My freshman theology course at Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in 1956 was Mother Katherine Sullivan’s study of the Bible (Signs of the Times, 10/16). Thanks to her challenge, I read the entire Bible (slogging through even the doldrums of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, not to mention the disjointed though delightful Wisdom literature). But the most important influence she had was her encouragement to us to re-examine the Bible in terms of modern life and its place in our lives. How odd of God to choose the Jews was a mantra that led her classes into innumerable discussions of responsibilities that we were required to explain and take note of as they evolved with the times.
St. Louis, Mo.
Spirit Still Moving
I read the letter of Cathleen Ryan, O.P., (10/30) about the article by Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M., on waiting for good homilies (9/18). A priest told me once, Always eat before you go to dinner in case the chef runs out of food. He was stressing that each of us should read and meditate on the coming Sunday’s Scripture. Our parish is blessed with one priest and three deacons. All of them deliver homilies relevant to the Scripture and our daily lives. Our parish has formed Lectio groups, one of which meets in my home. There are eight to 10 people, and the coming Sunday Scripture texts are read meditatively four times by different members. We share how the Scripture might speak to us. Nearly all the responses shared are different as we open our hearts and minds to the word of God. Indeed, the Spirit is moving as we read, share and pray. This way of Lectio was taught to us by the Benedictines at Piedmont Monastery in Oklahoma.
Midwest City, Okla.
Make It Happen
It was with nostalgia and regret that I read your two articles by Bishop William F. Murphy and John Borelli (10/23) on the Oct. 23, 1986, Assisi Peace Day. I was one of the multitudes who attended and was touched. I had previously worked as a tour guide in the basilica and I know Assisi very well.
Memories: Praying with the Dalai Lama and John Shot both Sides. Getting soaked by the mist and then, as the prayer in the Lower Piazza finished, the doves were released and a brilliant rainbow appeared in the Umbrian valley. Meeting the pope along with hundreds of other Conventuals; and when I told him I was from Canada, he asked me to reassure people in Canada that he was coming back to complete what he had been forced to cancel.
Regrets: I left Assisi knowing that this kind of event could be duplicated all over the world, and Franciscans would be the logical agents for such a worldwide effort of prayer for peace. But it never happened, and I still do not know why. We made a few attempts to make Oct. 23 a Day of Prayer for Peace, but we have been unable to get out of each other’s way to make it happen. We have a few Assisi in... initiatives here and there, but the potential? Sad.
Phil Kelly, O.F.M.Conv.
James Martin, S.J., could easily have put the The Mission, with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons, on his list of top movies in Saints on the Screen (10/30). Like Blackrobe, the 1986 movie The Mission is not about one individual. But it does portray the collision of religion, cultures and colonialism in the 18th-century New World.
Spanish Jesuits heroically defend their South American mission as the Spanish empire collapses around them. The political and geographic demands of Portuguese conquerors rule the day, apparently with Rome’s approval.
The opening scene of the movie shows a missionary lashed to a cross made out of logs, plunging down a waterfall to his death. The martyrdom scene is particularly disturbing.
After watching this movie, the demands made on many modern-day Catholics seem minuscule compared to the herculean and sometimes deadly demands made of Jesuit missionaries 300 years ago.
Joseph P. Nolan
James Martin, S.J., lists his top 10 films about holy men and women (10/30). I concur that his 10 films were first-rate religious movies. I think, however, that he should have chosen 11 and added the 1947 black-and-white French masterpiece Monsieur Vincent, which dramatically and realistically told the story of St. Vincent de Paul in unforgettable fashion. It left an indelible mark on my mind all these years.
Vincent was portrayed by Pierre Fresnay, who, I am told, was the favorite actor of Alec Guinness. I was further told that Fresnay was an atheist at the time. If that is so, I would say it was the greatest piece of acting I have ever seen. In any case, it is a magnificent motion picture, in my opinion, certainly one of the finest ever made. I hope that all of your readers may someday search it out and see it. A marvelous experience.
As the Adult
Thank you for Friends With God, by William A. Barry, S.J. (10/2). In over 20 years of offering retreat and spiritual direction, I have encountered many people who experienced a genuine breakthrough with God once they accepted the grace that God loved them as the adult they had become. Feeling free to be themselves (at 35 or 40 or more years of age) in prayer, relationship with God blossomed.
I have long been a fan of Father Barry’s work. This article is a keeper for sure!
Carolyn Capuano, H.M.