Sunday, September 23, 2007

An Amazing Weekend in Washington, DC

I spent Friday and Saturday in Washington, DC meeting people I have watched on television, and read about in the papers, while admiring their contribution to society. And I thought that nothing could top my first live radio program!
On Friday morning, I drove down to interview former Senator Rick Santorum for an article. I read his important book, It Takes a Family in preparation for the interview on his pro-life views, and will be reviewing it on this blog. I can't discuss the content of this interview, but I would like to say that Rick Santorum is an honorable Catholic man who has served his country, his family, and his Church with his heart, mind, and his soul. What more can we demand of our public servants? I appreciated a chance to tell him how much his wife Karen's book. Letters to Gabriel has meant to me and many of my friends, and wish him well in his work at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. It was a pleasure getting to know him, and hope that we will meet again as we both work to bring about a Culture of Life in America.
I spent the afternoon on the campus of Catholic University of America, touring the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, one of the largest churches in the world. I toured the intricately decorated shrines devoted to Our Lady under her various titles, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Vietnam, Our Lady of Ireland, Our Lady of Lithuania, and was deeply touched by the tiny shrine of Our Lady of Africa, whose ceiling was reminiscent of the interior of a slave ship. Many prominent religious orders were represented by their outstanding saints, and outstanding bas-relief pieces and Venetian glass mosaics. Anyone despondent about church architecture would do themselves much good by spending a day within these solid Romanesque walls, shaking with the rumble of the enormous pipe organ. Great Catholic art is alive and well. My knowledgeable and fast-talking tour guide, David explained all the artistic and religious facts beautifully. I left a note for the Shrine's spiritual director, Fr. Raymond with the request which Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, that the statue of Our Lady of America be permanently enshrined there in the Basilica. Our Lady, in this approved apparition, made this request on the anniversary of Fatima October 13, 1956, and over fifty years later, it still has not been fulfilled. How much human suffering could have been averted if this simple act had been completed?

Bolstered by a rosary said in the presence of Our Lord, I then paid a visit to Catholic University's Public Affairs and Student Activities Office to get to the origin of the John Kerry controversy. Although late in the afternoon (no true big shot in a university can be found after 3PM on Friday) I did manage to track down one administrator who, tried deflect the blame on the CU College Democrats. I didn't let him away with that, all campus speakers must be approved, so when I insisted on knowing the name of the official who had authorized the controversial speech, he started backing away, saying"no comment". The next day the campus newspaper, "The Tower" announced that, due to scheduling difficulties, John Kerry, the most pro-abortion member of the Senate would not be speaking at the University we all fund with our church collections. It did my heart good to be part of the pressure which caused the University to back down from hosting Senator Kerry's speech. Let's hope that there was a lesson learned here.

I had the privilege of meeting Anita Crane, the editor of Celebrate Life magazine where my most recent article is published. She has had an amazing career in media, and interacts with the movers and shakers in the Catholic world, yet still retains her humility and deep faith in Our Lord and the cause of the Culture of Life.

I attended Act One Screenwriting Weekend's Hollywood Insider Event, where Dean Batali, who is the Executive Co-Producer of That 70's Show and who wrote episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer shared just how much of a challenge it is to be among those lost souls in Hollywood to whom absolutely nothing is sacred in order to be 'salt and light'. He admitted that he learned that "salt doesn't bring something back to life, it only acts as a preservative to prevent further decay" meaning that the shows he worked on were saved from worse degradation by his efforts in the writing room. He tried to replace mean jokes with silly ones, and keep the tone positive in a place where cruelty reigns. Christians, he said, have to be better writers in order to convince Hollywood to give us a chance. We have to be passionate about sharing our story (really it's Christ's story, though not always outwardly so) and realize that our battle isn't with flesh and blood, it's with the Prince of Darkness.
The point was made, in a panel discussion, that Christian films once had a place at the table, and may yet regain that place, but we must vote with our movie tickets, and in the first weekend of a film's release, when Hollywood is watching. Why did so few people of faith go to see a good film like, "Amazing Grace", for example? I would suggest the overwhelming distrust of Hollywood by Christians, which is well earned, but must be overcome, if our films are to reach the screen. That is why I review films, to give Catholics a place to go when deciding whether to take a chance and buy a ticket. We have to vote with our feet, to prevent tragedies like this; The Da Vinci Code outsold The Passion of the Christ worldwide.
I brought up the film Bella, and the panel was largely enthusiastic, citing it's warm approval from secular critics, and Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award, and encouraged the audience to go and see it on Oct 26th. The special contribution of Catholics was cited again and again, despite the largely Evangelical audience, because of our understanding of suffering as part of the mystery of the Christian life. As I noted in my review of "Facing the Giants" prayers are not always answered by Our Lord in ways we can understand, yet we maintain our hope of Heaven despite the Cross. That is the Severe Mercy of God, to help us grow in the painful circumstances of our lives.
Speaking of A Severe Mercy, one of my favorite books, and one which a very wise priest once said is a must-read for Catholics, Barbara Nicolosi, the Catholic woman who founded Act One, is involved in an upcoming film version of A Severe Mercy a love story about Sheldon Vanauken and his wife Davy, close friends of CS Lewis, and the lessons they learned through suffering.
Didn't I have the most amazing weekend?
This blog is coming up to it's first anniversary, next week, and when I reflect on how far my career has come, in one short year, my heart overflows with gratitude to God, as only He could have opened the doors which have been opening for me lately. Pray for me, that I always remember whom I serve.


Lorraine said...

Leticia, thanks so much for always being on the front lines defending Christ's Holy Roman Catholic Church and serving our King of Kings with such perserverence and wisdom.

Anonymous said...

You certainly did!

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Beautifully written - you have encapsulated one fabulous weekend into a linguistic experience for us - I will continue to pray that your writing will ever edify your readers - which I also pray will expand beyond your wildest dreams - and in the process glorify God.

Holly said...

Funny, I was at the Basilica on Sunday. We live in Maryland (since early this year) and I had never been to see the shrine. It was beautiful! I was amazed at how large it is and how elaborate. I can't believe I've been so close for over 7 months and have only just seen it.

Glad you had a good time.

Esther said...

Leticia you are an amazing woman! Thank you for all you do for the prolife movement and for being a Catholic who lives her faith. You are example to us all.

Lynne said...

the University we all fund with our church collections

Not all of us fund it. I certainly don't contribute to it. This isn't the first time they've stepped in 'it'. I don't contribute to the local Cardinal's Appeal either.

Jean M. Heimann said...

What a powerhouse you are! You really live out your faith! You are on fire, Leticia!

God bless you for all that you do!