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S+L on the road: the Cause for Henriette Delille

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From the left: Sr Laura, Sr Greta share with me about Venerable Henriette Delille’s story and her continuing significance.

During my time in New Orleans, I visited with Sr. Greta and Sr. Laura of the Sisters of the Holy Family to learn about the Cause for Venerable Henriette Delille, founder of The Sister’s of the Holy Family – the second oldest African-American congregation of religious women in America.

Opened in 1988, Henriette’s Cause took a major step forward in 2010 when Pope Benedict XVI declared her Venerable. And it looks like there’s much more to come.

To date, more than 300 favors and possible miracles, granted through her intercession, have been reported; and over 2,000 letters from 47 states and 15 countries have been received.

Even Hollywood has taken notice. In 2000, Hollywood actress Vanessa Williams starred as Henriette Delille in The Courage to Love  a movie inspired by Henriette’s story. Although, to hear the Sister’s tell it, the love story angle in the movie is highly improbable.

This gave me a good chuckle.

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Sr. Laura holds up a t-shirt, which promotes the Cause of Venerable Henriette Delille.  On the shirt is her only recorded writing,  penned on the inside cover of an 1836 prayer book: “I believe in God. I hope in God. I love God. I want to live and die for God.”

In the following clip, Sr. Greta speaks to me about a painting depicting Venerable Henriette Delille’s life.

It’s interesting to note that Henriette was not a slave. In fact, she came from a long line of free women.

By the time Henriette was born in 1812 she was a fourth generation descendant of an enslaved African women; a third generation Afro-Creole and a second generation free woman.

In other words, Henriette grew up in a society in which she was respected as a Creole with ties to prominent white and free coloured Creoles (Henriette Delille,Virginia Meacham Gould, 18).

According to Benedictine Father, Cyprian Davis who wrote a biography about Henriette called, Henriette Delille, Servant of Slaves, Witness to the Poor, the Delille family became free because Henriette’s great, great grandmother Nanette was brought to America as a slave, and freed after the death of her owner.

Apparently, Louisiana under French rule, had some provisions for slaves in their law, and it was possible for a slave to be bought out of slavery over the wishes of his or her owner.

According to Father Davis, a slave could demand an owner to name a price for the slave’s freedom and if the owner refused, the slave had recourse through the courts.

In the case of the Delille family, Nanette eventually amassed enough money to buy her daughter (and two of her grandchildren) out of slavery.  In time, Henriette’s family became relatively wealthy, even if they remained second-class citizens.

But Henriette’s early life was not without turmoil, and as I delve further into her story, I look forward to sharing these revelations with you.

Learn more about St. Augustine’s parish where Venerable Henriette Delille ministered in this post.

S+L On The Road: The Producer Diaries
In this blog series S+L producer, Cheridan Sanders shares her experiences developing an original S+L television series featuring seven women religious communities located in Africa, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and the United States. The globe-trotting series invites viewers to delight in the spiritual gifts of each of community and witness the extraordinary work of: educating girls, ministering to outcasts, sheltering HIV orphans, preventing human trafficking, taking care of the elderly, and so much more. The time is now to show the world how magnificent our Sisters are. The new series is an exciting collaboration with the Loyola Institute for Ministry in New Orleans and is made possible through a $900 000 dollar grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation.

S+L on the road – the Catholic soul of New Orleans

20150410_113442Side altar at St. Augustine’s Church in Treme

New Orleans is a city with deep Catholic roots. There are many religious communities that have played critical roles at various points in the city’s history. In our new series, three of the seven women religious communities that we’ll feature have unique connections to the city. My principal guide throughout my stay in New Orleans has been Dr. Barbara Fleischer of the Loyola Institute for Ministry. You could say she’s to me what Virgil was to Dante (minus all the demons).

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Dr. Barbara Fleischer, Loyola Institute for Ministry, New Orleans

As I’ve gone about the business of visiting with the Sisters’ gathering information for the new series, Barbara shared insights with me. For example, on one of these drives Barbara shared with me the story of the indentured Irish workers who came to New Orleans to help dig the Canals. In the following, she makes an interesting connection with a memorial commemorating the Irish and Blessed Fr. Seelos, a Redemptorist priest.

Even a quick stop for some delicious gumbo was an opportunity to learn about an initiative by Jesuit Fr. Harry Tompson, former pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish. Fr. Tompson was looking for a way to address generational poverty in New Orleans and together with two community members founded Cafe Reconcile, a restaurant that serves as a job training program for at-risk youth.

Today Cafe Reconcile‘s Workforce Development Program has graduated more than 1 000 youth between the ages of 16 and 22.

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Besides receiving awards for their food and support from well-known celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse – did I mention that their gumbo is awesome?

20150410_142743Staff at Cafe Reconcile

And before I sign off, I leave you with a taste of what Sunday mass is like at St. Augustine’s parish, which is located in heart of the legendary neighbourhood of Treme, home of musicians and singers.

Stay tuned for more!

S+L on the road – when the Saints go marching…

henriette-delillejpg-002 Venerable Henriette Delille, Founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family.

As I mentioned in a previous post I’ve been in New Orleans for the past couple of days doing some research for a new series which will feature the charisms of seven women religious communities in Louisiana and Africa.

Naturally, my first stop was Treme one of the oldest and historically significant neighbourhoods in New Orleans. For those unfamiliar with the area it is an important centre of African-American and Creole culture. Jazz fans will immediately recognize it as the home of Louis Armstrong (‘Satchmo’ to folks down here).

What you may not realize however, is that Treme is also home to St. Augustine’s church, a church which is intricately connected with the story of several significant religious women’s communities in New Orleans.

You see, prior to becoming the site of St. Augustine’s church, the property was originally purchased and used as a school to educate free women of colour and slaves. Both the Ursulines and the Carmelites were involved in this controversial endeavour.

Later in 1842, when Henriette DeLille and Juliette Gaudin, publicly knelt before the altar to pledge before all that they would live in community and work with orphans, the uneducated, the poor, and the sick, St. Augustine’s became the site where the Sisters of the Holy Family came into being.

Today the Sisters of the Holy Family are the second oldest African-American congregation of religious women in America.

Interestingly, St. Augustine’s other claim to fame is that it was the first fully racially integrated parish in America. Although, how that all came about is not what you’d expect:

A few months before the October 9, 1842 dedication of St. Augustine Church, the people of color began to purchase pews for their families to sit. Upon hearing of this, white people in the area started a campaign to buy more pews than the colored folks. Thus, The War of the Pews began and was ultimately won by the free people of color who bought three pews to every one purchased by the whites. In an unprecedented social, political and religious move, the colored members also bought all the pews of both side aisles. They gave those pews to the slaves as their exclusive place of worship, a first in the history of slavery in the United States. An excerpt from St. Augustine’s Church website.

Imagine that!

But to get back to Henriette Delille, I suppose what captures my imagination most about this bone fide New Orleans saint is how her love for Jesus led her to defy the social conventions of her time. It was expected that free born women like Henriette should aspire to becoming a placee (concubine) to wealthy white men; but, she chose not to participate in the placage system and devoted herself to serving Jesus instead. This, during a time when  it was commonly held that women of colour could not become consecrated religious.

With Henriette Delille’s cause for canonization underway, its a marvel to reflect upon how these Sisters have educated and inspired generations of young women to embrace Christ. And as my gracious tour guide Ms. Linda Harris, the parish secretary at St. Augustine’s and former student with the Sisters, shared with me during my recent visit – the Sisters’ mere presence continues to provide great witness to all they encounter. Here’s a clip from that conversation (I hope that you’ll forgive the poor quality).

TV Priests and where to find them

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Noel-BlogWelcome to S+L’s Weekly News Round-Up. As the Director of Marketing and Communications here at S+L, many interesting Catholic news stories and articles come across my desk on a daily basis. Some of them we’ll cover on our different television programs and others I’d like to share with you on this blog.

This blog column is where I’ll point out some of the more interesting news pieces that I’ve come across over the past week! Enjoy!

Ok, this week I’ve come across a diversity of articles to share with you. Some of them funny, some interesting, and others with a more serious nature. But first, who doesn’t remember their mother telling them, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” or “God won’t give you more than you can handle?” Interestingly, these and several other similar statements have gained enough traction that many people believe they’re actually Bible verses! Check out these 7 Unbiblical Statements Christians Believe are biblical!

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On that note, here is a fun article that talks about famous TV priests that are not actually priests! Read about it here on The Crux! – Now who doesn’t remember Fr. Dowling from Father Dowling Mysteries or Father Mulcahy, from M*A*S*H?

I came across this article last week on the Catholic Herald that made me realize how small and trivial my “first world” problems really are against the suffering in the world and the heroic acts of charity that, in many cases, never get recognized. This article titled , ‘The ‘angel’ among the garbage-pickers is truly an eye-opener- or rather a tear-jerker.

For now, Christianity is the most dominant world religion. However, did you know that the Muslim population is projected to match Christianity by 2050? These projections are being reported by the Wall Street Journal here and also backed up by the Pew Research Center here.

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Now who doesn’t remember or love St. Pope John Paul II?. I came across this article on the 11 of the Most Inspiring Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II, from our friends at Church Pop.

On that note, check out this video about what you may not know about Saint John Paul II:

COMBINATION PHOTO SHOWS PARENTS OF ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX

Speaking of saints, did you know that the first married couple to be canonized together are also the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux? It is expected that Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin will be canonized during the Synod of Bishops on the Family Oct. 4-25 of this year. Here is a very interesting article that details 8 Things You Need to Know About Louis and Zélie Martin and Their Upcoming Canonization!

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And finally, for all you movie fans out there, (like myself), who are always struggling to find good films to watch with the kids, Netflix has just released 12 great films about faith that are now available to watch right now. Some are better than others, but all definitely better than most of the run-of-the-mill garbage that’s out there. Check out the listing here.

Well, that’s it for me this week folks. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on these stories. If you have any interesting stories yourself, please feel free to send them to me!

I hope you enjoy these little stories! I certainly have. Till next week!

– Noel

The most interesting man in the world

PAUL VI AND CARDINAL WOJTYLA CONVERSE AT VATICAN

Pope Paul VI and Cardinal Karol Wojtyla meet at the Vatican. Paul VI, who served in Poland during his early priesthood, held the future Pope John Paul II in high regard. (CNS file photo)

No doubt you’ve seen those cheesy beer ads about ‘the most interesting man in the world’. For the record, Pope John Paul II was the real deal.  He spoke between 8 and 11 languages fluently, and was so charismatic figure that he is credited with the fall of communism in his native Poland. Besides being an athlete, a poet and one of the leading thinkers in the Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council, he was also tremendously brave. For example, when the Nazi’s closed down the seminary in Krakow, he began studying in secret at a seminary run by the archbishop of Krakow.

He was an extraordinary man, and in many respects a pope of firsts: the first pope to visit the White House, the first pope to visit Cuba, and the most widely traveled Pope in history. And as one of the longest reigning popes in the history of the Church, his influence will be felt for generations. So today as we celebrate John Paul II Day across Canada, we give thanks for Saint Pope John Paul’s Christian witness as a fearless champion of human dignity and freedom (and give a nod to the most interesting man in the world).

Below some images celebrating his dynamic legacy.

FILE PHOTO OF SOVIET PRESIDENT GORBACHEV MEETING POPE JOHN PAUL II AT THE VATICAN

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev meets with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in this Dec. 1, 1989, file photo. Hours after the meeting, the Vatican told the United States in a confidential assessment that Gorbachev could be trusted as a genuine reformer. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

MOTHER TERESA, POPE JOHN PAUL II AT HOME FOR DYING IN 1986

Mother Teresa of Calcutta accompanies Pope John Paul II as he greets people at the Home For the Dying in Calcutta, India, in 1986. (CNS photo/Arturo Mari)

SCAN FROM NEGATIVE OF POPE JOHN PAUL II MEETING WOULD-BE-ASSASSIN

Pope John Paul II meeting his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, in a Rome prison Dec. 27, 1983.  (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

1989 FILE PHOTO OF POPE JOHN PAUL II ARRIVING IN INDONESIA

Pope John Paul II kisses a rain-soaked tarmac as he arrives in Jakarta, Indonesia, on a pastoral trip in 1989. (CNS file photo)

POPE JOHN PAUL II ADDRESSES UNITED NATIONS IN 1979

Pope John Paul II addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York Oct. 2, 1979. (CNS file photo)

FILE PHOTO OF POPE JOHN PAUL II AT 1986 INTERRELIGIOUS ENCOUNTER IN ASSISI

Pope John Paul II attends an interreligious ecounter in Assisi, Italy, in 1986. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU PICTURED WITH POPE JOHN PAUL II AT THE VATICAN IN 1983

Pope John Paul II meets with Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, center right, in 1983 at the Vatican.  (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photos)

2002 photo of Blessed John Paul II during World Youth Day in Toronto

Pope John Paul II celebrated his final international World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002. The Polish-born pontiff, then age 82, described himself as “old,” but looked and sounded better than he had in months, demonstrating once again his special chemistry with young people. (CNS file photo)

Want to learn more? Watch this episode of Catholic Focus with Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB as he shares his insights about the life and times of Saint Pope John Paul II. All images courtesy of our friends at Catholic News Service.

Okay one last pic –

POPE JOHN PAUL II HOLDS KOALA DURING 1986 VISIT TO AUSTRALIA

Pope John Paul II holds a koala during his 1986 visit to Australia. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano) 

The Saints

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Noel-Blog

Welcome to S+L’s Weekly News Round-Up. As the Director of Marketing and Communications here at S+L, many interesting Catholic news stories and articles come across my desk on a daily basis. Some of them we’ll cover on our different television programs and others I’d like to share with you on this blog.

This blog column is where I’ll point out some of the more interesting news pieces that I’ve come across over the past week! Enjoy!

Ok, so we are in the home stretch for Lent. As you know, we are right in middle of “the” most important week of the liturgical year. Check out this excellent infographic that illustrates, in one view, the narrative of Holy Week gospels:

Info Graphic - Holy Week

The Lenten season is a time for us to reflect on our relationship with Jesus and what we can do to improve it. So who better to turn to than the saints! They are great teachers of how to listen to God and discern what He expects of us on this short journey here on earth.

That being said, here are a few pretty cool articles on saints that I thought I might share. This first piece from Church Pop is a bunch of pics of saints when they were children and it made me realize how I had always thought these saints were superhuman or something, but they were actually just like you and me! Check it out here.

As I continued my search, I found these fascinating stories of the miraculous events that took place in these saints’ lives. Many of them were killed for their faith but God used these public killings to change the hearts of those who witnessed them. Imagine having your head chopped off but still continue to preach! Yep, that’s what happened to St. Denis. Check out his story and find how these saints wouldn’t die!

Continuing on the “Saints” theme, here are some more great stories about the weird and wonderful ways that God works miracles when you are completed devoted and living by the words He gave us through Jesus. I really love the story about St. John Cantius when he was mugged and robbed and then ran back to the robbers to give them the extra money he had found in his pocket. The robbers were so amazed by what he did and they were converted! A great witness to what can happen when you practice Jesus’ teaching about “turning the other cheek”. Check out the other 7 epic saint stories.

QUIZ TIME!

Ok, here is an interesting online quiz on Saints. Let’s see how well you do on this one. I admit that this was a difficult one. This quiz is titled WHICH SAINT SAID IT?

My guess is that you didn’t do very well. Now, don’t get embarrassed since I’m talking from personal failed experience. But don’t worry, here is another quiz from CNN that, hopefully, is a little bit easier. Check it out – HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW JESUS?

On a final note, I just had to share this one with you. I know its not on today’s theme of Saints, but this one I found very interesting. Apparently, there is a rise of Muslims converting to Christianity in Morocco and its causing some issues in the Muslim community. Read about it here.

I leave you now with this funny cartoon that has absolutely nothing to do with any of the topics above. Although some of my colleagues in the marketing team didn’t quite get it, I found it hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing. So I hope you have the same humour that I have and enjoy this mid-week chuckle!

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Well, that’s it for me this week folks. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on these stories. If you have any interesting stories yourself, please feel free to send them to me!

I hope you enjoy these little stories! I certainly have. Till next week!

– Noel

Feast of St. John Bosco and the 200th Anniversary of his Birth

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St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesian Society was born of poor parents in a little cabin at Becchi, a hillside hamlet near Castelnuovo, Piedmont, Italy, August, 16, 1815. He was raised in a Catholic family but was too young ever to know his father who died when John was only two years old. John’s mother raised four children and taught them the importance of their faith.

At the age of four, John began to do small jobs to earn money to support the household. As a child, John’s favorite pastime was magicians. When he returned home, he practiced their tricks until he had mastered them, and then he would go on the street and perform asking only prayers as payment. From his childhood, St. John Bosco had a great desire to become a priest and help young boys who like himself were not afforded all the pleasures in life. He worked hard so he could afford to leave his family and attend school. Eventually John entered the seminary.  He excelled in his studies and served as a model to other seminarians on how to live a holy life of happiness. At the age of 26, John was ordained to the priesthood and set out to take his message to the world.

St. John began his ministry to the young by first forming catechism classes that met after Sunday Mass. At these classes he would offer schooling in the faith for free and he soon had a group of over 400 children to teach. St. John’s enthusiasm and emphasis on teaching boys drew ridicule from some of his peers who did not see its value, but John saw the need to train the future of the Church and allow their youthful energy to be put to work for the greater glory of God. John’s catechism school grew into a full-fledged school where boys could receive an education, learn a trade, and love Jesus. As much ridicule that John received, he also received assistance in the form of money and he also began to attract followers to his ideals.

Bosco John Family AlbumJohn’s perseverance in the face of all difficulties led many to the conclusion that he was insane, and an attempt was even made to confine him in an asylum. Complaints were lodged against him, declaring his community to be a nuisance, owing to the character of the boys he befriended. From the Rifugio the Oratory was moved to St. Martin’s, to St. Peter’s Churchyard, to three rooms in Via Cottolengo, where the night schools were resumed, to an open field, and finally to a rough shed upon the site of which grew up an nearby, where he was joined by his mother.

“Mama Margaret”, as Don Bosco’s mother came to be known, gave the last ten years of her life in devoted service to the little inmates of this first Salesian home. When she joined her son at the Oratory the outlook was not bright. But sacrificing what small means she had, even to parting with her home, its furnishings, and her jewelry, she brought all the solicitude and love of a mother to these children of the streets. The evening classes increased and gradually dormitories were provided for many who desired to live at the Oratory.  Thus was founded the first Salesian Home which now houses about one thousand boys.

The municipal authorities by this time had come to recognize the importance of the work which Don Bosco was doing, and he began with much success a fund for the erection of technical schools and workshops. These were all completed without serious difficulty.

With the encouragement of Pope Pius IX, John gathered 17 men together into a community and founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales in 1859. This society is better known as the Salesians and concentrates on education and missionary work, especially aiming at the needs of the young.

In 1868 to meet the needs of the Valdocco quarter of Turin, Don Bosco resolved to build a church. Accordingly a plan was drawn in the form of a cross covering an area of 1,500 sq. yards. He experienced considerable difficulty in raising the necessary money, but the charity of some friends Bosco John 3finally enabled him to complete the project. St. John Bosco died January 31, 1888, after spending his whole life working for youth and is the patron of editors. John

John Bosco educated the whole person. For Don Bosco, being a Christian was a full-time effort, not a once-a-week, Sunday experience.  The Saint of Turin reached out to children whom no one cared for despite ridicule and insults.  He was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1934.  Pope John Paul II declared him ‘Father and Teacher of Youth’ on the centenary of his death. May St. John Bosco help us to make a place in our educational institutions and parish communities for young people who are living on the peripheries of society.

Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini – Remembering the First American Saint on her Feast Day

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Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini
Remembering the First American Saint on her Feast Day
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, known to the world as ‘Mother Cabrini’ left an indelible imprint on the Church in the United States and around the world. She was the first American saint canonized in Rome in 1946. Born Maria Francesca Cabrini on July 15, 1850 in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano in Lombardy, Italy, Maria took religious vows in 1877. Three years later, she became one of the seven founding members of the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She then set up two missions in Rome all the while nursing her true dream, which was to be a missionary in China.

Mother Cabrini gained an audience with Pope Leo XII seeking his approval for this missionary endeavour. However, at this time in history, tens of thousands of Italian immigrants were arriving in the United States and in desperate need of pastoral care. Poor and destitute, cut off from their home and tradition, Italians were encountering difficulties adjusting to the Anglo Saxon, American way of life.

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The Pope told Cabrini “Go West, Not East,” telling her the Church needed her more in the USA than in China. Despite her initial hesitation she accepted the Pope’s view and soon after began her long and legendary service to the Italian immigrant community and poor she encountered in the US. She founded an orphanage in New York, which would become the first of 67 institutions she launched in New York, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Denver and Los Angeles.

Mother Cabrini’s willingness to forsake her own personal ambition to evangelize in China turned into a blessing for millions of underprivileged immigrants who benefited from her ministry. Sometimes when we are determined to have our way, we should stop and listen to the voice of God, and to those we trust, to make sure we truly are following the right course.

When I was growing up in an Italian-American household, we often heard stories of the saints and blesseds from my grandparents and parents. Two Italians, of course, were at the top of the list: Mother Cabrini and Padre Pio. St. Mother Cabrini’s prayer for humility was given to us and I have kept it ever since in my Bible.

“Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you may fortify me witMother Cabrini 1h the grace of your Holy Spirit, and give your peace to my soul, that I may be free from all needless anxiety and worry. Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to you, so that your will may be my will.

Grant that I may be free from unholy desires, and that, for your love, I may remain obscure and unknown in this world, to be known only to you.

Do not permit me to attribute to myself the good that you perform in me and through me, but rather, referring all honor to you, may I admit only to my infirmities, so that renouncing sincerely all vainglory which comes from the world, I may aspire to that true and lasting glory that comes from you. Amen.”

 

The Misunderstood Pope airs on S+L

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On the occasion of the beatification of Paul VI, Goya Productions launches a new documentary that rediscovers the figure of the pope unfairly criticized and forgotten. To him do we credit, among other things, the famous encyclical Humanae Vitae. This is a one of the themes being discussed on the Synod of the Family that has been taking place in Rome these past two weeks and that culminates with the beatification of Paul VI on October 19.

The hour-long documentary shows the life of John Baptist Montini, a life marked by the most dramatic upheavals of the twentieth century: from his encounters with fascism as a youth and living through World War II with Pope Pius XII, through the bitter ordeal of his pontificate.

After the death of John XXIII, Paul VI was given the task of bringing the Second Vatican Council to a conclusion and then govern a quite-shaken post-conciliar Church through one of the most terrible crisis in history. A victim of vicious attacks by fundamentalists Lefebrians, by guerrilla priests, by promoters of the sexual revolution, and by an unscrupulous press, Paul VI was able to maintain the direction of the Church through a revolution which shook the moral foundations of civilization.

Paul VI was the first Vicar of Christ to visit Africa, America, Oceania and Asia. He was the first to visit the Holy Land and the first to speak at the United Nations. He was an open-minded, pious Pope – perhaps too modern and prophetic to be understood by the people of his time.

This documentary shows images never before seen in Spain, as his assassination attempt in the Philippines, the attack on the Michelangelo’s Pietà and his denouncement of the action of the devil in the Church.

This version of the RAI film production rediscovers a pope that very few mourned, but whose heroic life now has led him to be raised to the Altar in the wake of two other great saints: his predessesor John XXIII and his successor, John Paul II.

Blessed Paul VI: The misunderstood pope will premiere on Salt + Light TV on Sunday October 19 at 9 pm EST.

The Great Saints (and Angels) of the Week

archangelsToday we celebrate the feast of the Archangels — St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. Take some time today to look up  Scripture references to the different Archangels and meditate on the work of these heavenly messengers. For St. Michael flip to Revelations 12 (there’s also references in Daniel 10 and 12), St. Gabriel of course can be found in Luke’s Nativity story, and St. Raphael is featured in the Old Testament’s Book of Tobit (12).

stjeromeTuesday, we recognize on St. Jerome (c. 347-420), the great doctor of the Church perhaps best known for his for his translation of the Vulgate. A Biblical scholar, Jerome wrote in his Prologue to the “Commentary on Isaiah “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Here’s a reflection given by Pope Benedict during a General Audience on St. Jerome’s love for Sacred Scripture.

stthereseOn Wednesday we have a saint who has a great following, a heroic woman who though living as a cloistered nun has become patroness of missions — St. Thérèse of Lisieux. One of three female doctors of the Church, the Little Flower is an outstanding model of humility and her autobiography “Story of a Soul” is a must-have spiritual classic. Her parents, Louis and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin, joined her officially in the Communion of Saints when they were beatified on October 19, 2008.

GuardianAngelsOn Thursday we return to the Angels and recognize our Guardian Angels. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their [angels’] watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.” (CCC 336) It’s funny, we often pray to our favourite saints, but do we remember our Guardian Angel? Today is a good day to begin developing our relationship with our constant companion.

Though we don’t celebrate a saint’s day in the universal calendar on Friday, there is the popular First Friday devotion.

stfrancisThe Church celebrates another one of her favourite sons on Saturday, St. Francis of Assisi, namesake of Pope FrancisFrom reform to establishing religious orders, St. Francis’ contribution to Catholicism is vast and impressive. The Saint is associated very much with peace — from hymns to Days of Prayer in Assisi. While visiting Assisi in the summer of 2007, Pope Benedict reflected on the saint and peace — here’s his address.

Wow! It is truly a week of holy men, women, and angels! Why not make an effort this week to get to know some of this great pillars of our faith better?

 

This post was originally published in 2008.