When I entered the Jesuit Order 25 years ago several friends — including the Catholic ones — scratched their heads. “You’re entering the what?” was the most common response.
When I slowly repeated the name of the Catholic religious order that I had decided to join, only a few registered a flicker of recognition. Tell your average Joe (or Joan) that you’re a Jesuit, that is, a member of the group formally known as the Society of Jesus, and they’ll often ask “But aren’t you a Catholic?” Among Catholics, Jesuits may be best known for founding universities like Georgetown, Boston College and Fordham, and all those schools named Loyola. (We tend to have great basketball teams as well.)
Despite our high-profile schools the general confusion about Jesuits persists. My all-time favorite reply came from a reporter who once asked, “Were your parents Jesuits?” Um, no.
A FIERCE GREEN FIRE: The Battle for a Living Planet is the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. Directed and written by Mark Kitchell, Academy Award-nominated director of Berkeley in the Sixties, and narrated by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep, the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2012, has won acclaim at festivals around the world, and in 2013 begins theatrical release as well as educational distribution and use by environmental groups and grassroots activists.
A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet charts the incredible history of the environmental movement over the past 50 years. It begins with John Muir and the conservation efforts of the Sierra Club and ends with the uphill struggle of activists and nations to respond to the dangers of climate change.
This cogent and prophetic documentary, based on Philip Shabecoff's book of the same title, is directed by Mark Kitchell. A gifted filmmaker, he has made the most of archival materials and commentaries by experts such as Bill McKibben, Stewart Brand, Paul Hawken, Tom Turner, Doug Scott, Martin Litton, Jerry Mander, John Adams, Carl Pope, Robert Bullard, Stephanie Mills, Rex Wyler and others. Musical selections, including Joni Mitchell's classic "Big Yellow Taxi," show the long-standing alliance between folk music and saving the environment. Continue reading article at Spirituality & Practice
2012 was an excellent year for cinema. However, three films about aging that I liked were not even nominated, such as Dustin Hoffman's "Quartet," Jake Schreier's "Robot & Frank" or John Madden's "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Instead, Michael Haneke's accomplished and artistic yet bleak French-language film "Amour," about an aging couple in Paris, received four nominations. Please note that Dame Maggie Smith appears in both "Quartet" and "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," which makes home viewing a must.
But with the news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign four days after the Academy Awards, which are Sunday, I have to wonder how many people besides me will care about the Oscars this year. Added to the pope's story taking up considerable media ink, virtual and otherwise, the 2013 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress will conclude Sunday, too, and I hope I get home on time to see the Oscar show.
Sister Rose Pacatte, in her role as movie critic, tries to be a mediator, explaining two very different worlds to each other.
PARK CITY, Utah — On the day before she entered a Catholic boarding school in August 1967, as a 15-year-old who felt the call to be a nun, Rose Pacatte indulged in a final fling with the secular world. She went to the local drive-in to see “The Dirty Dozen.”
While young Rose’s stirrings toward religious life had been inspired in part by films about nuns — “The Song of Bernadette,” “The Trouble with Angels” — she expected that her vows would mean forgoing popular culture. And surely convent life would make no allowance for anything like that final fling movie, Robert Aldrich’s World War II shoot-em-up.
Yet this past week, Sister Rose of the Daughters of St. Paul moved through Park City’s starry firmament as Sister Rose of Sundance, a veteran film critic participating in this year’s edition of the renowned indie festival. By the time Sundance ends on Sunday, she will have seen upward of 20 films, blogging and reviewing most of them for The National Catholic Reporter and joining in panel discussions for students from religious colleges and seminaries.
There is a sadness afoot in our times that is a strange mixture of personal fear and disappointment with the way things are and a lack of public confidence that the nations and organizations of the world can solve the intractable problems of poverty, hunger, class warfare, climate control, and economic decline. Many of the Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2012 speak in healing, helpful, and uplifting ways to this personal and the public mood of sadness.
We salute the handful of movies about older people coping with life's challenges (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Magic of Belle Isle, Amour, I Wish, and All Together). Three films explore sexuality and spirituality (The Sessions, Take This Waltz, Hope Springs). Filmmakers ventured into new territory with complex depictions of faith (Life of Pi, Salmon Fishing in Yemen), the arts of survival (The Hunger Games, Searching for Sugar Man), forgiveness (Les Miserables), compassion (The Intouchables, Monsieur Lazhar), and middle age (This Is 40).
The most common question we are asked is: “What do we do?”
“We are a community of contemplative Poor Clare Nuns.”
“And what does that mean?”
In this newsletter I’ll explain how I practice contemplative prayer. Anyone can do it, and you probably do in one way or another. It is one of the oldest, most natural, and simplest forms of prayer. You don’t need anything - just your desire to be with God.
The heart of contemplative prayer is one dynamic action: attentive listening and responding in faith.
I have an image that helps me in my practice of contemplative prayer. In the Hebrew Scriptures, one image for faith is the broad, long cloth or (he’min) that a woman uses to wrap around her and her child. This wrap enables her to carry her child wherever she goes. The child is nestled securely on her hip, on her back, or on her breast. We still see women in Africa and South America carrying their babies in this way. I find the image of this child wrapped in its mother’s arms to be a beautiful spiritual image of faith. The child feels safe and protected by its mother. In a similar way, we may imagine ourselves safe and protected in God’s powerful arms. People through the ages have found peace in this image, and it is still relevant to us today.
Like a baby resting in faith with its mother, in contemplative prayer, we can rest in faith with God. While resting, we listen for God’s presence. We are not listening for a voice or words. Rather, we are listening for God’s unconditional love of us. We find ourselves at peace in that love. We find ourselves accepting it, and responding to it. We may sometimes feel so at rest that we fall asleep, even as a child sleeps in its mother’s arms. This is contemplative prayer--being wrapped in faith and at rest in an awareness of God’s love for us.
In order to practice contemplative prayer, find a quiet place to be alone. Close your eyes and let your mind be at rest. This may take some time. Let go of the cares and concerns of your life. Let yourself become still. Focus on your breathing. Breathe out and let go of your concerns. Breathe in and repeat a word gently to yourself. The word itself is not important. The word is just a reminder to bring you back to attentive listening in case your mind drifts off to other thoughts or worries.
As your slow breathing helps to calm you, respond with an act of faith. Imagine yourself nestled in the arms of God like a baby securely wrapped in its mother’s arms. When I practice contemplative prayer, I often remember Psalm 131:2
Like a weaned child rests against its mother’s arm,So my soul is quiet within me.
Now I only need to listen attentively for the presence of God. The action now is God’s. God gives unconditional love in response to my trust that I am held and safe. No matter whether we are male or female, no matter our age, we all need to be held when life’s cares overwhelm us. Contemplative prayer allows us to experience God’s never ending, never failing love. Nothing can separate us from that love. When you finish your prayer, take a few moments to bring this contemplative prayer time to a close.
As I enter back into my day, those moments of peace that I found in contemplative prayer can end quickly. However, during the day when I feel upset or unsettled, I go back to my slow breathing, close my eyes, and recall my experience of resting in God’s love. I become once more like a weaned child, resting in its mother’s arms. Once more, I find myself comforted. I find myself listening and responding in faith to the gift of God’s presence.
"It is with sadness that I read the October statement of the Committee on Doctrine about my book, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers of the Theology of God (Continuum, 2007). My disappointment focuses on three issues: process, content and result.
First, process. In April the committee invited me to submit observations on their original statement (dated March 24, 2011), which had been composed without any discussion or foreknowledge on my part. My response was entitled “Observations” (printed in Origins 7/7/11). In it I posed important questions about the nature of faith, revelation, biblical language and theology itself, figuring that discussion on these fundamental matters might clarify the content of the book and where it had been misrepresented. Both publicly and privately I made clear my willingness to meet with Cardinal Wuerl and the committee to discuss these matters at any time.
The committee did not engage these questions. No invitation was forthcoming to meet and discuss with the committee in person. Moreover, in its new document the committee addresses none of these issues — not a single one. The opportunity to dialogue was bypassed. Despite the protocol “Doctrinal Responsibilities” (1989) approved by an overwhelming majority of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops after consultation with the Holy See, this committee for a second time has shown a lack of willingness to dialogue about such an important matter as the living God in whom we believe. It could have been so interesting and beneficial for the church.
Second, content. As a result of the lack of process, the October statement mainly reiterates the points made in the committee’s original statement."