a community in love with god and with each other

It all tastes like love | National Catholic Reporter.

Some days I find myself spending far too many hours scouring news sites. It usually leaves me feeling exhausted and depressed. World news, local news, church news…it can all be burdensome and heavy on the soul.

But then comes a glorious ray of light; a story that lifts the spirits and lightens the heart. If you need a spiritual lift, please do read Fran Rossi Szpylczyn’s article for the National Catholic Reporter, `It all tastes like love’. She chronicles the experience of her parish’s celebration of the Anointing of the Sick. The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenville, N.Y is a multi-generational community that really knows how gather to celebrate the gracious gift of God’s healing love for us all.

A community so in love with God and with each other is an inspiration to us all!

Albino Luciani – the smiling pope

Where were you when you heard the news of the death of Pope John Paul I? I was just beginning a year’s live-in experience at our local Benedictine monastery. Then, as now, I woke to the news from the clock radio by my bed. Stunned by the announcement, I left my room to tell the first sister I saw. She immediately wrote the news on the black-board to inform the community on the way to morning prayers.

Albino Luciani was elected pope on August 26, 1978. He took the dual name of John Paul as a sign of deep respect for his two predecessors. He died suddenly, in his sleep, on September 28, 1978; though conspiracy theories still circulate.

John Paul I was known as ‘the smiling pope’, and the above pictures show why. If the eyes are the window to the soul, then one can only presume that his soul was of the warm, gentle kind. He looks like a man you would want as a dinner guest; pleasant, easy-going, and good humored.

We are taught not to judge a book by its cover. Yet, often the book cover intentionally points us to its contents. It’s called marketing. Certain graphics, colors, and even font styles are known to appeal to a specific audience. In the Catholic Church, our choice of clothing and worship style is often an intentional sign pointing others to a political or ideological statement.

What does it tell you when priests, bishops and popes choose the highest and most ornate mitres, the finest silks and linens, the most delicate lace, the most exquisite footwear? What does it tell you when they choose simple liturgical garb and choose not to be the focus of all eyes?

Even more than the clothes on your back, your face can shout out to the world whether you are a person of optimistic joy or pessimistic misery. Some people have the gift of a smiling face with eyes that shine out their hope to all they meet.

Veronica Scarisbrick, at Vatican Radio, put together a 10 minute audio feature on John Paul I titled  John Paul I: no coronation, no tiara, no fanfare… The feature includes the pope’s own voice, and comments from the late Cardinal John Patrick Foley, Cardinal William Wakefield Baum and Cardinal Prosper Grech.

We had John Paul I for a very short time; too short to really know what kind of pope he would have been. But, it is easy to make a judgment based on his simplicity and warmth, his humility and choice to fore-go the traditional, ornate papal coronation ceremony. And, yes, there is his smile. We can only wonder what our church would be like today if he did not leave us so quickly.

Old-fashioned nuns say the past is key to the future | National Catholic Reporter

Old-fashioned nuns say the past is key to the future | National Catholic Reporter.

Kudos to the National Catholic Reporter for publishing this article by David Gibson of the Religion News Service. Gibson gives a peek into one of the more traditional religious orders and the young women who are entering them. Sadly, you can’t avoid noticing the judgmental attitude among some of the women interviewed; an ‘us-them’ attitude.

Ideological differences among Catholics are usually divided into the old left-right, progressive-conservative dichotomy. The differences are apparent whenever a discussion takes place on modern day religious life. Interestingly, it seems to focus more on women’s religious orders rather than their male counter-parts.

Young women who embrace the habit and cloistered life are the standard bearers for Catholic conservatives. The women of more active, apostolic orders such as those of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) are the inspirational heroes of the progressives. The former focus on faithfulness to prayer, doctrine and traditions of the past. The latter focuses on gospel action through works of social justice.

Catholicism has always offered many paths towards holiness. The diversity of spiritualities and charisms found in our religious orders is one of our greatest gifts. It reflects our human reality. One person might find deep peace in a life structured around hours of prayer in a chapel. Another might find the same peace in the midst of the inner city. If a woman or man is called to religious life, there is a smorgasbord of life-styles to choose from.

Different is good. Why can’t we see difference side by side….different but equal. Why do we always have to place one above the other? Why do we always have to rationalize our own choice by demeaning and criticizing the choice of another?