Benedictines

GetReligion readers! Help with research project linked to one thing about Lenten news

GetReligion readers! Help with research project linked to one thing about Lenten news

Western liturgical Christians (and a few other believers, these days): I hope you are having a blessed Ash Wednesday and not getting into any trouble at work.

In newsrooms, the days just before Ash Wednesday officially open the season in which lots of editors and non-religion-beat reporters scramble to try to find photo-ops and maybe even easy stories linked to something that is going on called "Lent" and, eventually, "Easter."

This year, the calendar yielded a perfectly valid news hook, as captured in this headline from Religion News Service: "When Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, what’s a clergyperson to do?" What happens when the waves of advertisements for jewels and chocolate collide with centuries of Catholic -- large "C" or small "c" -- tradition?

(RNS) -- For many this year, Feb. 14 is a day of mixed messages. It’s Valentine’s Day, a time for chocolate, roses and perhaps a dinner date. But it’s also Ash Wednesday, which for many Christians is the start of Lent, a period of penitence that precedes Easter Sunday.
How do clergy reconcile this calendar clash, the first of its kind since 1945? 

Eventually, attention will return to Lent itself, the penitential season (in the West) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. In the ancient traditions of Eastern Christianity, Great Lent begins this year -- on the older Julian calendar -- this coming Sunday, Feb. 18, with a service called Forgiveness Vespers, a beautiful rite that would be worthy of coverage. This year, Easter is on April 1 and, for the Orthodox, Pascha is on April 8.

Now, journalists -- on or off the religion-news beat -- what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Lent? There are lots of facts and traditions linked to this season (the Orthodox go vegan for the whole thing), but I would assume that most people think, well, of one thing.

Right, what is the one thing you will give up for Lent? Chocolate? Colas? Facebook? While thinking that through, check out the top of this new Rick Hamlin commentary at The New York Times: "What Will You Give Up for Lent?"

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Death in Chicago: Tribune story shines in reporting nuns' response

Death in Chicago: Tribune story shines in reporting nuns' response

While most media obsess over the primaries, people are still dying on our streets -- one of them in front of a monastery in Chicago.

But he didn’t die forgotten: The resident nuns plan to lead a peace walk tonight.

Nor did the Chicago Tribune overlook this wound dealt to a community: It produced a gentle, heartfelt newsfeature that at once captures the grief and serves as an advance for the event.

Written by Godbeat veteran Manya Brachear Pashman, the story first sets the Benedictine nuns in their neighborhood, then quickly gears up to the emergency:

Neighbors of St. Scholastica Monastery in the Rogers Park neighborhood occasionally see the Roman Catholic sisters who live there, either gardening or leaving to run errands or go to work. They wave and take comfort knowing the religious women have them in their prayers.
Then last weekend, one of the nuns showed up on their doorsteps. Shaken by news that an 18-year-old man had been fatally shot steps from the sisters' home, she put fliers on doorknobs and fence posts and chatted up passers-by, urging neighbors to help the sisters reclaim the crime scene as a place of peace.
On Wednesday, the nuns and their neighbors will gather at the corner of Seeley and Birchwood avenues to walk silently toward the scene of the crime and pray for Antonio Robert Johnson, the man who died there.
"It's important to have our neighbors know we're an oasis for peace in the area," said Sister Benita Coffey, the sister in charge of promoting social justice for the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago. "We've been on this property since 1906 and we are not getting up and leaving the neighborhood. We're going to support our neighbors in whatever ways we can."

The Trib backgrounds us on similar actions by the Benedictines: "The Chicago women have been outspoken against excessive military spending, capital punishment, human trafficking and torture."  They also held a vigil in September 2014 when a man was killed across the street from the monastery.

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