Television

Sisters show Oprah how they 'live their best life'

Media juggernaut Oprah Winfrey became an unlikely promoter of religious vocations earlier this month when she dedicated an hour of her hit television show to the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Mich.

 As part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show’s” effort to take viewers into “hidden worlds,” she sent reporter Lisa Ling to the convent for an overnight visit to see what life there was really like. The result? Images of joyful women in white habits, praying and attending Mass, as expected, but also playing cards and engaging in a spirited game of field hockey. During Ling’s interviews with the sisters and Winfrey’s on-set discussions with a few of them, they answered the inevitable questions about their vows of chastity (“Do you ever miss the affection of a man?”) and poverty with good humor and forthrightness.

Winfrey, whose show has the theme of “Live Your Best Life,” seemed genuinely curious about the lives of the sisters, and asked them questions with respect. Ling, for her part, even noted that in some ways, the lives of the sisters, rather than being strict and dour, are more liberating than that of other vocations.

Through their courageous agreement to open their doors to Oprah’s scrutiny, the sisters have shown millions what a happy, joyous calling the religious life can be.

Book

Passing on the faith

Lisa Hendey, creator of the 10-year-old popular advice and community website, www.catholicmom.com, distills her web wisdom into a new book, “The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul” (Ave Maria Press, $15.95). 

Hendey, married 23 years and mother of two boys, says it was her sense of the huge responsibility of passing on the faith to her sons, and realization of her initial lack of preparation, that led to the idea of the website. 

In the preface, she notes a 2008 study that showed that 10 percent of all Americans are former Catholics. 

“If we moms don’t embrace and truly love our faith traditions, then we may be adding to the next generations of former Catholics,” she writes. “On the other hand, if our children look to us and find happy, productive and selfless models of Christ’s love incarnate, as I did in my own mom, their desire to be a loving part of the Body of Christ will be all the greater.”

Movies

Academy not 'blind' to Christianity?

As Hollywood counts down to the 82nd annual Academy Awards on March 7, it’s worth noting that two uplifting, family-affirming films — “The Blind Side” and “Up” — are among the 10 Best Picture nominees. 

In particular, “The Blind Side,” a box-office hit about a white well-to-do family in Memphis, Tenn., that takes in a homeless African-American teen, is upfront about its Christian ideals, starting with the cross that its main character, Leigh Anne Tuohy, wears prominently around her neck. While the film received so-so reviews, it has connected with audiences since its November release, and Sandra Bullock is considered a favorite to win Best Actress for her portrayal of Tuohy. 

“Up,” the animated charmer about the misadventures of an elderly man grieving the death of his wife and an overeager “Junior Wilderness Explorer,” while not overtly Christian, offers one of the most touching tributes to married love seen on the big screen and emphasizes the need for youngsters to have strong father figures in their lives. 

Will either movie take home the Oscar? Probably not, if the pundits are to be believed. Still, Hollywood often gets criticized — rightly — for promoting anti-family fare. So it’s encouraging to see these films among the contenders.