August 27, 2009


Please pray for a documentary on Blessed James Alberione that is underway.
Blessed Alberione is Founder of the Daughters of St. Paul (media Sisters) and the Pauline Family.

Blessed James Alberione, SSP --1884-1971 -- Feastday: November 27

Incidentally, after over 100 years of cinema, cinema has no official patron saint, though some have been proposed to the Church. Perhaps she's just waiting for a saint that was actually a filmmaker? (The internet has no official patron saint either. Fr. Alberione once said: "Someday, we may be getting our newspapers through the phone lines.")

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August 26, 2009


3 Keys to Living in a Communications World--Pontifical Council President Offers Tips

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 24, 2009 (from There are three keys to living in a "culture of communication," according to a Vatican official commenting on insights from Benedict XVI's message for World Communications Day.
Archbishop Claudio Celli spoke with L'Osservatore Romano about the need to use digital technology in ways that promote the dignity of the human being.
Technology has "great possibilities and great limits," the prelate affirmed, adding that the Holy Father is not naïve when he gives it a positive evaluation.
"He [the Pope] does not forget the difficulties and problems that these technologies can create," Archbishop Celli said.
The Vatican official went on to give three keys for using technology well:
The first, he said, is maintaining the value of the human person. In this regard, the archbishop recalled, the Pope "says care must be taken when it comes to words and images that are degrading to the human being; what fuels hatred and intolerance must be shut out, as should that which attacks the beauty and intimacy of human sexuality."
A second element to the age of communications, Archbishop Celli suggested, is dialogue between people of various countries, cultures and religions.
This dialogue, he said, "should not conceal who we are because that would not be respectful of the person with whom we are speaking. It must be an attentive and respectful dialogue that sincerely seeks the truth."
Finally, friendship is an element of the communications age, the prelate stated.
"Our friendships grow in our journey as human beings," he said. "We cannot trivialize the concept of friendship because it is one of the greatest riches that the human being can have."

Sr. Helena's note: Archbishop Foley, the longtime head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (as it was called) used to give these three points: human dignity, truth, common good.

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August 25, 2009


Mickey Rourke thanks God and Catholic Faith for 'second chance.'
Priest was his 'best friend.'
Catholic News Agency (
Speaking to the Bosnian daily 'Avaz,' Rourke said, 'God gave me a second chance in life and I thank Him.'
(Mickey Rourke) 'When you fall people push you down even more. The world is full of materialism and envy. When you are famous and you fall, people don’t want you to come back. It is almost impossible to come back. It’s hard enough the first time, but the second time it’s like you don’t even exist …God gave me a second chance.'
Rome, Italy (CNA) - Famed Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke, who was at the Sarajevo Film Festival last week, told a Bosnian newspaper that he thanks God and his Catholic faith for giving him a “second chance” in life to overcome his addictions, which almost led him to commit suicide. Speaking to the Bosnian daily “Avaz,” Rourke said, “God gave me a second chance in life and I thank Him.” Rourke achieved fame in the 80s with action films and erotic thrillers. At the beginning of the 90s he left film for boxing and fell into heavy drug and alcohol addiction. According to the newspaper, during the most difficult moments of his life, his psychiatrist and his priest were his best friends. “When you fall people push you down even more. The world is full of materialism and envy. When you are famous and you fall, people don’t want you to come back. It is almost impossible to come back. It’s hard enough the first time, but the second time it’s like you don’t even exist …God gave me a second chance, the guy upstairs helped me out,” he said. Several years ago Rourke began his return to the big screen and this year he won his first Golden Globe Award for the film “The Wrestler.” Rourke was also an Oscar favorite. Now, he says, he doesn’t think about Hollywood much. “I don’t care about Hollywood and what the people of Hollywood think. I don’t think about how it works because I simply don’t care. I don’t even dream about it.” In 2005, when he began to land bigger roles in films, he revealed to a magazine that he was meeting often with his pastor in New York and was on the verge of suicide. “If I weren’t Catholic I would have blown my brains out,” he said

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August 19, 2009


Last night in Chicago's Grant Park, a bazillion people were enthralled by the old 1939 B & W "Young Mr. Lincoln." Really enrapt, laughing at all the jokes, enjoying the continuous melodramatic soundtrack, etc. Me, too.
Were we just movie lovers? Lincoln lovers? History lovers? Nostalgia lovers?
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NEW MEDIA: ACTUAL VIDEO AD WILL BE IN A PRINT MAGAZINE! (Like Harry Potter's Daily Prophet Newspaper!)

By ANDREW VANACORE, AP Business Writer - Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:17PM EDT
NEW YORK - An upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly's print edition will be embedded with a video player that will run ads for CBS shows and Pepsi.
The ad comes in a heavy-paper package resembling the kind of novelty greeting cards that make noises. A roughly two-inch screen starts playing automatically as the page flips open. A speaker is embedded below it.
CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s Entertainment Weekly billed the video advertisement as the first ever to appear in a print magazine. CBS says the video player insert, made by a Los Angeles company called Americhip Inc., will be able to withstand the binding processes and mail delivery.
Ink-on-paper titles have been trying new formats to boost advertising revenue. Major newspapers have taken the once-taboo step of offering ads on their front pages, while magazines have tucked ads into cover flaps and even distributed video promotions on DVDs.
CBS won't say how much it is paying for the spread, but the idea behind these new experiments is generally to charge a premium for advertising that has more potential to catch readers' attention.
The video inserts will appear in some copies of the fall TV preview issue mailed to subscribers in New York and Los Angeles.
In the ad, characters from CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" talk up EW and give a how-to on navigating the different buttons that bring up more clips.
A menu of additional spots includes a clip from "Two and Half Men," a sneak peek at the new CBS comedy "Accidentally on Purpose" and a preview of the network's fall drama slate. There's also an ad for the Pepsi Max diet soft drink.

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August 18, 2009


YYY 1/2

A young woman who doesn't want to commit. A young man who's smitten. We usually think of it the other way around, but Summer (Zooey Deschanel—some of her best work to date) doesn't believe in "true love" or finding "the one," and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) does.

"500 Days of Summer" is fresh, young, not-too-edgy, and uses a technique of showing scenes from the 500 days, numbered, but out of order. It works seamlessly and never feels choppy. The whole winsome-but-not-gooey romance is tied together with a soundtrack which often breaks into the story itself because Summer and Tom bond over a shared love of music (Deschanel, also a singer in real life, gets to perform—as she often does in her on-screen roles).

Where do Summer and Tom get their respective, conflicting ideas about love? A brief but important retrospective of their growing-up years tells all. Summer is the child of divorce, Tom is the child of pop culture with its hope-filled dreams. But their stubborn clinging to their fixed ideas blocks them both from facing reality. Although "500 Days" is a light touch (though not quite a romantic comedy), Tom's pain can truly be felt. Tom's advantage is that he's not alone. His buddies and his little sister all help interpret and even narrate his love life for him, with some not-too-shoddy advice. Love isn't just a private thing, it's a social thing. It's heartening to see how much the younger generation "gets right" about love. The disheartening part is the (all too true-to-life) complete trivialization of the body and sex. Even though Tom complains about the casualness of it all, it doesn't slow him down one bit. The emphasis is on the spiritual, finding a soul mate, almost to the point of a kind of "spiritualism" of male/female relationships.

I would have rated this "R" for the several coarse moments. It's true kids see this kind of stuff daily, but it's almost worse when it's portrayed in such a sweet, consequence-neutral manner. I wish I could say: "Fifteen-year-olds and up might actually benefit (with guidance for the objectionable parts and purely 'feelings' criterion for love) from the many age-old truisms and good pieces of advice regarding twenty-first century love relationships." BUT here's the problem: there's two very quick scenes (among other hopelessly dishonest scenes) of the two watching porn (we only see the video jacket). Summer says: "that looks do-able," and they try it behind a thickly clouded shower curtain. Porn is oh-so-quaint-and-harmless. No big deal. For couples. And this generation is so cool and media-jaded that they are completely in control and above-it-all when it comes to porn. Um, not. Porn is more addictive than crack cocaine. We must keep calling the bluff of this lie that is now firmly embedded in mainstream culture. There's a lot of money riding on the normalization of porn. We're supposed to nod like bobbleheads to the lie and not be shocked as we see it seeping in EVERYWHERE. Sorry, no can do. Those who work in porn prevention and recovery say that even so-called "soft porn" is a gateway drug. How unfortunate that this lovely film is marred in this most grotesque way, even though supposedly "everyone's doing it." It's such a shame that this well-crafted, sensitively acted movie is sugar coating dollops of poison.

The ambience of the movie incorporates a huge swath of influences from foreign films, the 60's, jazz, literature, art, architecture—in which we can feel the protagonists sincerely reaching out for meaning, authenticity and beauty. An attempt is made to make the city of Los Angeles a character in the movie, but it doesn't happen. The clichés ring true that the city of L. A. rings hollow (I lived there for five years): soul-less, history-less, community/communion-less. Instead, the city almost stands as a cautionary symbol of what can happen when we don't risk, don't commit, don't suffer in love.

Summer is reminiscent of the genuine-love-phobic Holly (Audrey Hepburn) in "Breakfast at Tiffanys" (a movie that many young people today are re-discovering and "trust"—in their own words!) A line from the movie states: "People DO belong to each other." We don't need movies from 1961 or 2009 to tell us so, but "Breakfast" and "500 Days" certainly reinforce our own conviction that love trumps all.

In the end, "500 Days" is Tom's fated/fatalist/determinist/magic-pixie-dust idea of love versus Summer's serious/troubled/sad/it-never-works-out-so-let's-just-have-fun idea of love. The truth about love is somewhere in between.

"Love consists of a commitment which limits one's freedom—it is a giving of the self, and to give oneself means to limit one's freedom on behalf of the other. This might seem to be something negative or unpleasant, but love makes it a positive, joyful and creative thing. "Freedom exists for the sake of love. Man longs for love more than for freedom—freedom is the means, and love is the end." --JP2G, "Love and Responsibility"

There's no God in the movie. BUT there is an attempt to match earthly events with some kind of cosmic significance. (The primal religious impulse. Which is good, but left to itself it becomes superstition.) I wanted to stand up in the theater and shout: "Yes! Yes! There is a cosmic significance to your relationships--and it starts with the body!" Theology. Of. The. Body. "The body and it alone makes visible the mystery: the spiritual and the divine." TOB #76.

An O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi"-style exchange of gifts is given and both Summer and Tom are better for it. At the beginning of the movie we were warned that this was not a love story. But it is.

August 1, 2009




Fr. Robert Barron Enters Year for Priests with an Online Mission to Spread the Gospel


Chicago, July 31, 2009 – Fr. Robert Barron is one of the world's great and innovative teachers of Catholicism. Chicago's Cardinal George calls him one of the Church's best messengers. He is a prominent theologian, author and sought-after speaker, and now the priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago is using today's technology to evangelize the culture. Barron founded Word On Fire Catholic Ministries, a global media organization, and hopes to attract millions into or back to the Catholic faith.

At the hub of Word On Fire is an interactive website ( with newly launched features which invite visitors on a journey and into a conversation about faith and life. "Our website is incredibly dynamic," raved Fr. Barron. "Every day, every where, visitors can visit our site to deepen their faith and bring the peace of Christ to their otherwise chaotic worlds."

Resources can be found in a variety of formats from articles and books, to CDs and DVDs, as well as YouTube videos, radio sermons and television programs. Visitors to the Word On Fire website can take a virtual pilgrimage with Fr. Barron as he films his most ambitious venture, The CATHOLICISM Project. A landmark epic series about the Catholic faith, The CATHOLICISM Project takes visitors to Rome, the Holy Land, Mexico, France, Poland, Germany and Spain.

"People spend a mammoth amount of time at their computers every day," stated Barron. "And just as Christ took the message of the Gospel to the people of his time, we have harnessed the use of emerging technologies to go out into the four corners of the globe."

The mission of Word On Fire is to draw people into the Body of Christ, which is the Church, and thereby gives them access to all the gifts that Jesus wants his people to enjoy. Word On Fire places an emphasis on the use of innovative communication technologies and contemporary forms of media. The website is a one-stop shop where visitors can learn about and be inspired by the Catholic faith.

"We have designed an interactive site where people can gain knowledge about the faith from not only our content, but they can also learn from one another," said Fr. Barron. "New content is being developed and produced every day and we invite people to visit and explore everything it has to offer."

The website was originally launched in 1999 and currently draws over 300,000 visitors each year from every continent.

Fr. Barron is available for interviews. Please contact Christine Schicker with The Maximus Group at 404-610-8871.