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Recently, a friend and I saw “The Shack.” Both of us had read the book (by William Young) several years ago and had really liked not only for its reading pleasure, but for the reflection that it afforded us.  Would the movie do the same for us?
The movie is about two hours long, maybe a little longer. To say that my friend and I liked it, would be an understatement. The pain is real in the primary figure when he loses his daughter. His grieving touched us deeply.  He needed help in his grief. Help that his family didn’t know how to give him, eg: his teenage daughter had her own issues to deal with.

He finds a note from “Papa.” He can’t discern who the note is from, but decides it must be from the person who took his loved one from him.  He decides to return to where the murder occurred. The story changes dramatically from there.

If you read the book, you know he meets the Trinity. I don’t want to give everything away if you have plans to see the movie, but God is a black woman. This, in itself, is utterly delightful. What happens now can provide hours of reflection time.  The quotes alone are naturally spiritual, but a few provide comical  relief as well. It’s light, non-judgmental interaction as Mac, the main character, comes to realize what he has never been able to comprehend let alone see clearly. After so much pain, he is able to see what has been offered to him all along.

When he returns to his family, he’s a different person altogether. He seems to love life, appreciate his family, and generally realizes he’s blessed in so many ways.
We really don’t want to say more lest we spoil it for you if you have plans to see the movie.  As for my friend and I, we loved the movie and both have plans to reread the book.  Reading the book before seeing the movie is not necessary. You’ll enjoy the movie just as well.

We saw it on a Saturday evening, and I was hoping the theater would be filled, but it wasn’t.  Probably half full with middle aged to elderly adults. Why weren’t the young there too?

Do yourself a favor and see the film. I’ve only heard of one person who didn’t like it. We at SISTERS ONLINE would love to hear what your thoughts are after seeing it. Enjoy your viewing experience!


Author: David Matzko McCarthy
Paperback, 72 pages, $9.95
From Liturgical Press, 1-800-858-5450 ,

Human dignity is a primary issue in this book. That of the prisoner and the convicted. God loves us all and we are called to share that love with others. In this insightful and challenging resource, David McCarthy encourages us to follow the call of Pope Francis to live out the love and mercy of God for all the world.

An invaluable resource for those seeking to engage in formation of conscience, both personally and communally, around the issues of capital punishment. Small faith communities, parishes, and adult faith formation programs will find it accessible, thoughtful, and well grounded in Scripture and the wisdom of ecclesial tradition.


Author: Cardinal Walter Kasper

There are few historical figures in memory even after 500 years who were as influential as Martin Luther. In the course of 500 years, Martin Luther was viewed in many different ways: Luther as a reformer, Luther as a church father of Protestantism, Luther as a champion of reason and freedom, Luther as a brave German national hero, and many other images assigned to him.

For Catholics, Luther has long been one of the heretics par excellence, and responsible for the split of the Western Church and its consequences--at least up until today. This thinking is now over. The Catholic Luther research in the twentieth century brought a significant shift in understanding Luther. Luther is now recognized for his insights and there is a more equitable judgment on the schism. There is now more of an understanding and ecumenical spirit.

Kasper carefully presents these themes in his latest work, explores his understanding of Martin Luther and his contributions that could not be imagined 500 years ago, but are now in the forefront of a new ecumenical spirit. Various chapters in this book speak of the end of the confessional age, Luther in the spirit on modern times, ecumenical discovery of catholicity, and an ecumenism of charity.

Available at several places including Paulist Press, 1-800-218-1903.



Author: Brendan Byrne, SJ. Brendan has taught New Testament at Jesuit Theological College, Parkville (Melbourne), Australia, for over three decades, within the University of Divinity (Melbourne), of which he is now an Emeritus Professor. He is the author of twelve books on all four gospels and the letter of Paul.

$19.95; 216 pages; paperback

This work offers a theological and pastoral discussion of key Pauline texts and topics, arranged in a format for an 8-day retreat along the lines of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. While the format is that of two talks a day for eight days of retreat, the collection is designed to serve as an introduction to Paul's theology and spirituality more generally, with a particular focus upon those aspects that appear to be matched and stressed in ignatian spirituality, as currently understood and practiced.

Notable emphases include: Paul's sense of the death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as the outreach of divine self-sacrificial love to the world; the sense of Christ as New Adam, inaugurating in a graced "new creation" the original divine plan for human beings and the other-than-human world; the rich Pauline sense of as "life in the body," including the Eucharistic body, in all its aspects both individual and communal; the transition from the limitation (spiritual and pastoral) of "life under the law" to freedom and responsbiility "in the spirit"; the hope for the future of humanity and the world represented by the resurrection of Jesus and the triumph of grace and self-sacrificial love. While dseigned in first instance for individual instruction and reflection, the talks would also serve for communal reading and discussion. Each is concluded by a series of questions designed, in either context, to promote this end.

Available at several places including Paulist Press, 1-800-218-1903.



Medical Mission Sister Associate Chris Schenk, known to many as the Founder and Executive Director of FutureChurch for many years, is completing a book entitled Crispina and Her Sisters:  Women and Authority in Early Christianity.  While on a FutureChurch pilgrimage to Roman archaeological sites of women leaders in the early Church, Chris became intrigued with tomb art that depicts women’s authority in the Church during that time.  The Vatican’s Pio Cristiani museums house sarcophagi friezes showing women with codices and scrolls, with hands in teaching and preaching poses, surrounded by Biblical stories.  

Crispina’s is one of the few women’s tombs inscribed with a name.  She is shown cradling a codex.  The Vatican Museum has been generous in allowing Chris to use about 30 images of sarcophagi artifacts housed there, telling her, ‘we are really eager to encourage your work’.

Fortress Press, publisher of the book says, “Discovering reliable information about women in early Christianity is challenging. Who has heard of Bitalia, Veneranda, Crispina, Petronella, Leta, Sofia the Deacon?  Yet their catacomb and tomb art clearly suggests their authority and influence.   Recent scholarship on Roman sarcophagi and early Christian art is given significant attention, as is in-depth review of women's history in the first four centuries of Christianity.  A fascinating picture emerges of women’s authority in the early Church, a picture either not available, or greatly diminished in the written history.” 

Chris describes her own “God-search” as going back to the early ‘70s with her decision to join the Medical Mission Sisters.  Their commitment to international holistic health care spoke to her as both a Christian and a health practitioner.  Although Chris’s path eventually led her to Canonical membership in the Sisters of St. Joseph in Cleveland, she has maintained a special relationship with the Medical Mission Sisters for decades now as an Associate member. 

Medical Mission Sisters are looking forward to the publication of Chris’s book which will give a deeper perspective on the significant role of women in the early Church.  The book will be released by Fortress Press in print and e-book formats in late 2017.



Author: Pope Francis

Random House, $26

Pope Francis has been a transformative leader of the Catholic Church, and his first book "lets us see how he became the man he is," said James Carroll at

No, he was not aiming to rewrite doctrine when he famously said, of priests who identify as gay, "Who am I to judge?" Here, the "firm, if kindly, pushback" he gives to his critics is to remind them that mercy, too, is church doctrine--an insight he absorbed while serving as a parish priest in Argentina.



Author: John Dear
Publisher: Twenty-Third Publications
Available on:

John Dear believes that the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount are Jesus' blueprint for peace and Christian discipleship. The reader can study Dear's reflections and join in his campaign of peace and nonviolence.

The Sermon on the Mount is the job description for every Christian. In this book, Dear recounts his ongoing journey into nonviolence as a way of life, as the way of Jesus and as the way to life. Each of us can choose peace over war, nonviolence over violence, and love over hate.

A very worthwhile read!