|cover: St. Joseph, Terror of Demons!|
compact 4"x 6"
|The amazing true story of St. Joseph building a staircase for nuns in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1873. |
(The staircase is still there!)
|"Board books" for the wee ones!|
|cover: St. Joseph, Terror of Demons!|
|The amazing true story of St. Joseph building a staircase for nuns in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1873. |
(The staircase is still there!)
|"Board books" for the wee ones!|
YOU CAN STILL BUY THE WHOLE PACKAGE EVEN THOUGH CONFERENCE IS OVER!
(I'm giving 1 FREE talk & 2 PREMIUM talks!)
5 NEW tracks: Intro to TOB, Artists, Religious, St. Joseph & Spanish!
There will also be LIVE Morning & Evening Prayers & Holy Hours daily for all attendees!
Register here: https://dwf2021.eventbrite.ca/?aff=D33Rr5KH617S
(originally published in the Catholic Register: https://www.catholicregister.org/opinion/columnists/item/32673-sr-helena-burns-free-speech-and-the-christian-mandate)
How often have we heard (or declared ourselves): “I can say what I want! Last time I checked this was a free country!” Um, when was the last time you checked? Oh, sure. We have freedom of expression guaranteed by the charter, but ask yourself this question: Have you ever halted recently (say, in the past few years when you wouldn’t have previously) before you said something in person or posted something online and thought: “This isn’t politically correct, I might get serious flak,” and you drastically rephrased it or simply didn’t say or post anything at all? And remember, if it’s Big Tech doing the reproving or censoring, we’re talking about a global reach eclipsing national jurisdictions.
Let’s be clear. Because we are children of God and followers of Jesus, we should always speak the truth, but always the truth in charity. It’s best not to be lazy, labeling or insulting in the way we talk about people or issues. If we are accusatory, inflammatory or demonizing, we should be prepared for a reaction in kind, akin to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Avoiding uncharity in speech or digital expression does not mean we need to water anything down. In fact, if we elevate our speech and other modes of communication, we take the high road and appeal to people’s better angels with the power of persuasion. Should they wish to do an about-face and join us, they won’t have to crawl up from the mire we have bludgeoned them down into, but simply “see the light,” and “agree” with a better way of seeing and doing things. Civility and kindness aren’t weakness. The Bible says: “a gentle tongue can break a bone.” The great evangelizer, St. Francis de Sales was fond of repeating: “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.” St. Edith Stein also had a wise measuring stick: “Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. Do not accept anything as love if it lacks truth. One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”
In the film “The Giver,” the
history-erasing, baby-eliminating, dystopian governing forces keep the
population in line through something called “preciseness of speech” (think:
Jordan Peterson’s “compelled speech”). If you can control people’s speech, you
can control their thoughts. You can squelch, deform and silence truth. We begin
self-censoring in the privacy of our own home, the privacy of our own brain.
Why? Perhaps at first we want to be nice, we don’t want to offend, but
then—when we realize that even the most obvious of truths offend, and we
witness the recriminations against those who speak these truths—we do so out of
fear. Fear of what? Fear of very real repercussions: losing a social media
account, losing a promotion, losing a job, losing a friend, losing your money (fines), losing your freedom (imprisonment).
We are watching and feeling the screws of censorship and totalitarianism tighten around us as we try to “keep on rockin’ in the free world.” But wait. What does that mean, “free world”? Are parts of the world not free? If so, where, why? Wherever there are dictatorships or ideologies such as Communism that believe 1) human beings are cogs in a machine 2) everything, even basic human rights are “politics,” in order to dismiss equal participation in the conversation by all 3) utopia on this earth is possible through social control—then there will be oppression and revoking of freedoms of all kinds. Just ask Hong Kong.
In my case, as a presenter of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” I know that I will be “caught up with” soon enough—when the powers that be figure out how offensive this “Gospel of the Body” and the science that backs it up really is. (As Jordan Peterson warned: “They’re coming for you next, biologists.”) So what am I doing in preparation for that fateful day? For starters, I have begun substituting Greek letters for similar-looking Roman alphabet letters online to make it harder for bots and algorithms to purge me.
We can’t be cowardly. We must keep on truckin’. We have a divine mandate by our baptism to witness to Jesus Christ and His “words of everlasting life.” “…They ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and released them. The apostles left…rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the Name.” “Rejoicing?!” Well, “there is no other name by which we can be saved.”
So, for Christians, if limiting free speech means not being allowed to lovingly preach, teach and share the whole truth, the full Gospel? Then N/A. These restrictions are not applicable. "Better for us to obey God than men" (Acts 5:29).
(originally published in CatholicRegister.org)
haiku I ever wrote was about home. I was in sixth grade French class staring
out the window as usual (zut alors!), and
it came to me wholly formed, in a flash of insight.
Oh, how I do think
of how lovely life would be
if I could go home.
Lest you are thinking I went to a boarding school, I did not. The content and sentiment of the haiku startled even moi-même, because I knew it didn’t mean my home right down the street. The poem was surely a grace from God, whispering to me that I had another home, my real home for which I was longing. It was my first inkling of heaven.
“Home” has been much more than a concept during the 2020 pandemic filled with lockdowns, shutdowns and restricted activities. People got reacquainted, very reacquainted with their living spaces, such as they are, and with their families and roommates, such as they are. My friend--who was paying off her dream condo on Yonge St.--became quite literally a prisoner for months on end in her cozy little nest (due to pre-existing lung conditions). The upshot of “home” for her was that, “when the days of her confinement were over,” she sold the thing and bought a home in Thorold, swearing to never be a cliff dweller again.
As I see it,
everyone has three homes.
1) Our physical home: where we crash at night. Even the home-less might consider the streets their home, or perhaps a piece of hard-earned turf somewhere. This physical, practical place can be palatial or humble, and we might change our address many times throughout life. For some, the family homestead has great significance, having been passed down from generation to generation. Indelible memories and family history are ingrained in every doorway and staircase. I remember when we were kids going on a family vacation each summer, we’d actually wave and say “goodbye house!” as the station wagon pulled away. My mum still lives in this same house she’s lived in for sixty years now. My Dad lived in it even longer, and before him a professor whose grown-up grandchildren (all girls) would periodically visit our house—just the house, mind you—and weep as they remembered their dear Grandpa Morgan. You see, love is the only real thread that keeps any of us attached to anyone or anything.
spiritual home: whose hearts we live in/who lives in our hearts. How often have
you heard a spouse say of their beloved: “she is my home/he is my
home”? And God definitely wants to be enthroned in our hearts, first and
foremost: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone…opens, I will enter
and sup with him” (Revelation 3:20).
3) Our forever home: God. Our third home overlaps with our second home, because heaven starts now if God is in our heart. (Hell can also start now if He isn’t!) Heaven is a place and a Person.
If, as the Bible tells us, “…here we have no lasting city…” (Hebrews 13:14), then why are we so invested in “here”? Why are we so sad to think of leaving this world to be with God forever in paradise? Because our earthly home—with all its warts--is all we know, and the unknown can be terrifying, even if our good God is both the destination and the One making the promises. So, “don’t be such a stranger!” We have our whole lives to get to know God so well that “death will be like moving from one room to another” (Blessed James Alberione).
Jesus Himself had a checkered trajectory when it came to “home.” There was no room…in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Born in a barn (we really shouldn’t use that expression pejoratively); a child refugee; returns to Nazareth; moves to Capernaum; hits the road preaching, teaching and healing, and tells His disciples: “The birds of the sky have nests, the foxes have dens, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58); buried in a borrowed tomb.
Sr. Helena Raphael Burns, fsp, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She holds a Masters in Media Literacy Education and studied screenwriting at UCLA. www.HellBurns.com Twitter: @srhelenaburns
MINTUES B.C.--A NATIVITY PLAY”
Review by Sr. Helena Raphael Burns, fsp
The forty-three minute filmed play, written
and directed by Denise Vi Flaten is an imaginative, lovely drama of Joseph and
Mary just thirty minutes before the Savior is born. The narrator is none other
than Jonathan Roumie (Jesus in “The Chosen”)—however, the narration is more
like a few brief, mostly unnecessary stage directions. Even if it was supposed
to be a fun little device, it doesn’t really work, is disruptive and takes us
out of contemplating the scene before us. Thankfully it isn’t often! There is
one super-ugly and jarring line (is it a joke?) right after Jesus’ birth.
Joseph quotes Isaiah, and Mary blurts out
the exact chapter and verse. What is this, Bible Trivia? But these are
The setting is a stage populated with hay bales and a manger. The loquacious couple “defer to one another out of reverence for Christ”: affectionate ribbing, Scripture references, religious concerns and also solo dialogues with God—which all help us to see from a very human standpoint what the holy pair were going through. Such love and respect between these spouses—a lesson for all married couples. Joseph is a fierce protector of Madonna and Child—feisty and angry and frustrated that he can’t provide more for his wards. There are ample “joys and tears mingled all the while” (a hymn to St. Joseph) with not a few premonitions of the Passion. A few well-placed sound effects are delightful. The actors are quite good.
Inspired by the writings of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, Maria Valtorta and Venerable Mary of Agreda, the vocabulary aims for a first-century feel, but is speckled with a few stray contemporary-sounding expressions. Some, of course, will object to the fact that Valtorta is cited as a source, due to her writings having sketchy, extremely fraught and conditional Church approval. However, I feel we should just look at the play—the final outcome of these inspirations—on its own merits or lack thereof.
Joseph is about ten years older than Mary and a work in progress (he’s rather impatient). But then he effuses about the little Lord about to be miraculously birthed: “My God and my son!” “How will I not die of joy holding God in my arms?”
My favorite moment is when Mary cries and prays to God in her dire straits (the momentousness of what is unfolding). Haven’t we all felt—even though we understand God is with us—fearful and desolate when we are in the depths of suffering, or facing what we know will be a difficult future? Mary and Joseph’s heartfelt prayers give a hint of their rich interior lives. And their conversations (basically what the entire play is made of) are not ordinary. We know they talked, right? What would they have said to each other? I love the conversations of the Holy Family in my favorite Jesus movie (“The Young Messiah”), but they are cursory and minimal. “30 Minutes B.C.” dialogues are a feast. Methinks we should all talk about and to God more like this.
This is an utterly Catholic play, utterly loyal to God and man. Mary is slightly more the protagonist than Joseph. She is as humble as she is strong. I am changed by watching this play. Theology of the Body “feminists” like myself (who appreciate men and believe in our non-identical equality and complementariness) will love what Mary has to say about herself as a woman, how she loves and accepts her nature and embraces her (divine) motherhood, mission and vocation in life, body and soul.
The strength of virginity (in this interpretation, Joseph has also been committed to perpetual virginity his whole life), the strength of parenthood, the strength of human and divine love is central and the narrative’s guiding star.
This depiction will not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you prefer the mystery of a “Silent Night,” a church tableau, or a simple, sparkly Christmas card. I approach it as an artistic attempt to fill in the blanks, which I don’t feel like I need (although some earnestly do). The Scriptures are plenty for me. But I can always find something inspiring in almost any Bible film, drama, painting or other artistic representation. Well done, thou good and faithful thespians!
TONIGHT! December 22-Join on our @DaughterStPaul YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/jJzNz6W9Atk, DSP Choir Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DSPchoir or Instagram!
|photo by Matt Collamer / Unsplash|
GOD'S SOCIAL PLAN / PROGRAM / PHILOSOPHY / POLITICS:
--Sacredness of Human Life & the Dignity of the Human Person
--Family, Community & Participation
--Rights & Responsibilities
--Option for the Poor & Vulnerable
--Dignity of Work & Rights of Workers
--Care for God's Creation
CNS photo/Katie Rutter
AGAIN!!! "Home For Christmas" Virtual Concert WATCH PARTY! Join us Tuesday, Dec. 22-- 7:30pmET for LIVE Q&A with Choir Sisters followed by Concert! LIVE on our "Daughters of St. Paul Choir" FB page, Twitter & YouTube dishing on behind-the-scenes tour stories & more! Get your ?s ready!
My article for the Catholic Register here: https://www.catholicregister.org/opinion/columnists/item/32396-sr-helena-burns-virtual-reality-and-theology-of-the-body
Daughters of St. Paul FREE Christmas Concert LINK is here!
Although “Get On Up” (the James Brown story) is a 2014 film, and I generally review only recent films, I must pause during this year from hell (2020) and honor the film, the man, the music and the actor, Chadwick Boseman.
I wanted to see “Get On Up” when it first came out, but I didn’t make it to the cinema in time. Then it wasn’t available for streaming on Netflix (and I no longer have a Netflix DVD subscription). I finally just borrowed it from a Boston Public Library and am so glad I did.
The filmmaking is pretty superb. I’m convinced that filmmaking about musicmaking is an extremely challenging genre all its own, and GOU nails it. The film reminded me very much of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (the story of Queen) in several ways. First of all, the performers’ lifestyle shenanigans are sanitized, making it a truly PG-13 film. For younger music lovers, I tell parents: go ahead and let your 13+yo’s watch both films. The history of popular music is woven into history in general, and in the case of James Brown, American history in particular, and is important to know and—if it’s quality—enjoy. Also, the 4 purposes of Media Literacy are--according to one of my mentors, the Australian ML great, Dr. David Considine--protection, preparation, participation and, yes, pleasure.
After a slow, episodic start flashing back to James’ impoverished and abused childhood in Georgia, the story picks up not speed but depth. From his youngest years, James, and many of those around him, always believed he was going to be some kind of bright light. (There’s a delightful scene where an up-and-coming Little Richard both prophesies to and advises his contemporary.) It wasn’t clear at first that James' fame and fortune was going to be through music, but James always had that special something: drive, persistence, fierce determination, raw willpower, and not only prodigious musical ability but business smarts that changed the music industry forever. This fact is all the more marvelous in that he was “coming from behind,” as a Southern Black man in the first half of the twentieth century. But he knew how to leverage his talent and notoriety to the maximum, never blinked in the face of the odds, demanded (and got) respect at every turn.
The flashbacks to the very young James Brown are highly effective to understanding the man. His mother (Viola Davis, always stellar at playing a hard luck woman) left both him and his violent father. His father then deposited him with his aunt (Octavia Spencer, always locked-in playing an earth mother—so out of character and scary when she’s not!). Aunt Honey greatly believed in him. While making him work hard, she taught him to believe in himself and the art of the hustle. Although James found much support around him throughout his life: an adoptive family, a “friend who sticks closer than a brother,“ his two wives (only two of his three wives are in the film) and children, his business manager (a weathered Dan Akroyd, still speaking in his thick, clipped Ottawa Valley accent), his band (a very serious Craig Robinson as a saxophonist)—the rejection of his parents wounded him profoundly. He was a lonely superstar who found it almost impossible to trust anyone but himself.
Was God in the picture of James’ life? Oh, definitely. God was a given. Where James came from, God, prayer, Scripture were a part of everyday life and speech and figured into everything. James acknowledged his gift was from above, and we frequently go back to an experience he had during childhood of a joyous praise revival at a church, replete with a dancing congregation; a soulful, jazzy brass band; and a flamboyant minister dressed to the nines who screeched “Love God!” and “Have faith!” while spinning like a whirling dervish. Easily a big contributor to James’ influences.
His faults are on full display: arrogant, overbearing, fining and withholding wages from his band and his staff. One brief scene of him beating his second wife, DeeDee (the always lovely Jill Scott), is hard to watch. His one loyal friend (ultimately, James returns the loyalty) was with him from the start: Bobby Byrd (an appropriately understated performance by Nelsan Ellis).
How is racism portrayed? Lightly. We see the “banality of evil” in James’ childhood as he casually steals dress shoes off a lynched Black man’s corpse, still hanging from a tree. I think the prejudice is downplayed because what’s emphasized is James turning the tables. He required all to call him “Mr. Brown” and “Sir,” as he swiftly and deftly changed the rules of every game—to his favor. The famous quelling of a potential riot during a gig in Boston right after Martin Luther King’s assassination is played up. I was disappointed not to see his spontaneous chant: “I’m Black and I’m proud” that actually transpired there—but it was shown later in a recording studio with JB and a gaggle of kids.
In addition to Mick Jagger being a producer, I think a lot of actors wanted in on this biopic, and so you’ll see a hilarious cameo by Allison Janney as a bigoted white woman won over by the infectious James Brown sound. (While we’re at it, can someone please tell me why James Brown is the “Godfather of Soul” and not the “Godfather of FUNK”? I never understood that. I mean, didn’t he essentially INVENT funk? Perhaps he didn’t develop funk like Bootsy Collins and George Clinton, but I always associate James Brown with bringing the funk. Isn’t that what we love about his music, why it stands out? Perhaps he’s the “grandfather,” not “godfather” of funk.)
Now. Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick works magic in every way, imitating the physical swagger, mirroring the attitude, pinning down the stage persona and moves, as well as maintaining the James Brown rasp throughout the depictions of his later life. To tell you the truth, it was hard to understand some of the dialogue (as it was often hard to understand the real JB). James Brown is to rasp what Bob Dylan is to mumble. Incidentally, or not so incidentally, Brown and Boseman were both born in South Carolina. Chadwick did all of his own dancing for the film and some singing. The soundtrack was live performances of JB.
Towards the beginning of the film, we only get snippets of James’ performances—an excellent device that builds anticipation for his full-on shows featuring some of his greatest hits, dance moves and dancing chicks. (Also, may I interject: best Superbowl halftime show ever? Just because it was James Brown, no other reason. The cape alone could have carried it off by itself.)
“Although he is the writer of virtually every song he recorded, his immense power as a performer made him better known as a concert superstar, singer and recording artist. ... As a singer, Brown's style evolved over the years but never strayed from his roots in gospel and soul music.” songhall.org
James Brown was an incredible spirit, an incredible American whose exuberant, electrifying music will endure wherever people need to Get On Up and dance for joy.