Sunday, October 26, 2008

Evangelizing the Religious Imagination

You may have heard of or read The Shack. My mom passed her copy on to me. Her pastor suggested it during a Bible study. My cousins read it and asked my thoughts on it. Here is a good review by Fr. Ron Rolheiser as found on his web site

Evangelizing the Religious Imagination
A novel is meant to be, first of all, a work of art. That is why it is always risky to try to use a novel to try to promote, however subtly, any political or religious idea. Apologetics, of any kind, usually does not make for good literature, irrespective of how good the cause might be.William Young, in a recent, best-selling novel, The Shack, (Windblown Media, Los Angeles, 2007) takes that risk. The son of missionary parents, Young has written a novel which invites its reader to meet God, not just in the abstract, but specifically in how God is revealed in Christianity, as Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.Without wanting to give away too much of the plot, here is the main story line: Mack, his hero, suffers a great personal tragedy that leaves him religiously numb, with a lot of unresolved questions. Through a series of circumstances, he ends up spending a weekend within which he is privileged to have heart-to-heart conversations with the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In those conversations, some of the heart of humanity and the heart of God are laid open. The book has been both highly praised and severely criticized across denominational lines. Its critics struggle with its audacity (What nerve for a mere human to attempt to speak for God!) and for the way it in which it conceives of God (as too gentle and non-demanding).Personally, I do not agree with its critics. In my view, this is an excellent book that presents a wonderfully positive and healthy theology of God. I heartily recommend it.I should perhaps qualify that with this comment: I read for essence more than for detail. No doubt there are parts of this book that would need more qualification, more theological nuance, but that is true for all theology, especially when it speaks about the ineffable, God. It took the apostolic community and the early church some 300 years to agree upon even a few basic concepts about God. So, no doubt, anyone who risks 250 pages in trying to give this a contemporary interpretation will not always and everywhere be perfect, nor to everyone's theological taste. But this effort has to be judged in its essence, not on the basis of some detail that might need more nuance. The book is not perfect, but it is excellent overall.What Young gives us in The Shack is a very healthy theology of God and an insight into the Trinitarian nature of God. Like Pope Benedict's first Encyclical, this book might too be entitled: God is Love. It is a good corrective to many popular and intellectual images of God that conceive of God as cold, distant, impersonal, and needlessly judgmental. The God that you meet in The Shack is personal, warm-hearted, invitational, loving, understanding, with a sense of humor; and He is closer to the God that Jesus preached, the God who embraces the weakness of the prodigal son and the anger of his older brother, who washes the feet of his servants, and who lets his sun shine on the bad as well as the good, than is the God that is often met in popular theology and ecclesiology. The God you meet in The Shack will walk with you, no matter what your journey, and, like the God of Jesus, wants more than anything else that we forgive each other. Judgment, this God says, is not about punishment or destruction, but about setting things right and ultimately about reconciliation and forgiveness.How does the God we meet in The Shack answer the question of evil? Pretty much like Jesus at the death of Lazarus, when he is asked: Where is God when bad things happen to good people? God, Jesus tells us there, does not necessarily rescue us from suffering and death. Rather He enters into them with us and ultimately, though not immediately, redeems them.Asked if he could have prevented Mack's daughter's death, God answers: Yes. First, by not creating at all. ... Or secondly, I could have chosen to actively interfere in her circumstance. The first was never a consideration and the latter was not an option for purposes you cannot possibly understand now. So what is God's answer to the problem of evil? The God we meet in The Shack replies: At this point all I have to offer you as an answer is my love and goodness, and my relationship with you; essentially what Jesus offers us in the Gospels, not an intellectual answer but a relationship.The real task of evangelization today is very much that of trying to evangelize the imagination, of trying to put healthy, life-giving images of God into the popular imagination. We have libraries full of scriptural and theological books that are solid and orthodox. These are important because without a solid grounding we soon go astray, but they need to be supplemented. By what? By attempts like this one by William Young which try to evangelize the popular imagination.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pauline Cooperators Speak/Writing Together

Pauline Cooperators Speak
Bringing to life the teachings of St. Paul through their stories, struggles and triumphs, joys, and their ponderings

Hello dear Sr. Margaret Charles, Rae, and all you wonderful Pauline Cooperators:

God be praised!
It is with joy to let you know that Rae Stabosz has agreed to do final editing of this book - our future book! Never mind the rules that I included in my original email (too rigid and can be confusing! :-)

Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry would like this to be an on-going project. So, what do you say? Any comments or additions?

What to write about/contribute:
-Faith journey
-Life-changing testimony
-How has Scripture and/or the Eucharist being central to the life of a Pauline Family member strengthened your faith
-How Prayer and Adoration with the Sisters helped in your faith journey
-Spiritual growth through monthly meetings
-Specific incident wherein you were triumphant because of what you learned as a Pauline Cooperator
-Experiences in attending a Pauline Cooperator Conference
-Teaching of Fr. James Alberione and/or Mother Thecla that influenced you the most
-Ministry or ways through which you share the Gospel of Jesus Christ
-Influence of St. Paul in your life of service
-Sisters who are moderators of Pauline Cooperators’ groups, please write about the teachings of St. Paul, or your experiences as a moderator
-The struggles and joys of being a Pauline Cooperator

Determine what to write about. Write as if you are speaking to a child or a good and trusted friend. Do not worry about tenses or syntax. Pray before writing. Write from the heart.

Maximum of 1,500 words (equivalent to 3 pages of 8 x 11); 1 page is OK.

Would anyone like to do graphics of the cover of this book?

Deadline of submission: January 15, 2009. Please spread the word and encourage the PCs who are attending 18th Annual Cooperator Convention on October 31 to November 2, 2008 to contribute. Thank you :-).
Send your written work, complete name, email address and phone number to Easter Almuena at If you are not submitting your own prayer or poem, please include name of author/writer.
Optional: Include 5 things that you want your readers to know about you.
Proceeds go to the Pauline Cooperators’ Fund and causes.
Please send questions or comments to me, or post them here. God bless us all abundantly!

Thank you, Sr. Margaret Charles, Rae and all Pauline Cooperators!
Easter Almuena
Pauline Cooperator of Hawaii

Thank you, Sr. Margaret Charles and Rae. And to all. God bless you all abundantly!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Updates on Sr Anne Joan's St Paul Year Presentations

Print the following page and share it with your pastor/adult faith coordinator or whomever would like to invite Sr Anne Joan, fsp to give a Pauline Year talk....

Sr Anne also has a blog of Pauline Year resources

Here is her YouTube site:
Share the Pauline mission: add this link to your e-mail or blog!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Novena to Jesus our Divine Master Oct 17- Oct 25

Prayer to Jesus our Master - Novena for the Feast Day - Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jesus, Divine Master, we adore you as the Word Incarnate sent by the Father to instruct us in life-giving truths. You are uncreated Truth, the only Master. You alone have words of eternal life. We thank you for having given to us the light of reason and the light of faith, and for having called us to the light of glory. We believe and submit all of who we are to you. Master, show us the treasures of your wisdom, let us know the Father, make us true disciples. Increase our faith so that we may attain to the eternal vision in heaven.
Jesus, Divine Master, we adore you as the beloved of the Father, the only way to him. We thank you because you made yourself our model. You left us examples of the highest perfection. You have invited us to follow you on earth and in heaven. We contemplate you in the various periods of your earthly life. We want to enroll in your school of life and grow to become whom you dream we will become. Draw us to you so that by following in your footsteps and renouncing whatever is not according to your dream, we may seek only your will. Give us a firm and lively hope! May we be caught up in the goodness of your indescribable life forever in heaven.
Click on Title above for a link to Reflections on Jesus our Divine Master & Shepherd, Way, Truth, Life

Brochure for Alba/Rome Pilgrimage Year of Paul 2009

Click on this to enlarge brochure:
In the Footsteps of St Paul
E-Mail Sr Margaret for complete brochure and for registration form.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Synod on the Word of God: Continuous proclamation of the Word of God

Dear Sr. Margaret and Pauline Family Members,

Have you read the book which Blessed James Alberione wrote entitled, “Read the Sacred Scriptures”?   This is divided into three parts, the Truth, the Way & the Life.

It is interesting that at the start of the Synod, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI shows us the centrality of the Sacred Scriptures and how we should treasure this inheritance, particularly in the midst of competing priorities in the third millennium. It will help the world re-discover that we are God's people and the dynamics of our relationship with God, and how we can make this manifest in our relationship with our neighbor. Hopefully, this could get humanity back on the same page.   

In Blessed Alberione’s book (p. 311 old pagination), he wrote under the heading “Faith in the Gospel must be:

“…d) Forceful:  The Gospel leads to conversion, but courage is needed to propose it to the lost and gone astray; courage is needed to sacrifice one’s passion to follow Jesus.”

Could this 2008 Synod and Blessed Alberione's book be springboards in preparation for 2009 World Day for Social Communication? Let me know your thoughts, please.

Margie Skeels

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

St Louis Benefit Dinner

Greetings from St Louis, MO where the sisters, friends and cooperators held their 20th benefit dinner! at St Raymond's Moronite Church Hall. Over 350 friends of the Daughters of St Paul turned out for a wonderful dinner, auction and commoradarie. Sisters who served in St Louis came in for this event as well as sisters who have family here. Sr Margaret Timothy, Provincial, attended and gave everyone a warm welcome and thanks as well as an invitation to join us in mission and to invite/support young women to join the FSP. Sylwia from Poland, a new postulant, had just arrived that week to study with Emily. Sr Rebecca Hoffart is the new Postulant guide. For this occassion My mom and I met in Atlanta and flew together to St Louis where her nieces and nephews and my cousins and Aunt live - many of them were able to join us at the benefit dinner - two of my cousins serve on the advisory board. The board has a dedicated group of men and women who have supported the Pauline mission all these years - passing on the torch to new members over these 20 years. A special thank you to all St Louisans!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

First Day of Year of St. Paul 9-Day Series in Hawaii

Hello dear Sr. Margaret Charles! And to you, dear Rae and fellow Pauline Cooperators!

What a joy it is to be able to blog here! I am feeling connected with you even if I am thousands of miles away and separated from you by the vast waters of the Pacific. I come here everyday to read updates.

Sr. Margaret Charles, please give Sr. Margaret Sato a hug for me. We miss her, but we are also enjoying the company of Sr. Irene. I love her sense of humor.

I would like to share with you our very first Pauline teaching gathering in September right here (pls scroll down). Here are some of the pics I took. Hehehe... Sr. Irene was wondering why I was taking some pictures.... hope she reads this. :-)

Sr. Linh Gioan giving the presentation. Do you see the picture of our handsome founder? (Hope I am allowed to say that. :-) Handsome as in beautiful soul. :-) ).

Just some of the participants. We were 65 all in all. I hope Sr. Margaret Sato sees this. Her mom and sister are in this picture.

Love to all! And God bless you all abundantly!