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Priests who teach Truth do us a favor

Sin is the cause of endless misery today – and yet, most suffering from despondency never attribute it to immorality. Why would they? Most don’t practice faith in Christ, and of those who do, many no longer hear straight talk about sin. Catholic clarity is hard to come by now, and “right” and “wrong” seem relative. But when you hear a good shepherd who’s fearless in imparting Catholic teaching – even facets which cause squirming and discomfort – you don’t forget him. And you don’t soon forget his message.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

All around us people are harried, confused, and rattled … by viruses, scandals, elections, traffic, jobs, weather, stocks, you name it. There’s no shortage of legitimate ‘concerns’ apart from God’s. People have vacations to plan, budgets to review, wardrobes to update, social calendars to coordinate. Incessant angst, impatience, and competitiveness are part of the grind … yet the utter purpose of life gets totally forgotten.

But here’s a simple truth: when we love and worship God properly first, His laws and teachings come naturally – and in turn, He keeps us under His protection. We’re happier. But if we rebuff Him, we slide down the cool slope of sin, degree by degree – rationalizing it, seeing it as necessary, losing our horror of it. Before we know it, we’re okay with just about anything the world serves up – and we think we’re content – but we’re fighting an inner anxiety we can’t escape.

I remember that day in my life over 25 years ago. We were new in town, and a local priest invited me to a class he was teaching on the popes through history, and their key writings. His engaging homilies had gotten my attention in church, so I thought he’d be an interesting teacher. I was about to get the lesson of my life.

I was late to the first evening’s class, working for a large pharmaceutical client and finishing a project that afternoon. I hurried in still in my suit, and looked around seeing mothers feeding their babies, and a few veiled women holding rosaries. I wondered if I was in the wrong place. The priest motioned me to a seat in front of him. They were finishing up opening prayers – which I didn’t recognize.

Then the night’s papal-encyclical handout came around, called Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI. Huh, never heard of it.

Well, no matter. I was soon frozen by Father’s elucidations – on related sins, purpose of marriage, rearing children, birth control, bioethical issues, lots of stunning stuff. My eyeballs veered left and right, to see if others were as shocked. Everyone seemed fine except me. This was Catholic teaching? Since when? I was sweating, angry, and anxious for the coffee break so I could leave.

Running into our house, I grabbed the dusty Catechism and looked up the citations. It was all there. I’d never heard it.

But I had no excuse anymore. That weekend, I made the hardest Confession of my life, and it reset my course forever.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Investing in good conscience

Catholics increasingly are choosing to get their assets in line with their moral values

People invest their assets in order to turn a handsome profit — the greater the gain, the better. Increasingly, however, investors are taking an interest in just how those profits are being earned. They still want to get the highest return on investment, but they don’t want to profit from companies that engage in products or business practices that go against their moral compass.

It goes by many names, but it’s often called “socially responsible investing,” or SRI, a blanket term for practically any form of values-based investment principles, whether rooted in selected social concerns, religious ethics, or personal beliefs.

Many Catholics have gotten on board with the idea. They want competitive earnings, but not at the price of compromising their moral conscience. It’s a matter of putting faith ahead of financial gain.

“Catholics aren’t called to check their ethics at the door of the church when they leave Mass on Sunday. We’re called to be Catholic in all that we do – whether it is in private or in the public square,” said Tony Minopoli, president and chief investment officer for the Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, and member of Legatus’ Fairfield County Chapter. “As an investor, it would be difficult to reconcile how to maintain your integrity if you are opposed to certain activities — such as abortion, discrimination, or nuclear weapons — but then directly profit from the manufacturing or distribution of products and services involved in those activities.”

Rise of moral investing

“In our view, more Catholics are investing in accordance with their moral beliefs,” said George P. Schwartz, chairman and chief executive officer of Ave Maria Mutual Funds, which in recent years has grown to serve more than 100,000 shareholders with entrusted assets of over $2.7 billion.

The Ann Arbor Legate observed that among investors in general, too, “there has been an explosion of interest in socially responsible investing, or impact investing, which aligns investments with personal beliefs.”

According to a 2019 CNBC report, socially responsible investing (SRI) assets have grown by 40 percent annually since 2016 and now comprise one-fourth of all managed assets in the United States. Another survey shows that millennials — those presently in the range of 24 to 39 years of age — are the adult demographic most committed to SRI, more so than Generation Xers or baby boomers. It seems the younger the generation, the more they embrace it.

Values-based mutual funds are not created equal, however. They go under an array of names and packages, and they vary widely to appeal to particular types of investors. Some portfolios favor “clean technology” or environmentally friendly corporations, for example, while others prioritize companies that stress racial, gender, or LGBT diversity. Other might steer clear of tobacco or alcohol products or particular political agendas.

Some brokers offer portfolios designed to suit Islamic or Jewish investors, and there is a broader SRI subcategory often called “biblically responsible investing” that aims to satisfy scriptural principles.

Then there are asset management firms offering investment opportunities based on Catholic values. Even these differ from portfolio to portfolio. Inevitably, fund managers may emphasize some identified Catholic values ahead of others, and not necessarily in order of moral gravity. One fund might focus entirely on life and bioethical issues, for example, while another might lean more heavily toward social justice concerns.

Why Catholics should care

In 2003, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved guidelines on socially responsible stewardship. Although meant to govern the USCCB’s own investments and not binding on any other Catholic institutions or individuals, the document exemplifies the kinds of Catholic moral and social principles that should inform investment decisions.

“Those principles are a good starting point, but we also understand the bishops’ conference will hold themselves to a higher standard,” said Father Jason Tyler, bioethicist for the Diocese of Little Rock. “They want to provide a good example.”

The USCCB guidelines read a bit like a Hippocratic Oath for investors: first, do no harm by refusing to invest in companies whose products or policies run directly counter to Catholic moral teaching; use shareholder influence to improve corporate policy where possible; and support companies that are proactive in moral causes and attentive to the common good.

The bishops’ policy thus forbids the USCCB to invest in companies involved in abortion, contraceptives, or human cloning, and also to examine their commitment to human rights, economic justice, labor standards, arms production, and environmental concerns.

At the same time, the policy admits the possibility of “mixed investments” in companies with some morally or socially problematic practices. In such instances the bishops urge the prudent application of moral and ethical criteria to avoid scandal and determine whether divestment is necessary.

Applying prudence

Ave Maria Mutual Funds and the Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors each use “moral screens” to weed out companies that violate the Catholic principles that define their investment criteria.

Ave Maria uses what they call “morally responsible investing” (MRI) by screening out companies that support abortion, pornography, and embryonic stem cell research. Their Catholic Advisory Board governs the policy and meets regularly to review the funds’ religious standards and criteria.

“Abortion is the big one – no abortifacient drug makers, no hospital companies that perform abortions, and no insurance companies that pay for abortions,” Schwartz said. “Also, any company that contributes to Planned Parenthood is out…. We have zero tolerance with respect to companies that are offenders of our criteria.”

Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors handle their managed investments as well as the fraternal order’s own assets using moral screens in accordance with the USCCB’s policies, according to their website.

Consequently, their mutual funds demonstrate zero tolerance on key moral concerns such as abortion and the production of anti-personnel mines, and tolerate limited mixed investments in certain other areas.

“Our job as investment professionals is to translate the common-sense standard into actionable guidelines,” Minopoli said.

Yes, but does morality make money?

When values-based investing became a thing a couple decades ago, often there were worries that investing morally would limit profit margins significantly. Not any more, however.

“While it used to be assumed that excluding investments in any group of securities would harm an investor’s ability to perform, there is now a growing sense that avoiding bad corporate actors has the ability to reduce risk because you avoid the volatility,” Minopoli explained. “It may even be helpful to the overall returns of a diversified portfolio as ethical companies may be more likely to make sound decisions and focus on long-term growth.”

Schwartz of Ave Maria agreed that values and solid returns are not incompatible.

“Our goal is to provide good returns without compromising moral values,” he said. “We place emphasis on producing good investment performance in a morally responsible way. Investors should not have to sacrifice financial performance potential because of their prolife and pro-family beliefs.”

Don’t go it alone

Although some Catholics might prefer to plan their own investment strategies and cobble together an eclectic portfolio, it’s a daunting task perhaps best left to the professionals, the experts said.

“While it is admirable that an individual would attempt to invest in a morally responsible way on their own, research resources and time commitment makes it difficult,” said Schwartz.

Minopoli concurred with that judgment. “It can be both time-consuming to read through all the available financial statements and disclosures, and challenging to receive honest and transparent information from corporate investor relations professionals,” he advised. And then there’s the matter of monitoring the new products and services companies introduced and studying the effects of corporate mergers and acquisitions.

“So if an investor’s portfolio is larger than a few well-known names, we recommend that Catholic investors outsource this task to finance professionals who are informed by moral theologians,” he said.

The trend toward morally responsible investing is filled with positives, as Catholic investors become more aware of a critical way in which they can live out their faith and asset managers develop and sustain mutual funds specifically curated to meet those needs — a win-win situation for all.

“These are exciting times in the investment business,” Minopoli said. “We’re optimistic that moral investing offers Catholics the opportunity to pursue profits without sacrificing our integrity.”

NOTE: Legatus was excited to announce the Legatus Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at January’s Summit East. The Legatus DAF is powered by the Knights of Columbus Charitable Fund and offers investment opportunities with Knights of Columbus funds or Ave Maria Mutual Funds. Visit for more information. 

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine editorial consultant.


Investing for health of soul

“An appropriate starting point for developing an authentically Catholic investment ethic may be to focus on how to avoid evil when making investment choices,” according to Samuel Gregg, research director for the Acton Institute.

Most corporations, he noted, are likely to be associated in some way—however remote—with activities or policies that conflict with right reason. The best analysis, he suggests, regards not which company does the least harm, but whether the investment would amount to a formal or material cooperation in evil.

Formal cooperation in the evil act of another entity is always immoral. “This occurs when the person cooperating intends to help the other do what is wrong,” Gregg said. “Anyone who directs, encourages, approves, commands, or actively defends another’s immoral act formally cooperates in that immoral act.”

Material cooperation involves facilitating an evil act by another entity without intending the evil ourselves. We might foresee the connection between the investment and the objectionable act and therefore bear some responsibility, but we must weigh whether the good we accomplish justifies the evil effect, he explained. The material cooperation might be tolerable if it is very limited and remote — for example, if an otherwise morally solid mutual fund makes a small investment in a corporation that has a subsidiary that engages in some objectionable practice or product.

Additional moral considerations include the possibility of giving scandal to others, or whether even remote material cooperation might become a kind of slippery slope leading in time to rationalizing a closer or even formal cooperation with evil. All things considered, it’s best to do all one can to avoid morally problematic investment links entirely while still supporting morally good options.

“Though this formal/material distinction may sound complicated, it does help us to assess the correct moral choice when faced with different investments,” Gregg said.

When it comes to investments, “Catholics should remember that the maxim ‘Let the buyer beware’ involves more than just protecting ourselves against fraud,” he concluded. “It also concerns the moral health of our souls.”

St. Joseph, our spiritual father

It is a longstanding tradition of the Church to dedicate the month of March in honor of St. Joseph. This makes sense since the Solemnity of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19. As I prepared to write this article for the March issue, it became evident that my topic should be St. Joseph. Let me explain.

Tom Monaghan

As you may know from past columns, I spent six and half years as a young boy in an orphanage in Jackson, Michigan, and the name of that orphanage was St. Joseph’s Home for Boys. It was run by the Felician sisters, which is an order that came over from Poland in the late 1800s and primarily (or at least initially) ministered to Polish Americans. In keeping with the traditions of Polish Catholics, they had a deep devotion to St. Joseph. For example, St. Joseph’s solemnity, which is the patronal feast day of Poland, was celebrated in a special way at the orphanage. In addition, all the boys in the orphanage took the name Joseph as their confirmation name. So from a very young age, I understood that he was a very important saint, and yet I did not know much about him and never fully appreciated him…until recently.

Just before Christmas, I had dinner with Chris Ice, who is the new president of Ave Maria University, and his wife, Mary. It was a tremendous evening, and I continue to be impressed by both of them. As a Christmas gift, Chris sent me a book that was hot off the press by Fr. Donald H. Calloway, MIC, called Consecration to St. Joseph, The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father. As the title implies, it contains a 33-day consecration to St. Joseph, which I promptly began after the first of the year and just recently completed on February 3 shortly before writing this column.

Soon after starting this book and consecration, I was struck by the power and importance of this amazing saint, who I had always wanted to know more about. In addition to the day-by-day consecration prayers and readings, this book is an amazing summary of the Church’s teachings on St. Joseph; from what many of the great Saints have said about him to the teachings of popes throughout the ages. Among his many titles, St. Joseph is hailed as the Patron Saint of the Universal Church and of Workers! I thought, this is perfect for Legates and for the month of March. I cannot begin to do justice to this book by Fr. Calloway, so I simply encourage you to read it. It is a great book for Lent or anytime for that matter. St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church…Pray for us!

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual

Father Donald H. Calloway, MIC
Marian Press, 326 pages


Consecration to St. Joseph can be accomplished with a simple prayer of entrustment, but here Fr. Donald Calloway sets forth a 33-day program of preparation similar to what St. Louis de Montfort recommended for Marian consecration in his True Devotion to Mary. Through prayer and curated readings assigned for each preparation day, this text will guide the faithful toward a richer and deeper appreciation of St. Joseph leading up to the selected day of consecration. It’s a way of acknowledging him as spiritual father, committing to imitating his virtues, and placing oneself under his guidance and protection – of which all can benefit immensely.


Order: Amazon

Road Map to Heaven: A Catholic Plan for Life

Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
TAN Books, 172 pages


Isn’t getting to heaven the whole point of living? Scripture is very clear on that, considering all itstalk of the perils of storing up riches on earth and the futility of gaining the whole world but losing one’s soul. In this little volume, Fr. Broom describes a plan for navigating through practices that advance growth in personal holiness. This “road map” requires prayer, order, good habits, and a certain mindfulness about fulfilling this destiny. Working out one’s salvation is something that must be done daily, even hourly, and Fr. Broom’s “chronological approach” provides a suitable blueprint for realizing heavenly aspirations.


Order: Amazon

Coaching Catholics through ethical dilemmas

The National Catholic Bioethics Center has an active consultation line. The vast majority of calls taken by the ethicists concern end-of-life decision-making. The principal analytical tool used in these cases is the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means of treatment.

The Catholic Church holds that we have an obligation to use ordinary means of treatment, but that we may forgo those that are extraordinary. Typically what is meant by ordinary is any procedure that is easy to carry out, not painful, and whose benefits clearly outweigh the burdens. The extraordinary include procedures that are very difficult, very painful, too expensive, or cause some measure of deep psychological distress. Some of these criteria are more objective than others. 

We often receive questions about medical treatments for those who are elderly. On analysis, many qualify as extraordinary and may be forgone. The line between ordinary and extraordinary is not a stable one but rather varies according to the age and condition of the patient. A procedure that might easily be performed on a young person, and that would be clearly beneficial, may turn out to be much more difficult for someone who is in a fragile state of health. Burdensome treatments are not necessary, though we are always free to try extraordinary measures if we wish.

We also receive many calls from concerned loved ones who are upset by decisions made by others that do not conform to Catholic teaching. If one is not the designated proxy, and does not have the authority to make decisions, it can be very difficult to watch others make errors, but there is little that can be done about it. The only power one has in these cases is that of moral persuasion.

Thus it may be that an elderly person has requested in writing that he or she be provided with no food and water if unconscious for any prolonged period of time. Generally, we should die from some underlying condition, not from dehydration or starvation, though there are some unavoidable exceptions. Ideally, one would override this bad decision. At the other extreme, no one should be placed on a feeding tube when still able to swallow, even if he or she is unable to meet his or her full daily nutritional requirements. 

We have begun to receive calls on gender dysphoria. A father recently recounted how his autistic son had been convinced by a psychologist to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. The young man was living at home, had no job, and was over 21. The father had no legal authority to prevent him from following through on this decision. Obviously, this was not the right course of action. All he and his wife could do was to try to dissuade their son and express their strong objections to the psychologist.

In another call, a wife described the decision of her husband to transition to a female. She and their adult children were devastated. In words that I will never forget, she said that he had lied to her at the altar when he had promised that he would love her until death. He said had made this promise as a man, she rightly insisted. The NCBC opposes all gender transitioning and holds that psychological counseling is the best course of action for those suffering gender dysphoria.

Then there are the calls from physicians or family members concerning problem pregnancies. These are the most difficult of all, coming at any time of the day or night and often requiring a moral judgment under a time constraint. These are the decisions that keep an ethicist awake at night.

EDWARD J. FURTON, PH.D., is director of publications for the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia and among its team of seven ethicists. He’s editor-in-chief of NCBC’s award-winning National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly and Ethics & Medics.

Pray and rest – where God lives on earth

I am the pastor of a parish that lays in the shadow of the United Nations building on the East Side of Manhattan. Our church is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. We have two daily weekday Masses — one in the early morning, and one at lunch hour. Both Masses attract people who live or work in the neighborhood. So do the Confessions offered before the noontime Masses. I am truly impressed by the number of people who take time out of their busy schedules to be with the Lord and receive His sacramental refreshment.

I am also inspired by the number of people who stop by the church when there is no Mass being celebrated simply to pray to God. They have come to the house of God to be with God. People kneel, sit, or stand in the sight of God and open their hearts to Him. They especially turn toward the Divine Savior Jesus Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle to renew their love and devotion. They also light candles and ask the intercession of the saints.

Our parishioners come from all the nations of the earth. Many work at the United Nations. Others are from among the many immigrants who come to New York in search of a better life and jobs that will allow them to help their families back home. As with Rome in the past, all roads lead to New York, or at least it seems that way.

The people who come to spend time praying in our church are part of the mystery of God’s providence. They are a great reminder to me that the priest and the parish church — indeed, the whole Church throughout the world — are only here to make available to people the opportunity to get to know and love Jesus Christ. The people praying in my parish church are glad (I hope!) that I am there, but that is not why they come. I can be transferred tomorrow, but the parish will still be here. They come to find where Jesus lives and to spend time talking with Him.

They come to a Catholic parish because that is where God resides on earth. The house of God is a truly accurate description of the parish church. As I observe the comings and goings of people who visit my parish, I am reminded that they want to be with God in heaven when they die, and so they come to prepare for that journey by spending time with God in His earthly abode.

It has been said that home is a place where they have to take you in no matter what you may have done. Our parish home is where God not only takes you in, but purifies you from your sins in the sacrament of Penance and then nourishes and strengthens you with His own Body and Blood in the Most Holy Eucharist.

I know that people are happy when they see their priests praying in church apart from Mass. The lay faithful should know how much we priests are inspired and encouraged by seeing ordinary people step into the church to spend time in prayer. Take advantage of seeing an open door at any Catholic parish to spend time in heaven’s antechamber, where the God we long to see face to face in the next life is already present among us, hidden in the sacred host in the tabernacle. We all benefit spiritually from this very good use of our time.

FATHER GERALD E. MURRAY is pastor of Holy Family Church in New York. He holds a doctorate in canon law from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and appears as commentator on religious topics on TV and radio, including EWTN, Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC, NY1, Radio Maria, Relevant Radio, Fox News Radio, and the Voice of America. He writes a monthly column for The Catholic Thing website. He served in the U.S. Navy Reserve Chaplain Corps from 1994 to 2005.

St. Katharine Drexel (1858-1955)

Feast Day: March 3
Canonization: October 1, 2000

St. Katharine Drexel was an American heiress and philanthropist who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and donated her $20 million fortune to meet the spiritual and material needs of black and Native American people.

She was born Katharine Mary Drexel in Philadelphia, second child of wealthy investment banker Francis Anthony Drexel. Their devout Catholic family opened its doors to the poor several times weekly, distributing food, clothing, and rental assistance.

When her stepmother died from cancer, Katharine’s life took a profound turn, seeing how money could not insulate from pain and death.

While on a European tour, Katharine met Pope Leo XIII, who suggested she become a missionary. She entered religious life in 1889, a decision that shocked Philadelphia high society. In 1891 she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, dedicating her work and inheritance to establishing missions and schools across the U.S. for black and Native American people. In 1925, she founded Xavier University in New Orleans, the only historically black Catholic college in the U.S. Pope St. John Paul II canonized her in 2000.

Living off the swamp during lean days of Lent

Growing up in St. James Parish in the 1950s, my siblings and I were not aware of the festivities of Mardi Gras 55 miles downriver in New Orleans. All we knew was that when Ash Wednesday rolled around, my mother had all eight of us lined up at the altar rail to get ashes. Thus began the holiest season of the year, when the church was draped in purple cloth to represent mourning and our Friday evenings were spent praying the Way of the Cross and attending adoration, which was truly a sacrifice for young boys who wanted to be in the swamp.

From the Sunday pulpit, Father Lester Schexnayder emphasized Lent as a time of preparation, a kind of “spiritual spring cleaning.” We understood that meant preparing the heart and soul for Easter, but for us it also meant preparing for the seasons ahead. It was time to repair river shrimp boxes and order cotton seed cake to catch Mississippi River shrimp in the weeks ahead. We mended crawfish nets and painted the mirliton trellises. We picked Papere’s strawberries and helped plant the spring garden, which was always done during Holy Week, but never on Good Friday. Our favorite task by far was collecting onion peels, clipping dandelions, and saving the water from boiled beets to dye the prettiest Easter eggs on River Road.

When Lent rolled around, we fasted from meat on Fridays. Like most families in our area, we lived off the land and ate what the swamp floor provided. Our refrigerator was stocked with an assortment of feathers, fins, and furs. During the early days of Lent, the crawfish and river shrimp were not yet running, and the Mississippi River water still too chilly to string trotlines. As it happened, St. James Parish was blessed with flocks of poule d’eau, or “water chicken,” during the first months of the year. Now, in a community that was 99 percent monetarily challenged, poule d’eau were plentiful and so were the mouths that needed to be fed. Providentially, the local priests classified poule d’eau as fish (after all, they were fisheating birds), and gave all of us a dispensation so that we could eat poule d’eau stew on meatless Fridays. I guess if “you are what you eat,” then, poule d’eau truly is fish!

I’ve read that during the Middle Ages cheese, butter, eggs, and fats were also prohibited during Lent. St. Thomas Aquinas explained that these items “afford(ed) greater pleasure as food (than fish).” Obviously, the angelic doctor never tasted Louisiana seafood gumbo or sauce piquante! Because you might feel the same about poule d’eau, I’ve provided a great barbecued shrimp recipe to help in your abstinence from meat this season.

You know, it really doesn’t seem that we Louisianans sacrifice much by substituting meat with seafood on fast days; but I guess if it works for the Church, it works for me, too!

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle-Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.
MICHAELA D. YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company



Prep time: 30 Minutes • yields: 6 Servings


4 dozen (21–25 count) shrimp, head-on
1 tbsp light margarine
1 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
Louisiana hot sauce to taste
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley


Preheat oven to 350°F. Place shrimp in a large baking pan with a 1-inch lip and set aside. In a 15-inch cast-iron skillet, melt margarine in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic,

Worcestershire, hot sauce, paprika, salt, and pepper. Blend well into margarine mixture and sauté 1–2 minutes. Sprinkle in parsley and sauté one additional minute. Pour garlic sauce over shrimp and bake 10–12 minutes, turning shrimp occasionally. Transfer shrimp and sauce into a large ceramic serving bowl and serve with toasted French bread.

WHAT TO SEE: Mercy shall be theirs

Faustina: Love and Mercy
Kaminska, Maciej Malysa, Janusz Chabior
107 min. • Not Rated

The now-familiar Divine Mercy image originated with a vision of Christ given to Sister Faustina Kowalksa, a young member of a convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland – to whom Jesus appeared in 1931. The private revelations and messages she received over several years, faithfully recorded in a diary as directed by her confessor, provide the basis for the popular modern devotion to Divine Mercy and the relatively new feast day that bears its name.

The new docudrama Faustina: Love and Mercy provides a window into the brief life and work of St. Faustina, whom Pope St. John Paul II canonized in 2000 as the “first saint of the new millennium.” Screened at select theaters in special one-night engagements last fall, the film could soon see a third theatrical release before becoming available on DVD or through streaming services. 

Filmed in Polish with voiceovers in English, Faustina impressively portrays the young nun’s early life, her spiritual struggles, her relationship with her spiritual director (Bl. Fr. Michal Sopocko), her visions, and her death in 1938 at the age of 33. It fell to the priest to spread devotion to Divine Mercy and to found a religious order dedicated to the same, tasks Jesus had asked of St. Faustina.

The film describes the growth of the devotion and its suppression in 1959, which was lifted by the Vatican in 1978 through the efforts of one Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope St. John Paul II.

The history of the original Divine Mercy image itself is covered in detail, from the painstaking process of having it painted accurately to its survival despite years of communist religious repression. 

What comes through in Faustina: Love and Mercy is the holiness of St. Faustina and the urgency of her message: that we must seek God’s mercy in repentance, extend mercy to others, and place all our trust in Jesus. 

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer