Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Streaming TV: Living Mindfully in a Digital World

During the unique experiences of these recent months, we may have found ourselves spending more time individually and as a family watching movies, television, and streaming series. It’s a great time to catch up on our favorite shows, but it also affords a little time to consider how as Christians we can watch our media reflectively and mindfully, sharing together the content that is aimed to entertain as well as inform. 

As a media literacy educator and reviewer, I watch a lot of movies and streaming shows in order to be able to reflect on theology and the popular culture. So I always question how we can integrate a reflective, spiritual life with all the media we consume and create. It requires us to be critical engagers of the culture rather than passive consumers of all the messages it communicates. 

The Second Golden Age of Television

Television is coming into its own once again. Many critics call this the second Golden Age of television because of the exquisite storytelling that is now required to gain viewers’ attentions, to watch not just one episode but the entire series. 

One of the most intriguing is a series on CBS called Bob Hearts Abishola. It premiered on September 23, 2019;  in January, 2020, CBS ordered Season Two. It tells the story of Bob, a middle-aged Caucasian businessman in Detroit who has a heart attack and ends up in the hospital where he meets the Nigerian nurse, Abishola. For most of Season One, Bob tries to get Abishola to go on a date with him and to meet her family---her aunt, uncle, and young son. It is a great comedy after the likes of King of Queens or Everybody Loves Raymond. The beauty of the show is its uniqueness. In expressing the beauty of each person’s race, each character does not put down the other but humorously pokes fun at each one’s idiosyncrasies. And that makes for great comedy. 

Credit: © 2020 photo by CBS. All rights reserved.

There is so much on television and streaming services that can inspire and uplift such as The Great British Baking Show, or Sweet Magnolias on Netflix, as well as the Star Wars’ The Mandalorian on Disney+, or The Neighborhood on Amazon Prime. There are also those shows that require more thoughtful and questioning approaches because of the issues dealt with or the resolutions to moral situations presented. Among these are Ricky Gervais’ After LifeThe Good Place, and the mini series Unbelievable. Then there are shows that present a completely amoral view to life, offering all actions and behaviors on the same moral playing field, a relative free-for-all, such as Upload, Tiger King, or Hollywood. Media literacy is a crucial skill for our digital age. It’s a learned practice that takes discipline, and it is something that families can do together, especially during this time. So, what is media literacy, anyway?

According to the Center for Media Literacy, media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and participate in the media we encounter. That is, we stop and reflect on all that we see, hear, and feel when we engage with media messages. It is important to know that all media are constructed. Even reality shows are scripted and created according to the desired outcome, more or less, of the director and producers. 

All media are created using specific techniques to grab our attention. Examining story structure and storytelling techniques are ways to understand how a show is made and why. However, that is only one part of being media literate. The crucial part is asking questions: Why is this message being sent? What values, ideologies, lifestyles or points of view are being communicated? For Catholics, the faith perspective means that we bring Gospel values and the example of Jesus into conversation with those messages. This is media mindfulness. 

It follows the 4-step methodology of theological reflection (listen, reflect, dialogue, act) helping us to go deeper as we ask critical questions of the media experience. 

Credit: © St. Mary’s Press. Used with permission.

We ask: What is going on? What am I seeing, hearing, and feeling? 

Then we question: What is REALLY going on? Who pains? Who gains? 

The third step connects our Christian values: What difference does it make? What Christian values does this media experience support or ignore? This step helps us question the values the media artifact communicates to examine if it is in accord with what we believe and what the Church teaches. It has to do with morality, the good and bad of actions, but also with spiritual values and our existential longings. 

Finally we examine: What difference can I make? What response seems appropriate in light of my Christian beliefs? This is the hardest step to concretize. What do I take away from this media experience? Does it challenge me? Does it reveal some social issue that begs my concern? Does it open me up to different points of view? If so, what action will I take as a result? 

As an example, take the Netflix streaming show, All American. It is a show for older teens to watch with their parents. 

Credit: © 2020 The CW. All rights reserved.

So, following the first step of the media mindfulness process, we ask: What is going on? The show is loosely based on the true story of ex-NFL player Spencer Paysinger from South Central LA recruited to play football for Beverly Hills High School. This drama addresses many teen and family situations but especially looks at people making mistakes with drugs, alcohol, or relationships and how the truth always comes forward. 

We ask: What is REALLY going on? The show addresses some serious issues with regard to gang violence, truthfulness, self-sacrifice, parental acceptance, insecurity and the morality of those issues, while also always presenting the consequences of a character’s actions.

The third step is essential: What difference does it make? How would Jesus treat others? This step helps us examine what our faith values really mean in our everyday lives. What does it mean to be honest about our mistakes and realize that the “truth will set you free?” Who in the show is not being truthful? How does that affect their relationships? Is lying ever justified or morally acceptable? 

Lastly, we ask: What difference can I make? My take away could be that I will examine my relationships and commit to always being truthful and to encourage my friends to face their mistakes honestly. 

Living Media Mindfulness

With each step of the Media Mindfulness method, we begin to reflect more deeply and profoundly on our media entertainment. This can be done for streaming shows, movies, music as well as social media posts, and used in the family as a way to talk about the programs shared together. It helps each member reflect on whether there are messages that support our Catholic beliefs or not, and why. That way we are teaching our children to be engaged and critical thinkers. Living our faith has to be understood concretely in the daily choices we make, even our entertainment. Discernment, then, becomes a daily practiced skill in the family. 
 
We are called, as Catholics, to live our faith in the here and now, in the concrete and tangible experiences of our lives, and that includes our digital media experience. When we do, we may be surprised by the grace of God that is reflected back to us from the art of popular culture to challenge us to be more authentically human and engaged digital citizens. 
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Sr. Nancy Usselmann, FSP 
is the Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles, CA and a Media Literacy Education Specialist. She is a theologian, national speaker, film reviewer, and blogger for bemediamindful.org and Catholicmom.com. Her book A Sacred Look: Becoming Cultural Mystics is a theology of popular culture published by Wipf & Stock. Sr. Nancy has degrees in Communications Arts, a Masters in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and certification in Catechetics and Media Literacy. Sr. Nancy is an Executive board member of CIMA (Catholics in Media Associates) and a member of NAMLE (National Association of Media Literacy Educators), SIGNIS (World Catholic Association for Communicators) and THEOCOM (Theology and Communications in Dialogue). 






Tuesday, June 23, 2020



St Paul...A Heart Gripped by the Love of Christ & Souls


NOTE: Our guest author this week is Sr. Jackie Jean-Marie Gitonga, FSP, who is the National Director of the Association of Pauline Cooperators (APC). If you would like to receive Sr. Jackie's regular newsletter of inspiration and information for lay Paulines, please email her at jgitonga@paulinemedia.com and ask to be added to her mailing list. 

Dearest Members of our Pauline Cooperator Family, 


+Praised be Jesus!

How are you doing? I hope you are finding your strength and consolation in the many graces that the Lord is pouring upon us in these days during the month of our father St Paul. Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart! Happy Feast of the Immaculate Heart! And soon to be...Happy Feast of our father St Paul! We have a lot to be grateful for. As St Paul tells us, what is it that we have not already received? Let us count our blessings even in the midst of the trials we face during the pandemic. Let us offer these gifts back to God in thanksgiving and trust, asking Him to heal our hearts, our families, our nation and our world. 

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Novena to St Paul the Apostle: June 21 to 29
Pauline Family Feast Day: June 30


You can pause at 4.50 for the reading and then resume for Responsory and Magnificat. 

Antiphon: 
O St. Paul the Apostle, preacher of truth and doctor of the gentiles, intercede for us to God.

After that, Saul began to harass the Church. He entered house after house, dragged men and women out and threw them into jail. Antiphon.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Sir,” he asked. The voice answered, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.” Antiphon.

For he who worked through Peter as his apostle among the Jews had been at work in me for the gentiles, and they recognized the favor bestowed on me. Antiphon. 

With my many more labors and imprisonments, with far worse beatings and frequent brushes with death. Antiphon. 

And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Antiphon. 

But by God’s favor I am what I am. This favor of his to me has not proved fruitless. Antiphon. 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on a merited crown awaits me; on that day the Lord, just judge that he is will award it to me. Antiphon. 

Daily Readings for the Novena to St Paul

Responsory: 
V. You are a vessel of election, O St. Paul the Apostle.
R. Preacher of truth to the whole world.

Antiphon for the Magnificat:
Our Father and apostle, St. Paul, you are preacher of truth and doctor of the gentiles. Intercede for us to God who chose you.


Magnificat 

Sing along with the sisters, "Proclaim the Greatness of God" >>>

Refrain: 
Proclaim the greatness of God, rejoice in God my Savior,
Rejoice in God my Savior


For He has favored His lowly one and all shall call me blessed
The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His Name.

He favors those who fear His name in every generation
He has shown the might and strength of His arm and scattered the proud of heart.

He has cast the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly
He has filled the hungry with all good gifts and sent the rich away.

He has helped His servant Israel remembering His mercy
He promised his mercy to Abraham and his children forever more.

Antiphon for the Magnificat:
Our Father and apostle, St. Paul, you are preacher of truth and doctor of the gentiles. Intercede for us to God who chose you.

Let us pray. 
Lord God, You appointed Paul your apostle to preach the good news of salvation. Fill the entire world with the faith He carried to so many peoples and nations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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You can be assured of my daily prayers for you as you will be in those of my sisters during these days of grace for all of us in the Pauline Family. Do not hesitate to ask for that particular grace you need to become more like Christ. We can confidently come to our spiritual father, St Paul, whose heart is truly the heart of Christ and will see to our every need as his beloved children. God bless you!

In Jesus Master, 
Sr. Jackie Jean-Marie Gitonga, FSP
National Director of Pauline Cooperators
Great Resources for Prayer and Reflection
Just Mercy (2019) is Streaming Free for the Month of June!

This film tells the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), known as Johnny D, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering a young white woman in Monroeville, Alabama, and sentenced to death even though there was overwhelming evidence of his innocence. A young Harvard Law graduate, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) moves to Alabama to begin the Equal Justice Initiative dedicated to offer good legal representation to those who are wrongfully convicted or too poor to afford legal guidance through the complexities of the justice system. The evil of racism rears its ugly head as Stevenson perseveres in saving Johnny D's life and the lives of many other African-American males unjustly put on death row. This film points out the flaws in our legal system and the need for judicial reform.


Cooperators Unite Zoom Conference Meetings are Changing!

Beginning July 2020, meetings will be on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm (Eastern Time)

We hope that you will continue to join us for "Cooperators Unite" Video Conference meetings on those Wednesdays as we share, pray together to strengthen one another in our Pauline journey especially in these difficult times.

Pauline Cooperator News 

Cooperator Website Profiles Still Needed!

We are continuing to update our Pauline Cooperator website with "testimonies" of Promised Pauline Cooperators.  Your story as a Pauline Cooperator is important! So many people are attracted to become Pauline Cooperators through the witness of your life and seeing how the Lord has been at work there.... 




Christine Dufresne, APC (Boston, MA)
Christine Dufresne, APC at crdufresne@comcast.net and Patti Anderson, APC at patti0301@yahoo.com will be contacting you by email with a brief set of questions and request for a profile picture.

I hope you will generously consider providing your information to them so that many more can see the Pauline life radiating in you and join our Pauline family way of holiness!


Patti Anderson, APC (St Louis, MO)
Pauline Cooperator Teams

We are still looking for volunteers to be part of our Pauline Cooperator Teams. We have five teams that take care of different aspects of our Pauline life: 

- Formation Team
- Membership Team
- Media and Marketing Team
- Finances and Funding Team
- Archives and History Team

Please pray about it and sign up below. Get ready for an adventure with and in Christ our Way, Truth and Life!


Catching up on the Pauline Family
Daughters of St Paul from Around the World
2020 Course of Preparation for Perpetual Profession
Welcome back to the USA, Sr Khristina Galema, FSP! Sr Khristina is one of our sisters in the USA English speaking Canada Province who has been in Italy with her co-novices (18 in total from 8 countries) for the past 11 or so months preparing for their final vows. Please keep Sr Khristina in your prayers as she now prepares for her final celebration to becoming a Daughter of St Paul forever! Details to be communicated later. If you would like to reach out to Sr Khristina and assure her of your prayers and spiritual offerings in these days, please contact her at kgalema@paulinemedia.com. Thank you for your prayers for vocations. O Jesus Eternal Shepherd of our Souls, send good laborers into your harvest!
Eternal Rest, Theresa (Martin) Osthoff, HFI

Theresa (Martin) Osthoff, 71, of Berlin Center and a member of the Holy Family Institute, died unexpectedly Saturday evening at her residence. She was born in Youngstown, OH, trained as a psychiatric nurse and worked in different facilities for many years. Theresa was an avid runner, loved and showed Arabian horses, and enjoyed traveling, especially to visit family. More information about Theresa can be found here >>>

Eternal rest grant unto Theresa O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace, Amen!
An Evangelization Ministry by the Dangond Family, HFI

Fernando Dangond and Monica Lacouture are Holy Family Institute members who started this great initiative in memory of their beloved daughter, Christina Dangond

BUILD THE FAITH INC creation was inspired by the faith in God of Christina Dangond Lacouture, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on December 12, 2012 at the age of 6 years. During her long fight against cancer, Christina gave us a beautiful testimony of strength, courage and an unbreakable faith in God. She taught us that it is indeed possible to live through the most difficult situations in life with a beautiful smile and a profound confidence in Jesus, always saying “Jesus I trust in you.” Read more 

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Sr. Jackie Jean-Marie Gitonga, FSP was born and raised in Kenya, Africa. She discovered her calling to religious life during her doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She joined the Daughters of St Paul in 2009 and after her first profession of religious vows, she was involved with Pauline Cooperator formation and traveled extensively to make the Word of God available through faith formation, media and vocation talks, movies and retreats in schools, parishes, conferences as well as different social media platforms. She professed her final vows in May 2019 and is currently serving as the National Director of the Pauline Cooperators in New Orleans, Louisiana. She enjoys traveling, songwriting, creative writing, cooking, hiking, dancing, biking and sharing faith and life with people of all walks of life. She can be reached at: jgitonga@paulinemedia.com.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What COVID Taught Me About The Pauline Heart

During my three years of formation with the Daughters of St Paul, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with amazing people from the various members of the Pauline family.  Besides the Daughters, I’ve had the joy of encountering members of the Society of St Paul, Pious Disciples, Annunciationists, Gabrielites, Holy Family, Institute of Jesus Priest, and many Pauline Cooperators.  I have always been touched by the instant connection there is between members of the Pauline Family – no matter where we are from in the world, we know immediately that we are family.

But ironically, it wasn’t until the world was living through quarantine measures for the COVID-19 pandemic that I realized, on a much deeper level, the common fire running through the veins of a Pauline that makes us such close family.

“One love, Jesus Christ, one burning desire, to give him to souls.” –Blessed James Alberione



Every member of the Pauline Family is united in one ultimate love – that of Jesus Christ.  We honour Jesus as Master, Way, Truth and Life… our Master with the heart of a Shepherd, as our Sisters of the Good Shepherd reveal to us so significantly.  When we love Jesus, truly love him and open ourselves to his transformative love working in us, we become more like him.  And like him, our hearts are ignited with a burning desire to share God with others.

During the COVID-19 crisis---still far from being over---people were being put in situations in which they’d never found themselves before.  Isolation exacerbated mental and emotional health struggles in some, and quarantining trapped others in abusive homes.  Many began to question what it was that they had lost when the world shut down around them.  Many sought to understand more deeply why they felt strange about not having access to the Mass.  The cry of humanity became more concentrated, it seemed.  And Paulines around the world, themselves seeking to grow closer in trust and love of their beloved Christ during this time, heard that cry with Christ’s own ears.

It was during this time that I saw a sudden explosion of creativity from the Pauline Family across the world.  That fire, lit by the Holy Spirit, was fanned into flame by the breath of all those voices crying out to God in their isolation.  God was feeding our burning desire to share him with others.

Over the first several months of the pandemic, apostolic activity burst out even as public spaces closed down.  The Society continued to televise Masses for people to make spiritual communion.  The Daughters took their voices online, making video content especially geared to those in isolation.  One IGS priest visited his parishioners across town with Jesus in the Eucharist, holding him out in a 

monstrance outside their homes for them to adore, 
and shared an encouraging video of it online.  Cooperators found ways to call community members to help them feel supported, and posted spiritual encouragement on social media. Pious Disciples cared lovingly for vulnerable priests.  Gabrielites shared Gospel readings and novenas over Facebook.  And every member of each institute, including those unable to participate in active apostolic initiatives directly, offered their own prayers and sufferings for the salvation of all men and women.

One afternoon in particular, as I was blown away by all I was seeing and hearing from the Pauline Family across the world,  it really hit me – as Paulines, we all share the same heart.  As Father Alberione said, we have one love, Jesus Christ.  And we have one burning desire, to give him to souls.  This is the love that bursts with creativity in the wake of the challenges and sufferings of humanity.  This is the desire that does not allow us to stay discouraged, but always urges us onward.  This is our sharing in the Shepherd’s heart of our Master.  This is the heart of a Pauline.

Let us continue walking forward together, united in this “heart of Paul, heart of Christ,” always open to the creative action of the Spirit in hard times, and always desiring to bring others into relationship with him we love most!

How blessed I am, our dear Cooperators, to share this heart with all of you!

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Sister Orianne Dyck grew up between Manitoba and Ontario, Canada, and worked for 5 years as a teacher before entering the Daughters of St. Paul.  She is currently in formation as a novice in Boston, MA. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Just One Minute



"Elegance", by Clarissa Cervantes, all rights reserved. 

What if we could stop for one minute a day to make our lives better…. wait a second! ... stopping for only one minute, that’s not that hard for some improvement, I can do this, let me try….

Got it!

One minute is all it takes to have one dream, one goal and to make one important phone call, to solve one pendent issue and to be grateful for one beautiful thing that happened during our day (don’t even need to write or create a gratitude list!).

It is not always easy to stop what we are doing but necessary, not a half way multi-tasking stop but a full stop surrendering our time with thanksgiving, this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. When God answers our prayers in a crisis or works miracles on our behalf, we quickly give thanks, but showing our gratitude shouldn't be limited to special events. 

One-minute prayer: Please Help Me!

One-minute gratitude: Thank you!

One-minute care: I Love you!

One-minute counseling: Guide me!

One-minute companionship: Be with me!

Counting my blessings refreshes and revives my soul specially during this difficult COVID-19 times. So often it is easy to become Martha-like, busy with preparations and focused on all there is to do, when we do so, we overflow with frustration and impatience. The Paschal celebration we hope to enjoy becomes impossible when our hearts are overtaken by murmuring and discontent.

The key to having a thankful heart is the fruit of time spent in the presence of God. It only takes one minute to start!

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Clarissa
 Cervantes has been a Pauline Cooperator since 2017. A poet, photographer, physical therapist and researcher, she strives to create beautiful and meaningful Catholic images and articles to inspire and uplift readers. Clarissa holds a B.A. in Physical Therapy, where she found her solidarity, vocation to help as well as to deliver comfort to people all over the world through her images and words. A wife to Richard, she works and serves with her husband by doing mental health research with minority populations in need as well as research on causes such as homelessness, substance abuse, HIV, immigration and incarceration in Los Angeles.