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Being an “expert in humanity”… is for everyone!

Subject Matters: “Experts in Humanity: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Healing”
by Josephine Lombardi, PhD
Sunday, May 29 at 8:30pmET / 5:30pm PT

This Sunday’s all-new episode of Subject Matters features a wonderful book that brings together Catholic spirituality and contemporary biology and psychology.  Theologian Josephine Lombardi takes us on a spiritual journey towards being our best selves in “Experts in Humanity: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Healing.”  Ahead of Sunday’s premiere, check out “My Take” on Professor Lombardi’s book and tune in Sunday night!

Your future depends on you knowing God and knowing yourself. This will bring you healing, and your own story of healing will inspire others to know God and to know themselves.
Experts in Humanity, p.127


Preview of Subject Matters Ep2 – Perspectives

Tonight on Perspectives: Best-selling authors Tom Corcoran and Fr. Michael White speak about their book series “Rebuilt” and “Rebuilding Your Message” ahead of our Sunday, May 22nd episode of Subject Matters.

Reignite your parish by “Rebuilding Your Message”, on Subject Matters


SebBlogSM1Every Catholic knows what life is like in the parish: a faith-filled community that sometimes struggles to share its message, bring about change, or try new things.  A new episode of Subject Matters airing this Sunday tackles the phenomenon of communication in today’s fast-paced world, including what works and what doesn’t.  Rebuilding Your Message: Practical Tools to Strengthen Your Preaching and Teaching is the latest book in a series by best-selling authors Tom Corcoran and Fr. Michael White of Timonium, Maryland.

Based on years of study and practical pastoral experience, Tom and Fr. Michael have compiled a comprehensive list of axioms that can help pastors and parishioners reflect on how they communicate their message, and more importantly, how to improve at it.  Teaching and preaching don’t just happen from the pulpit, say Tom and Fr. Michael, but also in classes and small groups, in bulletins, on the church website and social media, and through volunteers who welcome visitors through its doors.  Stagnation in the parish is not inevitable, they say, if the pastor together with the right parishioners, reflect honestly and think creatively about the core message, and what makes church matter to people today.  Tune in to Subject Matters…

Sunday, May 22nd at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT
featuring “Rebuilding Your Message:
Practical Tools to Strengthen Your Preaching and Teaching”

by Tom Corcoran and Fr. Michael White


That moment when the Church was founded – #SLPilgrimage at Caesarea Philippi

The flush region of Caesarea Philipi is about an hour’s drive north of the Sea of Galilee.  It was given to Herod the Great by Caesar Augustus around 20 BCE, who in turn handed it down to his son Philip.  Philip named it Caesarea in honor of Caesar, and his own name eventually became associated with it, thus Caesarea Philipi.  But the region also has another ancient name, Paneas, because at the time of Jesus there was a thriving religious cult around the fertility god Pan.  The temple of the cult was built around one of three natural springs feeding the Jordan River.  To pagans, these types of natural springs were gateways to the netherworld or Hades.

Seb3The scene must have been bustling with worshipers of all kinds when Jesus and his disciples ventured up there from their usual hang out in Capernaum.  There they had a conversation that would forever shape the history of the Church.  Surrounded by statues and images of the ancient gods, Jesus poses a pointed question, “who do people say that I am?”  Peter replies confidently, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah!  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

Peter’s proclamation of Jesus as the Son of the living God was an obvious rejection of the pagan cult and a vote of divine confidence in his teacher and friend.  Jesus’ pronouncement laid the foundation for the Petrine ministry embodied throughout history in the authority and primacy of the popes.  There are other suggestions of Peter’s primacy among the twelve in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, but this one is the most direct and consequential for how we understand the Petrine ministry.


Reading this conversation between Jesus and Peter two thousand years later on the ruins of the pagan temple, a deeper question surfaced: why Peter?  By all Gospel accounts, Peter was not the ablest or most reliable disciple.  Surely Jesus could have built his church on a sturdier foundation.  In his commentary of this historic conversation, G.K. Chesterton captures the paradoxical truth hidden in Jesus’ choice of Peter:

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward—in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”

Sebastian Gomes is an English producer for Salt + Light.

New S+L book show “Subject Matters” premieres this weekend

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” Cicero

Subject Matters is a brand new series on Salt + Light Television that promotes the reading and writing of books in our time. As digital content becomes more prominent and accessible, books are becoming more peripheral in people’s lives. But are they still relevant? Ahead of the premiere of Subject Matters on Sunday, May 15th, host Sebastian Gomes reflects on the power of reading and explains how the show adapts the artistic nature of books on screen (above).

In the show, Sebastian sits down with contemporary authors and editors to discuss a variety of books of interest, from pressing political and cultural issues to questions and debates about the supernatural. Two criteria are used in the selection of books: Is the book relevant? And, is the book readable? With the production of Subject Matters, S+L hopes to reignite interest in the ancient art of the written word and spark the imaginations of a new generation of book lovers. Beautifully filmed on location at Ben McNally Books in downtown Toronto, Subject Matters links the old with the new to create a television experience that is visually stunning and rich in content. Each 30-minute episode features an interview with the author of a book, a discussion on the relevance of the topic and a peer review segment for a broad and substantial analysis of current and relevant ideas.

Subject Matters premieres Sunday, May 15th at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT
Featuring “Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery.
by David Gibson

Watch John Thavis on Perspectives Weekly

(Perspectives Weekly: Catholic Update with John Thavis premiered Friday, May 6th on S+L TV.)

Things are always happening at the Vatican and throughout the Catholic world that warrant discussion and analysis.  One of the most widely respected commentators or “Vaticanistas” is John Thavis, former Rome Bureau Chief for Catholic News Service.   Thavis retired from his CNS position in 2012 to devote himself full time to writing.  His 2013 book “The Vatican Diaries” became a New York Times best-seller.  His latest book, “The Vatican Prophecies” investigates supernatural signs, apparitions, and miracles in the modern age.  But his popular writing hasn’t removed him completely from the Catholic news scene.  In this episode of Perspectives: The Weekly Edition, guest-hosted by Sebastian Gomes, Thavis analyzes some important current events in the life of the Catholic Church with clarity and objectivity typical of his renowned journalistic career.  Topics discussed include: Pope Francis’ recent exhortation on the family (Amoris Laetitia), Francis’ solidarity visit to the refugees in Lesbos, Greece, Bernie Sanders’ surprise invitation to the Vatican and implications of the US presidential campaign for the Church.

John Thavis in studio to discuss Amoris Laetitia and more

Perspectives: The Weekly Edition
Catholic Update with John Thavis
Friday, May 6th at 7:00pmET

A month after the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (the Joy of Love), renowned Catholic journalist and author John Thavis is in studio to break down the contentious issues and discuss the implications of this new magisterial teaching.

Amoris Laetitia is the final product of a more than two-year synodal process initiated by Pope Francis in the fall of 2013.  Two synods of bishops were held in Rome in October 2014 and 2015 to discuss the pastoral challenges facing families around the world, in their particular cultural contexts.  Significant debate took place inside the Synod hall and publically in the media, as bishops tried to navigate the muddy waters of complex marital and familial situations while upholding the ideal of traditional marriage.

Two positions emerged clearly.  The majority of bishops, following the impulse of Pope Francis, pushed for a more pastoral, merciful approach in attitude and action when dealing with challenging situations.  The shift from the more traditional articulations of the Church’s teachings on marriage and family life typical of JPII and Benedict XVI was one of emphasis more than substance.  As Pope Francis stated clearly on the first Tuesday of the 2015 Synod, “Catholic teaching on marriage has not been put into question.”  At stake was the attitude with which the Church approaches and deals with people in their particular circumstances.

A minority of bishops pushed back against this development.  Their argument was essentially the “slippery slope” theory.  Present too much of a pastoral, merciful attitude to families in difficult situations and it will lead the Church down the dangerous path of relativizing the doctrine of marriage, giving the false impression that traditional marriage is an unattainable ideal.

The final document that emerged from the 2015 Synod was deemed unsatisfactory by the hardline minority bishops, in particular a few paragraphs that did not reaffirm the traditional teaching of JPII and Benedict that no divorced and remarried Catholics who have not obtained an annulment can receive Communion.  And yet, each paragraph of the final document received the necessary two-thirds majority vote to be considered “approved” by the synod and ready to hand over to Pope Francis.

Five months later Francis issued Amoris Laetitia, the authoritative teaching by the pope and the synod on the family.  Filled with so much of what the bishops discussed during those weeks in Rome last year, yet characteristically “Francis” in language and style, the document represents a new chapter in magisterial teaching and synodality in the Church.

Needless to say, we’re happy to welcome the former Rome Bureau Chief of Catholic News Service John Thavis to the S+L studios for Perspectives: The Weekly Edition, to analyze the synodal journey and the implications for the Church’s pastoral outreach.  In this episode we will also discuss Francis’ solidarity visit to the refugees in Lesbos, Greece, Bernie Sanders’ surprise invitation to the Vatican and possible implications of the US presidential campaign for the Church.

John Thavis is bestselling author of “The Vatican Diaries.”  His latest book, “The Vatican Prophecies: Investigating Supernatural Signs, Apparitions, and Miracles in the Modern Age,” will be featured on S+L’s new book show Subject Matters on Sunday, June 5 at 8:30pmET

New show, old medium


There’s always something new happening at the S+L studios, and this spring is no different.  One of our most anticipated projects is a new book show entitled Subject Matters. The show is written, produced and hosted by Sebastian Gomes, and will premiere on Pentecost Sunday (May 15th) at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT.

In an era when printed books are on decline and e-books are on the rise, many people are asking why we’re creating a TV show based on this seemingly outdated medium!  Indeed books have been around for a long time.  They have been the primary vehicles for communicating new ideas and preserving old ones.  The centuries-old art of book and manuscript writing is the only reason we know as much as we do about ancient civilizations and cultures, religions and exceptional individuals.

Something that has withstood the test of time, as books have, is not likely going to disappear forever.  Books are to communication what Benedictines are to the Catholic tradition.  There’s something very stable about them.  No informed person would believe that books are heading toward extinction any more than the Benedictines are.  If anything, amid the rapid changes in communication in the 21st century, books might prove once again to be a staple of communicating ideas and preserving culture.


Books are also very healthy.  They are the organic foods of the communication world: good for the mind (sparking imagination, creativity and critical thinking), good for the body (fostering moments of peace and quiet in an otherwise chaotic, noisy culture), and good for the soul (depending on what you’re reading!) And, despite their high cost, books are worth the investment over the long term to sustain a healthy life.

Finally, a word on silence.  Silence, as Benedict XVI wrote in his message for World Communications Day 2012, 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.”


Simply reading a book can promote that healthy balance between word and silence, something we all need to be effective and respectful communicators.  Our new show Subject Matters serves to promote the ancient practice of quiet reading, to introduce viewers to new ideas and to spark creative discussion.  We cover a broad range of topics of interest to both Catholics and non-Catholics.  By featuring relevant and readable books in a visually rich setting, we hope our audience will rediscover the old medium of the printed word, infused with new ideas for building a better world and living a joyful life.

It is of the new things that men tire—of fashions and proposals and improvements and change. It is the old things that startle and intoxicate. It is the old things that are young.
G.K. Chesterton

The Paris climate conference, and after?

(Co-founder of Equiterre Steven Guilbeault speaks about what Canada needs to do to meet the challenge of climate change in the wake of the landmark climate conference in Paris 2015, at the Mary Ward Centre in Toronto, Ontario, 21/04/2016)

A few dozen people gathered at the Mary Ward Centre in downtown Toronto last night to hear acclaimed environmental activist Steven Guilbeault, Co-founder of Equiterre, speak about the 2015 Paris climate summit and what Canada needs to do to meet the set goals and further challenges.

In his candid but hopeful presentation, Guilbeault noted that 162 out of 196 countries in Paris agreed to tackle the climate crisis; those countries account for about 95% of all global emissions.  Today, Earth Day, will serve as a reminder to what needs to be done, as an estimated 170 countries will formally sign the COP21 agreement at the United Nations.  Now the real work begins.


The science presented in Paris projected that no change in behavior or policy would lead to an increase in the earth’s temperature by 3.6 degrees Celsius in a matter of decades.  The effects of this would be catastrophic.  Guilbeault noted that in the last global ice age, the earth’s temperature was only 4 degrees colder than it is now.  The agreement reached in Paris–should it be implemented completely by every country–would limit the rise in temperature to 2.7 degrees Celsius.  While the effects of a 2.7 degree rise will be less than a 3.6 degree rise, Guilbeault said it’s still not going to be pleasant for life on the planet, and much more will need to be done.  “Paris was only the beginning,” he said.

Guilbeault presented the numbers related to production of emissions, noting that wealthier countries will need to contribute more resources to fight climate change, not because they are wealthier, but because they have contributed more to the problem.  Statistics show that the vast majority of poorer countries have a relatively minuscule carbon footprint.  Given the grave situation of the earth and her climate, those poorer countries will need help adapting to the effects of climate change more than anything.


Looking at Canada specifically, Guibeault weighed the cost of continuing a fossil fuel driven market versus creating one based on renewable energy.  The transition, he said, is inevitable, but while Trudeau’s Liberal government is much more inclined to invest in renewable energy, simultaneously expanding the fossil fuel market as they are, is a bad idea long-term for the environment, Canada’s global emissions commitments, and even for jobs.  “People argue that renewable energy is not a real economy, that it doesn’t create jobs.  But this is false,” he said.  Rather, the numbers show that a committed investment in renewable energy will in fact produce many more jobs and limit the amount of suffering (job loss) caused by over-reliance on a boom-bust market like oil.  The low cost (demand) for oil right now and the subsequent suffering of many Canadians should kick-start our moral conscience and mobilize the country to find ways to ensure market security and workforce longevity.  The way to do that is to see what is fast and inevitably approaching: a society built on renewable energy.

Ultimately, the challenge of climate change is not one of economics or technology, but of willpower and dedication.  Pope Francis calls it a moral imperative.  “Canada has the responsibility to show leadership,” concluded Guilbeault, “We have to do something about it, and we have to hurry up because the clock is ticking.”

(Above left: Development and Peace animator for central Ontario Luke Stocking answers questions with Steven Guilbeault.  Above right: Steven Guilbeault, who participated in the Paris climate conference delivers his presentation at the Mary Ward Centre)

Pope Francis updates and a new S+L series tackles euthanasia – Perspectives

Tonight on Perspectives: Pope Francis sends a message to Roman Jews ahead of Passover, a solidarity collection will be taken up this weekend for the suffering people in Ukraine, and a new S+L series tackles the controversial subject of legalized euthanasia in Canada.