Saturday, March 26, 2011

Good Saturday evening everyone. 


When I was on holidays in January, I was sure that I packed Karen Armstrong’s new book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and found it under my jacket in the carry-on as I was packing to go home.  I just finished it this week and in the latest issue of America there is a fairly comprehensive review.  She builds on ideas from her last few books (especially The Great Transformation) and here explores the call to life of compassion in our personal life and in the world.  It is an easy read and this review is helpful.


This is the weekend that we begin the last three weeks of Lent and hear some of the most dramatic stories from the gospels.  The Woman at the Well is a long but powerful encounter and here in this powerful monologue, a young actress captures how the woman might well speak of her experience of meeting Jesus.  Powerful stuff.  It is also a reminder that new media is being used very creatively by individuals and organizations to explore issues of faith.  After hearing the gospel at Mass this evening and watching this monologue again I have a whole new appreciation for this telling of it.


Have a good week.



Friday, March 18, 2011

Good Friday evening everyone.


This is a link to John Allen’s Friday letter, All Things Catholic which gives a gentle introduction to the work of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi , president of the Vatican Pontifical Council for Culture and a forum that will meet next week in Paris under the title “The Courtyard of the Gentiles”.   Building on a speech by Pope Benedict to the Roman Curia in 2009, Ravasi, in partnership with UNESCO, Institut de France and the Sorbonne, will begin a serious dialogue with the secular world and are already planning to keep it going for another gathering in Chicago in 2012.  It is an exciting adventure and Allen does a good job placing it in context.


Speaking of culture:    Of God’s and Men is playing in Toronto at the moment and is well worth seeing.  It was very well received at the Toronto International Film Festival and has broken box office records in France and Quebec.  The film is based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, from the fall of 1995 until their kidnapping in the spring of 1996.  Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery perched in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990s. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps though the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but to stay… come what may.  There are some exquisite moments but bring Kleenex.  It will open in Waterloo for a limited run on March 25 at the Princess Cinema.


Have a good week





Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good Friday Morning everyone.


Miranda Global is a great site to look up every now and then for articles relevant to what is happening in our world today from a more global perspective.  This piece by Marianne Cusimano Love (originally published in America this year), draws attention to Pope Benedict’s message for the World Day of Peace in 2011.  One of the key ideas that he presents is that religious freedom is a security issue, and that peace depends on it.   In light of recent events in North Africa and the Middle East it is worth noting again.


If you have been following the sickening events in Philadelphia over the last few months, things got even worse on Monday of this week with the removal of twenty one men from ministry and a letter read in all churches in the archdiocese on Ash Wednesday.  How the good priests, who do their work with passion and enthusiasm got out of bed that morning to read that letter and lead the people of God into this “season of joy” is a testament to their faith.  Over at the America blog, Fr. James Martin S.J. tries to make sense of it all.  He asks a lot of questions but (unfortunately) the answers will come way too slow.



 If this is March break week for you, have a great week.



Friday, March 4, 2011

March 4th. 2011


Good Friday morning everyone.


In the lead up to the Oscars last weekend it became very obvious that the worst kept secret in Hollywood was the crowning of Colin Firth as best actor for the King’s Speech.  What was lost in all the media attention around him was that he was invited to be the guest editor of the BBC Radio 4 Today program at the end of December in 2010.  For that edition of Today, he explored with a variety of guests the complex relationship between faith and film and asked Frank Cottrell Boyce (The director of Millions, 24 Hour Party People, God on Trial and writer of several films, including Hilary and Jackie and Welcome to Sarajevo) to describe what it is like to be a Catholic in the film industry of today.  This short three and a half minute commentary is a little pearl especially his description of receiving communion on Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival.


Frank Cottrell BBC Radio 4 Today


I was in Ottawa last week and needed something to read as my flight was delayed.  Covers do make a difference and I bought the issue of Time that was focusing on what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East.   I like Fareed  Zakaria and found this piece helpful.  The average age of the population of these areas and the impact of education and social media is shaping so much of this desire for change and he does a good job to put it all in context.


Fareed Zakaria-Time


Enjoy the weekend.





Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 18th, 2010

Good Friday morning everyone. 


Here in Waterloo, we have had two balmy days with record high temperatures.  The students that are still here for reading week, are shedding heavy parkas and shorts and tee shirts are back again despite the fact that we have only reached ten degrees. 


Speaking of students, here is a very provocative piece on the impact of new social media on students and their relationship with the church. Richard Beck is a Professor and experimental psychologist at Abilene Christian University in the US. He manages a blog, Experimental Theology which seeks to integrate theology with the experimental social sciences. He describes the essays on the blog as "theological experiments, exploratory and provisional essays that do not necessarily represent my views on matters of faith or ethics" so please keep that in mind as you read this.  I have been in two interesting conversations lately about the church, young people and social media and this piece is very timely.


This second piece will make you laugh and cry, quite possibly at the same time.  We have all been following the spectacular rise and fall of the economic fortunes of Ireland over the last number of years.  This piece from the current issue of Vanity Fair is the third that has look at the economic difficulties in Europe.  In nine pages you are led through a catalogue of corruption and greed that is spectacular and senseless, brilliant and unbelievably stupid.  I couldn't put it down last night.


For those of us in Ontario, this is our first holiday weekend.  Enjoy.




February 12, 2011

Good Saturday morning everyone.


There are several varieties of flu floating around here at the moment and I picked up a really bad one on Wednesday so excuse the late arrival of this week's "This and That…..".  One cannot help but be impressed and inspired by the events in Egypt over the last few weeks.  The sight of throngs of Muslims at prayer and the footage of the circle of Muslims protecting the Coptic community at prayer was very moving.  However, into all of this, there needs to be a dose of reality.  The Christian community of Egypt is in a very difficult position and this piece in the opinions section of USA Today paints a grim picture.  We have seen this before in Iraq.


Paul Turner was a speaker at the Southwest Liturgical Conference and spoke on the role of catechesis in preparing for the reception of new texts in the new missal. Here, he walks you through the development of Eucharistic Prayer II, and he highlights three particular words and phrases that will require more catechesis before and after their first use: "merit," "many," and "dewfall."  This part of his concluding paragraph is one to remember:  "So, let me just warn you about the power of prayer: you can study the words of a prayer, critique the words, teach the words and say the words, but if you're not looking you may miss out on something more important than all these things: those words are studying you, they are learning you, teaching you and forming you. They will put you to work; they will send you out on mission."


Have a good week.



February 5th, 2011

Good Friday morning everyone.


Yesterday, as we were celebrating the feast of St. Blasé and the blessing of throats in the church, the sun was pouring through the windows and it felt as if spring was just around the corner.  A little while later navigating up University Ave., I found myself muttering prayers for being so stupid in not getting winter tires for my car as I waltzed around the street with a bus and a few other cars in the remnants of the latest winter storm.   This is the time of the year for indoor activities and with all of the award shows taking up so much air time, a good time to catch up on movies.  Last weekend, the number one movie in Canada and the US was "The Rite" which is about the Jesuits and exorcism.  I saw the trailer a few weeks ago and it looks like Anthony Hopkins plays a jaded and soon to be bedeviled exorcist and teacher and needs help from a skeptical young priest named Mike. 


There is a very interesting review of the film in the latest issue of America by Raymond Schroth, S.J., who is an associate editor for the magazine.  He has some interesting information on the background to the film and does a good job of walking the reader through the difficulties of adapting true stories in a business that is interested only in being the number one movie for a week or two.  When movies like "The Rite" make some communities nervous, this is the sort of review that is both educational, informative and helpful.       


On a more serious note, there is a fine piece by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington in the archdiocesan newspaper the Catholic Standard, that looks at the issue of how we speak to each other when we disagree.  "Civil Discourse: Speaking the Truth with Respect" is his  most prominent intervention to date on an issue that he has returned to many times since he became archbishop.   This issue is as real for us here in Canada as it is in the US and this fine piece has much to offer.



Have a good week.