Capturing the lives of monks in British Columbia

This Side of Eden,” which premiered Palm Sunday on Canada’s Salt + Light Television, has gotten great reviews, and viewers around the world have more chances to watch the documentary about the monks of Westminster Abbey in British Columbia. News flash: Not all of the monks are old!

Father Raymond J. de Souza, writing in Toronto’s The Catholic Register, called it “another Salt + Light gem” and said, “The producers have captured more than just what the monks do, but something of who they are.”

Also in The Catholic Register, writer Michael Swan said, “Filmmakers wanted people to feel the connection between liturgy and life at the abbey.”

Here is the schedule for “This Side of Eden” on Salt + Light, EWTN and Boston’s Catholic TV. In addition to the following viewing times (all Eastern time), the broadcasts will be streamed live through each carrier’s website.

Salt + Light: April 20, 8 p.m. Note that Salt + Light is available through SHAW Channel 160, BellTV channel 654, Telus channel 159.

EWTN: April 19, 5:30 p.m.; April 23, 11:30 p.m.

Catholic TV: April 20, 3:30 p.m.; April 22, 8 a.m.; April 23, 1:30 p.m.; April 24, 5:30 a.m.

Vatican newspaper launches new website

VATICAN CITY — Marking the beginning of the seventh year of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican newspaper launched a new website.

The site, initially available only in Italian and English, debuted last evening as this morning’s issue of the newspaper rolled off the presses. Today is the anniversary of Pope Benedict’s election in 2005.

The newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said eventually it plans to have not just the daily Italian edition online, but also to post the English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish weekly editions as well.

Today the Italian site — and an English translation of select articles from it — was available for free. A story in the newspaper yesterday said the weekly editions would be available online to subscribers only, but articles from the daily Italian edition could be accessed free until Aug. 31 when the site will become subscription-only.

New request: Turn cell phones on at church

Parishioners are often advised to turn off cellphones or pagers in keeping with the solemnity of the Mass. But a story in Our Sunday Visitor suggests something contrary. It says priests should ask  parishioners to actually turn on their mobile devices.

“You would surely hear gasps as people wonder whether the priest had misspoken or if their hearing aids need new batteries,” writes Brandon Vogt who noted that this has taken place — at the end of Mass — at parishes across the country.

One example is St. Mary’s Catholic Center, the campus parish at Texas A&M University in College Station, where the presiding priest after Mass recently asked the congregation to text some basic information, right then, to a parish number. Within minutes, thousands of parishioners were linked to the parish registration database. Later they were sent an email to complete their registration and create an account chooosing which parish group or ministry from which they wished to receive updates and how they wished to get these updates — either email, Twitter, Facebook or text messages.

“Parishes can’t afford to sit out this digital revolution,” the story points out, noting how “new media increasingly dominate our world through blogs, social media, podcasting, interactive websites and text messaging, among other tools.”

The article suggests that pastors and parish ministries get on board with new media as a way to communicate with parishioners during the week and encourage dialogue.

But lest parishes get too caught up in the fast-paced world of new media, the story emphasizes that certain standards must always remain in place.

“Whether in the first century, 15th century, or 21st century, the goal of each parish remains the same: to make saints. Any new technology, including new media, should be assessed in light of that mission.”

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