Monday, December 9, 2019

Christin's Vlog: Hollywood unvarnished

For the past eight years, Christin Jezak has been working in Hollywood. She is an actor, a comedienne, a writer, a producer, and a Pauline Cooperator. She is fierce in her determination to survive and thrive in an industry notoriously worldly---some might say immoral---and brutally driven by profits and ego. Living and working today in Hollywood is not unlike living and working in pagan Rome. All that's missing is the lions.

What's it like on a day to day basis?

Sometimes, you just need prayers.  Can she count on us to offer them?

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Christin Jezak has been a Pauline Cooperator since 2012. An actress, playwright, and producer, she strives to do theatre which inspires, uplifts, and stirs society. She created, and has performed worldwide, Person-to-Person: A Mother Teresa Project, including a performance at the Official Youth Festival of World Youth Day 08 in Sydney. Christin holds a M.A. in theatre from Villanova University, where she was seen in such plays as The Tempest, Urinetown, and Our Town.  In 2003, she started a ministry called Immaculate Art Ministries, which toured Massachusetts and beyond. She earned her B.A. in theatre from Bridgewater State College and was seen in such roles as Bella from Big Love and Berta from Pippin. She is represented commercially & theatrically by Angel City Talent and has been seen on Jimmy Kimmel and a GrubHub Superbowl commercial.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2019



Transubstantiation – the idea that during Mass, the bread and wine used for Communion become the body and blood of Jesus Christ – is central to the Catholic faith. Indeed, the Catholic Church teaches that “the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’”

["FactTank: News In The Numbers"; Pew Research Center; pewresearch.org, August 5, 2019.] 

                          

THE PEW REPORT ...

The report reveals multiple things, but two stand out. First, a majority of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ (body and blood, soul and divinity) in the Blessed Sacrament. The report states "... nearly seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) say they personally believe that during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine used in Communion “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”  

To be sure, the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) are both profoundly clear on this matter -- the Holy Eucharist is the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus:


And second, there is a corresponding relationship between those who do not believe in the "real presence" of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and how well they have been catechized. Put differently, most of those the Pew Report identified as not believing in the real presence also acknowledged they have weak knowledge and understanding of the teachings of the Church.

THE IMPLICATIONS ...

We have a problem in our beloved Church. We're not talking about the sex abuse problem or cover ups or even Vatican banking issues. We're speaking of a problem that cuts to the very foundation of individual faith. The problem is catechesis and spiritual formation. 

Our brethren in the pews with us on Sundays who lack a solid understanding of the basics of their faith are easily shaken in that faith. A separate Pew Research project ("7 Facts About American Catholics"; Pew Research Center; pewresearch.org, October 10, 2018),  revealed the following about American Catholics:

  • In 2018, about 51 million adults identified themselves as Catholics.
  • The same research indicated that about 22 million adults were lapsed Catholics.

The numbers used by Pew were based on a 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Here's what we found most shocking about the numbers -- the National Council of Churches reported two years before this analysis that the Southern Baptists had about 16 million members, and the United Methodists has about 8 million.

Those numbers would make "lapsed Catholics" the second largest Christian group in America!!!

WHAT IF ...

So how many of those fallen away Catholics knew their Catholic faith well? Would the results be similar to the profile painted by the Pew Report with the real presence? Probably, though we cannot say for sure. But here's what we can say:

The Holy Eucharist is central to our faith as Catholics. Absent this "daily bread of life" instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, it's easy to see why a person identifying himself or herself as Catholic can lose interest and be led astray. 

NEXT STEPS ...

The answer is simple, though it is not easy. We must clearly and accurately pass our faith from generation to generation. We must know its basics and transfer that knowledge to others in the Church.

Catholic media has the power and potential to carry a lot of the heavy load. And the Pauline Family, with our charism of evangelization through media, can and should be center stage for this great drama unfolding in our midst. Let's pray about this, folks, and then get busy wherever we are to turn this trend around.


In Christ!





                          


After a career in the military, Frank and Beth Lengel started their business 30 years ago. Today they train career advisers and help others discover their life’s purpose and work. Frank uses caricature as a way of encouraging people to think about their identity. Beth is all about the “shrines, wines, and interesting people" that make it so cool to be Catholic!

The couple is active in the "Catholic Roads" apostolate. They travel together, writing, drawing, and meeting wonderful people. Beth and Frank have two sons and six wonderful grandchildren. They live on a small farm in South Carolina where they have been kidnapped by a manipulative cat.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

LET’S GO TO THE MOVIES!




Going to the movies is a popular pastime in our culture that dates back to the late 1890’s.  Good movies are a great form of entertainment and relaxation.  They make us laugh, cry, fill us with positive and negative emotions and can even be used as a tool for evangelization. 

THE VISION ...

With four young grandchildren, I see a lot of children’s movies.  When they hear the words, “let’s go to the movies,” they are filled with excitement and are ready to go!  Whether we go out to the theater  and enjoy popcorn topped with their favorite candy or stay at home and enjoy old-fashioned popcorn made in a big pot, their enthusiasm is always the same. 

WHAT WE DO ...

After viewing a movie, we talk and share about our favorite parts and characters.  During recent discussions, I thought about lessons from the recent movies we saw:  Ferdinand and the Bull - be true to yourself; Frozen – the importance of family; Coco – respect for family; and Toy Story 4 – friendship.  It occurred to me to enhance our sharing by using “Cinema Divina” (praying with the movies) that I learned  from the Daughters of St. Paul.  Cinema Divina is based on the ancient prayer practice of Lectio  Divina (praying with Scripture).  Just like we pray with the stories of the Bible, especially those about Jesus in the Gospels, we can also pray and share our faith and values with movies.  

THIS YEAR'S FAVORITES ...

My summer favorite was Toy Story 4.  This was the first Toy Story movie I saw and, initially, I found it silly with all of those talking toys!  I was familiar with Woody who taught powerful lessons about friendship, loyalty, courage, and sacrifice.  However, I quickly became enamored with Forky – a new toy made by a little girl named Bonny who was struggling with the start of kindergarten.  

Forky had come out of the trash and was made with googly eyes, pipe cleaner arms, and popsicle-stick feet.  Bonny quickly fell in love with him but he could not understand why; after all, he is nothing but trash and continues to throw himself back into the nearest wastebasket.  Woody, however, consistently drags Forky out and returns him to Bonny and eventually helps Forky to see his true value.  The value of friendship and kindness spoke loud and clear to me.  No matter what we look like or where we come from, we are all valued and precious.

MAKING IT COUNT ...

With a plethora of negative and false social media and bullying in today’s world, this movie was a great teaching opportunity for my grandchildren.  I started with five basic, age appropriate questions that would, hopefully, result in a biblical teaching or Gospel values:
  • What is the movie about?
  • Who is your favorite character?  Why?
  • Would you want to be that character?  Why or why not?
  • Did you learn a lesson from the movie?
  • What makes a good friend and how can you be a good friend?  

THE FIRST ATTEMPT ...

My first attempt at Cinema Divina went fairly well with my grandchildren (ages 5 – 10).  Our conversations focused primarily on Woody and what a good friend he was. This is a good lesson for both children and adults.  

We followed up our discussion with a craft and created our own little “Forkys”!  Although each one was made with the same parts, they all look different and were loved by their creator.  The children learned that, although we are all different, we are loved individually by our Creator too.  One of my granddaughters made a Forky for me to keep in my car.  He is now my little driving buddy!

FOLLOWING ALBERIONE ...

The founder of the Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione, the Media Apostle, prayed for the motion picture industry, especially the necessity of better films for youth.  As a young priest, Father Alberione looked on the motion picture as an effective means for communicating the Gospel.                                    
Having celebrated his feast day on November 26, let’s pray to him for good media and thank him for helping us see how the media are gifts for bringing the world to Christ and Christ to the world.  He was the first priest to see clearly how the media are tremendous gifts for bringing the world to Christ and Christ to the world. And he did something about it.  

Here's what three recent Popes have said about Blessed James Alberione:
  • Blessed Paul VI:  “A marvel of our times.”
  • St. John Paul II:  “The first saint of the new evangelization.”
  • Pope Francis:  “That great apostle of communications.”
To learn more about him, watch the Father James Alberione Story at www.MediaApostle.com

A HOLIDAY INVITATION ...

With the fast-paced holiday season quickly approaching, make a date for a “Family Movie Night”. Take a pause from shopping, decorating, etc.; watch a good Christmas movie and practice Cinema Divina!  One of my favorites during Advent is The Nativity Story – a film that delivers a powerful opportunity to discuss the real beauty of the Season and to discuss the faith of Mary, Joseph and the other characters.  

Another all-time favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life. It teaches that each person’s life has purpose and faith, family and friends are what really matters.  

Let’s go to the movies!




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Maryann Toth has been a Pauline Cooperator since 2008.  She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Richard, is the mother of two daughters, blessed with four grandchildren and semi-retired as a Credit/AR Manager.  She serves as a Eucharistic Minister and lector at her parish and volunteers at a local Catholic hospital.  Helping at book exhibits and JClub presentations are her favorite activities as a Cooperator.  She currently serves as a Lay Provincial Team Member with the Daughters of St. Paul.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Cooperating with God


What does it mean to cooperate with God?  I should know by now as I work towards being a Pauline Cooperator.  But, I find myself saying yes to cooperating with the easy things and backing away from cooperating on the hard things.  

I wrote a book that recently came out entitled “Marketing God”.  Don’t worry; this blog is not about the book!  In the course of releasing the book I have been speaking quite a bit.  What stuns me are the questions that are being asked of me at the conclusion of my talks. The questions are about the abuse crisis in the church, how to bring people back to Mass, how to help people understand the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, how to define a target audience when some individuals struggle to define their own identity, how to prevent legislation against the very beliefs we hold to be true.   The list goes on and on. These questions are so much bigger than my little worldview of marketing, and I don’t have answers. 

When I speak, I often reference a truth in the book with the associated bible verse: “Here am I. Send me” ( Isaiah 6:8).  We, those reading this blog, those who visit Pauline Books and Media stores, those who hear me speak have in some way, shape or form said: “Here am I.  Send me.”  But then, when God sends me, I push back.  Well, send me to do the easy things, I pray.  Please don’t send me to do the hard things.  I am not equipped; I don’t know what to say, I can’t answer the questions being posed of me.   

Am I really cooperating if I ask for only the easy things? Why do I find it so difficult to cooperate on the hard things?   Perhaps the issue is that I am not really cooperating with God, rather I am trying to rely on myself.  

I looked to the dictionary definition of cooperating and found a few ways to define the word.  The one definition that struck me was “assist someone or comply with their requests”.  And that is when it occurred to me:  I am to cooperate with God.  It is not that God is here to cooperate with me.  That concept is simple and yet so profound.  The verse, “Here am I. Send me,”  truly does say that.  It is saying let me be in service to you Lord, let me help you, let you lead and me follow.  Being a cooperator starts with a focus on God, not on me. 

In the moment, when the questions are hard, when the task is difficult,  how do I cooperate with God?  In those difficult moments, why is it that I turn to myself for answers?  What does it look like to truly cooperate with God, and say yes, send me?  We have to look no further than our founder because Blessed James Alberione showed us the path. 

Blessed James Alberione intentionally called the laity cooperators; I believe because he deeply understood what cooperating with God was all about.   He guided us with the words:  "In the morning, therefore, let us place ourselves at His feet and say to Him: You are the Way: I want to walk in your footsteps.... You are the Truth: enlighten me! You are the Life: give me grace!" (Blessed James Alberione) 

That is not to say that cooperating will be easy.  And, it is not to say that I won’t still pray for the easy tasks from time to time.  But, it is to say that I recognize that it is in the difficulties of the world, in the hard questions comes the real cooperation with our Lord.  Perhaps when the hard questions come to me I can authentically answer:  “I don’t know, but I can help you find the people who do know.”   In cooperating with God, I do not have to have all the answers for God does. 
I hope I am learning that when the hard things come, that is when I need to remember I am in service to God, that I am cooperating with Him, that it is He not I.  In the moment, when cooperating is difficult, that is when I need to place myself at God’s feet knowing he is the Way; ask for his enlightenment, knowing he is the Truth; and pray for grace, knowing he is Life.  

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The once international corporate marketing executive is now an author and speaker who encourages people to live radiantly, letting God shine through them. Donna A. Heckler was blessed with a prominent career serving multi-billion dollar organizations and now focuses her writing at the intersection of faith and business.  Donna’s award winning book "Marketing God: Inspired Strategies for Building the Kingdom" was just released in August 2019 by OSV and is a crash course for those passionate about their faith and looking for ways to share it effectively. 

Recognized as a thought leader in brand and marketing strategy, she is co-author of the book The Truth About Creating Brands People Love. Donna penned the acclaimed book Living Like A Lady When You Have Cancer after her stage 3 cancer diagnosis. She worked through her treatments but worked even more at trying to live radiantly every day. 


God now takes a front seat in Donna’s life as she shares her journey, her beliefs, her faith in her writing and speaking. Donna reminds us to sit quietly with God and to live radiantly despite what is happening in our lives, with God shining through every day.