The Way of Beauty

February 17, 2016

Fasting and the Taste for God

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

In the epic film, “Gandhi,” Mahatma’s fifty-day fast is undertaken to bring about reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims. His extreme act of self-denial draws worldwide attention. “If you want something from God, fast; if you want to relieve calamity, fast,” Gandhi believes. From primitive times, fasting has been practiced for three reasons:  the magical, the ethical and the religious. As a religious discipline or in accordance with prescribed law, fasting is understood as the complete...

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February 10, 2016

Putting on Christ: A Plan for Lent

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

The festive days of Christmas have given way to the forty days of Lenten asceticism. During this time, the liturgy arouses in us the desire to accompany Christ to Calvary and beyond Calvary, to the Empty Tomb. The heart of Christianity looks directly into the eye of our souls: Christ suffered his passion and death out of love pro me and pro nobis—for me and for us.  This redemptive love has no precedent, no analogy, no metaphor—a love entirely unique. Putting On Christ Frequently,...

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February 03, 2016

Letter Writing

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

The electronic age may have displaced cursive writing, but love letters, thank-you notes, and letters to Santa, for example, are typically handwritten. It’s the personal touch that counts.  Certain letters have become fixed and valued historical documents.  In fact, St. Paul’s letters were the first New Testament writings to be recorded, even before the gospel writers.  As such, they belong to the canonical texts.  Letter Writing among the Ancients Letter writing dates from about 3300...

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January 27, 2016

National School Choice Week

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

This week, the spotlight focuses on effective education for every child in this country.  It’s a week dedicated to the theme of school choice.  NSCW was begun in 2011 by a diverse coalition of concerned parents, schools, and organization.  Characterized by its nonpartisan and nonpolitical effort, it pledges to leave no child behind and give children the quality education they so richly deserve.  For years, the fundamental question has been publicly raised: “Why are American children failing...

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January 20, 2016

A Tribute to the Church's 'Single Ladies'

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

An essay entitled, “St. Teresa and the Single Ladies” recently appeared in the New York Times.  Its author, Jessa Crispin, was prompted to write it while touring Avila, Spain, the city famous for its first lady Teresa, the Carmelite nun, mystic, reformer, prolific writer, and Doctor of the Church.  Like many non-Catholics and even those within the faith, Ms. Crispin both marvels and puzzles over the vocation of consecrated religious women whom she refers to as “single ladies.” They are...

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January 13, 2016

Shine, Shine in Use

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

At the end of each year, WQXR, the classical radio station originating in New York, asks its listeners to vote for their favorite pieces of classical music played during the year.  Based on those requests, WQXR closed out 2015 by counting down to the 100 most-requested pieces of the year.  Countdown to Midnight On New Year’s Eve, the countdown to Midnight intensified. The end came as no surprise.  It wasn’t even close.  Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony won third place, his Fifth, second...

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January 06, 2016

Untying Knots with the Mother of Mercy

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

The New Year fittingly began under the protection of Mary, the Mother of God. With so many other titles accorded her, this most famous woman of all time is praised and loved across cultures and religious traditions. Without her inspiration, the arts—poetry and music, painting, art and architecture, would be woefully impoverished. Countless are the Marian churches and pilgrim sites whose magnetism draws those seeking her intercession with her Son. Mary attracts young and old, men and...

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December 23, 2015

Kneeling before the Mystery

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

It is the day before Christmas Eve and the Holy Night. The Church prays at Morning Prayer: Your light will come, Jerusalem; the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty. You will see his glory within you. After four weeks of Advent with its intense longing for the Savior, we now rest in the certainty of fulfillment.  Emmanuel, God-with-us, greatly desires to come close to every man, woman, and child and remain close to all. Crowned with Glory and Honor The doctrine of man...

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December 16, 2015

Beauty Rising from the Ashes

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

‘Holiday’ cheer is in the air. For weeks, the Hallmark channels have delivered it non-stop. Ubiquitous Santas make their annual promises to unsuspecting hopeful children. In shopping malls and other public places, the tone is guarded, uneasy, and apprehensive. ‘Holiday’ cheer—and fear—are in the air. The Advent readings, mostly from Isaiah, anticipate the Lord’s Nativity as the Prince of Peace. But a closer reading of Isaiah paints a different picture for the Jews who were living in a...

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December 08, 2015

A Reflection on Doors

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J.

In Roman mythology, Janus represents not only the god of doors and doorways but also the god of beginnings and endings. Janus is a two-faced god.  One face looks to the past, the other, to the future. Thus, the month of January. Doors open, close, and revolve. There are holy doors.  An open door points to a new beginning, a way out, or a welcome to enter.  It may also show a path to what lies ahead.  A closed door may symbolize a dead end or imprisonment, or it may signal ‘do not...

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