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Archives for September 2012

The F.U.N. Quotient… kids and guitars, and well, I was amazed!

It’s kids, it’s guitars, it’s choreography! I don’t know if I appreciated their playing more, or their smiles!

Support a Catholic Speaker Month: Profiling Mary Ann Glendon

Mary Ann Glendon

This blog post is in support of Catholic Speakers Month. Read all about this project, and the 100 speakers it profiles, on Brandon Vogt’s blog.

An inspiring women

As a Catholic woman who has attempted to live my faith in the daily tumult that is our society, and even dared to teach the faith, I’ve looked to women who have shined with their own vibrant light in the world… women for whom there in not a separation between their faith and life, and who honor both faith and reason. For me, Mary Ann Glendon has been an apt teacher through her life as a law professor, a prolific writer, and by her public service as the former United States Ambassador to the Vatican under the administration of President George W. Bush. Most recently she has been appointed to serve on the US Commission for International Religious Freedom. (I’ll leave notes on her amazing life in a biographical sketch, provided to me from her, at the end of this post.)

Over the years, I’ve read many articles written by Glendon, especially as she has lent her voice to the political and legal problems of our day that needed a voice for human dignity, especially in the areas of the family and women’s issues. Plus I have had the pleasure of hearing her speak locally in the Archdiocese of Boston as a keynote speaker for the Women Affirming Life breakfast.

I first started following Glendon’s work in 1995 when she was asked to be head of the delegation from the Vatican to the United Nation’s conference on women in Beijing, the occasion for John Paul II’s Letter to Women.  For me, Mary Ann Glendon’s witness is one that exemplifies not only the virtues of Christianity, but also, most notably, the beauty and mission of womanhood that John Paul’s letter extols.

In the parlance of Catholic circles, Mary Ann Glendon is one brilliant spiritual mother. She is a woman of holy influence in every sphere in which she dwells… as a wife and mother, as a decorated and gifted leader in her profession, and on the world stage. (And FWIW, I’m not the only one who has thought that she might make a great Supreme Court Justice.)

Someone worth reading

Glendon’s books are listed in the biographical sketch below, and  you can access some of her articles at First Thingsplus find her recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on “Why the Bishops are Suing the U.S. Government.”

My Patheos colleague Kathy Schiffer describes Glendon’s help in the fight for religious liberties on Capitol Hill.


(Note: I chuckled at the sweet disposition of the gentleman given the honor of introducing Mary Ann Glendon… and the length to which he goes in bringing her to the podium. This is an academic presentation at the University of Chicago, and its content may or may not suit your interests, but it is the most recent example I found of Glendon’s prowess as a teacher and presenter… but do take time to hear her introduced and to listen to the early portions of her presentation, if not the whole thing.)

Biographical Sketch

Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.  A former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, she currently serves as Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.  She writes and teaches in the fields of human rights, comparative law, constitutional law, and political theory.

Glendon is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1991, the International Academy of Comparative Law, and is a past president of the UNESCO-sponsored International Association of Legal Science.  She served two terms as a member of the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics (2001-2004), and has represented the Holy See at various conferences including the 1995 U.N. Women’s conference in Beijing where she headed the Vatican delegation.

Glendon has contributed to legal and social thought in several articles and books, and has lectured widely in this country and in Europe. Her widely translated books, bringing a comparative approach to a variety of subjects, include The Forum and the Tower (2011), a series of biographical essays exploring the relation between political philosophy and politics-in-action; Traditions in Turmoil (2006), a collection of essays on law, culture and human rights; A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2001), which the New York Times reviewer said should be the definitive study of the framing of the UDHR; A Nation Under Lawyers (1996), a portrait of turbulence in the legal profession, analyzing the implications of changes in legal culture for a democratic polity that entrusts crucial roles to legally trained men and women; Rights Talk (1991), a critique of the impoverishment of political discourse; The Transformation of Family Law (1989), winner of the legal academy’s highest honor, the Order of the Coif Triennial Book Award; Abortion and Divorce in Western Law (1987), winner of the Scribes Book Award for best writing on a legal subject; The New Family and the New Property (1981), and textbooks on comparative legal traditions.

Her prizes and honors include the National Humanities Medal, the Bradley Foundation Prize, and honorary doctorates from numerous universities including the Universities of Chicago and Louvain.

Glendon taught at Boston College Law School from 1968 to 1986, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and the Gregorian University in Rome.

She received her bachelor of arts, juris doctor, and master of comparative law degrees from the University of Chicago. During a post-graduate fellowship for the study of European law, she studied at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and was a legal intern with the European Economic Community. From 1963 to 1968, she practiced law with the Chicago firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt, and served as a volunteer civil rights attorney in Mississippi during “Freedom Summer” 1964.

A native of Berkshire County, she lives with her husband, Edward R. Lev, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.



It’s all about the relationship! Or, getting personal with Jesus in the Year of Faith…

It’s all about the relationship! Or, getting personal with Jesus in the Year of Faith…

Christ Pantocrater, Cathedral-Basilica of Cefalù, Sicily. (Courtesy of Xerones on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xerones/

The heart of the matter, when it comes to the Year of Faith is not the lines of the Catechism that you memorize, though that’s laudable… or the bible study you will be leading at your parish, though that’s fantastic… or the course your gonna take on Catholicism, though that’s a great commitment… or the service to those in need you might undertake, though that’s really needed.

No, the heart of the Year of Faith, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, is an actual beating heart… it is the heart of Jesus that beats wildly for you and for me.

In my column over at Patheos this week, I share a little bit about how my hubby and me have a big anniversary coming up… one of those that end in “0” and how that long-lasting love all began with an encounter, an introduction, a meeting that led to a whole lot more. And yet, the heart of the matter of this Year of Faith, as I was saying, is how the really great love of our life ought to be Jesus, above all.

Here’s a sampling…

The relationship is the thing.  It’s that way in marriage… and it’s that way for the Year of Faith. Both require only one thing… that I encounter my true love and renew my bond with him, and live a life that reflects the depth of that love.

I first met my husband when I 16. A mutual friend introduced us — during a fire drill, of all things — as we stood outside on the front lawn of our high school waiting for the “all clear” to go back inside. Our friend wanted to introduce us because we were both into playing guitar. Turns out, I had already seen the boy before, and I had at least one class with him… I just had never spoken to him. You could say I had known of him, but I didn’t know him.


The true task of the Year of Faith is so simple we might miss it: it is a call to be in a relationship with Jesus… not to just know of him, but to know him. Faith practice is like a marriage that has many good and holy distractions: children, work, worship, and any number of special events in the course of a year. Yet the heart of the thing is the relationship of the lovers at its center. It all begins with an encounter with another person…

We’ve got a really big year coming up in the Church. Let’s fall in love with the Lover of our soul.

Read all of my column here, and feel free to subscribe here. Oh, and you can subscribe to this blog right over there —> in the sidebar, too.


On foot in Boulder, Colorado… a rosary walk in God’s country…

On foot in Boulder, Colorado… a rosary walk in God’s country…

So I’m in Boulder Colorado… my husband works in this town very often, so I’m riding shotgun, and enjoying working from the hotel room whose windows face the Flat Irons, those jagged mountains you see.

Today I went out for a walk to pray my rosary and to prepare to attend Mass at the local church that is host to the University of Colorado at Boulder’s campus ministry. Almost didn’t walk because it was raining most of the day, but it slowed down and seemed to pass, so I laced up the sneakers and took off. It really is God’s country out here… and such a beautiful place to pray and enjoy creation. These photos are from the Bobolink trail that follows the Boulder Creek. The earlier rain gave us some cool looking clouds and cooler temps.

This makes me think… about the value of good friends — especially in light of eternity.

True friends don’t spend time gazing into each other’s eyes. They may show great tenderness toward each other, but they face in the same direction — toward common projects, interests, goals — above all, toward a common Lord.

–C.S. Lewis

as found in Albert Wells, Jr., Compiler, Inspiring Quotations (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 76.


The F.U.N. Quotient… a little ditty to put a smile on your face

Sometimes the simpler the refrain and the less words a song has… the faster and more deeply I get the message. Enjoy this…


Among Women 145: Opening the Door of Faith

Among Women 145: Opening the Door of Faith

The front door from Chartres Cathedral, France.

In Among Women 145 we look at Porta Fidei, the “door of faith”, Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Letter announcing the Year of Faith that begins on October 11, 2012. Plus we talk about the new evangelization in terms of being evangelized ourselves first, and then answering the call to evangelize others.

This week’s “Blessed are They” segment reflects on the biblical account from Mark 5:24-34 of the healing miracle of the unnamed woman with a hemorrhage for twelve years, and the small steps she took to open the door of faith in her life in order to receive the transforming power of God.

Our “Among Women” segment welcomes the blogging-podcasting duo from Of Sound Mind and Spirit, Shelly Kelly and Lisa Jones. These two sisters in real life share their journey of faith in their blogging adventure, and their most recent endeavor, the SQPN podcast The Secrets of “Once Upon a Time.”

Video: I am “among women” who speak for themselves with respect to the HHS mandate’s curtailing of religious freedom.

I’m happy to add my voice to the women who are opposing the HHS Mandate in America… and you’ll see my face in this video at 2:06-2:09 (lower right side of the screen). Here’s to a more thoughtful, more complete vision of women’s freedom… and to a stronger reception of religious liberty in America than we are currently finding.

Many thanks to Helen Alvare for helping to lead the charge on this, and for the websites and facebook pages that have something to say about this:


If you followed me at the Among Women blog, before I started this one, then you’ve seen a variety of posts that I’ve done on the subject including this one, and this podcast with Elizabeth Scalia and Kathryn Jean Lopez back when the news was first breaking. Get informed and let your congress people know your thoughts.

Finally, for months, our US Catholic Bishops are calling us to act as well. Here’s the link with all the details. 

This makes me think… about being deliberate about turning my good intentions into actions.

Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity. If you learn this art of being thoughtful, you will become more and more Christ-like, for his heart was meek and he always thought of others. Our vocation, to be beautiful, must be full of thought for others. Jesus went about doing good. Our Lady did nothing else in Cana but thought of the the needs of others and made their needs known to Jesus.

–Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, from Something Beautiful for God: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, by Malcolm Muggeridge, (Image Books, 1971)

Does my faith ignite others to believe? — my column at Patheos this week.

The deepest identity of the Catholic Church is that she exists to evangelize… therein lies a challenge for the Catholics of the world. Where are we on the evangelization continuum? Are we closer to “here I am, Lord, send me”? Or closer to “I don’t even know if I can spell the word — evangelization — let alone know what it means.”

All I know is that for many of us for whom there is no separation between faith and life, our first “coming alive” in Christ occurred because the faith was “caught”, not taught. In other words, the faith of someone else impressed us, and bore a witness to the truth that led us to inquire, or to seek and find, what it was that those folks had. There are many people I know who read their way into the faith, too, as there is a very strong intellectual tradition in the history of the Church. But, for me, even though I’m one of the those so-called “cradle Catholics”, it took the spark from faith-filled Catholics to light the fire within me. And I’m grateful that I had that happen to me when I was a teenager, as I think I was spared a lot heartache along the way.

In my recent column at Patheos, I offer that evangelization is akin to our being a matchstick capable of igniting others. A matchstick does not exist for its own sake… much like the Church does not exist for its own sake… both exist to be catalysts for ignition. Here’s sampling from that column…

…..really, my life, and every Christian life, is a lot like that little matchstick when it comes to evangelizing.

The purpose of each match in the matchbox is to light something other than itself, by sharing its flame — from candelabras, to barbeques, to hearths, to birthday candles on a cake. Similar to the matchstick’s function, it is a short life that we live – a flash, really — in light of eternity. My purpose and the true call of my baptism is to become lit, and consumed as it were, by the light and love of Christ and, in turn, to light another on fire. It is a movement from being evangelized to evangelizing. A tiny flame was once lit from the Pascal candle at my baptism and handed on to me; not only am I joined to Christ, but I am bonded to his Church and its mission.

The mission and life of a Christian should be a microcosm of the mission and life of the Church.

Echoing the evangelistic and missionary themes of Vatican II, Paul VI taught, that evangelization is everybody’s business.

Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace… (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, December 8, 1975.)

In light of this statement, I’m challenged: is evangelizing a grace and vocation proper to my deepest identity?

Do I exist to evangelize?

Read the rest at Patheos.

As the Church gears up for the Year of Faith, and the Pope gets ready to welcome the world’s bishops to Rome for the Synod on the New Evangelization, ask yourself, is there more you can do to share your faith with others at home and in the world at large? This question keeps coming to my own mind in recent months, and I’ve offered some replies in the form of the articles I’ve written, listed below. But these are just a few ideas. I’d love to hear a few examples down in the combox of how you evangelize… or what moves you to evangelize and share your faith with others?


In recent months, I’ve offered a few columns that I call “primers” or easy “how-to’s” on being a witness to your faith. You might enjoy these…

The Heart of Evangelization Must Beat in Us

The Jesus Moment

Tithing on Social Media

What Would You Like Me to Pray For?

A.S.K.: Ask, Seek, Knock — Three Steps toward Praying with Others