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Archives for September 2013

This makes me think… it’s one of the best definitions of spiritual motherhood I’ve read

Spiritual motherhood… means nurturing the emotional, moral, cultural, and spiritual life in others.

All women are called to give birth — physically and/or spiritually. All women are called to be Christ-bearers, to receive divine life in the womb of their souls and bear Christ to the world. All women are called to see in Mary’s spiritual motherhood a reflection of their own lives.

If all women embraced the call to spiritual motherhood they would ignite a nuclear reaction that would spread the culture of life through the whole world. The feminine genius would set the whole world on fire!

-Katrina Zeno, Discovering the Feminine Genius-

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I explore the theme of spiritual motherhood, and much more, in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.

To St Anthony, with love

To St Anthony, with love

For some ten happy years (1985-1994) I was a parishioner at St Anthony’s Church in beautiful Rocky Point, New York. It was a place where my husband and I began our family and raised little ones amidst a burgeoning beach community in a church with a wonderful crew of (mostly) Italian-Amercan priests who loved Jesus, People, and Pasta, in that order. I learned to love St Anthony under their kind tutelage, (along with his many affectionate nicknames of San Antonio, “Tony”, St Anthony of Padua, and St Antonio of  Lisbon).

St Anthony is the saint who finds what is lost to us… from lost earrings and diamonds, to lost faith and bearings. Dear St Anthony come around, something is lost and needs to be found…

You see, when I was first a stay-at-home Mom, I was more than a little bit lost in the role. I had a rough transition into motherhood, particularly in yielding my professional life to the privilege of staying at home to raise my children. But Jesus used those years to introduce me to his Mother in a powerful way through the nurturing community of women he sent into my life in those days. So I have always had a special place in my heart for St Anthony ever since those early mothering years when I finally “found” being a Mom was just about the greatest thing that might ever happen to me.

Fast forward to today and imagine my joy in getting an invitation from the Pilgrim Center of Hope to come to San Antonio to speak at the Catholic Women’s Conference last weekend. It was not lost on me that this was St Anthony’s turf, nor that I was being asked to speak about the mission portion of my book… that of spiritual and physical motherhood. God has a sense of humor, does he not?

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It was a wonderful few days, notwithstanding my being stranded en route by weather-related delays in Houston, and missing the opportunity to pray at the basilica dedicated to St Therese of Lisieux at a pre-conference event. But eventually, my intrepid “angel” guide, Ivanna Warnken, picked me up and delivered me to the hotel (as she would all weekend long), I was able to catch up with Anastasia Northrop and take her out for a drink in thanksgiving for her support of my book.

The next day I was happy to re-connect with local San Antonio pals Angela and Dan Sealana at a delightful lunch on the Riverwalk. Angela was an early reader of my book, (and I think she was largely responsible for bringing it to the attention of the conference committee, for which I’m grateful.)

Later on, Angela gave this lovely talk Friday night that set the tone for conference — helping women connect with Jesus in a deeper way through his Eucharistic presence. Her love for Christ, together with her poise and story-weaving won the hearts of her listeners. She writes about her experience over at her blog, Inspired Angela.

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To Texas with love and boots!

Angela also helped me get ready for my talk, by producing a short get-’em-on-their-feet video that introduced my talk to the 1800+ women in the room… to the tune of Chris Cagle’s “Let There Be Cowgirls”… She did a great job taking the first two minutes of the song that captured these words…

On that very first day, the Lord sat down
And saw fit to say, “Let there be light!”
So He could tell the day time from the night
And then he spoke again,
Felt the wind come rolling in
Smelled the rain
It soaked everything

And then the mountains rose up,
Across the Great Plains
And all the angels up in Heaven started singing,
“All it’s missing is a pretty thing”

Let there be cowgirls for every cowboy
Make them strong as any man, Lordy
Something you can’t tame,
She’s a mustang
The heartbeat of the heartland
She’s got a drawl, ya’ll,
Yeah, she’s the salt of the earth that rocks my world.
Let there be cowgirls, come on.

Yes, this was taking a little creative license with the Genesis story, (and this was the first time I’ve used country music to introduce my themes from Genesis 1 in a talk) regarding our dignity of being made in the image of God… but, hey, I was in Texas! These women, I hoped, would “get it” — and they did — and I enjoyed packing my boots and leather fringe vest for the talk! These Texas women are definitely the salt of the earth! 

The video was a fun way to connect and bring up the energy a notch late in the day when I spoke, because the talk, in essence, was to drive home the point that we women have got to get our boots on when it comes to the bodacious mission of being spiritual and physical mothers…. that its up to us to drive a new feminism that supports a culture of life.

The remaining highlights for me, besides meeting the conference go-ers after the morning Mass, was being part of the fine team assembled by Mary Jane Fox (co-founder of the Pilgrim Center of Hope) and Nan Balfour (Conference coordinator and speaker). It was a joy to be alongside veteran authors Heather King and Dawn Eden, both whom I’ve interviewed at Among Women as I’ve long admired their work. (AW 140 with Dawn; AW with Heather.) Both moved audiences with their powerful testimonies and insightful nurturing in the areas of recovery and healing from some of our deepest hurts.

This was the first time I had met or heard Fr Nathan Cromly who preached a great lesson on Mary.  I hope that videos of these talks might be made available to the general public in time.

Dinner with our Catholic Women’s Conference speakers and committee. Speakers shown here (L-R) Dawn Eden, Nan Balfour, me, Fr. Nathan Cromly, Pat Gohn, and Heather King.

Dinner with our Catholic Women’s Conference speakers and committee. Speakers shown here (L-R) Dawn Eden, Nan Balfour, me, Fr. Nathan Cromly, Pat Gohn, and Heather King. (Photo Courtesy of the Inspired Angela blog.)

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Also: Some thoughts on the conference experience from Heather King.

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San Antonio, pray for us!

Among Women 167: Taking Issue with Idols… an interview with Elizabeth Scalia

Among Women 167: Taking Issue with Idols… an interview with Elizabeth Scalia

This episode of Among Women features a return visit from The Anchoress — author-blogger Elizabeth Scalia, discussing themes from her new book,  Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday LifeIn this interview we talk about rooting out hidden forms of idolatry in our own lives in order to deepen our faith in Christ.1-59471-342-1

I also share some of my favorite themes from Lumen Fidei – Pope Francis’ first encyclical letter. Also, discover inspiration from the life story of Blessed Anna Schaeffer who, despite tragic injuries that caused lifelong pain and suffering, found the keys to hope and faith.

Find out how you can win a copy of Strange Gods by listening to the whole episode here. Or find Among Women, episode 167, on iTunes. 

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Photo above: Elizabeth and I, last summer, at the Catholic New Media Conference in Dallas. Don’t miss Elizabeth’s return to the Catholic New Media Conference in Boston next month!

 

This makes me think… about the privilege of being a woman who has borne a child

The special role granted to women in procreation… is highlighted by the fact that as soon as she has conceived (and conception takes place hours after the marital embrace), God creates the soul of a new child in her body. This implies a “direct contact” between Him and the mother-to-be, a contact in which the father place no role whatever. This contact gives the female body a note of sacredness, for any closeness between God and one of His creatures is stamped by His Holy Seal. This divine “touch” is… a special privilege that every pregnant woman should gratefully acknowledge.

Alice von Hildebrand

The Privilege of Being a Woman

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I reflect on this in chapter 8 of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.

The F.U.N. Quotient…. RiverDance edition (kids edition)

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Don’t miss this video of this little baby pictured above. If the first :60 seconds don’t make you smile, your smile needs a re-boot!

Sorry I could not embed the video, go find it here. 

Mercy times infinity

Mercy times infinity

There’s always a reason to be on our knees. The bad-news-o-meter seems to be on overload lately.

On the heels of another sad September 11th anniversary, we now experience a mass shooting taking innocent lives at the Navy Yard in DC, and all of it against an unsettled backdrop as our nation and others wonders about a military intervention in Syria, and unrest exploding in other regions… indeed, it can be exhausting and intimidating and depressing when we see evil all around.

I’ve written about this before…

Jesus is the answer. Period. Intuitively, I know that now. I did not always. We might know that intellectually, yet we may still wrestle with that knowledge in our heart.

Why? Each of us has been scandalized by the bad stuff we have experienced in life. In fact, some of the bad stuff we’ve lived through is downright evil.

We’ve all been victims of pain, hurts, other people’s sins, and our own. And yes, we are victims of evil.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls it “the scandal of evil” since it derails the providence of God that we are meant to know. In fact, the Catechism boldly states:

There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par 309)

And so take to our knees so that we can be open to the actions we need to take to keep us free from selfishness, free from fear, free from actions adding to the violence and unrest at home, abroad, or in our own hearts.

Francis’ recent Prayer Vigil called us to prayer and peace-making…

When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the center, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict…

At this point I ask myself: Is it possible to change direction? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace? Invoking the help of God, under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Peace, I say: Yes, it is possible for everyone! From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it! My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken.

We must look to the Cross. Let us bring our deepest prayers, concerns, and worries there. It is there we find mercy times infinity.

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On the latest episode of Among Women, I begin the program with intercessory prayer. To join in that prayer, listen here. 

Here’s one of the prayers we pray, from Pope St Clement of Rome, who the fourth pope and a bishop who knew St Peter and St Paul before their martyrdoms in Rome.  (This prayer is circa 95AD):

We beg you, Lord, to help and defend us.

Deliver the oppressed.

Pity the insignificant.

Raise the fallen.

Show yourself to the needy.

Heal the sick.

Bring back those of your people who have gone astray.

Feed the hungry.

Lift up the weak.

Take off the prisoners’ chains.

May every nation come to know that you alone are God,

that Jesus is your Child,

that we are your people, the sheep that you pasture. 

Amen.

 

Image credit 

Statement from the Archbishop for the Military on today’s shootings at the Navy Yard in DC

Statement from the Archbishop for the Military on today’s shootings at the Navy Yard in DC

MilarchLOGO“With all people of good will, I am shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible loss of life this morning at the Navy Yard. I have often visited and celebrated the Eucharist there. It is a familiar place. I also prayed for the victims, the wounded, and their families at the noon Mass at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. Somehow we must restore the notion of respect for life into the fabric of the Nation. When the uniqueness of the human person created in the image and likeness of God is universally recognized, the possibility of a mass shooting is more remote.”

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services

Prayers over here at the Gohn home too. Lord have mercy.

This makes me think… about Mary’s Fiat and Our “Amen” to the Body of Christ

In a certain sense Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.

As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.

-Blessed John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, par 55-

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I write about this theme in Chapter 7 of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.