Wednesday, March 19, 2014

VISION Year of Consecrated Life Survey

As you may know, Pope Francis named 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life.  VISION Vocation Guide is conducting a survey to capture contemporary thoughts on consecrated life.  Click here to access the survey. (If the link does not work, enter "Vision 2015 Year of Consecrated Life" into your web browser.)

Paycheck to Paycheck

Did you know that 42 million women in America -- one in three -- are living in poverty or teetering on its brink?  More than 13 million are mothers of young children.  Maria Shriver, in conjunction with HBO, presents "Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert." From the website: "This film offers a deeply personal, unvarnished and moving story of Katrina Gilbert, a single mom of three, struggling to get ahead but constantly getting knocked back by a system that almost seems designed to see her fail."

The film, a little over an hour long, can be viewed this week for free (and on HBO during the rest of March).  You are encouraged to read the screening guide and start a conversation.  Click here to access the site and the video.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stop Trafficking Newsletter for March

Click here to access the March 2014 issue of Stop Trafficking, which uses the occasion of Women's History month to highlight women taking steps to curb human trafficking.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

40 Days for Life

As we continue our Lenten journey, remember 40 Days for Life, whose vision is to seek an end to abortion through prayer, fasting and peaceful vigil.  Click here for more information.

Lent: Give Up, Take Up, Lift Up

From the USCCB:  "We can begin to embrace [the call of St. Francis this Lent] by fasting from or 'giving up' material things, including foods, that are superfluous to our basic needs; 'taking up' charitable habits that are directed to helping and caring for others; and 'lifting up' our brothers and sisters who are in need through giving alms, praying and participating in devotional practices."  Click here to access multiple Lenten resources from the USCCB.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Hunger Site

As we continue to recall simple ways in which we can fight poverty, we are reminded of the Hunger Site.  If you haven't clicked on this site in some time, you might be surprised to find that you can also support other causes, including breast cancer, autism and literacy.  You can contribute daily with one simple click of your mouse.  So, if you haven't visited in a while, check out the Hunger Site.

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Friending Sisters"

As we wind down the inaugural National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW), America has published an article by Christina Capecchi, "Friending Sisters."  Take a few minutes to read about the power of story in introducing Catholic young women to the possibility of religious life:  "How to go about that—the church’s million-dollar question—is not a matter of a slickly produced marketing campaign, insist the co-directors of NCSW, but of presenting a stripped down, heartfelt narrative. That is exactly what took center stage during the kickoff gathering of the initiative, when four sisters shared turning points in their path to consecrated life using the quirky storytelling style of The Moth Radio Hour, the national public radio show that won a Peabody Award in 2010. Perhaps the promotion of religious life is more 'Charlie Rose' than 'Mad Money'—fewer blinking billboards, slower cuts."  Click here to access the article.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Energy Poverty in Africa: How You Can Help is asking for your support for the Electrify Africa Act, a House bill that will bring electricity to 50 million people in Africa for the first time.  Click here for more information.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lenten Caring for Creation Calendar

Suggested by the Catholic Climate Covenant website:  The Archdiocese of Washington Care for Creation Committee suggests the practice of spiritual reflection and sacrificial action during Lent which focus on fulfilling our commitment to be wise stewards of God's creation now and for future generations.  Check this Lenten Caring for Creation Calendar for suggestions for each day of Lent 2014. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Don't Forget Fair Trade!

Did you know that Catholic Relief Services (CRS) sponsors three Fair Trade programs (crafts, coffee and chocolate)?  Click here to learn more about CRS Fair Trade.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Free Rice for Lent?

Remember Free Rice, the non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Programme?  The goals of Free Rice are simple: 1) Provide education to everyone for free; 2) Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free. 

It's so easy to contribute!  Just go to the Free Rice website and answer questions in Humanities, English, Math, Chemistry or other subjects of your choosing.  For each correct answer, you make possible a donation of 10 grains of rice.  The more questions you answer correctly, the more grains of rice you donate to hungry people around the world. 

Are you wondering just what type of Lenten practice playing an online game suggests?  Consider this: The Son of Man coming in his glory and saying to you, "Come . . . inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me free rice." 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

National Catholic Sisters' Week

As part of Women's History Month, the first National Catholic Sisters Week is being observed from March 8-14, 2014.  The website describes this week as "intended to shine a national spotlight on the good works and good will of Catholic sisters.  It recognizes past and present sisters, from the movers and shakers pressing the front lines of social change to the faithful praying in cloistered chapels."  Click here to go to the website to learn more about how to participate in the week, to access materials to celebrate the week (including a prayer booklet and accompanying readings) and to spread the word about this commemoration. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

UNICEF Tap Project

The UNICEF Tap Project is a nationwide campaign that provides clean water and adequate sanitation to children around the world.  With just $5, UNICEF can give one child safe drinking water for 200 days.  Since 1990, more than 2.1 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water thanks to the work of UNICEF and its partners.

Clean water is important for the obvious reasons of health and hygiene, but did you know that clean water also keeps children -- especially girls -- in school?  In Nepal, UNICEF found that school attendance for girls went up 30% for every hour the girl did not have to spend collecting water.

The Tap Project is running a rather unique initiative called the UNICEF Tap Project mobile initiative, in which sponsors fund one day of clean water for every 10 minutes you do not use your mobile phone.  How does it work?  Go to on your Smartphone.  You will be instructed to place your phone on a flat surface for 10 minutes.  If your phone remains unused for 10 minutes, the sponsors make a donation to the Tap Project.

Although it is not billed as a Lenten practice, wouldn't it be interesting during Lent to see how often you can go 10 minutes without using your Smartphone?

It is also possible to donate to the Tap Project without taking the mobile challenge.  Click here for more information.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

By his poverty . . .

Click here to read the Lenten message of Pope Francis, based on 2 Corinthians 8:9, "He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich." 

Link Updated

Thanks to those of you who pointed out that our earlier post for "Moved to Greater Love" lacked the link.  Click here to access the Lenten reflections from the Jesuits.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent: Moved to Greater Love

The Jesuits of the United States are offering "Moved to Greater Love,"  a nine-week Lenten/Easter digital prayer experience that began on Sunday, March 2 and will conclude on Sunday, May 4.  Click here to go to the site to "opt in" by entering your e-mail address.  Each evening, material for the following day's prayer will be sent to your inbox. 

From the website:  "The nine U.S. Jesuit provincials who conceived of "Moved to Greater Love" describe it as 'an invitation to magnanimity, silence, creativity and depth, calling all to consider how God's love burns away fear and opens us up to respond generously and wholeheartedly.'

"The program focuses on four specific graces: Gratitude, Spiritual Freedom, Vision and Joy.  A two-week period will be dedicated to each grace, beginning on a Sunday with an introduction that explains the grace being sought.  Daily online presentations will offer questions for reflection, a reading and multimedia content."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Do Not Worry: About non-anxiety or a call to community?

In Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 6:24-34), we heard, "Do not worry about your life, . . . but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides." 

In his newly-released book, No Irrelevant Jesus, German theologian Gerhard Lohfink invites us to go beyond the surface of this difficult teaching of Jesus and to remember what this meant for his disciples at the time -- that is, the creation of a community of mutuality:  "Can [a preacher] really tell the audience that they should not worry?  Obviously, they have to worry and take care. . . . Anyone who has any kind of responsibility has to be careful to keep control of the bank balance, fill the refrigerator, order heating oil before the prices go up, plan ahead and follow up, budget rationally -- and all that takes wisdom, prudence and careful planning. . . . Some preachers find a way out of this situation by saying that . . . a Christian must indeed be prudent and look to the future but should do it with confidence.  That may be true, but it does not get at the heart of the saying of Jesus.  Its addressees were not simply the crowds of people around Jesus; they were the disciples who traveled with him throughout Israel. . . .

"Jesus and his disciples needed people who would prepare a meal for them in the evening and offer them shelter for the night.  In turn, the localized followers needed vital contact with Jesus and his disciples so that the new thing, the silent revolution of the reign of God could enter into their families.  So there was a profound relationship between the two groups, a mutuality and community. 

"I am convinced that precisely here we are challenged by the Gospel of non-anxiety: do we want community in this sense -- as a being-together of many who support one another, a communion of many brothers and sisters who are present for one another so that engagement on behalf of the Gospel will be possible?  This would be a change from solitary parishes staffed by single persons and self-sacrificing individuals to communities in which there are mutual aid, mutual claims and commitments, mutual advice, mutual consolation, mutual correction, continually renewed and common repentance -- and precisely, therefore, no anxiety.

" . . . [The reign of God] calls for a people, a renewed people of God, a new society -- and this eschatological renewal of the people of God has as its indispensable precondition disciples, or more precisely, a community of disciples" (pp. 8-10).