‘Hope: Our Lady of Knock’ – Original Docudrama – Premieres March 18 on EWTN

Many Catholics have never heard of the apparition in Knock, Ireland. The apparition is extraordinarily difficult to film. So why in the world did Campbell Miller, Writer/Producer/Director of EWTN’s new blockbuster film, “Hope: Our Lady of Knock,” choose to dramatize this lesser-known and difficult-to-film apparition?

Writer/Producer/Director Campbell Miller on location filming “Hope: Our Lady of Knock.”

“I wanted to tell the story of Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John and the Lamb of God and His Angels who appeared to the Irish people during a time when they needed a message of hope,” says Miller, who is Irish himself and who filmed the docudrama in his native country. “In 1879, the Irish were fighting to get back ownership of their land, which was entirely ruled by the British. There were people still living who remembered the Great Famine 40 years earlier when over 1 million people died and over 1 million emigrated…and a second famine was beginning. The mercy of the apparitions was to give a message of hope. I believe that message is as relevant today as it was back then.”

British soldiers evict Irish farmers from their homes. The massive multi-year failure of their potato crop left farmers unable to pay their rent.

This must-see 90-minute EWTN original docudrama airs 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, March 18 on EWTN, with encores at 3:30 a.m. ET and 3:30 p.m. ET, Thursday, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. But you won’t want to miss Fr. Mitch’s interview with Miller at 8 p.m. ET, the same night, on “EWTN Live.”

Want a preview of the film? On Jan. 29, Miller pre-screened the movie at the Vatican and gave Pope Francis a DVD, which you can purchase for yourself here: http://bit.ly/HopeOurLadyOfKnock. EWTN’s own Joan Lewis was at that pre-screening (read her blog here, http://bit.ly/JoanLewisOnHopeFilm) as was EWTN Vaticano, which interviewed people from Knock who attended the screening, http://bit.ly/VaticanoHopePreview.

Scene of Irish peasants evicted from their home carrying their feverish child, who is unable to walk.

To help viewers understand why the Knock apparition is so important to his kinsmen, Miller begins the story in penal times, when the Irish were not allowed to celebrate Mass and anyone caught doing so would be shot. Viewers also witness the devastation caused by the Great Famine, caused when the potato crop was decimated. Much of what was left of the crop was taken out of the country by British landlords. In many cases, the starving Irish farmers and their families were then enticed to emigrate to the United States with false stories about the jobs that would be waiting for them. The landlords were then able to confiscate the farmer’s land.

Director Campbell Miller on set with the actress who portrays the Virgin Mary and the makeup artist who transforms her.

A hush fell over the set when the actress portraying Our Lady appeared. Finally, someone said: “Guys, we can talk. It’s only Danielle!”

“I want viewers to get an idea of what must have been going through the minds of the Irish people in 1879 when there was another famine and people must have thought this was all going to happen again,” Miller said. “We dramatize what happened in the famine with the poor to put the apparition in perspective. Then, we dramatize the apparition itself and what actually happened. Throughout the whole sequence you follow a family from the moment of them losing everything, to the heist by the landlord because they can’t pay the rent, to the soup kitchens, to their getting on the famine ship and going to America.”

You can get an idea of how important this film is by the spiritual warfare the cast and crew endured. Miller said his own home was broken into, someone tried to steal the car used for production, there was credit card fraud, Miller lost his assistant directors and makeup artists three times, one of the cast was hospitalized the day before going on the set, one of the wranglers got badly kicked by a horse, and more.

But Miller says: “With all that happened, we still got the movie made because we found that God always supplied. We ended up getting the best Assistant Director, the best makeup artist, and people stepped in with costumes we never thought we would have access to use!”

In fact, Miller says the makeup artist was so good that when the actress portraying Our Lady of Knock walked onto the set, “the place just went silent because she looked exactly like how Our Lady has been depicted in statues and pictures of Knock. It took about 30 seconds before someone said, ‘Guys, we can talk. It’s only Danielle!’”

The actor who portrays St. Joseph as he appears in the film: “Hope: Our Lady of Knock.

The apparitions were particularly challenging to film not only because no one speaks, but because they also don’t move.

“That is a photograph,” Miller said. “How do you make that real? We actually shot each of the apparition characters [including a real lamb in a field] in slow motion [and over 15 minutes] to give a bit more realization to it. So there is light movement, which you can’t see with the naked eye, but it gives it a bit more realism than a photograph. There are computer-generated images as well.”

Director Campbell Miller on the set of “Hope: Our Lady of Knock.”

Miller wants people to come away from the film with more than just an understanding of what happened in Ireland, although that is certainly one of the goals. A clue to the message is in the title of the docudrama: Hope.

“God’s help to the Irish people was to give them this sense of hope that things will get better. Look what the Irish people went through: having to fight for their own lands, millions dying and emigrating. They must have hit rock bottom.

“Then, Our Lady appeared. Nothing was said. She came to be with the people. When somebody is going through something, that’s what you do. You sit down with them. You don’t say anything. You’re just there. That’s what Our Lady did.

“Today, worldwide, people are under difficult pressures. When people lose hope, they go through a spiral of addictions. There’s anxiety, depression, and suicide. I want people to take away the message of hope; that things will get better. After all, if you don’t have hope, what do you have?

Come see what Campbell Miller is talking about when “Hope: Our Lady of Knock” airs at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, March 18 on EWTN.

Posted in Blessed Mother Mary, Christian Persecution/Martyrs, Church Around the World, Church History, EWTN Hosts, Employees, Shows, Suffering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

EWTN Presents ‘Fatal Flaws: Legalizing Assisted Death’

Are laws allowing euthanasia & assisted suicide leading society down a dangerous path?

Aurelia, a young woman who tells Filmmaker Kevin Dunn she wants to kill herself, offers a smile and happily accepts a hug from Dunn after the interview.

That is the question that Filmmaker Kevin Dunn asks in the incredible new documentary, “Fatal Flaws – Legalizing Assisted Death,” (DunnMedia and Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) which premieres 9:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 15 on EWTN. This EWTN Event will be preceded that same night by Father Mitch Pacwa’s interview with Dunn on “EWTN Live” at 8 p.m. ET.

Assisted suicide is already legal in California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Oregon, Vermont, Washington State, Hawaii, and even Montana, which has a Defense of Consent law – and is being debated in 25 other states. Helping people understand the experience of countries who have enacted assisted suicide laws is critical.

Filmmaker Kevin Dunn (right) with Dr. Boudewijn Chabot, now a retired Dutch psychiatrist, who opened the door to assisted suicide in The Netherlands.

To aid in this understanding, Dunn traveled through Canada, the USA and the Netherlands – ground zero in the legalization of euthanasia. He spoke with people on both sides of the issue as well as with those directly affected. Chillingly, the doctor who provided the means for the first woman in the Netherlands to be euthanized now has concerns about how far his country has gone in legalizing death by doctors.

Before the assisted suicide law was passed, this doctor admits to helping a healthy 50-year-old social worker to die. She said she no longer wanted to live after losing a daughter to cancer and a son to suicide. A court found him “guilty without punishment.”

The award-winning film “Fatal Flaws” premieres 9:30 p.m. ET, Wed., Jan. 15 on EWTN. This EWTN Event will be preceded at 8 p.m. ET that same night by Father Mitch Pacwa’s interview with Filmmaker Kevin Dunn on “EWTN Live.”

 

“The Grim Reaper” stalks people during The Netherlands’ annual Euthanasia Week.

Originally, euthanasia in the Netherlands was supposed to be for those who are terminally ill. But it has evolved to include people who are chronically ill, mentally ill, the elderly and the disabled. Soon it may be possible for those who are ‘tired of life’ or feel their ‘life is complete’ to have access to euthanasia.  Currently, youth over 16 can be euthanized, and doctors will consider a child as young as 12. Even newborns can be euthanized under certain criteria.

The doctor who opened Pandora’s box to assisted suicide in The Netherlands is concerned about how quickly the number of euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons has risen in only a few years.

Filmmaker Kevin Dunn with Candace. Her Mom was pressured to end her daughter’s life, which reduced mother and daughter to tears.

In Canada, Dunn interviews Candice, a 25-year-old woman with disabilities who was pressured by doctors to end her life during a hospital stay. In the U.S., we hear from a university professor who encountered similar coercion. Access to quality palliative care in North America is extremely limited, which begs the question: Is assisted dying really a ‘choice’?

These are just a few of the many stories you’ll see and hear during this documentary, which puts clarity to the questions above. Now this scourge has come to America.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, (www.epcc.ca/), co-produced the film, “Fatal Flaws.”

Fortunately, most U.S. medical societies have come out in favor of protecting patients’ lives and giving them the care they need rather than killing them at the lowest point of their lives. With such a consensus, some might think the battle would be over, yet even now there are people whose goal it is to make the medical profession “more comfortable with killing people” – as one doctor in the film reveals.

Replace the image of a pill or needle with a gun, says one doctor, and see how fast the discussion changes. What can we do? What can you do?

Tune into this incredible award-winning documentary to find out – and please gather your friends and family around to see this too. Consider purchasing the DVD, http://bit.ly/FatalFlawsMovie, and inquire as to whether you can show it in your parish or community group. “Fatal Flaws” will undoubtedly change minds and hearts, and will save lives – maybe even yours.

The film’s official website is www.fatalflawsfilm.com.

Posted in Culture of Death, Current Issues, EWTN Hosts, Employees, Shows, Pro-Life, Suffering, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Teresa of the Andes: Saint of Joy, Patron of Young People

St. Teresa of the Andes lived only 19 years and spent a scant 11 months in a Carmelite monastery. However, on March 21, 1993, Pope John Paul II canonized this young woman, making her the first Chilean saint and the only Carmelite of the Americas to be so honored.

How is it possible that a teenager, who spent so little time as a religious, not only became a saint, but a saint with thousands of devotees, who make a grueling 17-mile pilgrimage every year to her grave?

The EWTN Original Documentary “St. Teresa of the Andes” airs at 8 p.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 8, but early birds can also view it at midnight ET, Sunday, Nov. 3 and 3 a.m. ET, Tuesday, Nov. 11.

A scene from the EWTN Original docu-drama “St. Teresa of the Andes.”

Discover the answer to these and many other questions when EWTN premieres a one-hour original documentary on the life and mission of Juanita Fernandez Solar, also known as “St. Teresa of the Andes.” The program, produced by Journalist Magdalena Ossandon of Santiago, Chile,  airs at 8 p.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 8, but early birds can also view it at midnight ET, Sunday, Nov. 3 and 3 a.m. ET, Tuesday, Nov. 11.

(Purchase your own copy of the DVD in both English and Spanish from EWTN Religious Catalogue at http://bit.ly/TeresaOfTheAndesDVD. View the trailer here: http://bit.ly/TeresaOfTheAndes.)

The first half of the documentary takes viewers on a tour of all the important places from little Juanita’s family, educational and religious lives. But it is in the second half of the documentary that we really begin to learn about the depth of her spirituality, which gives us a clue as to why the saint is so popular, especially with the young.

Fr. Alain-Marie de Lassus of the Congregation of St. John, author of a Spanish work on St. Teresa of the Andes, is interviewed about the saint’s spirituality during the EWTN docudrama, “St. Teresa of the Andes.” filmed on location in Chile. His work is called “Dieu est joie infinie : Etude sur sainte Thérèse des Andes,” meaning “God is Infinite Joy: A Study of St. Teresa of the Andes.”

Probably the most startling assertion comes from Fr. Alain-Marie de Lassus of the Congregation of St. John, author of the Spanish work, “Dieu est joie infinie : Etude sur sainte Thérèse des Andes.” He says he believes that St. Teresa of the Andes is the only saint ever to declare that “God is infinite joy.” As he notes in the documentary, that claim is not even made in the Bible!

Fr. de Lassus believes that Jesus stole little Juanita’s heart during her First Communion. The documentary talks about that day and about the young girl’s joyful demeanor even in the midst of deprivation and sickness. Although she had a short life, Teresa endured much suffering, getting seriously ill every Sept. 8, Our Lady’s birthday!

Behind the scenes filming of the docudrama, “St. Teresa of the Andes.”

Scene from “St. Teresa of the Andes” depicting  the arduous 17-mile pilgrimage – an annual event – taken by many people, especially the young, who are inspired by the example of St. Teresa of the Andes.

Mother Angelica would have loved this documentary because it is very even-handed. On the plus side, we learn that even as a pretty young girl, Juanita cared deeply for others, and spent her time trying to catechize and help the young, the old, and everyone in between. However, she had much to overcome. In addition to all her many virtues, the documentary points out that the child was vain, impetuous, and selfish; she liked to be first in everything. In other words, she was normal.

However, once Teresa understood that God loved her, we are told that she gave all of herself to Him. “He who loves doesn’t have any other will except that of the Beloved,” she wrote. “Love is the bond of union between two souls. For love, I will fuse myself with Jesus.”

At the age of only 15, Juanita asked herself what she had done to please her Creator. She wrote: “I’d prefer to die rather than commit sin.”

St. Teresa of the Andes lived in this remote Carmelite monastery only 11 months before her death.

A scene from the EWTN Original Documentary portraying Teresa of the Andes as an adolescent.

She suffered much when she left her family for Carmel. Her father visited her only once while she was there. But she threw herself into the life of a Carmelite. As the documentary states, Carmelite novices only left their cells for choir, recreation or other novitiate exercises. But it was in her confinement that Teresa found complete freedom.

Teresa explained it like this: “A Carmelite ascends to Calvary and sacrifices herself for souls. She dies to herself and to the world. She buries herself, and her sepulcher is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From there, she resurrects. She is reborn and lives spiritually united to the whole world.”

Juanita Fernandez Solar, who would become St. Teresa of the Andes, lived only 19 years and spent a scant 11 months in a Carmelite monastery, yet she would become the first Chilean saint and the only Carmelite of the Americas to be so honored.

Teresa was a joy to all in the monastery. Yet she was humble, volunteering to do all of the lowest duties, one of which would result in her death. In fact, after 10 months in the monastery, Teresa told her superior that she would die in a month, and her death at that time was quite dramatic.

Tune into this wonderful documentary to find out what happened and to learn more about why this saint is so revered, not only by thousands of young people in Chile – who make the pilgrimage to her grave every year – but, as a canonized saint, by Catholics around the world.

Posted in Church Around the World, Saints, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defending Victims Of ISIS Genocide in the Middle East

It was only a few years ago that American television screens were filled with images of ISIS terrorists beheading, crucifying, and setting Christians ablaze for their faith. Do you remember?

It was only a few years ago that ISIS terrorists began targeting Christian homes in Iraq with the Arabic “noon” sign (N) for Nazarene. Do you remember?

It was only a few years ago that ISIS terrorists told these same Christians, “You pay fidyah (a high tax no one could afford), convert or die.” Most died. Do you remember?

IDC President Toufic Baaklini (right) at the IDC 2018 Annual Summit.

Two Catholic Christians – Toufic Baaklini and Andrew Doran – DO remember and they want you to remember too. In 2014, they formed an organization called In Defense of Christians. Their mission is to call on Christians of all denominations to unite and support their persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

“We are the voice of the voiceless – no matter who it is,” IDC President Toufic Baaklini told Father Mitch Pacwa on a recent episode of “EWTN Live,” http://bit.ly/EWTNLiveInDefenseOfChristians. This includes minorities of all faiths. Unfortunately, 80 percent of religious persecution in the world is against Christians, yet Baaklini says they have not had the support that some of the other faiths have enjoyed.

“The Shiite Muslims, they depend on Iran,” Baaklini said. “The Sunni Muslims, they depend on the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. Christians, they always look to the West, and we need to support them. We need to support our brothers and sisters.”

Displaced children in Erbil, who fled the ISIS genocide.

To insure this is more than just talk – or even just a lot of publicity – Baaklini and Doran put together an advisory board of high-level officials and ecumenical religious leaders that reads like a who’s who of Christianity.

The Roman Catholic side includes New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez. But the board also includes Melkite and Maronite Catholics, the Orthodox Archbishop, well-known Evangelicals, and Lebanese American political figures such as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.

Being Christians, the organization launched with an historic prayer service that included six patriarchs from the Middle East who prayed in the Aramaic, Latin, Syriac, and Armenian languages. “This was the first time they had prayed in one room in 600 years,” said IDC President Baaklini. These historic prayers powered the advocacy that immediately followed.

The destruction of Christian homes and churches in Syria is overwhelming.

IDC’s first battle – getting genocide recognition for ISIS victims — was the hardest fought.

“When you say Christian, no one wants to talk about it,” Baaklini continued. “[A previous Administration] only wanted to designate the Yazidis [whose religion includes elements of many religions]. We had the Knights of Columbus on our side. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson is the best human being. He stood by us.

“The Knights usually don’t do work like this; even the USCCB had never done work like this. The KOC were unbelievable. They started the Stop the Christian Genocide campaign. They helped a lot to make people aware of it [by distributing pins, scarves and more with the “noon” for Nazarean symbol that so many people put on their Facebook profiles.]”

A displaced family in Erbil, who fled the ISIS genocide.

“We put a lot of pressure on Congress” to get an official declaration of genocide recognition for all ISIS victims – Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria. Accomplishing this “was a major victory for us” because this allowed monetary aid to follow.

While there are 15 million Coptic Christians in Egypt, who are citizens, Baaklini says they have no voice. “They cannot get high level jobs with the government, they can’t worship freely, they can’t fix their churches [which have been burned down].” A few months ago, President Trump met with the President of Egypt. “The first question he asked was: “How are you treating the Christian Coptics?”

During the IDC’s annual summit in 2017, Vice President Mike Pence announced a new Trump Administration policy to provide direct help to persecuted Christians and Yazidi victims of ISIS genocide.

“So far, they have given more than $300 million – now $360 or $370 million – in direct aid to Christians in the Middle East.” Baaklini said.

Baaklini says he thought it would take years for the promised money to make its way to the Middle East, but he said “a couple months later, the money started flowing in.”

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean all is well for Christians in Egypt. “A few weeks back, neighbors were burning Christian homes,” Baaklini said.

A statue of Our Lady is desecrated in Syria.

So IDC is now fighting to change the governor of the Egyptian province in which this happened or for the appointment of a Coptic co-governor to insure Christians are treated fairly.

IDC also helped put pressure on the Turkish government for Protestant Pastor Brunson’s release even though he did not know him. During the period that IDC was testifying before Congress, Baaklini says “[t]he Turkish government hacked our computers, phones, and put the Turkish flag on our website. We are not afraid.”

Baaklini, who is married with one college-age daughter, is not kidding. He frequently travels to the Middle East, even though he acknowledges that the only safe place for Christians is in Lebanon. “I know that I’m in danger, but nothing will stop me.”

A displaced family in Iraq.

He says his wife and daughter are supportive of his work, but the question remains: Why would this family put themselves in harm’s way for Christians in the Middle East?

To answer this question, Baaklini points to his family lineage. He has a great uncle whose descendants gave him more than 250 cousins. “He had a big family; he was Catholic,” Baaklini said, laughing. “He told his kids [about the persecution of Christians]. It’s happened with him, with me, with my dad, with my great grandparents. For 1,600 years, this has been happening.”

A young girl from Alqosh in Northern Iraq, who fled ISIS genocide.

Enough is enough. Baaklini wants the persecution to end with his generation. He says: “We need to make sure the Christians of the West stand with their brothers and sisters.”

Most people don’t realize that 80 percent of the religious persecution in the world is against Christians. “Here in the U.S., we don’t feel it. Now, after the awareness and advocacy, people are understanding it better. If a Christian is hurt anywhere in the world, we should care.”

Baaklini cares.

Baaklini remembers.

Do we?

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‘Faith on the Frontier:’ Winning the West for God

It’s hard to imagine an American alive who hasn’t seen a movie or TV show about life on the American frontier. We’re all familiar with legendary frontiersmen such as Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone, and Davy Crockett. But outside of serious students of Church history, few know the names of Catholic frontier missionary evangelists such as Jesuit Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, Dominican Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, or Father Francis Craft, a diocesan priest.

Portrait of a missionary in the snow.

That oversight is about to be remedied! Your view of both Catholic and American history will be forever changed when you tune into the EWTN Original Documentary “Faith on the Frontier.” The one-hour program premieres 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 25, and re-airs at 10 a.m. ET, Thursday, Sept. 26 on EWTN. The premiere will be preceded by an “EWTN Live” with “Faith on the Frontier” Writer, Director, and Producer James Kelty at 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 25.

“You will leave this film with a distinct feeling of friendship with these men,” Kelty said. “These were strong men, strong priests, strong missionaries, who braved incredible challenges and difficulties in a tempestuous period of American life. Although these men never knew each other, each had a huge impact on the development of Catholicism in the U.S. from the Midwest to the Upper Plains to the Far West.”

“Faith on the Frontier” Writer/Director/Producer James Kelty in Montana.

At the end of this program, you’ll also learn which of these priests is on track to one day be canonized.”” Here’s a quick snapshot of the three priests to wet your appetite for learning more.

Father Francis Craft, diocesan priest.

“Fr. Francis Craft was a survivor of the Battle of Wounded Knee. He tried to separate the warring parties and got stabbed in the middle of it,” Kelty said. “A wild man who was good with a six shooter,” Fr. Craft braved winter storms on the Great Plains while on horseback during the 1870s and ‘80s in an effort to convert the Lakota and Sioux tribes.

At the time, it was generally accepted that it was not possible for the Native Americans to be converted. But Fr. Craft not only evangelized the tribes, he never wavered in his resolve to found an order of Lakota/Sioux sisters. He was determined to prove that the Indians could be of service to their own people – and he did!

Father Pierre-Jean Desmet, S.J.

“Father Pierre-Jean De Smet of Belgium was “a colossus of a man and a priest,” says Kelty. He arrived in the fur trading outpost of St. Louis a mere 20 years after the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. He spent 20 years preparing for what he always knew was his destiny to travel west. That preparation included learning many of the Indian languages.

When the time came to make the trip west, which was arduous for the most fit of pioneers, he fell ill with malaria. Incredibly, he didn’t let that stop him. Kelty says he spent most of the trip “flat out on a wagon,” suffering for three days with no water when his fever was highest, and enduring outbreaks of violence that included travelers biting off each other’s noses. That sheer grit and ability to speak the native languages allowed him to successfully evangelize the Salish (or “Flathead”) tribe in Idaho.

Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P.

Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli was an Italian Dominican, who set off for Cincinnati and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with no money and no ability to speak the Native American languages, trusting in God to guide him. Even though he was well aware that the Jesuits had been expelled from the area in the 1830s and hadn’t seen a “black robe” in 70 years, Fr. Mazzuchelli, as an architect and church builder, managed to found and build 43 separate parishes.

The above is just a snapshot of what these men endured to bring the faith to America. Follow in the footsteps of these frontiersmen, as Kelty and his crew travel to Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Montana and to the parishes – still there! – that these men were responsible for building.

Of course, it takes a lot of teamwork to put together such a film. Kelty thanks EWTN Director of Acquisitions John Elson for the name “Faith on the Frontier,” and his staff for brainstorming the concept. He credits Marquette University Archivist Mark Thiel for recommending the priests featured and for providing him with a constant stream of important information, Dominican Sister Mary Ewens, for helping him understand how Fr. Craft founded a Native American order of nuns, and Jesuit Father Michael F. Steltenkamp, for helping him understand the ways that Jesuit missionaries were able to go into Native American communities and evangelize.

“Faith on the Frontier” Writer/Producer/Director James Kelty,

“The Knights of Columbus chapter in Galina, Illinois rebuilt one of Fr. Mazzuchelli’s churches, St. Augustine, in a tiny hamlet near Galina,” Kelty said. “We filmed that. His communities along the Mississippi river are still very devoted to him.”

But there is one name Kelty mentions whose impact was far greater than any of the above.

“Faith on the Frontier” Writer/Producer/Director James Kelty.

“So many times, God has stepped in and helped me do this,” Kelty said. “We had amazing things happen in our favor: snowstorms coming in, fog clearing, sun breaking through just when we needed it. We had a Montana snowstorm, which was spectacular. I’ve gotten film production values that people spend fortunes to recreate in studios. Atmospheric wonder is one thing, as a filmmaker, I felt fortunate and blessed to get.”

Come, experience the wonder of America’s frontier priests when “Faith on the Frontier” premieres on EWTN.

Posted in Bishops, Priests, Religious, Church History, EWTN Hosts, Employees, Shows, Missions/Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How To Combat The New ‘Dark Ages’ Which Threatens To Consume Us

It was a time when female infanticide was so rampant that men outnumbered women by 30%. However, we’re not talking about female infanticide in China today, (which unfortunately is much worse), but female infanticide in the First Century A.D. and throughout what was known as the Dark Ages.

Ironically, the satanic push for infanticide occurring in U.S. and elsewhere in this century is quite literally bringing back the Dark Ages and stripping women of the very rights that the Catholic Church – yes, the Catholic Church – helped them attain.

This is just one of many inescapable conclusions that any student of history cannot help but draw after reading Father William Slattery’s amazing new book, “Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests Helped Build – And Can Help Rebuild – Western Civilization.” From the title, readers can see that Father covers all the foundations of Western Civilization from music, art, and drama to free-market economics. But here we focus on the conflict that is currently roiling the United States: infanticide and women’s rights and what we can learn from world history.

Fr. William Slattery speaks to “Bookmark” Host Doug Keck about his new book, “Heroism and Genius,” http://bit.ly/BookmarkSlattery.

Fr. Slattery tells us that in the First Century A.D., female infanticide “grew to such horrendous levels…that in Italy, Roman North Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean area, males outnumbered females by about 30 percent.”

In discussing this phenomenon on a recent episode of “EWTN Live,” Host Fr. Mitch Pacwa noted that unwanted female infants at that time were literally thrown onto a hill outside the walls of Rome where they would be eaten by wild dogs. Christians would comb through the trash at night to try to save as many babies as they could.

What most people don’t know is that it was the Catholic Church that rammed through legislation in 325 AD making female infanticide in Rome a criminal offense, possibly with the death penalty attached to it. But as we all know, laws don’t necessarily change hearts and minds. Catholic priests continued to fight this attitude from the First Century through the 12th Century.

In fact, Father Slattery says that Catholic priests were quite literally the only “light” throughout the Dark Ages as they began saving these “foundlings” by allowing them to be left at churches and monasteries. To deal with this crisis, they would also establish orphanages, schools, hospitals, maternity-care centers, and other institutions. During this time, societies of lay Catholics whose sole purpose was to care for these children also sprang up to help in this lifesaving work.

Just as the Church stood for the rights of these unborn female babies, it loudly asserted that women had an equal dignity to men, a concept that was unheard of at that time. It asserted that men and women had different genes, but that they were complimentary and necessary to each other.

Says Father Slattery: “The romantic culture created by the Church in Medieval Times led to the abolition not only of infanticide, but the abolition of abortion, a tremendous cause of the deaths of countless women, and to the elimination of polygamy and to adultery as a female-only offense in ancient Rome, [meaning that only females could be charged with the crime of adultery].

Father William Slattery on “EWTN Live,” http://bit.ly/EWTNLiveSlattery.

“Throughout the Middle Ages, the Church constantly held up the rights of wife as equal to the husband. Women having right to vote, the right to the property they came into their marriage with, the right to their own profession.”

Father tells us that there are records of women being lawyers, plasterers, doctors and even Crusaders, as well as rulers like Queen Blanche of France, and military leaders like Joan of Arc. “Men obeyed Joan of Arc because of a culture that respected women, and while it didn’t normally expect to have a woman as a military officer, it was able to accept that some women would be given an extraordinary mission from God which would put them in that position.”

What’s important about the history – and all of the history outlined in Father Slattery’s extraordinary book — is the fact that it is so relevant for us today.

“The first barbarians believed in marriage, believed men and women were different, believed in God, believed God should be worshiped,” Father said. “Even though they were primitive as regards their idea of justice – for them, vengeance was justice – nevertheless there were fundamental principles they held to be sacred. The new barbarians don’t hold to any of those principles. Therefore, we can say in all legitimacy, that we are entering a new Dark Ages.”

Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.

The Romans throwing babies to the wolves sounds barbaric – and it is. But is it any less barbaric than what is happening in many U.S. hospitals today when a newborn, who has survived being poisoned in an abortion, is left alone to die, with no food, no water, and no human companionship even as its pitiful cries are ignored by those who jobs it is to save the baby? Is it any more barbaric than discovering that these babies are often thrown in a trash bin or their body parts are sold to the highest bidder?

Fr. William Slattery talks to “EWTN Live” Host Fr. Mitch Pacwa about his new book, “Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests Helped Build – And Can Help Rebuild – Western Civilization,” http://bit.ly/EWTNLiveSlattery.

Father Slattery’s must-read book, “Heroism and Genius,” is the antidote to a second Dark Ages that, once again, threatens to consume us.

Note: To purchase this book from EWTN Religious Catalogue, please go to http://bit.ly/HeroismGenius.

Posted in Bishops, Priests, Religious, Church History, Current Issues, Pro-Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Suffering: Finding Hope and Healing in the Trials of Life

He’s a marriage and family therapist who started a ministry to heal couples and families. Little did Dr. Bob Schuchts, founder of the John Paul II Healing Center, know that he would one day have a need for exactly the kind of healing he preached – and for the support of the community that he himself created.

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THE SCHUCHTS FAMILY: Dr. Bob Schuchts (back left) with his late wife Margie (front left); his two daughters, Carrie and Kristen; their husbands, and grandchildren.

This week, the author of “Be Healed: Encountering the Powerful Love of Jesus in Your Life,” (http://bit.ly/BeHealedDrBob), and “Be Transformed: The Healing Power of the Sacraments,” was interviewed on EWTN’s “At Home With Jim & Joy,” about his new book, “Real Suffering: Finding Hope and Healing in the Trials of Life,” http://bit.ly/RealSufferingBook. The book shares what he learned from the suffering and death of both his beloved wife Margie (short for Margaret Mary) and his father, who died within two weeks of each other in 2017.

His daughter, Kristen Blake, traveled to EWTN with her dad for his appearance on “At Home With Jim & Joy. (Watch Part 1: http://bit.ly/realsuffering1, and Part 2: http://bit.ly/RealSuffering2. Purchase at http://bit.ly/DrBobOnEWTNJJ.) When her mother became terminally ill, Kristen moved into her childhood home with her husband to help her dad care for the woman they both loved. She says her dad’s marriage and family therapy practice took a giant leap forward, along with his faith, when he founded the “John Paul II Healing Center,” where she serves as the Office Administrator, https://jpiihealingcenter.org.

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One quote from a book by Father Jacques Philippe changed Dr. Bob’s view of his wife’s terminal illness: “It’s not so much suffering that hurts us, it’s the fear of suffering that hurts us.”

She says: “What [my dad] has taught for so long, he has now lived. The fruit of being able to say that the Lord was with us and inviting people into that, has been amazing. The prayers, Masses, phone calls, and support [from our community] has sustained us.”

Providentially, Dr. Bob had already agreed to do a series of videos on suffering when both his wife and dad came down with terminal illnesses. The videos he was working on featured testimonies from people suffering from an abortion, from the death of a spouse, and from cancer.

But as Dr. Bob was going through this valley of the shadow of death, he began to focus not only on the painful illness and death of his wife and his father, but on the impact it was having on his entire family, including his brothers, his sisters, his two daughters, their children and his eight grandchildren – all of whom belong to the same parish. After the videos were completed, Dr. Bob decided to write a book – the fruit of his lived experience and his prayer.

“As I prayed, I began to see Jesus as the model of how to suffer physically; Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, as the model of how to suffer emotionally, Simon Peter for how to heal spiritually,” he said. “I focused not only on how to suffer, but how to find hope and healing in the midst of suffering.”

To prepare his commentary for the videos, Dr. Bob also read the Encyclical by St. John Paul II on human suffering as well as “Interior Freedom,” a book by Spiritual Master Father Jacques Philippe. One quote stuck with him: “It’s not so much suffering that hurts us, it’s the fear of suffering that hurts us.”

Margie and grandson Will

Before going home to her Lord, Mrs. Margie Schuchts enjoyed spending time with her newest grandson Will.

Says Dr. Bob: “Father Jacques Philippe explains that it is the fear of suffering that hardens us. Entering into the suffering softens our hearts, opens us, frees us. Every time I wanted to pull back and deny, I remembered his advice: ‘Don’t be afraid.’ Every time fear came, I said to myself, ‘Don’t harden. Don’t self-protect. Bring it to Jesus.’”

How does a person sustain hope in circumstances like this? Dr. Bob said he found his hope in God.

“Once in prayer, I felt the Holy Spirit saying: ‘Would you be willing to risk her [your wife’s] salvation for a little more life?’ I said, ‘No!’ He said, ‘So where is your hope? In having a longer life or in where she will be for eternity?’”

grandchildren

The Schuchts’ eight grandchildren. Although the youngest grandchildren, who were very close to their grandmother, they hung back as she got sicker. Daughter Kristen’s inspired act of love showed them they didn’t have to be afraid!

Unlike most people, Dr. Bob had spent years reflecting on different kinds of suffering, and in helping others do the same as part of a ministry that not only spans North America, but countries overseas. He says all of the prayers and support he and his family received “kept up a level of hope that God was doing something more beautiful than what we were experiencing here. It was a beautiful time, but a hard time.”

When he was younger, Dr. Bob also endured the death of his brother who had fallen away from his faith and his family and eventually contracted AIDS. “I had seen the incredible healing that happened in my family. Watching his conversion, his witness, took away a lot of the fear. He was so radiant with the Holy Spirit. It gave me a great sense of hope that God would be present and doing things for us. I thought no matter what bad is happening now, something good will come of it.”

God’s presence manifested itself in many practical ways. His wife had a brain disease that sometimes caused her to lose control of her limbs. At one point, Dr. Bob was the only one in the house with Margie when her arms began to flail. “Usually, I would pray and things would calm down.” But this time, they didn’t.

Dr. Bob and Margie at granddaughter's baptism

PROUD GRANDPARENTS: Dr. and Mrs. Schuchts at one of their granddaughters’ baptisms.

Dr. Bob saw the frantic look on his wife’s face and he says his prayers became equally frantic. “Jesus, please help, please help.” Immediately, he remembered that one of things his daughter often did was play music. His wife had a favorite worship song so he quickly put that on. She calmed down.

He says this is only one example that helped him see that “God is present and He meets us right here and right now.”

About a week before his wife died, she began to lose the ability to speak. Dr. Bob could see she was struggling to say something to him and he strained to hear it. The last thing she said to him was: “Thank you for your kindness towards me.”

Margie with her daughters

IN THE END, THERE IS ONLY LOVE: Margie Schuchts (center) with daughters Carrie and Kristen. In a eulogy to her mother, daughter Carrie said: “In these last few months, I’ve experienced greater intimacy with my mom than I have in my entire lifetime.”

“To have those be the last words… I went after that and started to pray. There was a lot of sadness. I said, ‘God, how am I going to hear her needs if she can’t express them?’ I sensed Him saying, ‘You still have other forms of communication – touch, non-verbal communication.’”

He later spoke with his sister-in-law, a nurse, who told him the same thing: “The eyes – sometimes that is even more intimate.’ That became a real grace over the next two weeks. A gaze that fixed. The two of us looking at each other. God’s presence in the middle of that.”

Dr. Bob said his grandchildren, who were 3 and 5 at the time, had been very close to their grandmother, but they were scared to see the changes taking place. But instead of hiding them away, Dr. Bob said his daughter Kristen sat one of them on his wife’s lap and said, “’You don’t need to be scared of Dodo [a pet name]. Look in her eyes. It’s the same Dodo.’ They saw her kind, loving look. After that, my granddaughter wasn’t afraid. She needed the kids and the kids needed her.”

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EWTN Religious Catalogue offers Dr. Bob’s “Real Suffering” and “Be Healed” books, as well as a DVD of his guest appearances on “At Home With Jim & Joy” at http://bit.ly/RealSufferingBook, http://bit.ly/BeHealedDrBob, and http://bit.ly/DrBobOnEWTNJJ. Dr. Bob’s other books, a study guide, journal, and parish streaming pack can be found at JPIIHealingCenter.org.

Dr. Bob also remembers resisting the idea of hospice putting his wife in a hospice bed, where he would be unable to lie with her and hold her hand at night. Instead, the family moved Margie onto their sectional sofa. She sat in the seat in which she liked to watch TV and the entire family gathered around her.

“We ended up spending the last two nights on the couch, watching and being with her as she was dying. It was hard, but beautiful.”

The final chapter of Dr. Bob excellent book includes eulogies from his two daughters, which demonstrate why it’s so very important for a family to walk with their loved one until the end – and not cut that important time short, as society often demands.

Dr. Bob and Margie dancing

A PICTURE IS WORTH 1,000 WORDS: Dr. and Mrs. Bob Schuchts! Said Dr. Bob: “Every time I wanted to pull back and deny [my wife’s terminal illness], I remembered the advice of Father Jacques Philippe: ‘Don’t be afraid.’ Every time fear came, I said to myself, ‘Don’t harden. Don’t self-protect. Bring it to Jesus.’”

In her eulogy, daughter Carrie shared that her mom was typically the one who gave, insisting, for example, that she be the one to do the dishes. During her illness, she allowed the family to give back. Carrie says: “So that’s what we did. We loved her. And we loved every second of it. Don’t misunderstand me. It was hard! Hard to see her suffer. Hard to hear her mumbled and desperate sounds. Hard to feel her confusion. But it was also beautiful because, in my heart (and the hearts of many others), there were no longer barriers and pretenses or defenses. Just love between us.

“This type of love is different than a feeling; it’s a knowing. Like the knowing you have when you wake up six times in the middle of the night to feed your newborn baby. No one chooses to lose sleep, but you choose to nourish and cherish the vulnerable life that is before you. In these last few months, I’ve experienced greater intimacy with my mom than I have in my entire lifetime. I think we all have.”

The book ends with this reminder from Dr. Bob: “Our suffering will end. But if we keep our focus on Jesus, our faith, hope, and love won’t ever end. Neither will our lives have an ending. Death and suffering do not have the final word. They are merely birth pangs giving way to a life that is no longer fragile. We are all being born into a world where there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering, and no more death. There will only be glorious, unblemished love shared between all of our loved ones, who are finally whole. We will be completely healed because we will be in the presence of the Source of all Love: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have nothing to fear in our temporary suffering because his perfect love casts out all fear.”

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‘If This Is The Way, I’m In:’ Your Pro-Life Call to Help Society’s Modern Day Orphans

Lisa Wheeler, President and Founder of Carmel Communications which promotes faith-based films, came to EWTN to deliver two very personal messages:

First, foster care and adopting children out of foster care should be part of the Church’s pro-life agenda – and you don’t have to adopt or open your home to a foster child to be of immense service in this area. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to help!

Second, whether you are having a hard time adopting or you’ve never even considered adopting or fostering a child, please take the time to pray about it. “People don’t realize that, right now in our country, there are over 100,000 children who are legally free to be adopted. So many children are waiting for homes. People say it’s so hard to adopt. It’s really not if you know where to go. If you want to build your family, there are children who need homes and who are waiting.”

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Lisa Wheeler, her husband Timothy, and their two adopted children at the Kennedy Space Center. The Wheelers are also fostering three brothers whom they hope to adopt!

Wheeler and her husband Timothy have fostered many children, as you will learn if you watch the two episodes of “At Home With Jim & Joy” on which she appeared. (Watch http://bit.ly/LisaWheeler1 and http://bit.ly/LisaWheeler2.) Of the five children the Wheelers have at home, two are adopted out of foster care. In addition, for the past three years, she and her husband have been fostering a group of three brothers, whom they are trying to adopt. This is a woman who knows of what she speaks! So let’s begin with this foster/adoptive mom’s own story. Wheeler says the first four or five years of her 21-year marriage, she wasn’t worried about the fact that she hadn’t gotten pregnant because she and her husband were traveling and enjoying their personal time together. “It wasn’t until I was around 33 or 34 that I started saying, ‘We’re not doing Natural Family Planning or using any form of contraception [Wheeler is a devout Catholic so this wasn’t an option], and I’m not getting pregnant so something is wrong.” So began the doctor’s visits in an effort to fix the problem. “That’s when I found out I had severe endometriosis — ovarian cysts – that were likely the reason I couldn’t have kids. I had surgery. Months went by, years went by, and I still wasn’t getting pregnant.” Wheeler says it wasn’t until years 10 and 12 of her marriage that she started to get desperate. That’s when she began talking about adoption, but to her surprise her husband was adamantly opposed to it. She would later discover this was not because the children would not be theirs biologically. It was the idea of paying for a child that struck the wrong cord with him.
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Lisa Wheeler is President of Carmel Communications, which promotes faith-based films, so her daughter Elizabeth, adopted out of foster care, sometimes has the opportunity to go to events where she can meet priests such as Bishop Robert Barron.

“So flash forward to around year 14. We were sitting in Church and there was an announcement from the pulpit about an information meeting about foster care and adoption at the local Department of Children and Family Services. I perked up because when I was in college, I had done some work advocating for children in foster care, but I had always been on the side of helping reunite families – so I wasn’t putting it together [that this could be a way to build our family.].” Wheeler and her husband went to the meeting and he surprised her again by saying, “‘If this is the way we can build our family. I’m in.’ My husband has a servant’s heart. To him, it was not only that he could potentially be a dad, but he could be helping kids in difficult circumstances. We went through hours and hours of training with lots of intrusive questions and psychological evaluations. Our daughter came to us on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2011. She had just turned 3.” There’s a lot to be learned from her story – and Wheeler doesn’t shy away from the hard issues. She admits: “Not everyone is called to this. If you really feel you HAVE to have a biological child, your option, as a Catholic, is to utilize a method that is morally acceptable in order to get pregnant. If you still can’t [conceive], then you face a lifetime without a child.” That wasn’t a choice for Wheeler, who was desperate to become a Mom. “I never questioned – for me – that I wouldn’t be able to love a child who wasn’t biologically mine. What I’ve learned is that God has given me the ability to love these children more than I ever thought possible.  My heart has grown so big parenting them that I don’t know how it could be better than this. I experience all the same fears, anxieties, hopes, and dreams that I would have experienced had I been able to give birth naturally.” But what happens if a foster child is reunited with his or her parent, and there is no path to adoption, which is a real risk and a common objection to foster parenting?
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Lisa Wheeler’s son Malachi, adopted out of foster care, is baptized as his sister Elizabeth (in green), also adopted out of foster care, looks on!

“We’ve gone through this 15 times,” says Wheeler, in explaining how she has personally been able to do this. “But when you think of what the alternative is for this child… Isn’t sacrifice the essence of parenting? It’s at the very heart of cooperating with God in the creation and culture of life. And so how can we, in our selfishness, say this is too much for me to bear? When you think about that child, life is too much for them to bear without a parent, without a family unit. To me, that’s a much greater pain than the one I experience from their loss.” Wheeler says the foster children who have passed through her home will always be a part of her family’s lives. She keeps in contact with the children, if the parents allow it, and she maintains a wall with photos of every child. In some cases, she is able to post a current photo of the child next to the one she took years ago, and she talks to the five children she has now about all the children who have passed through their home. What Wheeler doesn’t discuss, until pressed, is the faith that underlies both her words and her actions. ”I had a priest very early on introduce me to the devotion of Mary, Undoer of Knots. This was way before Pope Francis made it popular. I really feel like, under that title, Mary has a special devotion to children who are in desperate situations. I have sensed her working miracles through that devotion. She is invoked daily.  Each of my children have an image of her in their rooms – a small painting, as well as crucifixes and rosaries – we are very sacramental in our home. My own personal spirituality is around the Carmelite communion of saints. We have images of the Blessed Mother everywhere. You can’t get around my house without running into her somewhere!” She’s also clear about how important a faith-filled perspective is to her success. “When my mother was dying, I said, ‘I don’t understand how people can go through this type of suffering and not believe in God.’ I feel the same way about foster care. I know there are people who do it who aren’t religious. But quite frankly, I’m flabbergasted at how they are able to manage the stress and to deliver the right portions of virtues that I think are necessary for raising kids to pivot towards Goodness. Virtue is based on understanding what a perfect Good is; we believe that to be God. If you don’t have a Godly worldview, how do you teach a child to pivot towards the Good?”
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Lisa Wheeler, who is a passionate advocate of adopting children out of foster care, says her faith is the key to her success and she has passed that on to her children. Here, her daughter Elizabeth kisses a statue of St. Philomena. But the Blessed Mother, under the title of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, is Lisa’s favorite saint. “We have images of the Blessed Mother everywhere. You can’t get around my house without running into her somewhere!”

But what if you have prayed about it and you don’t believe you are called to parent a foster child? Can you still help? Absolutely, says Wheeler! “I think priests [and laity], especially those who are not only in a pro-life ministry but in religious education and faith formation, need to be aware that in their pews are likely foster families who have welcomed children into their home and who are parenting them in sometimes really difficult circumstances. It would be a great extension of the pro-life work of the Church to have the ministry include support for foster families.” So what does she recommend parishes do on a practical basis? Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Set up a closet in the church or the church hall with the basic supplies a foster family needs in a crisis. When Wheeler got the call about the girl who would eventually become her daughter, it was 3 p.m. and she was told she had to be ready to accept the child in two hours. She had no diapers, no sippy cups, no clothes, nothing. “If parishes can accommodate just a small closet that parishioners could restock time and time again, that would be a huge help!”
  2. Provide a meal. Foster children often stay in a home for only a weekend or a few weeks. These transitions are hard on the family. “Meal help is such an easy thing to do and it’s a real benefit to families fostering children.”
  3. Babysit – or provide some other type of respite care.
  4. Help drive children to practices or games. Wheeler says four of her five children are involved in sports and they all have to be in different places.
  5. Help with homework, or tutor a child in a particular subject.
Wheeler says getting involved in foster parenting and adoption is actually a very Biblical thing to do. “We are the adopted sons and daughters of the Father,” she says. “Over and over again, God is giving us a command through Scripture as to how we are to live as His sons and daughters, and adoption is a very consistent theme in the Word. Men in particular are called to be a father to the fatherless. I think people of faith should be very intentional about praying about how God wants to use them as foster parents, which is the modern orphan crisis of our time.” Want to learn more? Click on the links above and go to https://nfpaonline.org (National Foster Parent Association) and www.adoptuskids.org to find children waiting for your love.
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Spiritual Advice From A Retreat Master for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity

Father Donald Haggerty is a priest-in-residence at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but he travels the world giving retreats to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (MOC), who are close to his heart. That’s because he spent his first year studying to be a priest for the MOCs, before deciding to become a diocesan priest.

Fr Haggerty and Fr Mitch on set

Father Donald Haggerty (left) on the set of “EWTN Live” with Host Father Mitch Pacwa.

Despite assignments in Ethiopia, and St. Agnes Parish in New York, as well as teaching moral theology at a seminary in New York, Father Haggerty has always found time to write. Recently, he visited EWTN to talk about his newest book, “Conversion: Spiritual Insights Into An Essential Encounter with God.”

Hear him talk about his book in a wonderful interview with Fr. Mitch Pacwa at http://bit.ly/EWTNLiveFrHaggerty, and enjoy two tremendous homilies lauded by viewers at http://bit.ly/HaggertyEWTNMassFeb27, and http://bit.ly/HaggertyEWTNMassFeb28. You will also want to stay tuned for an interview he recorded for an Aug. 18, 2019 airing on “EWTN Bookmark” with Host Doug Keck, https://ewtn.com/bookmark.

But because he is a retreat master for the MOC, “Inside EWTN” was interested in Father Haggerty’s recommendations for a good Lent. As you will see below, this priest does not disappoint!

One of Father’s best stories is about a French doctor who lost his faith as a youth, recovered it in his 40s, and became a Trappist monk! Later in life, the former doctor found himself a bit disappointed by the Trappist life. He said he had expected a seriously contemplative monastery, but found that, while his fellow monks lived an ascetical (penitential) life, they were not deeply prayerful.

“Twenty years later, he was elected Abbot,” Father Haggerty said. “He said to the monks, ‘I’m telling you, under obedience, that when you are in the monastery fields working, each of you is to stop one minute seven times a day and offer your life completely to God – with a serious act of love for God. You will do it on your own; no bell will ring. After one year, he had a monastery full of very contemplative, very prayerful monks!”

Which brings Father to one of “Inside EWTN’s” favorite recommendations:

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Father Donald Haggerty

Value the small minutes.

Think of all the time we “waste” every day – time when we are waiting — in line at the grocery store, at an ATM, at the gas pump; time when we are waiting for others to join us for a meeting or a meal. How often do we take out our phones during those wasted moments and scroll through them looking for diversion?

But Father says: “Value the 5 minutes, the three minutes, you have. Give your FULL mind to God in an act of love. One minute — that’s a long time if you’re truly turning to God. God blesses you for that.”

Father said the MOC’s Rule requires the sisters to go into the chapel for at least a minute many times a day, including every time they return to their house to greet their Lord, and when they wake up after rest time.

Make a Point to Enter a Church Every Day.

It’s wonderful to spend an hour with Our Lord in Church, but if you don’t have an hour, don’t let that stop you from making a short visit with Jesus to show Him you love Him.

“Place yourself before the Sacred Mystery of the Blessed Sacrament. Even a few minutes will have an effect on you. During Lent, we often think about penitential acts, but turning to Our Lord and Mary in a positive way is the best beginning. Go to Mass, not as a penitential act, but as a beginning of a spiritual life. That’s Number One!P

Fr Haggerty bookPractice Mental Austerity!

“We have to be careful that our thoughts are not dominating us,” Father Haggerty explains. “Are they judgmental, negative, or critical or full of memories that are useless at this point? Make an act of self-denial – not that you deny the thought, but you make a positive act to turn to another thought. It could be a prayer – a Hail Mary. Try to turn to a healthy thought.”

Father says we must become conscious of all the “indulgent” activities we do with our minds using various forms of entertainment, including computers, television, and reading. Says Father: “Make an effort to take your mind back to more focused living.”

Pray a Rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy Every Day with a Specific Intention.

“A nice intention in Lent is to pray that Catholics come back to the Sacraments, especially confession; and to pray for those who have not been practicing their Faith or who have lost their faith.”

Fr Haggerty smiling

Father Donald Haggerty

Substitute Scriptural Reading for Secular Media.

Father notes that when we go on retreat, we usually don’t keep up with the news, where we are often assaulted by negativity. He suggests reading a chapter of the Gospel, other than the Mass readings, or the Psalms every day. “Certainly, during Lent, read through the Passion Gospels, which are beautiful and full of more detail than the rest of the Gospels.”

While in the Seminary, Father said he said seminarians were told they should try to read Chapters 14-17 of John – the Last Supper discourse — every day.

Have Some Hands-On Contact with the Poor.

Who are the poor? Where do we find them?

Father Haggerty says: “It could be a relative, or an elderly person in a nursing home. There are so many lonely people in nursing homes. It could be a soup kitchen. It could be somebody you pass frequently on your way to work or on the way home. Make contact with that person. Have some words on a daily basis; make a donation. Let’s do something to engage our HEARTS with the poor. I think that affects our life with God. Once you take a liking to the poor, you cross a threshold, and you want more of that.”

Spend Time Before a Crucifix or a Photo of the Shroud of Turin and Surrender to God.

Father Haggerty says holiness is all about surrendering ourselves to Jesus. He suggests that we frequently say the Surrender Prayer given to us by Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo, an Italian priest, now a Servant of God, who had great interior sufferings and about whom St. Pio spoke glowingly.  The prayer is simple yet profound: “Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.”

What a relief!

Want more? Click on the links above to hear Father Haggerty’s interview and homilies or to purchase his books, which are available from EWTN Religious Catalogue.

 

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EWTN Employees: The Lenten Penance That Changed My Life

Lent begins Wednesday, March 6, 2019 – so we, as Catholics, have less than two weeks to decide upon the penitential gift we want to give our Lord this Easter. To give you ideas and, we hope, some inspiration, “Inside EWTN” asked employees, hosts and friars to share what they believe was their best Lenten penance ever – and to explain why they feel it made a difference in their lives.

Please let us know if any of these ideas inspire you. We would also love it if you would share the Lenten penance that made the biggest difference in your own life!

CrucifixionMarie White, Accounting: “My best Lenten penance was becoming a Committed Adorer at my local parish. Our Adoration Chapel is open 24/7, and I used to think I was too busy with extracurricular activities to make this commitment work. Now, after almost a year of belonging to His faithful army of Adorers, I realize that I have grown much closer to Christ and that I was missing out on spending more time with Him!”

Catherine Hadro, Host of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly: “One year, I gave up secular music while driving. I either listened to Christian music or drove in silence; it gave me more opportunities for prayer! Last year, I decided to write one handwritten letter a day to a family member or friend during Lent; it enabled me to tell my loved ones how much I cherish them!

Ximena Izquierdo de Rivas, Media Missionary Manager for Latin America and Spain: “For me, the best penance that started with Lent was to quit drinking Coke! My mom is addicted to Coca-Cola , so I decided to offer this penance to ask for her healing [from a disease for which sugar is a problem] and to stand in solidarity with her. But after Easter, thanks be to God, I was able to continue that penance for the whole year! Now, I don’t drink Coke except on super special occasions!”

Debbie P., EWTN News, Inc. Advertising: “This year I plan to get a large trash bag and, every day, take something I no longer use, or have too many of, and put it into the bag so at the end of the 40 days, I can give it to someone else so they can benefit from the item(s). I’m very blessed and would like to help others. It would help declutter my life and help me focus more on God’s message of being more Christ-like in giving and sharing.”

Nail and crossFr. Matthew Mary, MFVA, Director of Pilgrimage: “The best penance I ever did was giving up all social media. It is very challenging, and yet very rewarding. We tend to become too dependent upon social media [so much so] that it begins to affect our spiritual life. This can be a good opportunity to detach from the need for continual input and to focus on developing our relationship with God by sitting quietly in the presence of the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration.”

Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency / EWTN News: “Every Lent I commit to saying the Office of the Readings and one hour [Matins, Vespers, etc.] of the Liturgy of the Hours. It is a beautiful way to bring prayer and Scripture into Lent, while making sure I better sacrifice my time for God.”

Tom Graye, Radio: “The best Lenten penance that I ever did was to quit smoking! I did it ‘cold-turkey’ after asking the Holy Spirit to help me. It certainly helped me grow closer to Jesus, not to mention the health advantages. I haven’t had a cigarette for 15 years!!!”

Anonymous EWTN Employee: “My best Lenten practice was the Lent that I decided to go to Daily Mass at 6:30 a.m. Yes, it meant that I had to get us SO much earlier! Yes, it meant that I did not get to hear the morning news programs. But, what life-changing joy! So many mornings, I heard readings that I did not recall ever hearing before and each reading seemed to be selected just for me and the issue that was troubling me! I found that my stressful workdays seemed to go by more smoothly and when [things go wrong] I can bear the stress much better. Why didn’t someone tell me how wonderful it was to go to Daily Mass?

“I wonder what this next Lent will bring?”

Note: Looking for some great Lenten reading? Click here: https://bit.ly/2IAlovv. “Inside EWTN’s” personal favorite: “In Conversation With God – Vol 2: Lent & Easter: Daily Meditations by Francis Fernandez.” Check it out at https://bit.ly/2tD7sGu,

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