Friday, September 28, 2012

Print is Alive and Well: My CPA Midwest Wrap-Up

Last week, I had the great good fortune to attend the Catholic Press Association Midwest Regional Conference, hosted here in Peoria.  The editor of The Catholic Post, Tom Dermody, and his staff at The Catholic Post organized a terrific two-day meeting, and I for one came away with many great ideas and insights.

Regular readers of Reading Catholic will note that I usually refer to Tom as "my editor," but I started to feel strange about that, as if being "my editor" is his only job, working on polishing my monthly column for the print edition of The Catholic Post and giving me advice about writing and other things.  But however much it may surprise you (she says jokingly), he is actually really busy, whether in putting out a newspaper every two weeks, or organizing regional conferences.

That's one point of this post: to acknowledge and praise the work of print journalists in Catholic press, and share with my online comrades the amount of work that goes into print publications.  Back before there was an Internet, I worked in newspapers, magazines, and then in media relations during the high-tech days when we used to fax press releases to reporters.

Because I now work primarily online and love so much about it, I had forgotten the intense amount of effort goes into print publications, until I got the chance to be with those print journalists for several days.

My ultimate message for Catholic people active online?  Keep doing it, but at the same time be sure that you are supporting and reading print publications.  If you don't already subscribe to your diocesan newspaper, please take a moment to do so.  Here's where you can subscribe to The Catholic Post, for a start.

There are also many worthy national print publications.  Having those "strewn" around the house for kids and adults to find is a way to create a Catholic culture in your house.

One real-life example:  Several months ago, my 11-year-old was delighted to see Pysanky eggs featured on the cover of the beautifully-produced  CNEWA's magazine One,  since we enjoy doing Pysanky during Lent.   I'm not sure how she would have seen that otherwise; even though the magazine is online, I wouldn't necessarily have found it or linked it, and she's not online like we grown-ups are.  Because we give to CNEWA, we get the magazine, and it's "around" for people in our house to discover.

Now on to the CPA Midwest and some of my snaps from the two-day conference:

Here is Billy Atwell, director of Communications for the Diocese of Venice, Florida, and Penny Wiegert, editor of The Observer, newspaper of the diocese of Rockford, Illinois. Penny is a true force of Catholic media, being a past president of the national Catholic Press Association.  She was great to meet and hear from, as were so many others, from Chicago to downstate Illinois, to St. Louis, to Iowa to Indiana, Florida and Washington, D.C.
Here is Tom Dermody with Sonia Nelson, advertising manager of The Catholic Post.

The general session was "Communicating Across Today's Generations" by Dominic Perri, a consultant to the USCCB and others.  I don't have a non-blurry photo of Dominic, but his presentation was very informative about how different generations experience Church life.  What was most helpful in experiencing this firsthand was when Dominic broke us into generational groups each group we answered questions about what we wanted other generations to know about ours, what we wanted to know about other generations.

Here's a blurry photo of the baby boomers working on their answers.

Later that day I attended two great breakouts--one by Tammi Finch of a local web company, Web Tech Services on social media--I have tons of take-aways from that; and one by Bob Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, on "When Politics and Religion Intersect." Bob's talk was both very thorough but rather depressing (sorry, Bob!), since he explains so much of the way things are going from a legislative perspective.  Ultimately, there is hope, because there are good people in Springfield and Washington, D.C. who work for Catholic values and rights.

Before dinner, Monsignor Stanley Deptula, celebrated Mass for the attendees in the St. Thomas More chapel of St. Mary's Cathedral for the convention-goers.
Monsignor Deptula shared that that day, September 20, was the anniversary of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's ordained in this very cathedral--St. Mary's Cathedral.

After the Mass and a walk through the cathedral, we boarded a Peoria Charter Coach bus, and Pat Kellogg, who is retired from the diocese, gave us a wonderful short tour of downtown Peoria and Grandview Drive on our way to a terrific dinner at a great local restaurant.  Here's a kind of dark photo of Pat "touring" us:

The next day's focus was on Archbishop Sheen, as Monsignor Deptula, executive director of the Sheen Foundation, gave a funny and incisive presentation on "Lessons from a Great Catholic Communicator" about the life of Sheen and the cause for his canonization.  Everyone took copious notes and asked many, many questions during his talk.  Afterwards, Bonnie Engstrom, a nationally prominent blogger in the Peoria diocese whose son's healing is the "alleged miracle" put forth for Sheen's beatification, spoke about her family's experience.

I was tweeting from the conference (@ReadingCatholic on Twitter) because I had my laptop there and it was easy to do so while listening to the speakers.  In fact, tweeting an event is basically a form of taking notes, and is helpful in keeping me focused on what I'm hearing.  I tweeted for the first few minutes of Bonnie's talk, but stopped.

I had read through Bonnie's story before on her blog, but had never heard her speak in person about it in detail.  It was amazing, truly so.  I just had to close up my laptop and listen to and soak up all she had to say, and so did everyone else.  Wonderful.  The story of the alleged miracle told by Bonnie is remarkable and beautiful, and should be heard widely.  If you are in the market for a speaker for a Catholic event, please consider contacting Bonnie about it.  She had a room full of experienced journalists enthralled.

Afterwards, while we all snapped photos and talked with Bonnie in front of a photo of her son James Fulton, Tom Dermody (that would be my editor Tom Dermody) said the funniest line of the day, which I did tweet eventually:

"We have to use 'alleged' before miracle, but we don't have to use alleged before 'adorable.'"

Have you been to a conference lately?  What positive experiences and insights did you come away with?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Worth a Listen: TobyMac and Jamie Grace

(Sharing great songs that are inspiring, uplifting and/or are otherwise "worth a listen")

As I (over) shared last week, I'm not keeping under wraps any more my love of great Christian music.  Lately we've been listening to the new TobyMac release, which debuted several weeks ago at number one, the first time a Christian release has done so in 15 years.  We especially enjoy "Me Without You," but it's only been a few days since I downloaded the new album, so I'm sure we will have other favorites.

Here's just a portion of a live performance of a Jamie Grace song that features TobyMac.  

Do you have a favorite TobyMac song?  I think mine is "Lose My Soul."

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Quotable, Venerable Fulton Sheen: On Intellect

Our intellects do not make the truth; they attain it; they discover it. 

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Religion without God.

There are so many great quotes from Fulton Sheen that I am posting a selection here and there this month.   You can read some of the prior quotes here  and here , or you can search the "Fulton Sheen" label and all the quotes will come up.

I have some of my own quotes, but the wonderful and sadly out of print The Quotable Fulton Sheen (I reviewed it in my September column here) has a lot of great ones to share, as well.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rosary Victory Project Update

As I wrote about previously, several local families were inspired by one mom to spearhead an effort to get one million people to pray the Rosary on October 7, the feast of the Holy Rosary.

Michelle Rebello, a local mom, had the inspiration very recently, and she was able to pull together a number of young people, including her high school son who is web-savvy (he and several friends develop Apps), several other mom and young people who helped put together this video to explain and highlight the project:

Michelle reports that as of several days ago, there have been more than 20,000 people signed up to pray the rosary that day.  Now, that's not one million (yet!) but a terrifically good number for a homegrown effort.  I'm impressed!

Please take a moment to go "be counted" on the Rosary Victory website.  According to Michelle, likes on the Facebook page are not counted towards the total, but that's not really an issue as there are many more sign-ups on the website than on the Facebook page.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Quotable, Venerable Fulton Sheen: On Revolution

This is the choice before us: either try to revolutionize the world and break under it or revolutionize ourselves and remake the world.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Crossways.

There are so many great quotes from Fulton Sheen that I am posting a selection here and there this month.   You can read some of the prior quotes here  and here , or you can search the "Fulton Sheen" label and all the quotes will come up.

I have some of my own quotes, but the wonderful and sadly out of print The Quotable Fulton Sheen (I reviewed it in my September column here) has a lot of great ones to share, as well.

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Sheen is Still Relevant" : Guest Post by Emily Hurt of Theological-Librarian

In this month of celebrating all things Fulton Sheen, I’m delighted to share a guest post today from a very young blogger who admires and write about Peoria’s own Venerable Fulton Sheen.

Recent college graduate Emily Christine Hurt  writes about Fulton Sheen and other topics (including her job search) at Theological-Librarian.

I first encountered Emily’s writings on the Facebook page for the Catholic Bloggers Network.  Even though she writes about Fulton Sheen prolificially, I have to say that one of my favorite posts is when she describes an interview at the Library of Congress.  That's partly because my husband and I married at St. Peter's Church on Capitol Hill, adjacent to the Library of Congress, but also because I secretly I would love to be a librarian and find that a cool profession.

Emily, thank you for guest posting today, and sharing your love of Fulton Sheen.

About me and my blog:

I’m a 2012 graduate of Christendom College with a Bachelor’s in Theology.  I love Fulton Sheen, and if I were to ever pursue further theological studies, I would like to focus on Sheen.  I was born and raised mostly in Louisville, Kentucky, but lived in California for eight years.  I came back to the East Coast to go to Christendom College, in Front Royal, VA.  My work-study job in college was as a library page and desk attendant.  Since I loved it so much (enough to name my blog “Theological-Librarian” ),  I spent the first couple of months after college looking specifically for a library job that does not require a Master’s Degree.  Now I am now looking for any job that I can find.  I am also discerning whether graduate school is for me.

I started blogging in April/May 2011 while wrestling with the problem of suffering and our beloved History Professor’s cancer diagnosis.  For reasons still unknown to me, I felt the need to get my thoughts out to a bigger audience than just my journal.  

A lot of those earlier posts were more personal—they would only interest my friends or the Christendom College community—and frankly, I’m a little embarrassed when I look back at some of them.  Caroline Pollock, over at My Daily Diatribes also inspired me to blog and share my thoughts about something that was touching both of us. 

How I met Sheen and why I love him:

I first heard about Sheen in 2003, probably through some cassette tapes by Fr. Groeschel that my mother was listening to at the time. That Christmas, I read my first Sheen book, Life of Christ.  I was impressed by his writing style, his emphasis on the centrality of the Cross, and his unique explanation of Our Lord's words to Nicodemus, the Beatitudes, and more.

I kind of fell in love after that, and read everything I could get my hands on by Sheen: Peace of Soul, Go to Heaven, This is Rome, This is the Holy Land, These are the Sacraments, The Way to Inner Peace.  His books on the priesthood (Those Mysterious Priests and The Priest is Not His Own) gave me a strong admiration of and respect for the holy priesthood.

My sophomore year in college (Spring 2010), I had to write a History paper about someone who influenced modern history.  I first chose Jacques Maritain, for I don't know what reason (I stink at philosophy), but then got permission to write on Sheen, even though someone else in my section was also writing on him.  

In my paper, I said Sheen influenced history through: a) his anti-Communism, 2) his tele-evangelization, and 3) his missionary work with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.  My History Professor (not the Awesome one mentioned often on my blog) told me about Thomas Reeves' biography of Sheen, America’s Bishop, which I used in my paper and read for enjoyment.
I realized how much I loved Sheen, declared my major (Theology), and determined to write my Senior Thesis on Sheen.

During the last semester of my Junior Year (Spring 2011), because of many events in the life of the college (two of our chaplains leaving due to ill-health within 3 days, and our beloved History Professor getting cancer), I began to wrestle with the problem of suffering.  I waded through pages and pages of Sheen during Summer 2011, particularly his words on the redemptive nature of suffering.  I tried to internalize those words  and to believe that this would all turn out okay.  This helped me not to ask “Why?” too much.

By August 2011, I’d narrowed down my broad topic of “something from Sheen’s writings” to: a) his Christology, 2) his views on the priesthood, specifically on the priest as a victim, 3) suffering, or 4) the Mass.  I even thought in my over-ambition about going through Sheen’s books chronologically to see how his Christology developed.

By September 2011, however, I had chosen my final topic: “Redemptive Suffering in the Theology of the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton John Sheen.”

In Chapter One, I looked at Sheen’s view of Christ as a Savior who came to suffer, and not just a moral reformer, and at his presentation of the Cross as always present in Our Lord’s Life in his masterful Life of Christ.  In Chapter Two, I looked at Sheen’s writings on the sufferings of the Mystical Body, how they resemble the sufferings of Christ, the intensity of love and hate directed toward both Christ and His Church, and how the world hates the Church because She teaches that suffering can be redemptive.  In Chapter Three, I looked at how Sheen views the Cross as the symbol of suffering, and love and the Crucifix (the cross + Christ) as the solution to the problem of suffering.

 I concluded by saying that Sheen is still relevant, because men will always have to suffer, and Sheen’s answer to the problem of suffering will always be relevant.  (This response  was partially to answer a college chaplain telling me that  Sheen was “outdated.”)

Why I write about Sheen on my Blog:

I love Fulton Sheen, I find inspiration in his writings; and reading Sheen has helped me to grow in my faith.  This past summer, I turned to my blog as a means of explaining for my own benefit and that of my friends Sheen quotations that puzzled my friends or people on the Fulton Sheen Facebook page.  I want to spread that love and explain some of his tricky statements—similar to what are known as the “hard sayings” of Our Lord—such as his argument that “We become like that which what we love,” and the assertion that “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”  This last quote is part one of a series, “God is Not the Author of Your Heartbreak,” with Part Two on Sheen’s words that God “kept a small sample of [the human heart] in heaven,” and Part Three on how love can transform our pain.

As I end all my posts on Theological-Librarian, borrowing from Archbishop Sheen:  God Love You!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Quotable, Venerable Fulton Sheen: On Procrastination

God has promised men pardon if they are penitent, but not if they procrastinate.

Fulton Sheen, Peace of Soul.

There are so many great quotes from Fulton Sheen that I am posting a selection here and there this month.   You can read some of the prior quotes here  and here , or you can search the "Fulton Sheen" label and all the quotes will come up.

I have some of my own quotes, but the wonderful and sadly out of print The Quotable Fulton Sheen (I reviewed it in my September column here) has a lot of great ones to share, as well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Worth a Listen: 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman (The Unashamed Version)

(Sharing great songs that are inspiring, uplifting and/or are otherwise "worth a listen")

I often catch up on blogs on our first generation iPad after reading to the kids at night.  The only downside is that it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to leave a comment.  This is fine because I am often just doing a quick check-in, but frustrating when I do want to comment.

Recently, on a post I can't now locate on Dorian Speed's blog (yes, that's her real name!), various commenters, mostly fellow Catholic bloggers, admitting (some in a sheepish way) that they can't abide Christian music.  This isn't the first time I've seen this sheepishness, and it just makes me laugh.  A large portion of people have this consensus that Christian music makes them bleed from the ears.

When I read these kind of comments or see those kinds of posts, I think, I am just not cool enough for school.

You see, just started here on the blog in the last few weeks "Worth a Listen" to specifically feature Christian and Catholic artists, songs that our family loves.

And so I wanted to comment, (perhaps in a whisper,) um, hey, some people really, truly, like Christian music, and find it helpful in their faith and family life.  But I also feel a wee bit embarrassed because so many people have such an aversion to it.

Then I thought, you know what?  I'm letting my freak flag fly.  Not ashamed anymore.

I'm a sold-out, singing-along-with, iTunes library full-of, Christian music fan.  I was CCM (that's contemporary Christian music) before CCM was even considered nerdy.  I'm a total, 100 percent, Christian music geek here, and proud of it.

I'm sure I will be writing a lot more about my love of CCM in coming weeks and how it can co-exist with an intelligent, robust Catholic faith life.

For this week, I decided to feature a very popular song right now on Christian radio, Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons."  Here's what I love best about it:  when it comes on in the minivan, hearing my kids sing along (and one, who shall remain nameless, sing in a fake Australian accent): "Bless the Lord, oh my soul."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quotable, Venerable Fulton Sheen: On Anti-Semitism

For a Catholic, to be anti-Semitic is to be un-Catholic.

--Fulton Sheen, Love One Another. 

There are so many great quotes from Fulton Sheen that I am posting a selection here and there this month.   You can read some of the prior quotes here  and here , or you can search the "Fulton Sheen" label and all the quotes will come up.

I have some of my own quotes, but the wonderful and sadly out of print The Quotable Fulton Sheen (I reviewed it in my September column here) has a lot of great ones to share, as well.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Peoria Pride Video

A minor digression from our month celebrating Archbishop Sheen here at Reading Catholic.  I just discovered (because remember, no one tells me anything, that my editor at The Catholic Post, Tom Dermody, wrote a song about Peoria that is featured in this great new YouTube video.  In addition to being a kind and patient editor, and putting out the award-winning The Catholic Post every two weeks, he is a songwriter and video-maker!  That's what I call multi-faceted.

My husband and I have lived in the Peoria area for nearly 20 years, and yet I don't think of us as "Peorians" even though we clearly are at this point. But I was surprised at how emotional I got watching the video and seeing all the great landmarks, people and nature that make up central Illinois.

Enjoy this!  If you're here in central Illinois, what are your favorite places?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sheen Mass of Thanksgiving, Part 3: Wrapping Up and Keeping it Real

This is my final wrap-up post about the Mass of Thanksgiving for Fulton Sheen.  You can read Part 1 here about before the Mass (perhaps destined to be known hereafter as "the mantilla post"?), and Part 2 about the Mass itself here.

This is basically the keepin' it real edition, to explain some of the back story and to make fun of myself, share a family joke, and have an epiphany about online life and camaraderie and perspective.  I am definitely increasing the drama level here for effect, and I hope that works.  Perhaps it is only helpful to me, but I'm going to share it anyway.  Here it is:

No one tells me anything.

I'm not sure exactly how it came about, but since I'm from a big family, some of us became fond of complaining this to parents or other siblings, once we were mostly grown and away at college or starting careers.  Mom & Dad, you're going to New York to visit another sister?  Someone got into law school?  Someone has a new boyfriend?

All purpose response: "No one tells me anything!"

Fortunately this had become a family joke before most of us started having children, so we had a very strict unspoken protocol of personally talking to each sibling when a new baby was on the way.

And no other sibling could spill the beans.  This meant that to avoid awkward conversations around that time, if you had heard from a pregnant sister (or sister-in-law), you usually didn't answer the phone for a few days to be sure you weren't going to get a different sibling who might not have heard the news yet.  Which would be me because... pause for effect here... No one tells me anything!

These days my siblings and I use the expression with each other because we are all almost too busy to keep in touch.  It's also helpful to use if I am feeling left out about something with friends or those close to me, I  say that to myself, since it usually makes me laugh and realize that it's not the case, and I need to just plug on and be positive.

As perspective on what I'm going to share, keep in mind that I wasn't officially "covering" the Mass or the Sheen weekend events for The Catholic Post.  I'm a freelancer for The Post, writing my column and this blog. So I'm not in the know about every Catholic event, but I do like to sometimes write here on Reading Catholic about events from my own perspective.

So being out of the loop for me is not necessarily a bad or unusual thing--I've got my specialty here with books, and in general I like to stick to it.

My first "no ones tells me anything" moment when I found out that Lisa Hendey and a few other Catholic people I know online were coming to Peoria for the Sheen weekend.

I had another "no one tells me anything" moment after I saw late Saturday that there was some kind of reception at the Sheen Museum on Saturday night.  And there were Lisa Hendey and Alexis Walkenstein (of The Maximus Group), hanging out and having fun just a few miles away.

And what was I doing?  I was in my pjs, sprawled out with kids and dog, watching Love It or List It while also checking Facebook on my ancient iPad.  Nearby, my husband Joseph read something intelligent.  I am a morning person, so my brain shuts off around 8 p.m.  Love it or List It is just about right then.

I know this actually is exactly what I wanted to be doing then, but still... I can do that next Saturday night!  Tonight my online friends are having fun in the same area code as me.

Not only am I melancholic and insecure when it comes to online friends, but apparently I am also prone to jealousy and possessiveness.

I had one of those moments when when Brandon Vogt tweeted that he was going to see his "friend Monsignor Soseman," and I thought, hey there, Monsignor Soseman was my friend first.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Brandon Vogt, Joseph and I were friends with Monsignor Soseman when there wasn't an Internet.  We were friends with him back when you were probably still in grade school, young one!

Then I had my epiphany.

When you're feeling "no one tells me anything," remember: it's okay.  You're part of the family.

We are all part of the same Catholic online family, and I don't have to know everything, and neither do you.  If I don't know about some cool conference or some great reception (even in my own area code!), it's all good.

Just like my siblings are always my siblings, we are all family no matter what.

If you're in the Catholic online community, you're part of the tribe--there's no secret handshake or code.  (And if there is, you can just keep it to yourself, because that's not the tribe I'm talking about).  I'm part of this, and so are you, however small our impact or own little corner.

When I reach out to other Catholic in online forums like Twitter or seek guest writers or feature some great bloggers, online friendships grow and flourish.  Some day those may and have lead to real-life meetings and most won't, but we are all part of that same Catholic faith and support each other.

So if you are a Catholic blogger or Twitter person and feel left out or not in the loop when you see people posting photos or seemingly having a great time at a conference, or getting lots of comment or .....fill in your own blank here.  We all have our insecurities.  Just remember you're not alone, and I feel the same.

After my epiphany, I got out of my "no one tells me anything" mood (and my pjs) by Sunday morning when it was time for Mass.

Of course I was genuinely thrilled to see Lisa Hendey, who I haven't seen in several years.  She is just delightful and upbeat in person, as she is on her terrific, as well as her always-encouraging writing for Faith & Family Live.

Here we are with the aforementioned Brandon Vogt, whose energy and output rivals that of Sheen.

I also loved getting to meet Alexis Walkenstein of The Maximus Group, who is just as cute and endearing in person as she is online, but curses, I didn't get a photo of her.

I also got to see a lot of local friends, some that I see often and some that I don't.  Quite a few have blogs that are featured on the sidebar here, Catholic, Local and Online.  Many of them have done their own excellent blogging about the Sheen Mass.  Here are just a few of the bloggers who were there, and please let me know me if I left anyone out, and I will update here.  I am linking to their Sheen Mass post if they have one:

*Britta of "By Prayer and Petition."

*Marie of "Help Them to Heaven." 

*"I Wonder Why." 

*"Stumbling on the Way to Emmaus."

And Bonnie Engstrom of A Knotted Life.  Especially if you feel you may have had a tough day, head over to Bonnie's post about her family's experiences during the Mass. (Kind of makes me a little sheepish about those "no one tells me anything" moments).

As many know, their son James Fulton's recovery after 61 minutes not breathing after birth is what is technically called the "alleged miracle" being put forth for Sheen's beatification.

During the Mass, my husband asked me several times, "Where are Bonnie and Travis?"  I kept looking, but never did see them until after the Mass, but didn't hear about their travails with Travis' shirt and tie, nursing baby and so forth, until I read about it on Bonnie's blog.  Here's the photo I snapped of Travis and James Fulton after the Mass, Travis by this time being minus his more formal wear.

Hey! There's Tom Dermody, the editor of The Catholic Post, just behind James. I did get a photo of him after all.  Here is his CNS story about the Sheen Mass.

The Engstroms were also popular with the Catholic (and other) papparazzi. I couldn't resist getting a photo of that.

I also got to visit with the talented and energetic Brandon Vogt.  I even took a photo of him with Monsignor Soseman.

But remember,  Brandon, he was my friend first.

What's your best memory of the Sheen Mass?

Do you have an epiphany about Catholic online life to share?

What do you think about mine?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sheen Mass of Thanksgiving, Part 2: The Mass

Yesterday, in Part 1, I shared what happened before the Mass of Thansgiving.

Today, Part 2  is all about the Mass itself at the Cathedral on Sunday to celebrate local son Archbishop Fulton Sheen being named Venerable, one more step on the path to sainthood.

Oh how I wish this were a better photo of Monsignor Stanley Deptula!  Monsigor gave the terrific homily at this Mass to celebrate Fulton Sheen (here is the video link to that sermon), and he has been.  I snapped this photo in the sacristy as we were walking through to process through the Cathedral.  My photo of him giving the sermon is very far away, so this is the best it gets.  Monsignor Deptula has been on the forefront of Archbishop Sheen's cause, as it is near and dear to his heart.  The most popular tweet of Monsignor Deptula's sermon (that I saw later), was from Alexis Walkenstein of The Maximus Group, who tweets as @spokeswmn: "When God works a miracle, it is an expression of his love" - Monsignor Deptula.  Nice!

Here is the opening prayer led by Bishop Jenky.

The Mass had a lot of media coverage.  I neglected to get a photo of a half-dozen photographers on the other side of the church from here, right in my sightline, but here is Anna Yee, a local newscaster, who filmed just beside where we were seated.

There was a lot of "Catholic papparazzi" present-- here is Lisa Hendey taking photos.  I tried several times to snap a photo of my editor at The Catholic Post, Tom Dermody, who was very active taking lots of photos, but was unsuccessful.  All of my photos of him are blurs.  Here is Tom's excellent CNS version of the story of the Sheen Mass.

After Communion, I noticed my husband reading some after-Communion prayers in a book.

I read several of the prayers along with him, and then asked him to let me take a photo of the front of the book.

It's a small prayer book put out by the Melkites, an Eastern rite (but in union with Rome) Catholic Church, thus the different looking font on the front.  The prayers themselves are also very ... Eastern Catholic.  Here's a little more about the spirituality of it.  

Interesting Eastern Catholic/Fulton Sheen trivia:  did you know that Fulton Sheen was something called "bi-ritual," which means he could celebrate both Roman Catholic Mass and Byzantine Catholic Liturgy?  You can read all about that here.

After the Mass, Monsignor Deptula explained more about the positio, the large box of materials that were submitted to the Vatican for Archbishop Sheen's cause.  Copies of the positio were given to various donors and supporters of Sheen's cause. 
I was right behind a pillar, so it might be a little hard to see here the positio box (a small brown box) being given here.

Tomorrow, Part 3, will be a lot more lighthearted as I share an epiphany I had about Catholic online life through the course of the weekend.

Do you have any memories to share from the Sheen Mass?   I'd love to know how others saw the Mass.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sheen Mass of Thanksgiving, Part I: Before the Mass

As I've mentioned already, the Mass of Thanksgiving for Archbishop Fulton Sheen being named Venerable held here in Peoria on Sunday was truly amazing.

I wanted to share some personal photos from the morning, some taken with my iPhone and some (that would be the really good ones) taken by my husband Joseph on his Canon.  Because there is so much to share, this will be split into several posts.

My goals here are: 1. to introduce you to some Peoria diocesan people who are worth knowing, 2. to explain some Catholic culture and the interesting world of papal orders, and 3. to have fun exploring the sights, personalities and emotions around the Mass itself.

First, there was a lot of media interest in the Mass.  Here is Bishop Jenky being interviewed by local newscaster Anna Yee (here's the link to her story):

Our family arrived early for the Mass, and I dropped off our children in the St. Thomas More Chapel, which held overflow seating for the Mass.   Most of St. Mary's Cathedral was filled with ticketholders, and I'm not sure how those were obtained, but there was room for various people in overflow places.  People I knew who were there were split pretty evenly between those who had tickets and those who didn't.

Another family agreed to let our kids be with their family, since Joseph and I were to be in the procession.  I'm so grateful to them (hi Lucy and Rick!), because although our kids are old enough to be at Mass by themselves, it was nice to know they were covered.  I was also relieved that also in the Thomas More chapel  was another family that are pretty much family to us.

Here's a stained glass portrait of St. Thomas More, just outside the chapel itself.

The reason that Joseph and I were in the procession is that we are both members of the (yes, this is the real name) Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ hereafter).  You can read about the founding of the Order here.  

How did we come to be members of this order?  Nine years ago (interestingly, when I was pregnant with our youngest), our former Bishop, John Myers, nominated us.   He is now the Archbishop of Newark, NJ, but was in Peoria for the Mass and, a few days before, to celebrate 25 years as a bishop. After we accepted, we had our investiture with a large group at the cathedral in Indianapolis, where the annual conference was held that year. 

I could write tons about the EOHSJ, but since that would be a completely new post, I will resist.  Among the many expectations, I consider three to be most important and what we focus on:  to pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem, to support Christians in the Holy Land, and to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Joseph and I have not yet made our pilgrimage.  My desire is for our whole family to go on a Footprints of God pilgrimage (hosted by Steve & Janet Ray) once all our kids are teenagers.  I keep announcing it and putting away funds for it, so I hope it will really happen in a few years for us.

The either cool or slightly awkward part of being in EOHSJ is that we have ceremonial dress.  

Here's another one of the Ladies in her ceremonial robe and behind her, one of the Knights in his ceremonial robe.  This particular Lady's name was Judy and she has a great sense of humor, so we had a lot of fun that morning.

You'll notice the mantilla. 

Allow me a short digression here: 

I've been in Facebook and real-life conversations with young mommy bloggers about mantillas, as a strangely large number  have written or talk in the past few years about wanting to start wearing a mantilla or headcovering at Mass.  I find this completely fascinating, since I don't share the desire at all.  I share my own story that, as someone who is occasionally required to wear a mantilla, I don't recommend it for regular use.

That is just me.  Intellectually, I'm okay with whatever a woman wants to do.  But at the same time, the conversations have been pretty candid (with me saying things like, "No! No mantillas! No!").  That is definitely a completely different post, and I think Simcha Fisher or some other smart young blogger has already covered this topic and related issues in depth.

So as we were getting into our robes before the Mass, I tweeted to @BonnieEngstrom (who was in one of the online conversations along the way) something along the lines of "Putting on my mantilla for you! :-)"  My awkward attempt at mantilla humor.

Here I am, in mantilla, ready to process.  Notice my iPhone ready to snap photos.  Also notice the Jerusalem cross on the robe, an ancient symbol and one of the main insignia of the Order.

One nice part of being in EOHSJ is that when we are participating in a liturgy, we process and get to be with the celebrants beforehand, usually the bishop and some variety of priests and monsignors. Our family has a lot of priest friends, and so this is a nice chance to catch up and visit.  

Here is Joseph with Monsignor Stephen Rohlfs, now rector of Mount St. Mary's seminary.  He's a priest of the diocese of Peoria, and one of Joseph's oldest local friends and theologian mentors.  

Okay, now this is going to get confusing, if you weren't confused already.  You will notice that Joseph is not wearing the EOHSJ ceremonial dress.  That's because he actually outranks us EOHSJ folks.  

When we became EOHSJ, Joseph was already a member of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. (He's wearing the insignia of the Knighthood on his jacket).   Knights of St. Gregory the Great, who are appointed directly by the Holy Father, can also wear ceremonial dress, but aren't required to.

You can read all about the Order on the Vatican website, and no, I don't understand it very well, either.   Generally, people who have a long history of service to the Church are named to the Order.  Joseph received the honor at a relatively young age, and it's my theory ( but keep in mind here I'm a lay person and not an expert here, even though I'm his wife and biased), some of it had to do with his working prayerfully and diligently as a theologian and lawyer in Catholic health care ethics and mission, a challenging field.  

Here is Dr. Clement Cunningham in the ceremonial dress (minus the hat) for the Order of St. Gregory the Great. Dr. Cunningham is a local Peoria diocesan hero and supporter of so many wonderful local and national Catholic efforts.

Here is Dr. Cunningham being helped through the corridor between the rectory and the cathedral by the kind and dear Dick LaHood, a fellow Knight of St. Gregory the Great.  

One of the tweets I sent just before the Mass was something like, "It's really loud in here, but it's not me, but Father Apostoli and all the priests talking."

I meant it in a lighthearted way, and really, everyone was talking, not just Father Apostoli (sorry to single you out, Father!). My goal was to give a feel of what it was like to wait for the procession, behind the scenes.  The reason for the noise is there is a small corridor between the Rectory and the Cathedral, so with several dozen people talking, it got pretty loud.

I will stop here.  Part 2, coming tomorrow, will cover the Mass itself and what happened there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Local Effort Seeks One Million to Pray the Rosary

The Mass of Thanksgiving for Archbishop Sheen was truly amazing, and I'm putting together several posts about the Mass itself, replete with photos and some fun stories.  I had hoped to have this up today, but there are too many great photos and stories right now, and I need to pare it down.

Today I'm digressing for a great cause.  

I want to share an ambitious new effort spearheaded by a small local group that has a mighty goal:  getting one million people to say the Rosary on  Sunday, October 7.

Coincidentally (providentially?), it was the inspiration of a longtime friend, Michelle Rebello, who is also a member of the women's Sheen book group featured here on the blog last week.

Here's the message from Michelle: 

We are asking you to join one million of your fellow Catholics in saying the Rosary for our country on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 3 pm EST. (You can say it wherever you are, or can go to St. Vincent dePaul church in Peoria to pray it at 2:00pm right before the Life Chain.) We are praying for our country to return to God and His laws. 

Visit to pledge your support and be counted. Please help spread the word through email, facebook, twitter, etc (you can  go to those at and to help us reach our goal of one million people! 

Bishop Jenky has asked for people to consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary on that day; it would be a great way to honor Our Lady and help our country to say the rosary all together on that day. 

Thank you for all of your help in spreading the word and in praying the rosary on Oct. 7th. Remember, we need people to go to the website and put their email address there and the number of people in their family that will say the rosary so that we can tally up all the pledged rosaries--to 1 million and beyond!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quotable, Venerable Fulton Sheen: Books

Today is the Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary's Cathedral.  I think it should be an inspiring morning.

Here's a quote for today.  I have so many great ones, but when I came across this I thought, Yes!  Now here's another reason why Fulton Sheen is one of the patrons of this blog:

"Any book which inspires us to lead a better life is a good book." 

-Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Thoughts for Daily Living

Friday, September 7, 2012

Quotable, Venerable Fulton Sheen: On Children

The first question a child asks when he comes into this world is the question: Why?  Every babe is an incipient philosopher.

--Fulton Sheen, Religion Without God

There are so many great quotes from Fulton Sheen that I plan to post a selection here and there this month.  I have some of my own quotes, but the wonderful (and sadly out of print) The Quotable Fulton Sheen (I reviewed it in my September column here) has a lot of great ones I'll be sharing, as well.

This weekend is #celebrateSheen on Twitter and elsewhere, as Peoria Catholics (and many from elsewhere) will take part in a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria.  Read more about the events on the Celebrate Sheen website.  I'll be at the Mass, and using the hashtag #celebrateSheen.  I don't expect to be tweeting during the Mass, but before and after, certainly!   And my thanks for the reminder to use the hashtag from the ever-excellent Julie Enzenberger, administrator of the Sheen Foundation.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Jesus Has Been Making This Journey With Me": Guest Post for Sheen September, Mary McKean

As I was writing the title for this post, it occurred to me that "Sheen September" is a good name for this month on Reading Catholic, as the focus is many things Sheen.  Today, I'm honored to share the first of  several guest posts by Sheen aficionados.  Mary McKean is the leader of  the women's Sheen Book Group of which I'm a member, and I've known her for more than a dozen years, and as you will see, she is a longtime Sheen fan.  

Mary McKean and her husband, Pete, have been married 35 years and are the parents of  eight children ages 33 to 16, and grandmother of 16 (and counting), where they are members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Bradford.  

Mary's been a parish organist for 40 years (she started as a young teen!).  

I also want to add one fact I've known for years about Mary that I find so cool: she and her husband were in the Peace Corps in Ecuador as newlyweds in 1977. 

Mary, thanks for writing this guest post and sharing your perspective on Archbishop Sheen!

As a mother and grandmother of a large family I haven't always had time to read.  Now that my children are nearly grown, there has been an awakening in me of things set aside, and dreams unfulfilled.  I have discovered the joys of pursuing in-depth study of the Bible, and of getting to know Our Lord personally.

For quite some time I have had a desire to be a participant in a Catholic Book Club.  I wanted to learn my Faith better, and to read books that had some depth.  I have searched the area many times, but have never discovered any such group.  I joined my local library's monthly book club, and while I enjoyed it, I still felt that something important was missing.

I became a member of the Marian Catechists, which is an apostolate within the Church, whose sole purpose is to share the Faith.  I decided that now was the time to do something about this desire.  I called some friends I thought might be interested in exploring the depths of our Faith, and we set a date to begin.  I asked them each to bring a book that they might be interested in reading during the year.

Imagine my surprise when nearly everyone brought a book by Archbishop Sheen, myself included!  Considering the fact that we are in Archbishop Sheen's home diocese, and that he was just declared venerable, we decided to dedicate the entire year to his books, studying a new one each month.

What a year it has been!  I have gained so much, and have learned to love and appreciate this man.  I am always so impressed by the insights he brings to each book....insights that come from wisdom, not necessarily knowledge.  How, I thought, does he penetrate into the human mind, and understand its workings when he has no background in psychology?  I concluded that there could be only one reason:  the holy hour he made before the Blessed Sacrament each and every day of his priestly life.

I think Jesus has been making this journey with me, touching my heart with His Spirit.  Each book we've read has spoken to me, and been just what I've needed at a particular moment.  When troubled with some personal trials, Sheen's book Peace of Soul brought me comfort and understanding.  After several weeks of suffering, I was reminded in St. Therese: A Treasured Love Story, of the power of the cross when offered to Our Lord for others. My love and devotion to Mary was strengthened and increased by a study of The World's First Love.  There are many other examples.

My family and I live on a farm just ten miles from the one where Fulton Sheen worked summers helping his grandparents.  I grew up listening to his tapes, and my husband spent many evenings with his grandmother watching 'Life is Worth Living' on television. My mother read Three to Get Married as a young married woman.  All of these things have made the archbishop feel especially close and approachable.  I love his sense of humor, his warmth, and love of life. He has certainly broadened and enriched my life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Worth a Listen: Group 1 Crew's "Live it Up"

(Sharing great songs that are inspiring, uplifting and/or are otherwise "worth a listen")

I discovered Group1Crew earlier this year when they played at WinterJam.  They were easily my favorite group who played there, and there were a lot of good musical acts there.  This is a montage video of their "Live It Up."  Dare you not to dance while you hear this.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Meet a Reader: Bonnie Engstrom

I'm delighted this month to feature a young mother I know in real life as a friend, an insightful writer and influential young leader in our area.  Of course, it may be obvious that we would be friends since she loves both The Hobbit and Jane Austen, but still ....  I'm grateful for Bonnie for being willing to be featured this month, when Reading Catholic is focused on all things Sheen.

How you know me:  Along with my personal blog, A Knotted Life (formerly "Learning to be a Newlywed"),  I am also a regular contributor to the online magazine Ignitum Today.  Also, I have been honored to serve as the Associate Director for the Behold Conference for the last three years.  My husband, Travis, and I are the parents of four small children—Lydia, Bennet, James and Teresa.  We are members of St. Luke parish in Eureka.  Our third child, James Fulton, was stillborn and came back to life after being without a pulse for sixty-one minutes.  His alleged miracle is attributed to the intercession of Venerable Fulton Sheen and was officially submitted to the Vatican for Sheen's beatification.

Why I love reading:  I love reading because it makes anything possible.  Sitting in a waiting room I can suddenly be in another country, time, or world.  By reading I can connect with another's heart, see a different perspective, grow in virtue, partake in an adventure, witness forgiveness and beauty, and know the love of my God.

What I'm reading now:  Right now I am making my way through J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and I love it.  There's something about a hobbit that is so endearing.  Also, every day I read From Head to Toe by Eric Carle about a billion times.

My favorite book: For a long time it was A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, which is a slightly-scandalous-in-places memoir.  Recent favorites have been The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter.  And I will always love anything written by Jane Austen.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

First, What are You Reading? Volume 25

Here are my answers to the four questions I ask on the first of each month:
first, what are you reading?
what do you like best about it?
what do you like least?
what's next on your list to read?

As always, I hope you'll consider your current reads on your blog and/or sharing here in the comments or on Facebook.  Happy reading!

First, what are you reading?

I enjoyed, as a lark, P.D. James' new mystery, Death Comes to Pemberly.  Yes, it's set at Jane Austen's Pemberly.

I have also been on a non-fiction kick, recently finishing The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness and Happiness.

For a read-aloud with my youngest, I am also now on The Fellowship of the Ring after finishing The Hobbit last month.

What do you like best about them?

Death Comes to Pemberly was a fun, nice read.  I have not read any P.D. James before now.  She is in her 90s and is pretty popular among mystery lovers.  I'm not a huge mystery person, but I love Jane Austen so much that I gave this a try.

The Cure for Everything is predictably quirky, being written by a Canadian professor, Timothy Caufield.  I'm not sure if I'm stereotyping Canadians, and I apologize if it's politically incorrect to do so.  Nevertheless, the Canadian perspective just seems different enough from a US view, that I find it entertaining.

Caufield, as the blurb of the book states, "talks with experts in medicine, pharmaceuticals, health and fitness, and even tries out many of the health fads himself, in order to test their scientific validity, dispel the myths, and illuminate the path to better health."

Could J.R.R. Tolkein be any more quotable?  I keep stopping every page or so to repeat a line as I read it aloud.   From a recent day:

"But where shall I find courage?" asked Frodo.  "That is what I chiefly need."
"Courage is found in unlikely places," said Gildor. "Be of good hope!  Sleep now!"

What do you like least about them?

The Cure for Everything really begs a lot of questions.  Because Caufield writes about experimenting with different ideas about health, and if they work, but since he is starting the process basically very healthy, it doesn't really seem completely convincing, even with the studies he cites.

What's next on your list to read?

I am in the midst of Three to Get Married by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the next book we are reading in the women's Sheen book group I attend (I discussed the group in my September Post column here).  It's slow going for me right now, but I am also taking copious notes.

Sheen for All Readers: September Column

Here is my column that appears in this weekend's The Catholic Post. I invite your feedback here or on Twitter or Facebook.

It’s high time to visit--or re-visit-- the writings of local son Archbishop Sheen.

A few months back, Archbishop Sheen was named “Venerable,” one more step on the path to a potential declaration of sainthood.  A Mass and other events will be held in Peoria next weekend to celebrate Sheen’s new title, as well as his life and work.  What the experts call “an alleged miracle” that happened locally (see “Meet a Reader” on this page for details), has been examined and submitted to the Vatican for approval for Sheen’s cause.

No doubt, Sheen is worth reading, discovering and sharing.

So what book should you choose if you’re new or want a good recommendation among Sheen’s prolific output?

My very first review for The Catholic Post, more than two years ago, was Sheen’s excellent autobiography, Treasure in Clay.

 I still consider it the best introduction to Sheen’s writing style and his life.  I’m grateful to my editor Tom Dermody for suggesting it as a great “first book.”

As I wrote then, Sheen “is the master of telling a great story. Treasure in Clay is full of such stories; edifying, funny and illuminating, making it an inspiration for us to do more as Catholics.”

But after Treasure in Clay, I truly hesitate.  Not because Sheen didn’t write anything else “great,” but because there’s a lot of variety from which to choose.

I’ve been part of a women’s book group this past year that has read a different Sheen book each month.   What surprises me is how varied our responses are to the different Sheen works we have read.  Some women love a certain book that others have found really hard to get through.   (True confession: I’m one of the ones who found a few hard to “get through”).

 Not every Sheen book is going to speak to every reader.

Nevertheless, I want to encourage and inspire reading Sheen, and especially for readers not to give up if the first work sampled is not a “keeper.”  So I asked some local Sheen experts for some good ideas.

Julie Enzenberger, administrator of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, has a great theory on her two favorite Sheen books.

 “I always say if you don’t know Sheen read Treasure in Clay and if you don’t know Christ read Life of Christ,” said Enzenberger.  “Life in Christ explains every parable in the bible and why Jesus did what he did in terms everyone can understand.”

Monsignor Richard Soseman, a priest of the Peoria diocese who now works for the Vatican in Rome and is Coordinator of International Outreach for the Sheen Foundation, suggests the relatively unknown Old Errors and New Labels, a commentary on modern thought.

“It’s a hidden "gem," Monsignor Soseman reports, and says that his college students love it.

Others have recommended Three to Get Married, Sheen’s popular book on marriage.

Two other Sheen books are worth mention:

*Ignatius Press has a handsome new edition of the well-loved classic The World’s First Love:  Mary, the Mother of God.  This was a favorite in my book group, as well as mentioned by plenty of people asked for Sheen suggestions.

*Regrettably out of print, but a terrific compendium, is The Quotable Fulton Sheen:  A Topic Compilation of the Wit, Wisdom and Satire of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, edited by George J. Marlin and others.  This book makes looking up quotes from the very-quotable Sheen easy, as it is organized by subject.