Ancient prayer helps Toronto-area Catholics evangelize, heal

A group of Toronto-area Catholics calling themselves “lamb seekers” have embraced ancient contemplative prayer as a way of healing from traumatic life experiences and as a tool in attracting people to the church.

The Catholic Register, Canada’s national Catholic weekly based in Toronto, tells the story of a woman who helped establish the “lamb seekers” and the good that has come from their practice of the ancient contemplative prayer.

This type of prayer has helped one woman survive poverty, a broken marriage and sexual abuse as a child.

Producer finds documentary on Dorothy Day a labor of love

Claudia Larson didn’t want to produce a documentary on Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, but she did it anyway.

Since debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in 2006, “Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me a Saint” has been slowly making the rounds to parishes, schools, colleges and anywhere else people want to learn more about the the woman who devoted her life to hospitality with homeless and marginalized people. (Catch a trailer here.)

Larson says it took 14 years to finish the 55-minute documentary.

“I didn’t want to do it,” says Larson, who lives in Hollywood, Calif. “It was not my idea. It was her (Day’s) idea.”

Although Larson never met the woman who has inspired the opening of dozens of Catholic Worker houses of hospitality around the world, she felt called to portray the Day’s life in a way that no one else had. But why so long?

She didn’t know how to go about such a project. Every time Larson approached a filmmaker she was turned away. It was discouraging, she admits. But she maintains that Day kept leading her to other sources.

Larson eventually started her own production company, lucky dog productions (named for her dog, Lucky). Then she had to find people who could help her through the process of researching Day’s life, writing the script, scoring the music, recording interviews and editing the interviews into the final product.

Larson is distributing copies of the DVD “out of my backroom.” It’s available on a sliding-rate scale. Details are available on her Web site.

Last-minute Vatican visit by Mrs. Cheney

VATICAN CITY — On my way to the Vatican press hall this morning, waiting for the crosswalk light to turn green, I was kind of shocked to see a large convoy of black vehicles with U.S. plates and insignia speed by.

Big burly men with flak jackets leaned out of SUVs and scoped pedestrians — I suddenly realized it probably wouldn’t be a very good idea to stick my hand in my bag just then to pull out my sunglasses. So I just squinted in the glare trying to catch a glimpse of who the visiting dignitary might be.

Turns out Lynne Cheney, wife of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, was being escorted away from the Vatican after an unofficial visit to the tomb of St. Peter. The event was planned at the last minute, according to an official at the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office responsible for the upkeep of St. Peter’s Basilica and the vast necropolis below.    

The vice president, who has been meeting with Italian officials this week to discuss U.S. concerns over Russia’s actions against Georgia, did not take part in the private tour of the Vatican necropolis.

The second-century subterranean burial ground includes the spot where St. Peter’s tomb has been venerated since early Christian times. For the past decade, the Vatican has been using state-of-the-art techniques to repair, restore and conserve the tombs and funerary artwork.

After making obligatory reservations in writing in advance, most visitors interested in seeing the necropolis have a long wait to get in on a tour. However, exceptions are obviously made for visiting VIPs.

One official at the Fabbrica told me they were quite proud so many high-level government officials and their family members from around the world have come to visit the underground mausoleums and the tomb of St. Peter, adding it was hoped these government leaders “get inspired” by the life and example of the martyr buried there.