game will take place as scheduled June 15.

The suspected gunman was identified as James Hodgkinson of Illinois, who was shot by police and later died from his wounds. In addition to Scalise, four others were injured and transported to the hospital. They included two U.S. Capitol police officers who are on the congressman’s security detail.

“Even if all we did was to come into this church and there was no prayer service, and all we did was spend time in prayer quietly, we’re together, supporting each other. That’s very important,” Father Calkins said at the prayer service. “We also need to recommit ourselves to being people of peace, people of justice. Violence is never really the answer. Our Lord Jesus was a person of peace, a person of nonviolence, so we are his followers, his disciples. We call ourselves Christians because we follow Jesus Christ.”

Maria Naccari, who taught Scalise’s daughter Madison in prekindergarten at St. Catherine of Siena School, said she has always been impressed by the Scalise family’s down-to-earth attitude. When Scalise would show up with his security detail to pick up his children from school in the afternoon, she said, he never pulled rank or asked to come to the front of the line.

“They wait in line; there is no cut in line,” Naccari told the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese. “They wait like everyone else, and he follows all the rules. It’s adorable. I think that’s what makes him so likable to everybody. They’re just regular people with a different job.”

“Sweet, sweet family, Mom and Dad totally involved with walking them to class. They are just normal, everyday parents. Unless you knew who he was, you would not know who he was, if that makes sense.”

Madison is entering fifth grade, and Harrison Scalise, their son, just made his first Communion and is going into third grade.

“I was very, very upset, just because he’s a genuine person,” Naccari said. “You don’t think of him as a politician, but as a real dad. You think of him as an involved, regular St. Catherine person. And you think of his wife in the same way. There’s no fluff about him. He’s a real dad, a common person, really a daddy.”

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Finney is executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

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Pope Francis, Rabbi Skorka join effort to promote friendship across faiths

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Reaching out to people of other religions can be both challenging and enriching for individuals and is the only hope for true peace in the world, said a variety of religious leaders, including Pope Francis. Read more »

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Faith & Sports — Conference looks at ‘Sport at the service of humanity’

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VILLANOVA, Pa. — Last October, the Vatican hosted a groundbreaking conference to explore the ways faith and sports could act together to spark positive social change, and encourage greater inclusivity, commitment and inspiration on a multicultural global stage.

This June, coaches, chaplains, campus ministers, university administrators and others from across the United States gathered at Villanova University to explore ways to make that vision concrete in the world of collegiate sports. Read more »

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‘Rough Night’ is dead on arrival

June 15th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

“Weekend at Bernie’s” meets “Bridesmaids” in the raunchy comedy “Rough Night.” The result is pure dreck.

Political candidate and bride-to-be Jess Thayer (Scarlett Johansson) joins her four best friends — Aussie ditz Pippa (Kate McKinnon), overeager misfit Alice (Jillian Bell), social justice warrior Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and self-satisfied rich lady Blair (Zoe Kravitz) — for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami.

Zoe Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, and Illana Grazer star in a scene from the movie "Rough Night." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. .(CNS photo/Sony)

Zoe Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, and Illana Grazer star in a scene from the movie “Rough Night.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. .(CNS photo/Sony)

After doing shots and snorting cocaine, they summon a stripper (Ryan Cooper) to the house they’ve been loaned. But the fun comes to a screeching halt when Alice, who could afford to go on a diet, accidentally kills burlesque boy by impulsively jumping into his lap, overturning his chair and smashing the back of his head into the corner of a stone hearth.

As the quintet scrambles to hide the evidence, fearing, for barely tenable reasons, that the police will not believe their story, director and co-writer Lucia Aniello’s film runs the gamut of smut. Early on, the script (on which Aniello collaborated with Paul W. Downs, who also plays Jess’ nice-guy fiance, Peter) winsomely tips us off to the fact that, back in college, Frankie and Blair were lovers.

Later the screenplay introduces us to Lea and Pietro (Demi Moore and Ty Burrell), the randy swingers who live next door. Plot developments find Blair forced into an encounter with this duo while Peter, who knows that Jess is in some kind of trouble, dons diapers and chugs Red Bull for a marathon drive to Florida to save the day.

Along the way to the supposedly friendship-affirming conclusion, such inherently hilarious subjects as contraception, venereal disease and personal hygiene are milked for laughs. And, as Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman discovered all those years ago in the first movie referred to above, there’s really no sight gag funnier than propping up a corpse.

The film contains strong sexual content, including aberrant behavior, nudity and a benign view of homosexual acts, cohabitation, drug use, some gory images, constant vulgar humor, several uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R, restricted

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘The Lovers’ a ‘lyrical’ look at infidelity but not its damage

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Catholic News Service

To the extent that a thoughtful drama about marital infidelity can be considered lyrical, “The Lovers” achieves that. Writer-director Azazel Jacobs carefully structures his plot to minimize any gaping holes in logic. But he also downplays the extensive collateral damage adultery inflicts.

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts star in a scene from the movie "The Lovers." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.  (CNS photo/A24)

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts star in a scene from the movie “The Lovers.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/A24)

Perhaps he wanted to avoid making anyone a villain. Certainly, no one is ever shown to be really at fault. Lacking a steady moral compass, his characters are buffeted by life’s unpredictability.

The story focuses on Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger), two doughy, respectable, middle-age empty-nesters, their son Joel (Tyler Ross) is away at college.

Their marriage has, for reasons not explained, sputtered out. Both have taken on lovers.

They seem to be mutually aware of the cheating, but they’re exceedingly polite to each other and still share the same bed. The lethargy that led to their love’s demise, as well as bland domestic rituals, prevent them from actually splitting.

Mary, her mouth a rictus of pain and confusion, has taken up with handsome, younger Robert (Aidan Gillen). Michael, whose emotional outlet usually consists of giggling, is carrying on with Lucy (Melora Walters), an emotionally fragile ballet teacher.

Jacobs keeps his story sympathetic and free of tawdriness by showing that Mary and Michael, numb in their own lives, aren’t particularly good at adultery, either. Thus they find many ways to be both physically and emotionally unavailable to their paramours.

Why Robert and Lucy regard these two as good catches is mysterious. But eventually they both deliver ultimatums. Whatever goes on, it’s never glamorous.

That, too, is one of Jacobs’ points. Love and physical attraction often make no sense, and eventually Michael and Mary find, to their considerable surprise, that their spark has returned. So, in a series of farcical sequences, they end up “cheating” on their lovers.

This lurches on for a spell until a visit from Joel and his girlfriend, Erin (Jessica Sula), sets into motion events which reveal the hollowness of the charade.

The film contains an adultery theme, fleeting scenes of marital sexual activity, some of it potentially aberrant, and much profane and rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

 

Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

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