Do you ever doubt that it is possible to integrate your faith into your professional career? In his new book Produced by Faith, DeVon Franklin combines both elements, illustrating how you can enjoy “real success without losing your true self.”
DeVon is the Vice President of Production for Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment. He uses the film-making process to demonstrate an active Christian faith actually benefiting Christians in the secular working world.
Some of the book’s Hollywood highlights include DeVon’s climb to success as well as his work on The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith and The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith (Will Smith’s son).
Sprinkled throughout the book are motivational lines declaring that if you trust in God, you will be successful. This encouragement and seeming guarantee of success contradicts how we as Catholics view it.
Many of us have heard the famous quote by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “I am not called to be successful but faithful.”
It’s true we are given special opportunities and talents to use for the Lord, striving for success in all we do. But we are never promised worldly success.
Countless saints did not live earthly lives that the world would view as successful, making me wonder if DeVon really meant it the way I took it. He does mention struggle and trusting God even when it is most difficult. He also offers that God may change our career path and show us a different way than we originally set out to follow. Still, it was unsettling to read his definitive statements that everyone will be successful in their careers if they trust in God.
Despite that attitude, this book would especially benefit young adults who are interested in the movie industry (whether as a career or as an interest). It would be a great book to offer to graduates from high school or college, as it emphasizes that God has a plan and that His plan is the best for our lives.
DeVon relates how he remains faithful to God despite any possible opposition or inconvenience. Produced by Faith is a beautiful testament of Christian witness in Hollywood.
How did Lent start?
Why do we refrain from eating meat on Fridays in Lent? Why meat?
Is it true that fish is allowed because it is not an animal of sacrifice?
Steve Ray answered these and many other Lent-related questions during the first hour of Catholic Answers Live on Wednesday, February 22nd. He explained aspects of Lent that many Catholics and non-Catholics alike do not understand.
If you missed the episode, you can download it for free to your computer or MP3 player. Burn it to a CD and listen while you drive. What a great opportunity to learn more about our present liturgical season.
Steve Ray is a convert from Evangelical Protestantism. His books (including Crossing the Tiber and Upon This Rock), DVDs (The Footprints of God series and Keys of the Kingdom: Understanding the Papacy), and other apologetics material is available at his Web site.
It can be embarrassing to admit that fasting isn’t easy. We feel like spiritual and physical wimps. It’s true that we’ve been incredibly blessed and that many of us have never known real hunger, real starvation. But when the Church gives us a few days a year to practice fasting, we may cringe at the thought.
Eastern Rite Catholics like myself begin Lent two days before Roman Rite Catholics every year. And so our fasting day was yesterday. As I was driving to work this morning, I got the idea of sharing some tactics with my Roman Rite brothers and sisters to help in their survival of fasting and abstinence tomorrow.
Offer It Up – When your stomach begins begging for food, remember that the small physical pain is meant to draw us closer to the Crucified Christ. Offer up each stab of hunger in reparation for your sins and the sins of the world. You can also offer it up for a particular intention – a fallen away Catholic family member, a friend addicted to drugs, even for yourself to overcome a sin.
Be Grateful - Thank Our Lord that you don’t have to feel this way every day. He has blessed your life and our country with such an abundance of food. And in addition, He’s given us such amazing variety to choose from!
Switch The Focus – Don’t concentrate so much on how hungry you are, how you can’t wait for the day to be over, how you wish fasting on Ash Wednesday wasn’t obligatory. Focus on the offering it up, focus on the being grateful…. focus on learning patient endurance!
Remember those who do live day in and day out in a state of hunger. Do what you can through your prayers and financial blessings to help feed them.
May God be with you in your fasting!
“Fasting is the support of our soul: it gives us wings to ascend on high, and to enjoy the highest contemplation! [...] God, like an indulgent father, offers us a cure by fasting.” – St. John Chrysostom
This week all Catholics begin the Holy Season of Lent, The Great Fast. As an Eastern Rite Catholic, I begin my Lent tomorrow (fasting, as well as abstinence from meat and dairy products). For Western Rite Catholics, Lent begins this Wednesday (fasting, as well as abstinence from meat).
But these words from St. John Chrysostom remind us of how we should view fasting:
Do not say to me, I fasted for so many days. I did not eat this or I did not eat that. I did not drink wine, that I endured want. Instead, show me if thou, from an angry man, has become instead gentle. If from a cruel man, thou hast become benevolent. If thou art filled with anger, why oppress thy flesh? If hatred and avarice are within thee, of what benefit is it that thou drinkest water instead of wine? Do not show forth a useless fast, for fasting alone does not ascend to heaven.
This reminds me of James 2:17: “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
If we truly have faith, it will show forth in how we live. If we truly understand fasting, it will show forth in how we clean up our act spiritually.
Take the early part of this week to think and pray about how you can use this Lent to become more gentle, benevolent, loving, and generous.
Pandora.com struck again. While listening to the Pandora radio station of Joe Bongiorno (piano-type music), I was surprised to hear a beautiful rendition of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I wasn’t familiar with contemporary Christian music artist Jadon Lavik by name, but after some investigating I realized I’d heard some of his other songs on K-LOVE.
As Catholics and non-Catholic Christians, we find certain styles of music more conducive to prayer – be it contemporary Christian, classical Christian, Gregorian chant or traditional Catholic hymns. And sometimes the type of music we are drawn to changes with our mood. But no matter what type of music we can most easily pray with, it’s important to fight any temptation to judge others by their own preferences. I know at our station sometimes listeners will advocate for songs in their own musical style, which is fine, so long as they take into account that other listeners may enjoy something different.
What kind of music helps you delve deeper into prayer?
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:34-35
February 14th is best known in the secular world as Valentine’s Day. A day for cards, hearts, flowers, chocolates and the color red. The day most universally associated with romantic love.
Little is known about the St. Valentine we remember on this day. But since 496, he has been celebrated on the Church calendar as a martyr for the Catholic Faith. In the 1960′s, Sts. Cyril and Methodius became the primary saints commemorated in the Western Church on the 14th of February.
Born in Thessalonica in the 9th century, these brothers gave up lives of luxury to serve God and His people through the priesthood, later becoming bishops. Sts. Cyril and Methodius translated the Bible into Slavonic and were among the first to translate the Liturgy into the language of the people.
These holy brother bishops were met with distrust from the Germans, opposition from Western clergy and criticism for developing a Slavonic language alphabet (today known as Cyrillic).
Despite these hardships, they remained steadfast in their dedication to God and persevered in serving others.Through their witness they modeled true love – choosing God and His Way unceasingly.
Each day we are to proclaim our own fiat, our own “yes” to Our Lord and His Will. This is what Our Blessed Mother did. This is what we learn from Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius are the patron saints of ecumenism, unity of the Eastern and Western Churches, the Czech Republic, and Yugoslavia.
Pray always for perseverance for yourself and for your companions in the apostolate. Our adversary, the devil, knows only too well that you are his great enemies, …and when he sees a fall in your ranks, how pleased he is! ~ The Way, by St. Josemaria Escriva
St. Josemaria Escriva’s popular book The Way was first published as Consideraciones espirituales in 1934. It is a collection of wisdom words and advice given by the saint, organized by topic. St. Josemaria hits on many pertinent spiritual subjects, including character, direction, prayer, holy purity, love of God and penance.
It is similar in arrangement to Mother Angelica’s Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality, edited by Raymond Arroyo. Both are organized by topic, making it easy to find the kind of encouragement you need at the moment.
The following are just a few of the many powerful excerpts from The Way:
Character: Don’t let your life be sterile. Be useful. Blaze a trail. Shine forth with the light of your faith and of your love. With you apostolic life wipe out the slimy and filthy mark left by the impure sowers of hatred. And light up all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you carry in your heart.
Lukewarmness: Fight against the softness that makes you lazy and careless in your spiritual life. Remember that it might well be the beginning of tepidity… and, in the words of the Scripture, God will vomit out the lukewarm.
Joy: I want you always to be happy, for cheerfulness is an essential part of your way. Pray that the same supernatural joy may be granted to us all.
If you’re looking for a great online resource to help non-Catholics come home to the Church, Why I’m Catholic offers powerful conversion and reversion stories. Catholics from all over the world contribute to this Web site, sharing their journey of faith from a variety of Christian denominations, non-Christian religions and from no religion at all.
New stories are added frequently. The most recent conversion story came two days ago from Methodist convert Eric Sammons, in his witness, “From Ignorance to Bliss: My Journey to the Catholic Church.”
Sammons was confused by all the conflicting beliefs he discovered between Christian denominations. He was also troubled by the fact that he had no assurance as to whether or not a particular Christian faith contained all the truths revealed by Christ. By coming to understand and take the Catholic Church’s position on many controversial issues, he inadvertently drew closer to the Church Herself.
Though he resisted becoming Catholic, Sammons prayerfully discerned (with a Rosary, no less!) the Will of God, finally embracing Catholicism and making his way home to Rome.
Eric Sammons is currently the director of evangelization for the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
For his complete conversion story and many others, visit Why I’m Catholic.
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” – 1 Peter 3:15
Fr. Larry Richards is a nationally known Catholic speaker whose foundation gets its name from the above Scripture verse. Fr. Larry and the Reason for Our Hope Foundation evangelize through radio, retreats, books and more.
The foundation’s Web site offers countless audio presentations, the opportunity to submit prayer requests, and ways to get involved in the ministry.
Fr. Larry is the pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church/Bread of Life Community in Erie, Pennsylvania.
His most popular and powerful presentations include his two-part series on the Passion of Our Lord: “What More Could He Do For You?”
With Lent just around the corner, Fr. Larry’s presentations are especially appropriate for spiritual growth and learning.
“You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” – Hebrews 7:17
These words come to mind when I think of the recently deceased Fr. Mark Illig whom I worked with at the Station of the Cross for several years. Unexpectedly, he passed away Wednesday, December 21, 2011.
Fr. Mark’s funeral Mass, which took place just shortly after Christmas, was a beautiful tribute to his life of faithfulness and service. More than 70 priests, several deacons and a bishop joined the laity in mourning the loss of this wonderful priest.
Remembering that the Sacrament of Holy Orders leaves an indelible mark on the soul, even in passing from this world to the next, I consider how Fr. Mark still serves his people as a priest of God for all Eternity.
It’s important to let our priests know how grateful we are for them.
How do you show your priests appreciation?