Women in the Bible

Deborah, Mary Magdalene and Esther are depicted in stained-glass windows.(CNS/Crosiers)

Deborah, Mary Magdalene and Esther are depicted in stained-glass windows.(CNS/Crosiers)

Don’t miss our feature, just posted this afternoon on our synod page, on women in the Bible. As the story notes, numerous women from the Old and New Testaments appear in the Bible as inspiring examples of faith and leadership.

This was only one piece in a series of stories we offered to our clients in connection with this month’s world Synod of Bishops in Rome. Scroll down the synod page for news from the gathering and other stories we wrote highlighting the importance of the Bible in the life of the church.

And don’t miss the continuing installments in our Bible blog. Coming next week: Luke.

There’s power in numbers

When people feel disconnected and that their concerns are going unaddressed, history shows they can be a prime target for an organizing campaign. But that only works if they want to be organized and begin to take steps to right an injustice they are confronting.

A CNS report on community organizing looks at one campaign to address predatory lending in Cleveland in portraying how a campaign works.

Campaigns to right a wrong are won at the grass-roots level. It takes commitment and dedication and local leadership, as any community organizer knows. Organizers such as Sarah Nolan of the San Francisco Organizing Project and Jenelle Dame of the East Side Organizing Project in Cleveland know it’s not their job to push an agenda forward. An organizer’s job is to help train leaders in the community. It’s up to those leaders to work with their neighbors, who already know very well what wrong they want to correct.

Organizing campaigns can take place just about anywhere even though most efforts take place in low- and moderate-income communities. Face it, it’s those communities who have the most grievances with society.

Catholic San Francisco reports on one such campaign involving support for Proposition 8 to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Not every campaign will be successful. Victories, as community groups like to call them, come only when members welcome and accept a common goal and work in unison to achieve it. Campaigns are just as dependent on a well-developed strategy — at times developed to garner attention or even embarass their target. At the same time, plans must be flexible enough to change when roadblocks appear or new facts are learned.

But the key to any campaign revolves around numbers. With numbers comes power. With power comes influence. And with influence comes success.

John Paul II: The DVD collection

Pope John Paul II embraces a child at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square in 2000. (CNS photo from Reuters)

Pope John Paul II embraces a child at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square in 2000. (CNS photo from Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — It was 30 years ago that the College of Cardinals stunned the world by electing a non-Italian, Pope John Paul II. Now, scenes from his 26+ years as supreme pontiff are being offered in a special 30th anniversary DVD collection by the Vatican Television Center.

It’s worth checking out. In collaboration with HDH Communications, the Vatican is offering a 5-DVD set titled, “John Paul II – The pope who made history” at the discounted price of €41.99 (about $57). The Vatican’s other DVD sets on John Paul II are also being discounted by 30 percent for the next month.

CTV, the Vatican’s television operation, has an immense archive of video, which make these DVDs unique. The sample clip on their Web site, which runs three and a half minutes, includes some of the image highlights of Pope John Paul’s pontificate — focusing on his travels around the world and the human side of the papacy.

The DVD anniversary set shows the pope in prayer, joking with young people, encountering indigenous families, visiting a Syrian mosque, skiing and making a pilgrimage through the Holy Land. Of course, that only skims the surface. The DVDs confirm that, in many ways, his was truly a pontificate made for modern media.

CNS Bible Blog: Ruth, Chapter 2 – Love and integrity

By Uta Sievers
Special to Catholic News Service

I sat down with the Book of Ruth and started reading Chapter 2. Following what is described as an Ignatian method for reading and praying with the Scriptures, I imagine myself as a character in the story.

I am Boaz. The potent one. I know who I am, I know what I have. I count my blessings and give thanks to God every day. But I am not young anymore and I have been waiting for something to happen. When I watch over my slaves, I pray. When I walk my fields, when I touch my gold, I pray. Sometimes I gently ask, sometimes I howl in pain and longing, sometimes I whisper under my breath, sometimes I rage in frustration. I am asked to wait; the time will come.

She is not a girl anymore. She arrived yesterday and I already know everything about her. Ruth had been married for 10 years. Now she is widowed. What she has done makes my heart beat faster: left everything out of love for her mother-in-law. She is a passionate one. One who follows a dream. Maybe the foreigners’ dreams are bigger than ours. How far have I ever walked for a dream?

Someone will have to marry her, that’s the law. It will be a bit of a haggle since I’m not first in line. She is on offer, though, and I can be the buyer.

I get all confused when she takes the initative. She just lies there at my feet at night, offering freely what I thought I had to buy dearly. I tremble. Then I remember how she said, when we first met: “You have comforted me with your consoling words; would indeed that I were a servant of yours!”

Does she feel what I feel? Or is she doing what she has to do to get a husband, any husband? How will I ever know?

As I step out of the story, I pray for all those who have to do whatever it takes to get by. Who find themselves in situations and systems not of their own making, and still make the best of it. That they may find love and understanding, and keep their integrity.

Organ donation encouraged

The shortage of organ donors is especially prevalent among minority communities, a problem highlighted in a feature in El Pregonero, the Spanish-language newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

It tells the story of Jacinta Marshall, a Panamanian immigrant and advocate for organ donation, and her campaign for education in the Latino community. The need for organ donors was made personal by the 17-month wait her husband, Stanley Marshall, endured to get a new kidney.

CNS Bible Blog: Ruth, Chapter 1 – Guided by a dream

By Uta Sievers
Special to Catholic News Service

Today, I sat down with the Book of Ruth and started reading Chapter 1. Using a method for reading and praying with the Scriptures that is attributed to St Ignatius Loyola, I took a step inside the story.

I am Ruth. I went with my mother-in-law Naomi and never looked back.

It was an easy decision for me. It was much harder for her to accept my decision. I love her and always will. There is no sacrifice in this decision for me. I feel closer to her than I have ever felt to my own mother; I love her more than my life. Naomi and I, we walk hand-in-hand, even though we might not touch each other. We brave the desert storms. We have the same direction: her people, who — through my love for her — are my own people. Her God is my God.

(CNS photo by Cindy Wooden)

(CNS photo by Cindy Wooden)

Naomi isn’t always the easiest woman to be with, especially since her whole family died in Moab. She has been taking this as a sign that God is unhappy with her, but I think that’s not true. I’m sure God just had other plans for her. That’s as far as I know him, this God. The strong one. The one who saves. The one who is closer to us than we are to ourselves. The one who has dreams for us. I am following one of those dreams. I have always been the dreamer in our family, my husband never really understood that. But his God did. Praying to the God of Israel felt easier than praying to our gods in Moab. So I followed Naomi to be with a people that knew their God, a people who had met him, personally. Apart from praying with them, I also have to find work there. And possibly a husband. Someone with my kind of spirituality would be nice.

As I step out of the story, I pray for all those who leave everything behind, guided only by a dream.

Those trendsetters out in Kansas….

Yep. They’re doing some cutting-edge diocesan newspapering at The Leaven in the land of Dorothy and Toto (not to mention jokes, songs and empires built on corn).

The staff of the newspaper of the Kansas City Archdiocese has launched not just a redesign of their Web page, but a rethinking of how they get news and what they’re putting under that umbrella.

note on the paper’s Web site from Leaven co-editor Anita McSorley starts this way:
“We here at The Leaven have a confession to make.
“We’re old. We’re tired.
“And up until now, we were so not cool.”

McSorley proceeds to explain just how cool The Leaven has become. They’ve got a slick new Web site with all the usual features of a good news site (archives, links, easy-to-find contact information) plus staff-created news feature videos (check out reporter Joe Bollig’s adventure at a church-run summer camp).

She describes the process of rethinking and remaking what they do, including opening up their reporting to anyone who wants to contribute something. The Web site includes links for the public to submit stories, photographs and even original music recordings, all to potentially be available to the public.

Frankly, it sounds like a heck of a lot of work, but ultimately exciting and energizing. As newspaper folk everywhere know, rethinking what we do is the only way we’re likely to survive. At The Leaven it looks like they’re plunging ahead with creativity and their typically good-humored sense of adventure.