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Archives for March 2013

From our home to yours… A Joyous Easter!

From our home to yours… A Joyous Easter!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

But the pain which He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation hath procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as His love, Alleluia!
Praise Him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!

A free drawing!! For copies of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, plus some fun swag! Now till 4/10!

I’m giving away

 

3

 

of

 

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+

 

1

BBB Mug

&

 

1

BBB Tote

Details here.

Update: 4/10/2013: This contest is now closed.

For Mary… My book is my little thanksgiving for her spiritual motherhood

For Mary… My book is my little thanksgiving for her spiritual motherhood

When I signed a contract with Ave Maria Press to write Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, my friends and family warmly chuckled when they heard my publisher would be Ave Maria. A company with the Hail Mary as its name, that honors my favorite patroness? It’s just another part of the many ways that Mary’s ways have entered in my life.

When my editor first told me it takes about a year to bring a book to market, at first I didn’t really believe it. Yet, of course, she was right. So for me to imagine a date that this book might come out? Well, it was still just a crazy unknown a year ago. And that was, oh, so many rosaries ago, too.

Of course, now I am thrilled about its launch for so many reasons, both personally and professionally.

Personally, I believe in the value of faith-sharing and giving one’s own witness to the good God that has done in our lives. To that end, this book has some of my own story in it. It’s not a memoir, but some of its stories recap my own journey of how the these ideas of a woman’s dignity, gifts, and mission became real for me. Besides the stories, I also share the sources within Scripture and church teaching that helped me the most when it came to learning and living these ideas about the genius of womanhood.

But beyond the personal stories and the resources that shape the book, there is the Woman who helped shape my life in ways that are harder to explain without getting all spiritual and a bit mushy. The book recounts, in part, my journey with Mary. Of course, I love Jesus. Jesus comes first and foremost. Let’s not quibble on that, but in no uncertain terms, Mary helps me love him more.

I confess both here and in the book that for a long time in my life, I was a bit suspicious of Mary and had doubts that my faith had any need of a Marian dimension. I was so wrong, but it took me years to come to know her better.rostro_400_

Now I tell my friends that this is the book that Mary wrote in me.

Long before I could put it all on the page, Mary showed me that pondering leads to prayer, and prayer leads to peace… and possibilities. Sometimes the God of possibilities even asks you to do something that will surprise yourself, like write a book.

This little book with the catchy title is a thanksgiving for so many good things that Mary has brought to my life. So, it is very special for me that today’s date,  according to the liturgical calendar is usually the feast of the Annunciation, a great day that honors the Incarnation of Jesus — the Word taking flesh in Mary — and it is one of those special Mary feast days too.

Today was the original release date for the book and I was thrilled about that. The date is also the annual anniversary of my own consecration to Jesus through Mary, and I was glad to renew that today and attend Mass. But in book-writing terms, this holy date gave me a goal to work toward — a date to honor Mary, and thank her all her inspirations.

So today was the original release date of the book, but then several weeks ago I was informed by the publisher that it got moved back to April 8. Delays happen and I was a little disappointed that we’d “miss” this special date, but the thing was out of my hands. No worries. It was still in Mary’s hands.

Then, less than a month ago, because of a change in the printing schedule, the book came in ahead of schedule! And that means the book was in stores even earlier than March 25! But who is counting, now, right? I’m just glad it’s finally here!

Along the way, here’s something I found humorous… I didn’t realize this months back, that when the release date got moved to April 8 — that today’s usual Solemnity of the Annunciation, was ALSO changed as well, due to Holy Week. It was being moved back to April 8! Even if the book arrived on the delayed date, my book would have been released on the feast of the Annunciation! Little things like this just remind me that Mary is with me. Many days I feel like I don’t deserve it, but it’s true. She’s a mother who loves us, and yes, delights in her children. And like a good mother, she is always aware of the calendar and what day and time it is… Mary’s timing is never late.

So what do I think of the book getting to the stores earlier than previously scheduled? I think that was Mary’s work, too, at Ave Maria Press. Why? Well I can’t be sure, but I think it was because I had a retreat earlier this month about the book, and women’s group event scheduled on the themes of the book. These events were scheduled long before the book was supposed to be available. With the books arriving “ahead” of schedule, I was able to bring the book to both of those events. How neat was that?

Mary’s done her part. She’s watched over this project, and me, day by day. Now I’ve got to do my part to share the book with the world. Nothing daunting about that now, is there? Not when my Momma’s minding my days.

Who knew “bodacious” would be one of the new colors for Spring?

Who knew “bodacious” would be one of the new colors for Spring?

Did you hear the news? Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is finally on the shelves! Tah dah! It’s launched! (Don’t miss the free drawing below!)

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Published by Ave Maria Press and in stores now! That’s Bea on the cover!

The book is a “first” for me. So forgive me if I gush just a little.

Ladies: This won’t be the last time you’ll hear me this from me: we have a blessed dignity, beautiful gifts, and undeniably, a bodacious mission — specifically as women — in the world today.

I love my collaborators in this effort! No author stands alone. So many people had a wonderful part in this book’s creation. I’ve been blessed by the team at Ave Maria Press who took a chance on a new author, and put their expertise behind me, like a refreshing breeze against my sails. Many beautiful, gifted women encouraged me along the way, and some great men too — you can read about them in the book’s acknowledgements — you may recognize a few of my family and friends. And I’m humbled by the people who have chosen to endorse this book, and I’m deeply grateful for their support. Finally, I have truly been enriched by the bodacious women I have met in my life, and in the work of the church that I am privileged to share in… women who embody the ideas that I share in this book — like Terry Polakovic of Endow who wrote the Foreword.

I love you dear readers, and my listeners to Among Women! This book is for you! I hope you’ll read it and share it. I can’t wait to welcome and meet new readers here or at an event! Help me reach them — share the link to this post!

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Dressing room success! As seen in a nearby mall, finding jacket-luv in the bodacious blue color and the right size!

I love the book’s cover! I’ve named the woman on the cover “Bea”, short for Beatrice, which means a bringer of joy, or blessings. So besides the B-B-B of the title, you’ve got Bea there to remind you to look up and smile because there’s reason to celebrate being a woman! You are blessed! You are beautiful! And yes, you are bodacious!

I love that blue too! I asked my website consultant to add splashes of it wherever she could. (Thank you, Dorian Speed!)

And check it out — I was doing a little shopping this week, and who knew that bodacious blue is one of the top colors in the Spring fashion palette? (You might not believe it, but I’ve tried on a few polka-dot dresses too! What fun!!)

I hope you’ll think about asking for the book at your local Catholic bookseller. But if there is not one near you, there are  online stores ready to help too.

Come see me at my next book signing in MA on April 17! You’ll recognize me — I’ll be the one in the bodacious jacket!

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FREE DRAWING FOR BOOKs and SWAG!!

Update 4.10.2013 this contest has ended. Comments are closed.

I’m hosting a free drawing til April 10, 2013 — I’ll give away 3 signed books, or a BBB coffee mug, and a tote bag to 5 readers chosen at random who leave a comment below. We’ll give them away on in a random drawing on April 10th, my baptismal day, so leave a comment! Thank you!

 

These words made me think… about the formula for writing my book*…

These words made me think… about the formula for writing my book*…

May the Blessed Virgin help men and women in our time

clearly understand God’s plan for femininity.

Called to the highest vocation of divine motherhood,

Our Lady is the exemplary woman. . . .

 

May Mary obtain for women throughout the world

an enlightened and active awareness

of their dignity, gifts, and mission.

 – John Paul II –

Angelus Message – June 18, 1995

:::

The Vatican website does not offer the complete 1995 Angelus text in English, but it can be found at this blog, or in this book.

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*These words from Blessed John Paul II, gave me the organizing principle for my new book — on the dignity, gifts, and mission of women — with great zeal for its Marian dimensions. The book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is on sale today at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. Ask for it at your local Catholic bookseller or order it from Ave Maria Press.

Splinters from the Cross… on disappointment.

It’s another Friday. And this is what this post is about. There are other posts on  angerworryperfectionism, and overworking… and today is on disappointment.

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Splinter from the Cross

Little headaches, little heartaches
Little griefs of every day.
Little trials and vexations,
How they throng around our way!
One great cross, immense and heavy,
so it seems to our weak will,
Might be borne with resignation,
But these many small ones kill.
Yet all life is formed of small things,
Little leaves, make up the trees,
Many tiny drops of water
Blending, make the mighty seas.
Let us not then by impatience
Mar the beauty of the whole,
But for love of Jesus bear all
In the silence of our soul.
Asking Him for grace sufficient
To sustain us through each loss,
And to treasure each small offering
As a splinter from His Cross.

– Author Unknown –

:::

Here I am again, looking for splinters, and one of the toughest ones for me is dealing with disappointments, and unrealized expectations. So many disappointments come along, some from our own mistakes and failures, and some that come through the failures and mistakes of others. Some cannot be avoided and some could have. That’s the nature of disappointment. There was a certain level of expectation, of anticipation, of performance or circumstance that we desired, but the outcome fell short.

The bigger issue is not so much that we are disappointed, but how do we deal with it? And that largely depends on the circumstances, but it is also a faith question. Disappointment is a form of suffering.

Sometimes a disappointment can be shrugged off; it’s a little thing, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

Sometimes its a big thing and it affects the lives of other people. Then we may be disappointed, but we may also be in a position to act, to correct something, to repair a wrong, or even just to soften the outcome. We move to help, to solves problems, to seek a new path, a way out of the disappointment toward fulfillment.

Or we may not be in a position to help at all, and we feel helpless. Or we’ve tried and failed. The the best thing we can do is try to be patient until feeling passes, and often staying a bit busy helps to deal with the emotional fall-out of disappointment.

It takes a measure of faith-filled discernment to know what’s best in dealing with disappointment. It helps to look for the kingdom thread. Jesus told us to “seek first the kingdom”…  and if we can see a little glimmer of that as we deal with disappointments, we are likely to choose the best part in dealing with the disappointing things in life. We are not to just seek first the kingdom when things are going great…but always.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

– Matthew 6:33 –

Over time, I’ve learned that disappointment is one of the wedges of the devil. When something disappoints us, it has the potential to drive a wedge between God and ourselves, and ourselves and others. Disappointments can be setbacks with regards to tasks and achievements, or they can hurt us in relationships. Both kinds of disappointments  — with people or things — can lead to discouragement.

Discouragement is the older brother of disappointment, the bigger, more muscular brother who is often ready for a fight. If disappointment is a wedge, discouragement is the sledge hammer that can crush disappointments and sever us from ourselves, and others completely. Discouragement has the potential to separate us from God, both as a momentary distraction — it keeps the focus on ourselves and our miseries. And that’s when we need our focus on God the most! For when discouragement leads to despair, it seals off the heart from allowing God to enter it because the despair becomes a kind of blindness, even though the Lord is close to the despairing.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

– Psalm 34:18

So it’s best to do as this little poem advises, “for the love of Jesus bear all in the silence of our soul. Asking Him for grace sufficient to sustain us through each loss.” This is not about being a martyr, as it is about trusting in God in good times, and especially in the bad times.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.

– 2Cor 4: 8 –

Let us offer up these disappointments as they come our way. Still, if we must act, let us not grow weary of doing what is right.

The poem talks about the little splinters we encounter from the Cross, but I think it’s helpful to take a deeper view of the bitter pain and disappointment of the Cross. Jesus was indeed, afflicted, and perplexed by not driven to despair.

Some people find that hard to believe given that Jesus uttered the words of Psalm 22 in his bitter agony…

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

– Psalm 22: 1 –

Indeed, yes, that certainly seems like despair does it not?

And yet…

Jesus was quoting the psalm fully aware that it was a foreshadowing of that very moment in time — a prophetic cry of all the hurts of humanity being nailed to that tree.

And yet…

Like a good Jewish Rabbi that he was, Jesus also knew the rest of the psalm that invokes the ultimate trust in God…

O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
Yet thou art holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In thee our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
To thee they cried, and were saved;
in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.

-Psalm 22: 2-5-

There’s more, but you get the point. The deepest disappointments need not lead to despair. God is close to us in our brokenhearted moments. We may be crushed, but we oughtn’t despair.

May we ask for grace sufficient. For when we do, it will be there.

“In thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.”

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Powerful wisdom from Emily Stimpson & Angela Franks – both recent guests on Among Women

While I’m busy in my own corner of the world launching a book to make the gift of womanhood and the feminine genius better known, I have to just stop and offer some praise for the genius of some of the bodacious –most excellent– writers and teachers I know who are doing the same. I learn so much from them!

First of all, there’s Angela Franks, my most recent guest on Among Women. We talk about a lot of issues on that show including how Catholic “new feminism” understands contraception, Margaret Sanger, and eugenics. For those of us who may not know our 20th century history very well, many of Margaret Sanger’s ideas have become part of the foundation that supports a culture that tries to “fix” society by weeding out undesirables, and has no true respect for the dignity of all human persons. Much of this thinking plays a role in our society’s contraceptive and abortive mentalities. But we have the power to change that both from a faith and a common-sense perspective.

In a recent blog post about working women, Angela Franks states:

According to Dr. [Jennifer Roback] Morse, fertility is not seen as the norm for women but is rather viewed as a problem.

This is exactly the problem facing women struggling with “work-life” issues today: their fertility is not a gift to be embraced but a problem to be solved.

What do we need? We need to recognize that fertility has certain biological coordinates that won’t change, no matter how much we want them to: namely, peak fertility in the twenties and decreasing fertility after that. Artificial reproductive technologies [ART] have less and less effect the older a woman is, not to mention the horrific side effects of hyperstimulating the ovaries plus multiple “left-over” frozen embryos. Check out Katie Elrod’s chapter on ART in Women, Sex, and the Church: A Case for Catholic Teaching.

What is changeable? Not really fertility, but rather social attitudes and structures. Let’s not attack biology. Let’s attack the real problems, and create better structures that allow women to bear and raise children…

Read the rest, it’s informative.

Then, there’s the amazing Emily Stimpson — also a previous guest on Among Women, (and whose book I recommend in the resources listed in my own book) — whose recent piece just further adds fuel to the fire that our societal standards are dangerous for women, especially our upcoming girls.

Here’s an excerpt from her post, “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to be Disney Stars” over at CatholicVote.org:

Squeaky clean, wholesome goodness. For almost a century, that’s been Disney’s brand. But the young girls working for the Mouse have the most terrible habit of not getting the memo.

Case in point? Miley Cyrus (aka “Hannah Montana”), who went from teenage cutie to dominatrix sex kitten in little more than a calendar year.

There’s also Demi Lovato, who backed out of her hit Disney show after provocative photos surfaced online of her kissing another girl.

And now Selena Gomez has gotten in the game, with her newest flick, Spring Breakers, featuring The Wizards of Waverly star doing both drugs and engaging in threesomes with her female co-stars.

It’s not just Disney starlets that are the problem, though. The annals of Hollywood are filled with similarly cautionary tales. Not coincidentally, so too are homes across America, where girls from 5 to 15 and beyond are imitating the starlets they idolize, dressing, talking, and acting in ways that, in the not too distant past, would have made a sailor blush.

Setting aside the soul-destroying consequences of living life as a sexual object, from even the most secular vantage point the sexualization of young girls—Disney stars or otherwise—is bad news. Defining your worth by your sexual desirability causes grades to drop and athletic performance to suffer. It induces depression and triggers eating disorders. It leads to high-risk behaviors, sexually transmitted diseases, and situations where no amount of saying “no” can help.

On Sunday, two young football players in the town where I live, Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty of raping an underage girl. That ruling has generated all sorts of chatter in the media about the lessons parents need to teach their boys.

And boys in this culture do need to learn some serious lessons. Parents need to teach their sons how to love, honor, and respect women, to see them as human beings to value, not bodies to use.

But as a cursory glance at either the Disney bullpen or the local junior high will tell you, our girls need to learn a few lessons too, lessons that are foundational to protecting their bodies, their souls, and their futures.

Then Emily gives some good lesson points for families, so go read the rest. You’ll be happy you did.

If the idea of living a kind of feminine freedom that is free of the shackles of a feminism that denies the gift of who we are as women — in the fullness of our biology  — and the fullness of our intellect, will, and emotions that are baptized by grace, you might just want to read my book  for an executive summary of the dignity, gifts, and mission of women. You might also wish keep on your radar the next books that both Emily Stimpson and Angela Franks will be publishing later this year. Emily Stimpson’s future title is: Everyday Theology of the Body: Meditations on the Mysteries and Manners of the Sacramental Worldview. Angela Franks, a theology PhD, will be writing about how we can better live out our lives with faith and knowledge of a sexuality and life that is loving, faithful, and fruitful —  and free of the entanglements of contraception and, oh, and so much more! So stay tuned!

There’s a lot of bodacious women out there. I hope you’ll count yourself among them.