Posted by: Christine | May 22, 2011

The Human Experience – Movie Review

This documentary follows the travels of a group of young men from Brooklyn who sought to better understand what defines the human experience. They started their journey in New York where they lived in a homeless community during the coldest week of the year. Next, they traveled to Peru where they assisted hospitalized children with special medical needs. Finally, they ventured out of their comfort zone to befriend men and women with HIV/AIDS and patients in a leper colony in Ghana.

Everything in this film was true, and the filmmakers really let the beauty of life shine forth, especially by showing their own lives in such a vulnerable way. This story was truly inspirational and reminds us that, no matter how different people may be in culture, religion, or background, they are all human and deserve the love of others. Additionally, the score for this film was excellently suited for the content and really made the experience even more rich. I highly recommend this film!

Today, I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of The Human Experience at  Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament church in Bayside, New York.  Not only that, but two of the filmmakers, Cliff and Michael, came and answered questions after the film.  It was a really amazing movie and I hope and pray it will be inspirational and fortifying to those who see it, and that it will give people new courage to stand up for the truth and live their faith with renewed life.

The Human Experience is available on DVD here through the film company, Grassroots Films.

For more information on the St. Francis House in Brooklyn, where the young men first met, visit the St. Francis House website.

Posted by: Christine | May 14, 2011

On Confession Schedules

It seems that in some places, the sacrament of confession is a priority, and in others, it is not.

I thought I’d get my soul cleansed today, so I went bright and early to my local parish at 3:15pm, so I could have some prayer time before the usual 4pm kick-off.  With my books and prayer cards at the ready, I arrived at the doors, only to meet the cleaning crew who debated for a few moments whether or not they should allow me to enter.  Upon peeking into the nave, I saw they had just finished mopping/waxing (I couldn’t tell) nearly the whole church, and that my route to the confessional would have to traverse this area.  So, I said thanks anyway to the nice men cleaning and changed my plans.

Off I went to another parish, a few towns away from my own, where I used to go for weekday Mass sometimes.  I found the church’s bulletin in my back seat, and confirmed that they do offer confession from 4pm-5pm (in addition to every day in conjunction with evening weekday Mass – woohoo!).  Pulling into the parking lot, I found it packed with cars, and a limousine in front of the church.  Alas! A wedding was running late.  I hightailed it to the local library where I used their facilities, then drove back to the church, and the wedding wasn’t over yet!  Gah!

I’m all for weddings (and for clean floors, too), but it seems like the sacrament of confession becomes like the little brother in A Christmas Story forgotten in the snow in favor of more exciting or [perceived-to-be] more pressing matters.

Last year, in my own parish,  confessions were preempted for a wedding.  I think if I were getting married (God willing) I would refuse to take a 3pm time slot on a Saturday.  I wouldn’t want to be in danger on walking on folk’s ability to receive the sacrament – people [should] count on it!  In fact, in this imaginary scenario, I’d love to conspire with the groom-to-be and the priest to actually offer confessions before the Nuptial Mass and to advertise as such in the paper programs (and daresay, in the invites: “You’re cordially invited to clean your slate; we all should”).

The sacrament of reconciliation is an important, vital, part of our lives as Catholics, and it is how we can reunite ourselves to Christ and bind ourselves more closely with Him.  It shouldn’t be shooed to the background, a mere 45 minutes a week for a parish of 1000+ families.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to confession this week, but what if I did?  What about people who go as a last-shot, and who might not return or seek another parish if turned away?  In my opinion (which probably isn’t truly imHo), parishes need to attend to all the different parishioners, including those they don’t expect to see.

A few weeks ago, the National Catholic Register posted a blog article called “Supply Side Confession: The Economics of Mercy.”  The point it makes, essentially, is that Catholics might not be coming in droves to confession because the parish, by offering it for only brief weekly periods, is really saying that it’s not important enough to merit more frequent scheduling or more prominent bulletin advertisement.  Something to consider.

Posted by: Christine | May 9, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer Intentions – May 2011

From the Vatican Information Service:

Pope Benedict’s general prayer intention for May is: “That those working in communication media may respect the truth, solidarity, and dignity of all people “.

  His mission intention is: “That the Lord may help the Church in China persevere in fidelity to the Gospel and grow in unity”.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

Posted by: Christine | April 21, 2011

Seraphic Singles – Blog Post Link

This post was exactly what I needed to hear.  As I’m discerning my life’s vocation, the journey seems to be revealing that my vocation-for-right-now is to continue to do what I’m doing: work hard in grad school, try to grow in prayer and virtues, and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  With respect to “my life’s vocation,” I think this just means waiting to see what God has in store.

Seraphic Single posted a little “thought experiment” – how would you feel if God assured you, pointe-blank, that your particular desires would be fulfilled, but in the distant-ish-future.  How would you cope?

Here is a taste of Seraphic Singles’ post:

What I hated most, when trying to discern my vocation and discerning that my vocation was to wait, was not knowing my marital fate. It was so annoying that something like that was beyond my control. So annoying.

Posted by: Christine | April 17, 2011

Back from a Retreat

I just spent this past weekend at Villa Maria Guadalupe, a retreat house in Stamford, CT run by the Sisters of Life.  What an amazing time it was, with so many blessings from God!

The theme of the retreat was Ignatian Meditation, and it was led by Fr. Greg Cleveland, OMV, who is a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary (OMV), who are dedicated, among other charisms, to the formation of the laity and the clergy and the Spiritual Exercise of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Over the past few months, I’d been reading Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Introduction to Prayer by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, OMV.  Discernment is the process of making a decision about an important personal matter in light of God’s love and His purpose for our life.  This book introduces the reader to what discernment actually is, why it may be called for,  the foundation necessary for true discernment to take place, as well as a step-by-step guide to St. Ignatius’ discernment process, along with a great many examples from lay and religious.    For me, it seemed that Fr. Gallagher especially notes that the individual discerning must pray for a heart disposed to do God’s will, and that a will open to God is a gift from Him.  Additionally, he recommends attempting discernment under the guidance of a spiritual director or mature, prayerful friend.

During the retreat, Fr. Cleveland gave six short conferences/talks about different aspects of Ignatian prayer, primarily involving sacred scripture.  He began the weekend by reminding the retreatants of the importance of being in touch with the desires of our hearts, because that is where we often find the direction in which God is pulling us.  Next, Father discussed how we can use meditation on scripture (using our intellect to think through the Gospels and open our minds to God) as well as contemplation (using our imagination and five senses to make ourselves more fully present in the mysteries of Christ in the Gospels) in order to enrich our prayer lives.  He also gave us some suggestions given my St. Ignatius as to the structure of our prayer, so that we may reach ever more deeply into the Heart of Him who made us.

Later, Fr. Cleveland gave a discussion on discernment of spirits, which is the ongoing process of learning to understand the fluctuating  feelings of consolation and desolation in our hearts, and how we can use this knowledge to discover God’s will for us in the discernment process.  This morning, there was a brief conference in which Father gave us some practical suggestions on how we can incorporate prayer time into our everyday lives.

Mass this morning began at 10:30 am on the outdoor steps of Villa Maria Guadalupe, and it was a beautiful liturgy!  (I am thankful that God gave me the strength to stand through it all despite my typical lack of endurance – praise God!).  I prayed and thanked Our Lord for bringing me closer to Him throughout the weekend, not only through the formal preaching and liturgy, but also through the quiet times of reading, prayer, reflection, and enjoyment of nature.  I remember that I am weak, but He is strong, so nothing is impossible with Him.


The Villa Maria Guadalupe is owned by the Knights of Columbus, and is operated by the Sisters of Life for major events and retreats for religious and lay people.  It sits on beautiful grounds complete with blooming trees and singing birds, surrounded by nature and a quiet residential neighborhood.  For more information about the Sisters of Life or upcoming events, please see their website here.

For more books by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, OMV, click here.

Holy Mary, pray for us.  St. Joseph, pray for us.

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