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St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), who was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.

Mother Seton is a saint of many “firsts.” She opened the first tuition-free Catholic school in the United States. She formed the Sisters of Charity, the first community of consecrated religious women founded in the United States.

And she also has the privilege of being the first American-born canonized saint.

Lord God, you blessed Elizabeth Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers may we learn to express our love for you in love for others. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Don’t Let Uncertainty Stop You

A fear of not having all the answers is stopping many young women from seeking a beautiful vocation as a religious sister, says a Franciscan sister from Illinois in a new video.

“That’s where the fear is,” explains Sr. Michael, of the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi. “The person is hesitating to take that next step because they don’t have all the answers. You are not going to have all the answers, until you take that next step. And then the answers will come.”

In a candid, unscripted video interview, Sr. Michael, Vicar Provincial of the congregation, provides fresh insight on overcoming reluctance in pursuing a vocation, as well as the spiritual benefits of living in a community dedicated to following Christ through the life of St. Francis.

“Let me tell you what it’s like to be in a community of sisters,” Sr. Michael explains in a surprisingly popular 10-minute video. “It’s a mystery at first because you realize that there is a spiritual bond with each one of them. . . . We all come from different parts of the world and different parts of the country. Yet we all have that bond, that common bond. . . . That bond follows us into eternity.”

The video also features an interview with the congregation’s bishop, Most Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, who says, ”I am very happy to say I have great admiration for the zeal of the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi.”

The Sisters’ provincial motherhouse is in Lacon, Illinois, and the congregation has its general house in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. They have been operating St. Joseph Nursing Home in Lacon since 1964.

St. Paul of the Cross

Today the Church in the United States celebrates the memorial of St. Paul of the Cross (194-1775), the founder of the Congregation of the Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, more commonly known as the “Passionists.” (For a concise explanation as to why it’s celebrated today, click here.) There are three Passionist communites for women in the United States that are affiliates of the Institute on Religious Life.

St. Paul was one of the greatest preachers of his age, and also was a renowned miracle worker and spiritual director.

In looking into St. Paul of the Cross’ remarkable life, I came across a documentary about him by actor Martin Sheen. It’s quite informative. Here is the first 13-min. installment, and here is the second 13-min. installment.

Speaking of Martin Sheen, check out this interview concerning The Way, an inspiring new movie written and directed by his son (Emilio, not Charlie!).


North American Martyrs

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Today we remember and celebrate the planting of the Church in North America through the martyrdom of the Jesuit martyrs Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and companions. In honor of these true heroes of the faith, enjoy this short video with Fr. James Kobicki, S.J. of the Apostleship of Prayer.

May the courage of these martyrs, rooted in the love of God, inspire us to live wholeheartedly for Christ today, and to offer our own sufferings in union with Christ for the life of the world.

Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary

During this month that is especially dedicated to the Our Lady’s Rosary, I thought our visitors might enjoy this video from the cloistered Dominican community based in Summit, New Jersey.

For more on this community, which is an affiliate of the Institute on Religious Life, click here.

Documentary Reveals Life of Cloistered Benedictines

A former fashion and beauty photographer has released a 90-minute documentary on the life of Benedictine contemplatives.

“Tyburn Convent Gloria Deo” brings viewers within the cloisters of the order’s nine monasteries, starting with the motherhouse in England, and ranging through Oceania and South America.

The order was established in 1903 near Marble Arch, London–the site where dozens of English martyrs were killed during the Protestant Reformation.

Michael Luke Davies created the work. He and Mother Xavier McMonagle, the mother-general of the Tyburn Nuns, presented the documentary last Thursday.

“I was moved to tears many times by the beauty of what I was filming,” Davies said. “For me, it exceeded my expectations of what I could film. It was an incredible experience I shall never forget for the rest of my life. The things I have seen and the moments I have shared with these beautiful religious people I will keep with me forever.” Read the rest of this entry »

Open to the Light of Christ

“Through Christ we know that we are not destined to wander into an abyss, or the silence of nothingness or death, but that we are pilgrims on a journey to the promised land.”

With these words, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the seminarians gathered in the Cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena to participate in the Eucharistic celebration. In the joyful climate of World Youth Day last month, the Holy Father invited all of the men to live these years of preparation in interior silence, constant prayer, and assiduous study in order to understand if the path they are on–a path that “requires audacity and authenticity”–is the right choice for their lives.

New Video on French Religious Foundress Highlights Virtue in the Face of Family Difficulties

At the age of 28, Jane de Chantal, a French noblewoman, was faced with the difficult task of getting beyond her husband’s accidental death and raising five children. Beyond that, she was compelled to live at her father-in-law’s estate and  put up with his irritations.

A very devout woman, she then met St. Francis de Sales and the two formed a lifelong friendship. Francis confided to Jane his desire to found a religious order that would be welcoming to women who seek a deep relationship with God, but who for one reason or another could not live with the physical rigors of traditional religious life.

In 1610, the two officially established the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. Before she died, St. Jane de Chantal founded 86 houses of the Visitation.

All of this is recounted in a new video on the life of St. Jane de Chantal, which has been viewed over two thousand times on Gloria.TV in the first week of its debut.

The video was produced by VocationPromotion.com for the Second Federation of the Visitation in the United States and is featured on the website www.VisitationSpirit.org.

New Video on Redeeming Medieval Captives Goes Viral

Offering one’s life in exchange for another Christian whose faith is in danger is certainly a noble cause. Maybe that’s why a new video on the history of a men’s order founded to do just that is attracting so much attention.

The nine-minute video, “Redeeming Medieval Captives–The Story of The Order of Mercy,” has gone viral on the Catholic video website Gloria.TV, with more than 2,000 views this week.

The nine-minute video explains the origins of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, complete with period paintings and drawings depicting 13th century ships, ancient drawings of men captured by Muslims, as well as prayerful modern-day Mercedarian friars.

Quoting the Mercedarians’ official historical record, the video says, “The real risk of captivity for a Christian captive in the power of the Saracens was the danger of renouncing the true faith. . . . The very circumstances of captivity were a real, ongoing and serious temptation for Christians whose faith was not very strong.”

Find out what experience motivated St. Peter Nolasco to found the Order by viewing the video and visiting the  Order of Mercy site.

More for Your Vocation

Last week at Rome Reports there was an intriguing video highlighting the vocation efforts of the United States bishops, especially a new series of videos at the Bishops’ For Your Vocation website.

I just visited the For Your Vocation website, and on this occasion I visited their blog and several other pages. What struck my attention this time (I hadn’t noticed it previously) was this vocations quiz–a series of questions to help young people go deeper in their discernment. And of course the site provides information on the upcoming vocations fair at World Youth Day, including the schedule of events.