Author Archives: Julie Dienno-Demarest

Screenshot 2019-02-04 12.19.55
Action, Article, Calling, Scripture, Service
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Here I am, send me!

A 5th grade girl asked a simple question. A frequent visitor to nursing homes (while her Mom works as a nurse practitioner), Ruby asked a resident why she was looking outside so intently.  The woman paid a pet-sitter $12 to bring her dog of 12 years to visit; she watched as the dog left, not knowing when she’d see her beloved pet again. With tremendous empathy, Ruby saw that what brought this woman so much sadness had a simple answer. More, she started to wonder what other simple requests residents might have. So she simply asked: asked residents “if I could bring you 3 things in the whole world, what would those be?”  CNN reports Ruby found that rather than asking for a new car or a million dollars, the requests were simple things: pants that fit, a phone, pet food, fresh fruit. With the help of her mom, they set up a Facebook page “Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents” and a GoFundMe account, raising more than $93,000 for residents in five nursing homes in Arkansas.

It’s so simple: See a need and respond with love.

On the path of discipleship, this is what God asks of us: to love one another as we are loved (John 13:34). To see and respond to the needs of the least of our brothers and sisters (Matthew 25:40).

Say to the Lord: “Here I am, send me!”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

Isaiah 6:8

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Screenshot 2019-01-29 12.52.04
Book, Prayer, Spirituality
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On Prayer

In my family of voracious readers, we refer to the list of books we have lined up to read as “the queue.” So many books have been suggested in so many categories, they line up… and generally they’ll be read in the order in which they were received. Sadly, sometimes that line is longer and slower than the DMV because… well, time is limited.

your call is very important to us

Just this week, there was a series of coincidences [read: Holy Spirit] that led me to Ronald Rolheiser’s book Prayer: Our Deepest Longing (2013).  I recognized the author from working with ACTS Retreats, because Holy Longing (2009) – Fr. Rolheiser’s incredible book on Christian discipleship – has a chapter dedicated to Paschal Mystery spirituality, which is cited in the Director’s Manual, as it is at the heart of the ACTS Retreat.  Fr Rolheiser, OMI is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, which is also the home of ACTS Missions.

ACTS & ACTSM

What happened was, Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry Continuing Education has been advertising an opportunity to participate in a 5-week online book club on Prayer: Our Deepest Longing. BC STM’s Continuing Ed Facebook page had a video of Fr. Rolheiser offering some insights from his book on Prayer. The short video had me intrigued, but my “queue” is getting ridiculously long.

But, Holy Spirit.

So, I decided to try my first audiobook on “Audible,” I figured that I could listen while cleaning my kitchen, running errands, and what-have-you.  Although the rest of the world may have known the joys of audiobooks for years (especially while driving), it’s completely new to me.

Thank you, Holy Spirit; it was exactly what I needed!  To be honest, after listening to the first three chapters, I ordered a hard copy of the book just so I can underline and post-it-flag for easy reference.  It’s THAT good!

Prayer: Our Deepest Longing is a book that has already nourished my own prayer life, and it’s one I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone seeking to deepen their prayer life – from beginners to seasoned prayer warriors.  Read it, listen to it, or even consider trying BC’s online book club!

Somehow, Rolheiser manages to be both encouraging and challenging.  He had me at the preface:

There is no bad way to pray….[There’s] only one non-negotiable rule: You have to show up for prayer and you have to show up regularly.”

I hope you find a way to enjoy Prayer: Our Deepest Longing. If you do, come back and leave a comment about your favorite insights!

From Amazon’s website:

With simple, down-to-earth language, Rolheiser illustrates the importance of prayer and offers techniques for how to pray, using examples from daily life, Scripture, and contemporary writers. He delves into the places that we fear to go with our issues about prayer, encouraging us with gentle kindness and words of hope and inspiration.

The book is divided into five sections.

  • Why Pray? Illustrates the purposes and benefits of prayer for ourselves, as well as for the broader Catholic community and even the world.
  • Why Is It so Hard? Notes how our contemporary culture conspires against taking time out for solitude and prayer, and how our own ego—with its fears, restlessness, and narcissism—can work against developing a deeper relationship with God through prayer.
  • What Is Prayer? Outlines the two basic types of prayer, that is, affective (personal) and priestly (for the world). Describes the many ways or methods for each type of prayer, such as meditation, contemplation, the divine office, the Mass, and Scripture.
    Sticking with It. This section covers the development of mature prayer, discussing ways to pray in times of boredom, disillusionment, crisis, helplessness, or after a loved one’s death.
  • Mysticism. Here we learn about this increasingly popular form of intimate relationship with God.

This is a book for all manner of believers, whether your faith is solidly rooted, wavering between childhood religion and adult faith, or just not sure what you believe—or whether you believe at all. It addresses topics such as narcissism, pragmatism, efficiency, and self-gratification that work against a healthy spiritual life. Rolheiser takes us to a place of contact and comfort, in relationship not only with God but with our true selves as well.

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Screenshot 2019-01-16 09.26.38
Article, Faith, Human Dignity, Joy, Life, Passion
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“I cared about her more as a human being than as an athlete.”

After the video of UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s “perfect 10” floor routine went viral, NPR interviewed her head coach, Valerie Kondos Field about her character and skill.

Katelyn had almost given up on the sport. “The elite level came at a price. Not just the injuries, but the body-shaming and the cut-throat competition that left her questioning her self-worth” (NPR’s Morning Edition).

Coach Val became a catalyst for change in Katelyn, who had stopped loving the sport at age 11. How? At the 1:40 mark in the two-minute interview, Coach Val utters the sentence that says it all:

“I cared about her more as a human being than as an athlete.”

And that was everything.

Caring more about a person’s humanity than about the role they play, regardless of the context, is the essence of respect for human dignity.

Want to know how to live your faith in the secular workplace? Care about people more as human beings than as coworkers and employees.

How does every single faculty and staff member live out the Catholic Identity of the school? Care about people more as human beings than as students and colleagues.

It really is that easy.

Care for a person’s well-being more than the function they provide.

Stop using people as objects. Stop objectifying the body for the sake of athletic or advertising success. Stop shaming. Stop the competition that leaves people questioning their self-worth.

We don’t have to choose between people and profit, between personal well-being and excellence, between compassion and success.

In fact, look at the results: not only does Katelyn’s routine earn a “perfect 10,” not only has the video of her performance gone viral, but in the words of Coach Val, “She just exudes goodness and love and joy.”

Be a catalyst: care about a person more as a human being than anything they can do.

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O Root of Jesse
Advent, Article, Prayer
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December 19 – O Root of Jesse

December 19
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

19 O-Root-of-Jesse

O Radix Jesse: O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid. Isaiah had prophesied, But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. (Isaiah 11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in Davids city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).  (From Catholic Resource Education Center)

In case you missed, December 17 begins the O Antiphons, with  O Wisdom. While working on a project for St. Mary’s Press, I came across artwork by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey that captures the vibrant and joyful anticipation of Advent in the O Antiphons.  These images and reflections from the Catholic Resource Education Center are so beautiful, I needed to share!

The O Antiphons are seven brief sentences that highlight a title for the Messiah and a prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah.  Part of the liturgical tradition since the very early Church, these beautiful theological statements are prayed in Vespers, or evening prayer, during the last days of Advent, from December 17-23. For more information about the artwork, visit the McCrimmons, a UK  Publishing Company.

 

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O Adonai
Advent, Prayer
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December 18th – O Adonai!

December 18

O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

18 O-Adonai

O Adonai: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Isaiah had prophesied, But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the lands afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. (Isaiah 11:4-5); and Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us. (Isaiah 33:22). (From Catholic Resource Education Center)

In case you missed, December 17 begins the O Antiphons, with  O Wisdom. While working on a project for St. Mary’s Press, I came across artwork by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey that captures the vibrant and joyful anticipation of Advent in the O Antiphons.  These images and reflections from the Catholic Resource Education Center are so beautiful, I needed to share!

The O Antiphons are seven brief sentences that highlight a title for the Messiah and a prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah.  Part of the liturgical tradition since the very early Church, these beautiful theological statements are prayed in Vespers, or evening prayer, during the last days of Advent, from December 17-23. For more information about the artwork, visit the McCrimmons, a UK  Publishing Company.

 

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