Category: Faith and Family on the Internet

‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground': Martha Williamson on Faith, Love and a Touch of the Blues

Martha-Williamson-Signed-Sealed-Delivered-1On Feb. 2, “Touched by an Angel” creator Martha Williamson sat down for a talk at Bel-Air Presbyterian in Los Angeles, as part of its faith-based Beacon Hollywood ministry.

Williamson is currently known for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” a series of movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which premieres a new installment, “Higher Ground,” on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 9 p.m. ET.

Signed-Sealed-Delivered-Higher-Ground

The series focuses on the “POstables,” a team based in the Denver, Colorado, office of the U.S. Postal Service, which attempts to deliver mail lost in transit and left undelivered. It’s up to the POstables to make sure the “dead letters” are, as Williamson says, “delivered late, but right on time.”

Here’s what’s happening in “Higher Ground,” from the official Website:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans handyman and blues singer-songwriter Gabe Recolte was left homeless before he had the chance to express his love for club owner Hattie. Oliver and his team retrieve Gabe’s love letter years later and face challenges in solving the mystery. Stars Keb ‘Mo, Eric Mabius, Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson.

While the stories of the POstables continue through each movie, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” also lets Williamson tell a story about new characters in each Martha-Williamson-Signed-Sealed-Delivered-2installment — as she did with “Touched by an Angel” — with faith themes threaded through.

We’ll deal with “Touched” in another post, but here are some selections from what Williams had to say about her new project.

On the tentative romance between head POstable Oliver O’Toole (Eric Mabius) and postal detective Shane McInerney (Kristin Booth):

I wanted to explore a man who’s a Christian, whose life was messed up. So, he’s married, and his wife has left him and taken off to Paris. He’s finally worked through that, and what it meant to be a man of honor and not take up with this other woman, even though he hadn’t even seen his wife for almost three years. But he wanted to do the right thing until he was released to do something else, and he was really was struggling.

He’s basically in love but hasn’t said it yet to Shane.

She is a 21st-Century technology woman, and he is a 20th-Century, basically a Luddite, who doesn’t even own a cellphone. The two of them should not be together whatsoever, but that’s not how God works, and so they’ve been going back and forth.

She’s not a believer and he is, so to pitch that to Hallmark without them thinking it it’s going to be a Christian show, was a real tap dance. But I said, “Just trust me, and as we develop these characters you’re going to want to see what happens, and you’re going to want to see his level of faith.”

On how Hallmark responded:

Michelle Vicary, the senior executive vice president [at Hallmark], said, “I’m not afraid of God,” which I thought was a very powerful thing to hear at a network.

They’ve been very supportive and I think the challenge for this that they are human. They are walking in faith, and they are at different points at faith. And they actually are responsible for maintaining other people’s faith. It’s a tremendous act of faith.

How fan response planted a seed for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”:

I found some letters that had been written to me that I never read. Fan letters. I was reminded of how people’s lives had been changed. …

I’ll never forget this one little boy in an airport once he said, “My mommy and my sister and me, we watch [‘Touched by an Angel’] all the time. My daddy watches it too, but he watches it in the den because he cries.”

And I thought that was just adorable because it said so much, that this poor man, you know, was wanting to feel things but he didn’t want to appear weak, apparently. So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to have somebody like Oliver, a guy who’s really weak in so many ways but strong in his faith and that’s what keeps him going, and he’s a kind person?”

There’s this amazing web of fans for this crazy little show. They just deconstruct every single line. They see the Biblical references in it, even though it’s not there. … What they love is there’s this really sexy guy who struggles. He has fallen and gotten himself back up. He made bad decisions but he can still be a man of faith, and he’s a gentleman. He opens the door not because you’re a woman, he opens the door because you’re a human.

Martha-Higher-Ground

On the mature love story in “Higher Ground”:

Keb ‘Mo is one of the most remarkable blues artists in the country. Back, a few months ago performed in the White House for President and Mrs. Obamam and he performed with James Taylor and Eric Clapton. I mean, he’s an incredible musician and he’s an old friend.

One more thing you should always do is never be afraid to reach out to somebody you admire and tell them that you admire them and say thank you. Which is exactly what I did with Keb ‘Mo, and we ended up begin friends, and now he’s on our show. Hallmark is not known for its diversity, and so it took three years to get this romantic couple on the screen, and I’m very happy about that.

And also, we know this, they ain’t young. They’re older folks. Who can fall in love too.

On the romances you’ll see — including Oliver and Shane — and the future:

I didn’t know if “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” was going to be picked up for three more movies, so I wrote this with the intention that, if this is the last show that we ever see in this series of movies, we will resolve some things.

The two couples that you see will come together in ways that the audience has been waiting for for a long time. I’m very happy about that, but most importantly, we finally see Shane realize, step up and become something of a believer, I would say.

She acknowledges that God has been working in her life. That’s huge. So, all the little tiny pieces were pulled together, and happily, we were picked up for three more movies for 2017, so I’m going to be busy for a while.

Here’s a sneak peek at “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground” …

Images: Courtesy Hallmark Channel

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.

 

 

St. Valentine’s Day: Let’s Talk to Our Kids About Love

hashtag love“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

As my kids are preparing to celebrate Valentine’s Day at school this week, I am reminded of this Scripture (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8). We often hear it at weddings, but if you read it with your whole family —particularly your children— in mind, it takes on an even more profound meaning. While Valentine’s Day is typically thought of as a romantic holiday, it is also an opportunity to talk with our little ones about love.

The four Bible verses that precede the passage above make it very clear that without love, we have nothing. And the verses that follow it emphasize that love is greater than all things, including hope and faith. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Certainly powerful enough to warrant a conversation with our kids about what love is. Doing so, on or in preparation for Valentine’s Day, is a perfect way to add a spiritual element to the popular celebration and to bring the family closer together.

So, what is love? As parents, the words spoken and the wisdom conveyed in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, provide incredible guidance: patience, kindness, good will, humility, selflessness, tolerance, forgiveness, care, trust, hope, perseverance. Contained in those four short verses is a parenting handbook which very clearly details the sort of behavior we should be striving to model for our children. What better way could there be to demonstrate our love for them, for our partners, our friends and neighbors?

For most of us, some of these qualities are easier to practice than others. The patience piece is particularly challenging when dealing with young ones. I suspect it is no accident that patience is the very first word used to explain what love is. What a stunning reminder, no?

In that spirit, I started to think of ways our family could talk about and express love in honor of Valentine’s Day. I came up with a few ideas…

  • Take some time to read 1 Corinthians 13 with your kids. Ask them what they think it means and explain it to them in language they will understand. If they’re old enough, watch this video with them:

  • Ask them to think about different ways in which they can practice patience (like waiting for a younger sibling without protest), practice kindness and care (like spending time with an elderly neighbor) or practice forgiveness (like giving a friend a hug after an argument and letting them know everything is okay).
  • Bake Valentine-themed cookies or cupcakes to donate to your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Talk about why it’s important to show love for those who may be lonely or don’t have much.
  • Have a special Valentine’s Day dinner —could be any day this week— and enlist your children to help with planning the menu, decorating a bit, setting the table or preparing the meal. After saying grace and starting to eat, go around and give each person a chance to say why they love the other members of the family.
  • Consider giving each of your children a special Valentine, or spending some one-on-one time with them, to let them know how much they are loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As a bonus, here’s Father Mike Schmitz sharing what he learned about love from, of all places, a Steve Carell movie:

Korbi is a former full-time TV blogger, writing for sites such as E! Online and Yahoo!. She is now a full-time mom of twin boys. In her free time, she moonlights as a Marriage, Family & Individual Therapist.

Image: Courtesy Kate O’Hare

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.

‘The Crown': Bishop Barron Weighs in on the Netflix Royal Drama (Plus JFK Casting!)

The-Crown-FFBDon’t know about you, but with wild weather all over the country, if there ever was a weekend meant for relaxing indoors, this might be it. For Catholic families, it might be worth putting “The Crown” on the menu (along with some tea and scones, if you like).

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer:

The sumptuous drama premiered in its entirety on Netflix back in November, but Los Angeles’ own Bishop Robert Barron had his say about it just last week.

He emphasizes how “The Crown” demonstrates the willingness of the young Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) — as a God-anointed monarch, rather than an elected leader — to subsume her own wishes to the demands of her position. Consistently, she puts duty to crown and God over self, remaining bound more to traditional values than the vicissitudes of society.

Here’s his commentary:

Bishop Barron’s thoughts echo some of what was said about “The Crown” in a recent commentary at the Catholic magazine Crisis. Here’s an excerpt:

The monarchy may not be politically powerful anymore, but the crown is still heavy, both literally and figuratively. Nearly every historical drama makes something of the struggle between tradition and changing times, but most cheer for progress, with the result being a triumphalist vindication of modern-day mores. The Crown can’t easily follow that path because of, well, the crown. If society’s primary goal is to throw off the benighted ways of our forbears, kings and queens will be the first thing to go. In discerning a meaningful role for the monarch, one must also find a meaningful role for tradition, and this is a major theme of the show. The young Queen Elizabeth must negotiate a blitz of conflicting demands that are placed on her, most of which are rooted in one way or another in the soil of tradition. As queen, she knows that she has particular obligations to tradition, so she is uniquely entrusted with sifting through the relevant questions.

“The Crown” is not perfectly historically accurate, but it’s not bad. It’s visually stunning (and apparently had a hefty price tag), but unlike many historical dramas, it doesn’t rely on titillation and scandal. This is true to life. Whereas Queen Elizabeth II’s sister and children have had their personal peccadilloes plastered all over tabloids in the U.K. and around the world, the queen herself has remained a model of rectitude and self-possession.

As head of the Anglican Communion, she also hasn’t been shy about speaking on faith. Here’s her most recent Christmas greeting. The beginning is more secular, but at about the 4:20 mark, she begins talking about Christ. The queen even echoes Saint Therese of Lisieux, in talking about “doing small things with great love.”

As far as family viewing goes, “The Crown” isn’t without flaws. There are a couple of scenes of the backside of Matt Smith (“Doctor Who”) who plays Prince Philip, and some brief female nudity during scenes in Africa. There’s blasphemy and profanity scattered here and there (the series is rated MA for two stronger uses of profanity).

But overall, with some caution — and a recommendation for parents to watch WITH their kids —  “The Crown” is suitable for mature middle-school students and high-school students.

As a Catholic American of Irish and French extraction, I have no particular love for the British monarchy. But, in a self-indulgent world obsessed with tossing aside tradition in search of the next hot trend, Queen Elizabeth II stands as an example of someone who’s devoted her entire life to a duty she neither sought nor actively chose.

And she’s done it well.

By the way, there will be a second season of “The Crown,” which begins in the 1960s with a storyline involving war in Egypt and the downfall of the queen’s third prime minister. “Dexter” star Micahel C. Hall has been cast as Catholic U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Jodi Balfour as his wife, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Image: Courtesy Netflix

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.

 

‘Faith in Media': Honoring Don Bosco With Patrick Coffin and Joseph Nesta on Media Evangelization

Don-Bosco-Joseph-Nesta-Patrick-Coffin-ffbJan. 31 is the feast day of Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, also known as Saint John Bosco, also known as Don Bosco, an Italian priest, educator and writer during the 19th century.

He was famous for educating street children and troubled youth in Turin, Italy — and he’s the patron of apprentices, schoolchildren and youth — but because of his love of learning, he’s also the patron of editors and publishers.

If Don Bosco were alive today, like modern editors and publishers, he’d certainly be on the Internet, and maybe radio and television as well.

As part of our ongoing “Faith in Media” interview series, here are a couple more media pros, continuing the conversation (started in this post, with speaker and evangelist Father Tony Ricard, and “media nun” Sister Nancy Usselmann of the Daughters of Saint Paul) about using modern media to evangelize.

First up is Joseph Nesta, the senior community relations officer for Catholic radio network Immaculate Heart Radio. Among his topics is the ongoing relevance of one of the older mass-media technologies, radio, and how it impacts people even today.

Then we have Patrick Coffin. He’s a cradle Catholic, an author, speaker and radio host — for many years, he was the host of “Catholic Answers Live” — and now has embarked on a solo venture at www.PatrickCoffinmedia, featuring news and a podcast. He emphasizes that everyone can have an impact, even if they’re just doing it as an individual.

More from these media pros in a later post!

Images: Courtesy Family Theater Productions, Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.

‘Faith in Media': Father Tony Ricard and Sister Nancy Usselmann Talk Media Evangelization

Faith-in-Media-Evangelizaton-Father-Tony-Ricard-Sister-Nancy-UsselmannIn the next two installments from our “Faith in Media” series, we look at using modern media to evangelize. While some Catholics shy away from mass media and popular culture, if you plan to reach people where they are, you’re doing it wrong.

As the Apostles used the Roman roads and all the available tools in their day to get the Word out, it’s incumbent on us to figure out not only how to use media to spread the Gospel, but to unearth all the places in existing media where a seed of faith can be found.

First up is Father Tony Ricard of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, a dynamic speaker and media evangelist, or, as his Twitter account describes him, “A gifted teacher and anointed preacher.” In particular, he talks about what St. Paul might be saying if he were around today, which is “get a camera, and I need wi-fi” …

Next is Sister Nancy Usselmann of the Daughters of Saint Paul, the new national director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies. She seeks to develop a theology of popular culture and “becoming cultural mystics,” inspired by Bishop Robert Barron, and encompassing everything from movies to songs by Eminem and Yelawolf …

More to come!

Images: Courtesy Fr. R. Tony Ricard; Sister Nancy Usselmann

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.

‘Faith in Media': Patrick Coffin and IHRadio’s Joseph Nesta Salute Father Patrick Peyton on His Birthday

faith-media-patrick-coffin-patrick-peyton-joseph-nestaFather Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., was born Jan. 9, 1909 in Attymass, a village in County Mayo, Ireland. He passed away in Los Angeles in 1992, but not before founding Family Theater Productions, dedicated to using modern media to help strengthen families, especially through prayer.

FTP recently sat down with several Catholic media professionals to talk about a variety of topics relating to “Faith in Media,” and one of those was the impact of Father Peyton (click here to learn more about him). These videos will also be available on our Facebook page, but below find our conversations with two of them.

Joseph Nesta is a Catholic revert and the senior community relations officer for Catholic radio network Immaculate Heart Radio.

Patrick Coffin is a cradle Catholic, an author, speaker and radio host — for many years, he was the host of “Catholic Answers Live” — and now has embarked on a solo venture at PatrickCoffin.net, featuring news and a podcast.

We’re also celebrating the 75th anniversary of another ministry of Father Peyton, Family Rosary. Here’s the announcement of what’s in store for that organization and the sainthood campaign for Father Peyton:

‘ROSARY PRIEST’ REMEMBERED DURING

FAMILY ROSARY’S 75th ANNIVERSARY YEAR

Servant of God Patrick Peyton began a mission

to build family unity through daily prayer of the Rosary

EASTON, Mass. – It all started when one father prayed one Rosary in one home. Today, that singular act has touched the lives of nearly 50 million people around the world – and it continues to spread!

Sainthood candidate Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., began Family Rosary 75 years ago with the goal of building family unity through daily prayer of the Rosary. He was inspired by his own father, who more than a century ago started praying the Rosary with his family in their poor but spiritually rich home.

Father Peyton devoted his life to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and praying her Rosary. He became gravely ill as a seminarian and the doctors had no hope of recovery. So he did as his father, John, had taught him back home in Ireland.

“Father Peyton was a seminarian, studying for the priesthood, when he was stricken with tuberculosis,” said Father Wilfred Raymond, CSC, President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. “He prayed his Rosary to the Blessed Mother and made a miraculous recovery. From that moment, he knew he was to be the one to carry out her apostolate, her ministry to bring families together for Rosary prayer, just as his family had done.”

That became the foundational experience for Father Peyton (1909-92), also known as the “Rosary Priest,” who went on to lead millions in prayer at events around the world. Father Peyton’s mission, Family Rosary (founded in 1942), continues today through programs, products, events and digital outreach to families around the world.  Recently Family Rosary’s Facebook page surpassed one million followers.  Thousands are reached daily through prayer posts, videos and spiritual messages.  The ministry’s newest outreach, the Daily Family Reflection, provides a daily homily, four-minutes in length, live from The Father Peyton Center in Easton, Massachusetts, USA, available through Facebook and also on their blog, http://blog.FamilyRosary.org.  The ministry also helps families pray through their Daily Family Prayer app and their Family Rosary app.

In addition, Family Rosary has partnered with Growing with the Saints, in the development of a Catholic vacation bible school kit that teaches children how to pray the Rosary and includes take-home elements (in English and Spanish) for the family to pray together each day.  “Tracking Mary: Mysteries & Messages,” the latest vacation bible school program by Growing with the Saints is available at www.GrowingWithTheSaints.com.

“We reach out to young parents where they are – online!” said Father Raymond.  “Helping our young families pray together to strengthen the faith of their family is the focus of everything we do.”

This year, 2017, also marks the 25th anniversary of Father Peyton’s death.  Family Rosary is honoring Father Peyton’s memory through many events and activities throughout the year.  In addition to their ongoing programs, Family Rosary will be announcing shortly the details for a very special prayer event on October 7, 2017.

The essence of Father Peyton’s ministry, which spanned half a century, is relevant and vibrant to families today.   Father Peyton touched the lives of countless individuals with his kindness, sincerity and devotion to Mary. Over the years, he advocated for families by preaching two powerful and memorable sayings: “The Family That Prays Together Stays Together” and “A World at Prayer is a World at Peace.”

The Vatican is considering Father Peyton for sainthood. His life, work, writings and actions are being examined for miracles and other evidence for the canonization of the Rosary Priest. He has been proclaimed a Servant of God in this process with the next steps being bestowal of the term Venerable for his life of heroic virtue, to be followed, God willing, by Beatification and Sainthood.

In the spirit of its founder, Servant of God Patrick Peyton, Family Rosary continues to inspire, promote and foster the prayer life and spiritual well-being of families throughout the world with programs, products and extensive digital outreach. In addition to the United States, Father Peyton’s ministry to family spirituality and prayer has offices in sixteen countries on five continents, truly encircling the globe with constant prayer with and for families of all nations.

For more information, call 800-299-7729 or visit www.FatherPeyton.org,  www.FamilyRosary.org and www.facebook.com/FamilyRosary

Family Rosary is a ministry ofHoly Cross Family Ministries, which is sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross.  www.holycrossusa.org

Images: Courtesy Family Theater Productions

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.