Learn more about Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious or order a signed copy!

"Making a connection. Telling a story. Being a witness. That’s what catechists do. As translators of the truth they seek to give away what they possess because it was so freely passed onto them."

Pat Gohn - writer, speaker, catechist

The Five “First Saturdays” devotion — who’s with me?

The Five “First Saturdays” devotion — who’s with me?

It’s been years since I’ve done a First Saturday devotion. It was something I learned about regarding Fatima, and Our Lady of Fatima is a patron of mine, thanks to St. John Paul II. I’ve been privileged to visit Fatima twice in my life.

Anyway, I was all set to begin the First Saturdays last month when an important family obligation prevented me. So I’m back in the hunt to begin this Saturday September 5. I’m on my way to confession today at a local shrine to prepare in advance because it may be harder to get to confession this Saturday when I won’t be close to home. So, Lord-willing, this is first of five. Why not join me?

If you’ve never made a First Saturday devotion, all you need to know can be found in this link, which summarizes what you are to do:

“This devotion has four parts – all four should be made in a spirit of reparation for blasphemy and ingratitude and for peace in the world,” Fr. Joseph continued. “First, one should go to confession, generally eight days before or after the First Saturday of the month; Second, one should receive Holy Communion on the First Saturday of the month; Third, recite five decades of the Rosary; and fourth, meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary.”

There are great benefits for those who comply with this request. Our Lady told Sister Lucia she would “assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months confess, receive Holy Communion, pray a rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour meditating on the 15 mysteries with the intention of offering reparation.”

Many ask why Our Lady asked her children to observe FIVE first Saturdays. Our Lady told Sister Lucia the five Saturdays are to make reparation for the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies uttered against her Immaculate Heart. The offenses are 1.) against her Immaculate Conception, 2.) against her virginity, 3.) against her Divine maternity, 4.) by those who openly seek to foster in the hearts of children indifference, or even hatred, for this Immaculate Mother, and 5.) by those who directly outrage her holy images. [Read it all.]

 

I’m writing a series on prayer in CATECHIST magazine, order a free copy or subscribe here

I’m writing a series on prayer in CATECHIST magazine, order a free copy or subscribe here

Are you a parish catechist? You should subscribe to Catechist Magazine or ask your Director of Religious Education to get a parish bulk order.

I’m currently writing 7-part series on Prayer.

Get a sample copy or subscribe here. 

I’m at Catholic Mom today with another installment from “Tales from the Empty Nest”

I’m at Catholic Mom today with another installment from “Tales from the Empty Nest”

Over the years, it has been a gift to write for Catholic Mom. Though my frequency there is not what it used to be, I love to add a piece over there a few times a year. Having just launched my youngest into the real world of work and rent-paying, I’m sharing these thoughts from “The Last Serenade” about my son, Peter. You can read the whole piece here.

Maybe your mind pictures a dashing minstrel serenading his beloved beneath her window to win her heart… this wasn’t that. Actually, the last serenade was live classical music floating in from my living room accompanying my morning breakfast prep. I scrambled eggs and fried bacon. Later that same day I would pack the car with my Hubby to move our youngest out of state, the last child to leave home.

This boy-turned-man had won my heart years ago, and his twilight serenades were a staple in my midlife musical diet. Often a private concert just for me, these sessions were much more than recompense for 12+ years of shuffling to piano lessons and recitals.

This breakfast was the last one I would prepare for my son for a long time…

Read the rest over at Catholic Mom.

This makes me think… about what animates the Church

The holy Scriptures declare the body of Christ, animated by the Son of God, to be the whole Church of God, and the members of this body—considered as a whole—to consist of those who are believers; since, as a soul vivifies and moves the body, which of itself has not the natural power of motion like a living being, so the Word, arousing and moving the whole body, the Church, to befitting action, awakens, moreover, each individual member belonging to the Church, so that they do nothing apart from the Word.
–Origen*

*Origen against Celsus. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), F. Crombie (Trans.), Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second (Vol. 4, p. 595). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

A visit with St Elizabeth Ann Seton, or, what I did over my summer vacation, Part 2

A visit with St Elizabeth Ann Seton, or, what I did over my summer vacation, Part 2

A great part of my vacation this summer was visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine of St Elizabeth Ann Seton, one of my home town heroes — meaning she is originally from New York City, and famous for being the first American-born saint lifted to canonization back in 1975.

I talk about St Elizabeth on the newest episode of Among Women.  In it I describe some aspects of her life and share some of her writing.

Here’s a few photos from the Shrine in Emmitsburg, MD.

Mother Seton was a native New Yorker. When she was canonized it was a big deal in my home state.

Mother Seton was a native New Yorker. When she was canonized it was a big deal in my home state. Here we are 40 years later.

 

Front door that leads into the basilica.

Front door that leads into the basilica.

 

View of the interior.

View of the interior.

 

Also depicted, Our Lady appearing to St Catherine Laboré.

Main altar.

 

Also depicted, Our Lady appearing to St Catherine Laboré.

Also depicted in the mosaic, Our Lady appearing to St Catherine Laboré.

 

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The side altar with the relics of St Elizabeth Ann Seton.

 

A photo of an earlier time.

A photo of an earlier time of the same altar with casket.

 

A small reliquary.

A small reliquary.

 

Part of an extensive exhibit on the saint's life and works.

Part of an extensive exhibit on the saint’s life and works.

 

Outdoors.

Outdoors. This is the statue named in the banner photo above.

 

Mother Seton with bible and rosary.

Mother Seton with bible and rosary.

 

There’s much to see. You might enjoy this virtual tour. 

 

All photos Copyright 2015 Pat Gohn. All Rights Reserved.

 

For love of Augustine, or, what I did over my summer vacation.

For love of Augustine, or, what I did over my summer vacation.

A Patron for Life

St Augustine has become a patron of mine for a few reasons. There’s the obvious one in that he is a saint who was one of the greatest writers and teachers in Western Civilization. What’s not to love when you do the work that I do? Then, there is the more personal reason, or how I came to focus on this saint and go deeper in reading him and understanding more of his life.

19 years ago today, before I was deeply into reading the lives of the saints, I was scheduled for a mastectomy and reconstruction after a diagnosis of breast cancer. I wrote about this more extensively last year.

After more consultations and weighing risks and benefits, I consented to a mastectomy with reconstruction. And there was a date placed on the calendar several weeks hence. August 28. It became burned in my brain. Ever since my finding of the lump, a shadow seemed to be cast that was hard to shake. August 28, we would pray, would vanquish that.

Looking for any kind of redemption for that day, I opened the church calendar to find that it was St Augustine’s feast day… perhaps the greatest mind of Western Christianity — with over five million words written as a bishop and theologian, after his legendary conversion. God did his best work in Augustine after Augustine relinquished all to Him.

Augustine’s feast day brought me great hope. [Read the rest.]

And, here I am, again, asking for Augustine’s great intercession and his inspiration to be a source of both of intercession and inspiration in my own life. Year 19 has included thus far a wonderful summer, even it has been keeping me away from the writing desk and from Among Women.

:::

Visiting St Augustine

Listeners of Among Women, and my close friends, know that this summer I was far from home for about six weeks. It started out great. At the end of May, Bob and I took two weeks to drive down to Florida. Our final destination at the end of those two weeks was Clearwater, where I would go to spiritual direction school. Or what I’m affectionately renaming as my Summer Jesus Camp. (I hope to share something of that time a bit later on.)

In the first ten days of our road trip, we were able to visit Gettysburg,  the shrine of St Elizabeth Ann Seton in Maryland, drive the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, visit family in Myrtle Beach, enjoy Charleston, and attend the CNMC in Atlanta with all our podcasting friends... and former colleagues.

The last four days were spent on Florida’s northern coast in St Augustine, and Cocoa Beach, to tour the “space coast”, AKA the Kennedy Space Center. But first we treated ourselves to a mini-pilgrimage in the Cathedral of St Augustine. (Now down there they say AWW-gus-teen. Up here we say a-GUS-tin. But I digress.)

It was a real joy to pray in the oldest parish in the United States, and to honor my patron in sickness and in health… and a real intercessor when it comes to teaching the faith!

Note: Click on photos to enlarge them.

The view of the main altar. Upon entering you notice the very dramatic red ceiling.

The view of the main altar. Upon entering you notice the very dramatic red ceiling.

 

A close up, behind the altar.

A close up, behind the altar.

 

The pulpit, or ambo, with a majestic Holy Spirit depicted.

The pulpit, or ambo, with a majestic Holy Spirit depicted to the right of the altar.

 

St Augustine, Basilica in St Augustine, FL

St Augustine, Basilica in St Augustine, FL

 

The video below describes the amazing restoration of these paintings.

The video below describes the amazing restoration of these painted ceilings.

 

The view from the front to the rear.

The view from the front to the rear.

 

Atop that choir rail is this lovely statue of Mary with the Infant Jesus

Atop that choir rail in the rear is this lovely statue of Mary with the Infant Jesus. Love the colors… (but wait a sec, is Mary wearing pants?? Not likely.)

 

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Bob and I spent time in the quieter Eucharistic chapel. The mosaic about the tabernacle is of the Last Supper.

 

The Eucharistic Chapel.

The Eucharistic Chapel.

 

Details of the mosaic...

Details of the mosaic…

 

right side of "the table"...

right side of “the table”…

 

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and the left side.

 

This is a minor basilica.

This is a minor basilica.

 

There were some lovely side chapels as well. 'Tis himself! St Patrick! My patron!

There were some lovely side chapels as well. ‘Tis himself! St Patrick! Another of my patrons!

 

Lovely art honoring Our Mother.

Lovely art honoring Our Mother.

 

And the Cuban influence is found here too -- Our Lady of Charity. (Sadly she was behind glass and my camera did not get the shot clearly.)

And the Cuban influence is found here too — Our Lady of Charity. (Sadly she was behind glass and my camera did not get the shot clearly.)

The Life of Augustine in Glass

Yet what was most dramatic about this church was the stained glass. Some of the most beautiful I’ve seen of late, created at the beginning of the 20th century in Germany, over 100 years ago. All portrayed scenes from St Augustine’s life. Here’s a few…

Augustine's baptism

Augustine’s baptism

 

Augustine's ordination.

Augustine’s ordination.

 

Augustine preaching

Augustine preaching

 

At the seashore.

At the seashore.

 

At St Monica's death. (The mother of Augustine whose feast day was yesterday.)

At St Monica’s death. (The mother of Augustine whose feast day was yesterday.)

And I’m saving my favorite for last… I simply love this rendering of the relationship between a holy mother and son. The colors here do not do the glass justice. See the video below for more.

St Augustine with his mother, St Monica.

St Augustine with his mother, St Monica.

 

All photos above are 2015 Copyright Pat Gohn, All Rights Reserved.

:::

A brief history of the Cathedral of St Augustine... Catholics landing in Florida in 1565, and its extensive renovation in recent months..

:::

My favorite prayer, and there are many attributed to St Augustine…

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
that I love but what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
that I always may be holy. Amen.

– St Augustine of Hippo-

Among Women 192: Finding God in Hollywood and where you are

Among Women 192: Finding God in Hollywood and where you are

Among Women is back!

This episode recaps my summer break from podcasting and returns with reflections on building a strong prayer life to help to keep us in God’s will. In it I unpack these themes in the life and writings of St Elizabeth Ann Seton

Christin Jezak, Official photo courtesy of IMBD.

Christin Jezak, Official photo courtesy of IMBD.

We also find them in the work of actress/producer Christin Jezak, who shares her unique calling to be a Pauline Cooperator, a lay member of the Pauline family with a special media charism. Don’t miss this latest show! 

A special shout to AW listeners Maria, Mary, and Tracey for meeting with me this summer and discussing new ideas for the podcast! Hear all about it on this episode. As of now, I’m going to upload a new show on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month. (This one is for the 30th.)  Listen for more details.

Also described in the podcast, are blog posts (with photos) of the mini-pilgrimages we made this summer to the National Shrine of St Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, MD, and the Cathedral of St Augustine in Florida.

Listen to Among Women!

Melanie Rigney’s Blessed-Are-You Blog Tour Finishes Here! “Blessed are the meek…”

Melanie Rigney’s Blessed-Are-You Blog Tour Finishes Here! “Blessed are the meek…”

Welcome!

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 4.09.42 PMThis is the final stop of the 8-beatitude blog tour for Melanie Rigney’s latest book, Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from our sisters in faith!

This book is available today for you to browse or purchase through this link: Blessed Are You!

Franciscan Media summarizes the book this way…

Melanie Rigney uses stories of the saints, our sisters in faith, to help readers grow in their spiritual lives. Some of these saints are familiar—Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Bernadette of Lourdes, Elizabeth Ann Seton—while others are not so well known—Maria Karlowska, Claudine Thevenet, Josephine Bakhita, Margaret Flesch. They come from different places and different times, creating an intimate portrait of the universal Church. Yet the lives of each of these women illustrate the qualities of the Beatitudes—what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “the heart of Jesus’s preaching” (1716)—in a down-to-earth and human way. Through the lives of these exemplary women saints and the qualities they espouse—meekness, mourning, poverty of spirit, justice, mercy, purity of heart, peace, righteousness—women will find ways to live more fully the Gospel values of Christian life.

Melanie Rigney invited me to write the foreword for this book and I gratefully accepted. Her book is a fantastic mix of lessons from the beatitudes of Jesus and the inspirational lives of saints who live them.

Beatitudes = Being like Jesus.

This book is a call for all of us to live the beatitudes – to know them and love them.

Here’s a little bit from the foreword I wrote:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares: “the Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity.”

To live the Beatitudes is to be like Jesus, to reflect his countenance, and to be his charity in the world. Picture Jesus’ face, and his example, in each of the Beatitudes as you read them in Blessed are You. The real blessing will come when you can picture your own face, and your faithful example, following Jesus! It’s challenging, yet rewarding. What Melanie Rigney has done in this book is demonstrate the powerful countenance of Jesus that comes through the faces of faith-filled women, chapter by chapter, beatitude by beatitude. So take notes on the women who inspire you. More than famous list of proverbs, the Beatitudes are paradoxical promises – hope in the midst of tribulation — and a response to the holy desire for happiness that God has placed within our hearts. Memorize them and make them your own.

Meekness matters!

Today, on this final leg of the blog tour, we focus on the beatitude meekness.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

When I was growing up I was a bit rambunctious. I frequently had parents and neighbors asking, “why are you so loud?” I had not yet realized the gentility needed for the deep and booming voice God had given me. You could say that it took a while before meekness was on my youthful radar. In time I learned that meekness is one of the qualities that Jesus describes as a key to happiness in Christian life, and indeed, meekness properly asserted brings rewards from God.

Melanie Rigney writes… “In today’s world, meek gets a bad rap. We link it to words like submissive and deferential, words that might make for a deeper relationship with God in theory but that make us uncomfortable to say, let alone consider using as guideposts in our relationships with others here on earth. We want to be strong, empowered, confident, successful, popular—not meek, for goodness sake!

The thing is, we become all of those things when we embrace meekness and humility.”

How true!

Rigney’s book shows that meekness is what Jesus (who was all powerful, being God himself) ultimately demonstrated when he humbled himself in the Garden of Gethsemani at the beginning his passion. He was humble to God’s sovereign will for his human life. Meekness was also a quality of Mary — she humbly yet confidently submitted her request to Jesus at Cana when the wine ran out. Jesus went on to perform his first of many miracles at his mother’s request.

Meekness, though it rhymes with weakness, is anything but. Meekness waits on God. Meekness trusts God implicitly. Meekness lets God lead.

One aspect that I love about Blessed Are You is its liberal use of quotes from the saints. Among those mentioned in this chapter are two of my favorites saints — Gianna Beretta Molla and Thérèse of Lisieux. I’ve included their prayerful quotes for our edification.

“O Jesus, I promise to submit myself to all that you permit to happen to me. Only make me know your will.”
St. Gianna Beretta Molla

“… Dear Lord, Thou knowest my weakness. Each morning I resolve to be humble, and in the evening I recognize that I have often been guilty of pride. The sight of these faults tempts me to discouragement; yet I know that discouragement is itself but a form of pride. I wish, therefore, O my God, to build all my trust upon Thee. As Thou canst do all things, deign to implant in my soul this virtue which I desire, and to obtain it from Thy Infinite Mercy, I will often say to Thee: ‘Jesus, Meek and Humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.’”
St Thérèse of Lisieux

Find out more about Melanie Rigney

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 1.35.18 PMCatch the earlier dates of the Blessed Are You blog tour — click the links below:

Week One

Week Two

Find a conversation with Melanie and myself about The Sisterhood of the Saints, a previous book, on Among Women.

Find Melanie’s posts at Your Daily Tripod.

Go to MelanieRigney.com.

 

 

Making God a Priority in Your Catholic Home: Resources to help parents be prayer leaders

Making God a Priority in Your Catholic Home: Resources to help parents be prayer leaders

Priorities, to-do lists, goals…. we all get it, we’ve all got so much time and we’ve got to budget it according to what we wish to achieve. The spiritual leadership in our homes must be a priority.

As Catholics, our priorities are directed by the two great loves that could summarize the Ten Commandments: Love God and love our neighbor. And we must be deliberate about that — especially in our families. We must be in relationship with God — that means we pray — and we must share that relationship with our families. Parents need to be prayer leaders in our home. When my children were small we taught them prayers both formal and spontaneous. That and more! (I give real examples from our home in some of the articles I list for Catholic Mom and in the Among Women podcasts.) (Also, if you are a woman reading this, I also give a framework for spiritual motherhood in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.)

Here’s a few resources I suggest.

Three great books:

First, a new book: A Short Guide to Praying as a Family: Growing Together in Faith and Love Each Day.61eiluMcKxL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_

Last month on National Review Online, Kathryn Lopez interviews Sr Jane Laurel, OP, editor of the book. Sr Jane Laurel says…

Praying as a family helps us to see with the eyes of faith. We see others and the tasks of daily life in a different light, a light that sets us free from unrealistic expectations about ourselves, others, our time, and “the way things should be.”  Faith also helps us to see all the blessings the Lord gives to us.  As we see His providence and His presence at work in our daily lives, we are filled with gratitude and love.  And, we begin to invite Him more and more into our daily plans and decisions, to see as He sees, and to love as He loves.  Receiving His love for us inspires us to go out in love to the members of our family with this same love.  When family members love one another, they become more respectful towards and attentive to one other.  What we could really say is that they affirm one another’s existence, saying to one another in effect by their attitude and actions: “It is good that you are.” Everyone loves to be around people who love and appreciate them.  So, when family members love and appreciate one another, they are happy.  Thus, when a disagreement or a misunderstanding occurs, the foundation of faith and love are already there, and so opening the lines of communication and reconciliation comes more easily.

To be absolutely honest, it really is a matter of priorities. The things that are important to us are those for which we make time. God and family should be our top two priorities; but we are all weak, we can easily allow other things — technology, sports, social media, and entertainment — to crowd out our time for God and our time for family. We can allow ourselves to get on to the hamster wheel, keeping ourselves so busy that we never stop and take time to think about where we are placing priorities in our lives.  We don’t have to live on the hamster wheel. The Lord wants to show us a simpler way. So the Scriptures tell us, “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). The more cares we have, the more we need to rely on God. He can reveal to us where we are off with our priorities and pursuits. He knows those things that will not truly make us happy and the things that will.  Prayer is the way of entrusting our lives to Him and accepting His guidance.  He shows us the things that only create anxiety and frenzy.  He shows us also the things that lead to communion and communication, the things that genuinely refresh us, versus the things that only drain us of energy. His way is much simpler. Making prayer part of the fabric of daily life leads to peace. Through it, parents can also teach their children how to find peace. For instance, if a parent picks up a child from school and realizes that the child is preoccupied with something, the parent would most likely try to encourage the child to talk more about what he or she is thinking and feeling.  After listening and responding to the child’s answers, the parent could say, “Let’s pray about this together.” They can then pray together, and allow God to give them light and peace.  By making prayer the priority, they hand things over to God and this almost instantaneously makes life less stressful. It’s not about what we can do; it’s about what we can let God do in our lives. [Read it all. ]

Second, a book from last year that I’m still recommending, The Little Oratory: A Beginners Guid to Praying in the Home.  by David Clayton and Leila Maria Lawler. Look for the Among Women podcast I list below with Leila Lawlor — one of the most popular downloads in the last year!

Third, also from a year ago, still offers more: Six Sacred Rules for Families: A Spirituality for the Home by Tim and Sue Muldoon.

Articles from my Catholic Mom archives:Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 6.34.10 PM

Raising Them for Jesus

Spiritual Growth in a Catholic Family, Part One, and here’s Part Two.

Make sure you are familiar with Catholic Mom. It’s one of the best guide to family resources out there! For example, 3 Ways to Create a Prayerful Home, or this, Dear Young Family at Mass. Bookmark CatholicMom.com!

Among Women Podcasts:

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 7.09.47 PMAW 186: On Faith, Grace, and Prayer in Marriage and Family Life with Leila Marie Lawler talking about The Little Oratory.

AW 76: Raising Saints for the Church with blogger Laura Lee Richard

AW 104 Little Ones in the Domestic Church, Part One, with blogger Melanie Bettinelli, and here is its Part Two.

Finally, some strong encouragement and straight talk from School of Love in Kansas City.

:::

PS: (Oh yeah, that vintage photo of me above in the banner photo? That’s the 1989 baptism of my daughter, my middle child.)