The Church Alive visits the United Nations

Here’s one from the Salt and Light archives for you! Today’s photo comes from the United Nation’s General Assembly hall. Sebastian Gomes interviews Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations in New York City. The interview was featured in Episode 6: Politics of The Church Alive, a show dedicated to the New Evangelization and the Second Vatican Council. The Church Alive show won the 2014 Gabriel Award for Best Religious Series.

Celebrating Consecrated Life

Nuns hold candles as pope celebrates Mass at Vatican

In 1997 Pope John Paul II established The World Day for Consecrated Life. It’s a wonderful opportunity to give thanks for the invaluable witness that consecrated religious give to the world. We’re all greatly indebted to those men and women who have proclaimed the gospel in a variety of contexts around the globe, throughout the ages. These men and women have almost always been at the forefront of evangelization, and it is no different today as we embark on the New Evangelization. In episode eleven of The Church Alive, we  examine the challenges facing religious communities today. Worth checking out!

 

Pope says vain Christians are like soap bubbles – Daily Perspectives

Tonight on Perspectives: Pope Francis warns against vanity, and calls for decisive action with regard to migrants and refugees.

 

Filming the Church Alive

George Hosek, D.O.P,  takes a closer look as we prepare to shoot biblical reflections for  The Church Alive. Here George examines the camera set-up in the chapel of Assumption University.

Saint John XXIII – Six maxims of perfection


Sebastian Gomes and I recently came across a diary entry of Saint Pope John XXIII entitled “Six maxims of perfection” in his autobiography Journal of a Soul. Some of you may recall that from the age of fourteen until his death at the age of eighty-two, Pope John XXIII kept a journal where he recorded his growth in holiness. Elected Pope at the age of seventy-eight, he impressed the world with the breadth of his mind but also with his simplicity and his will to be at the service of others. In the Ep 1. of The Church Alive What is the New Evangelization? we feature Good Pope John and we thought you’d find his thoughts as inspiring and delightful as we did.

1. Desire only to be virtuous and holy, and so be pleasing to God.

2. Direct all things, thoughts as well as actions, to the increase, the service and the glory of Holy Church.

3. Recognize that I have been set here by God, and therefore remain perfectly serene about all that happens, not only as regards myself but also with regard to the Church, continuing to work and suffer with Christ, for her good.

4. Entrust myself at all times to Divine Providence.

5. Always acknowledge my own nothingness.

6. Always arrange my day in an intelligent and orderly manner.

The Church Alive visits the Big Apple

team with Dolan

Thought we’d dig this one out of our photo archives for you. It’s a snapshot of our visit to the Archdiocese of New York during our filming for The Church Alive series and Go and Teach documentary.This photo was taken after a fantastic interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is featured in both shows.

Left to Right: Sebastian Gomes, Cheridan Sanders, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Photo credit: David LeRoss

Getting media savvy

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Cheridan and Sebastian practice line-dancing on the set of The Church Alive.

As we’re in the media business, we’re very much aware of how pictures shape perception.  Especially when it comes to telling the story of the Church.  A large part of the New Evangelization is about rethinking how our story is told. Whether we like it or not, much of what we think about ourselves has been conditioned by popular portrayals in the mass media.

That’s not to say that the media has it all wrong, but there are limitations. To illustrate, I share with you the following:

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Cheridan and Sebastian share a laugh on set.

Now if you only saw this image, you might be tempted to think, “look at them laughing all the way having a great time working together”.  This would be partly true, but not the whole story.  As we all know, any worthwhile endeavor is filled with challenges, frustrations, and moments where you just don’t see eye-to-eye.  With that in mind, cynics might zero in on a picture like this…

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Cheridan wonders when Sebastian is going to quit goofing around and get some work done.

Here you might be tempted to think, “This guy obviously doesn’t take stuff seriously”.  But that wouldn’t be accurate because we all know that he is entirely serious (some would say fanatical), when it comes to G.K. Chesterton.

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Sebastian persuades Salt + Light CEO, Fr. Tom Rosica and Cheridan (once again) why its critical to quote G.K. Chesterton at least three times per segment.

All this to say, that it’s important not to rely on just one source’s interpretation of a story, no matter how reliable they seem to be.  Sometimes an image or a soundbite is taken out of context, or is just plain wrong. It’s an idea that we explore at length in our episode on: The Media.  When it comes to portrayals of the Church in the media, the soundbite, caption or snapshot often bear faint resemblance to what’s actually going on.  Clearly, we’re called to engage and find avenues of dialogue, and to utilize the mediums available to us.  But we’re also called to offer a critique of the status quo.  All this and more, on in Episode 2 of the The Church Alive.

Join us.

On Belonging

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Cheridan Sanders interviews a young parishioner at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago, IL.

Why don’t more people attend mass regularly? It’s something I ponder whenever I find myself surrounded by empty pews. Interestingly, the answer came to me when S+L camerman Dave LeRoss, producer Sebastian Gomes, and I were in Chicago filming at the Franciscans of the Eucharist Mission of Our Lady of the Angels*. There I spoke with a young parishioner who dropped by to hang out while we were filming. We got to talking and he was so engaging that I decided to interview him. Kenny said he loved hanging out with the Sisters and participating in various parish activities. His genuine enthusiasm for parish life intrigued me, and it prompted me to ask why. He replied that “they [Kenny and the Sisters] both enjoyed “keeping a low profile” and then very matter-of-fact added: “… I belong here.”

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The Original Dynamic Duo


During my research for the Church Alive series I came across this epic CNS file photo of Pope Paul VI and Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. The photo’s caption reads, “Paul VI, who served in Poland during his early priesthood, held the future Pope John Paul II in high regard.” Not only do they both look like don dadas, but they’re the original dynamic duo when it comes to the Second Vatican Council. Although John XXIII called the Council, Paul VI was the person who actually did all the work. He’s responsible for promulgating the major documents that came out of the Council. Pope John Paul II, moreover, was the person who enacted the Council’s vision throughout his reign as one of the longest serving pontiffs in Church history.

So if you want to know what the New Evangelization is, just take a page out of either one of these men’s lives. I highly recommend Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi: although this document was penned just under forty years ago, it reads as if it was written yesterday.

And if you really want to up your game, check out the Church Alive series! This is a sure way to level up when it comes to this huge and sometimes intimidating topic. Included in our DVD set is a 75-page study guide which is very handy literally and figuratively: its small and fits in the palm of your hand and it gives you all the goods like bios, resources, synopses, and study questions.

As Robin would say: Holy History, Batman!

 

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Credit: CNS file photo

Do Monkeys Go To Heaven?

Do Monkeys Go To Heaven?

“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.” Psalm 111:2

Do Monkeys Go to Heaven?  And by that I don’t mean you and me. Real monkeys, you know the ones that climb in trees or apparently pose for selfies (true story).  Well, that’s the question posed by a new book by Fr. John McCarthy, SJ an expert in boreal forest ecology. The book is a compilation of his musings on everything from Our Lady to monkeys, and everything in between.  Although the title of the book suggests something light and cheeky, I’d liken reading this book to the delight of eating a chocolate cake (only to realize it was actually a bowl of bran).  The ol’ bait and switch, in a good way.  I enjoyed it so much that we’ll feature Fr. John McCarthy and his book Do Monkeys Go to Heaven on an upcoming episode of Catholic Focus, so stay tuned for that!

Even though concerns about the environment are pressing, let’s get real, the minute you pull out a long list of encyclicals one should read (and no, Church nerds I’m not talking to you here) most people’s first reaction is “ain’t nobody got time for that. No matter how much you admire the Popes, or the Church, or monkeys.

And herein lies the rub…

Although these encyclicals are great, can you imagine reading a 32 page blog or 60 000 character tweet?  Consider today’s mediums, the reality is people’s attention spans are growing shorter and shorter.   When it comes to the written medium, it’s a situation of diminishing returns; the more one writes, the less one is inclined to read.  So perhaps, it’s time to the get back the basics. As St. Paul says, there are two books by which we can come to know God, the book of nature and the good book.  And what better way to contemplate the divine than with the rediscovery of awe?  I suspect that’s what Jesus meant when he invited us to become like children; it’s an invitation to childlike curiosity and wonder at the goodness of the created order. It’s only when you see how smart ravens really are, or delight in the superb complexity of a beetle that your imagination gets fired up and you start asking the really important questions – why do we exist, and how did we get here?  It’s then that you intuit that creation is precious and fragile and that our fate as human beings is intricately intertwined with the environment – but enough from me; I’ll leave the last word to the Pixies.

Okay I have to add one more thing: another great resource for those who want to get a crash course in how the new evangelization can be a bridge between the church’s theology of creation and the growing concern for the environment is the Church Alive Series Episode 12. We’ve even short listed the encyclicals, in our super-nifty study guide, just in case you wanted to get into the meaty stuff. We promise you won’t be disappointed!