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Archives for November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving: 10 Random Things I’m Thankful For, besides the obvious

Eucharist: the Greek noun εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning “thanksgiving.”

Catholics are eucharistic people. That means we experience powerful thanksgiving with every Mass! So, today I cannot help but be thankful for my faith, and my beautiful family, for the bounty of material and spiritual blessings that we share. Yes, the big things are the deepest blessings for which I’m truly grateful. Yet as I look over decades of thanksgiving with faith and family, I’m thankful for the so many little things that make this a special time of year.

Heavenly Father I thank you for the little things that warm my heart, too…

For little construction paper turkeys made by tracing little hands and coloring each finger-tail-feather.

For annual pool tournaments with all the cousins, tall and small… complete with a brackets more competitive than March Madness.

For mashed potatoes. With butter.

For every body bringing a dish or dessert.

For hot cider. With rum.

For the seeing the Christmas trees being lit on town commons throughout New England.

For the first fires in the hearth.

For seeing the college freshmen come home for the first time.

For hearing what each family member is thankful for as we go around the table.

For the morning Mass… the one that everyone wants to attend, and where everybody sings.


Finally, a little prayer from an American writer and thinker who lived here in Massachusetts:

For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food,

For love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson-




This makes me think… Ouch! On going deeper with Jesus…

My Jesus, if you want me, cut the fetters that keep me from you.

-St Philip Neri-

Immortal Gladness Rings Through Sadness

Immortal Gladness Rings Through Sadness

On Friday I kept my regular appointment to pick up my weekly mail. It’s a rambling backwoods drive through beautiful woodlands and fields to a small village, where the local luncheonette and the post office and a bank all share the same friendly space. For me it was a brief mental escape affording me a few minutes of quiet and normal on a cold, gray, rainy day. Actually the weather fit my mood…  since there was nothing really normal about the day at all.

It began with the earth-quaking news that a friend of ours, Steve, a longtime singer alongside us at church, was killed when his motorcycle collided with an oncoming truck.

Lord, have mercy.

There is no making sense of such things. And yet the reality that someone you know is no longer with us has a way of coloring everything you see and hear. And you understand just how connected we are.

I parked in the first empty space, and dashed through the rain to the lobby to the P.O. box. I grabbed the letters and returned to sit silently in my car for a few minutes. I opened the mail in a distracted funk. Meanwhile I perceived muffled sounds beyond the white noise of the falling rain on the windshield.

Oh gosh. Music!

I rolled down the window to listen. Across the street is a little white church, its bells pealing at noon. I had no idea of the time of day until I heard the familiar hymn, one note at a time. The godly lyrics tumbled in my brain as the bells washed over me and the raindrops blew in.

 Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love…

This unexpected hymn pierced my darkness in that brooding moment. Of course, it was time to pray the Angelus and to praise! Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the weather, the noontime bells beckon us to come, to be with God, for He is, truly, with us

Hearts unfold like flowers before You,
Opening to the sun above.

Steve would have loved this musical moment with God. He understood the power of music to lift hearts. He was a cheerful song leader; a baritone who smiled whenever he sang.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,
Drive the dark of doubt away,

God knew what I needed right when I needed it. It’s a small consolation for which I’m grateful.

I am holding fast to the idea that our omnipresent and loving God knew exactly what Steve needed – exactly when he needed it. (Prov 15: 3, 1 John 3:20)

In a few days the church bells will toll at Steve’s funeral. And all present will be confronted with the truth we profess to believe.

Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

One of the singers I know quipped that maybe there’s a new baritone in Heaven’s choir.

I’d like to think he’s right.




Please lift a prayer for Steve, his wife, his three adult children, and their loved ones. He brought much good to his family and our community. May he see immortal gladness, and sing to God with all his heart.


My Top Three Take-Aways from the Year of Faith… where did you find meaning this year?

My Top Three Take-Aways from the Year of Faith… where did you find meaning this year?

1. Never Forget: The Holy Spirit guides the Church, and the Papacy

Wow! Who could have predicted this? The Catholic news story of the year was not only the Year of Faith but the resignation of the reigning pontiff, and the conclave to elect a new pope!

We also had the first encyclical that was the work of two popes! Lumen Fidei was first drafted by Benedict, but completed by Francis. (You can find my 5 part series on the encyclical here. Here’s the introduction.)

God bless the mission of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and the monastic retirement of Benedict XVI.

Two Popes, praying together. Benedict XVI & Francis.

Two Popes, praying together. Benedict XVI & Francis. In my mind, this is the Catholic photo of the year! 

2. Pray! And Pray More! Stay close to Jesus in the Eucharist!

This Year of Faith offered us many opportunities to pray both with the Church and privately. I loved watching on TV and praying my way through World Youth Day, and I loved this moment at Adoration:

Praying with others, outside of the Sunday Mass is also more of a priority for me now. I was privileged to start and lead The Bible Timeline bible study at my parish, as well as hold rosary meetings in my home. Not to mention I was honored to travel the country giving retreats and talks to women related to my book, Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious.

All those activities are really the fruit of prayer. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet, plus staying close to Jesus in the Eucharist and confession are indispensable and continue to be a very strong call in my life. I made an Ignatian-style retreat in April and most recently have been talking to Jesus and my priest about taking steps change my personal schedule to include more breaks for prayer.

By the way – are you a techno geek? This year I noticed that I was praying more “on the go” using apps on my phone like Magnificat, The Divine Mercy, The Rosary Miracle App, and Verse-Wise’s Holy Bible RSV-CE, and more. This is a new side to my prayer, not so much in the way I pray, but in the resources I use.

 3. Spiritual Reading must remain a weekly, if not daily, exercise.

The nature of my writing work requires me to be in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a regular way. So, where as many people undertook reading the Catechism this past year, I was already largely doing that. For me this year, I’m renewed my commitment to pray with scripture, as I work my way through much bible reading for the bible study.

I’m also reading Undset’s biography of St Catherine of Siena, and several other saints biographies. As devotee of St Francis, and a graduate of Franciscan University, I’m very interested in getting to Chesterton’s Francis of Assisi next (and find it hard to believe that I’ve missed it all these years!)

Finally, as mentioned above, I really dove into Lumen Fidei.

Now, I’m looking forward to the release of Francis’ new text, Evangelii Gaudium sometime later today.

What was your experience with the Year of Faith?

Catholic Digest: What the World Needs Now — is Spiritual Mothers like YOU!

Catholic Digest: What the World Needs Now — is Spiritual Mothers like YOU!

So happy to see that Catholic Digest is putting more and more older print articles online! As a longtime lover of periodicals, I have to say, I’m loving the new and improved Catholic Digest! It’s blessing me each month.


Here’s a little snippet from an article I had in Catholic Digest earlier this fall:

Spiritual motherhood means nurturing the spiritual, moral, emotional, and cultural life in others. Not all women give birth to children, yet all women are called to exercise a spiritual maternity in the world—giving care and nurture to others through their own maternal gift. (And, of course, spiritual mothering should be part of every physical mother’s care!)

To understand spiritual motherhood or spiritual maternity properly, we need to broaden our understanding of the gift of maternity. Growing up I considered maternity limited to nine months of pregnancy. Later in life, I read John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter,Mulieris Dignatatem (“On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”) and gained a new perspective.

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way….This entrusting concerns women in a special way—precisely by reason of their femininity—and this in a particular way determines their vocation…. A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting… (par. 30.)

In this section of the document, John Paul describes the universal vocation of all women, not just women who bear children. God entrusts all women, by reason of their femininity—their design—to care for humanity. Maternal care, in a spiritual way, is not limited to childcare, but should be active in all phases of a woman’s life. Spiritual mothering doesn’t smother or infantilize teens or adults but loves and serves them according to the needs of the person one is caring for. It brings a motherly touch to our human relationships, and to our work—especially the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, is a powerful example. Mother Teresa displayed spiritual mothering in action. Her words, actions, and prayers mothered millions—not biologically, but spiritually.

Spiritual mothers in our midst

You might understand spiritual motherhood by answering the question: Who has spiritually mothered you?

Aunt Pat

My earliest memory of my godmother, whose name I bear, is when she took me into “the big city,” New York. As a child back then, it was a big deal. Aunt Pat made a fuss over me, giving me undivided attention. And I felt…special, doted upon, loved. Today Aunt Pat still remembers my birthdays and other occasions. Though separated by geographical distance, I immediately recognize the cards she sends by mail. Her handwriting on the envelopes is an unmistakably Catholic-schoolgirl-script from a bygone era, full of feminine flourishes. The messages inside are always warm and full of prayers. Her correspondence grounds me, and it reminds where I come from. She teaches me that love stretches over time and distance.


Paula lived in my church community when I  was growing up. A bit older than me, she befriended me in my teens and remained in my life after I married in my twenties. When I became a mother, I went through a time when I felt like I was drowning in the stress of it all. Paula, a prayerful wife and then mother of three, threw me a lifeline by re-introducing me to the Blessed Mother as a friend and guide. I needed to bring Mary out of the church and into my home. Decades later, I still have the prayer book Paula gave me. It helped me ask Mary to intercede for me, through morning sickness, sleepless nights, and a myriad of new mother woes. Paula taught me that prayer is critical to my vocation as a wife and mother.


When our family moved to a new town, I met Eileen, another woman with a devotion to the Blessed Mother. With a quick wit and three boys of her own, Eileen’s door was always open, her coffeepot was always on, and she gave great hugs. I soaked up our many friendly conversations and the Rosaries we prayed aloud around her kitchen table. Like the older women described in the New Testament Letter to Titus (see Titus 2:3–4). Her example deepened my devotion to the Rosary and the desire to be that kind of friend to someone else. Eileen taught me the power of welcome and cheerful service.


I met Judi in the back of the church in 1996. She stayed after Mass to pray, but accidentally overheard my whispered conversation in a nearby pew. I was newly diagnosed with breast cancer and was expressing shock over it to a friend. Before leaving, Judi introduced herself. She had fought the disease years earlier and simply wanted to show me the face of someone who survived it. That was a holy moment for me. She was a godsend. Judi became hope incarnate to me. We stayed in touch and Judi helped me negotiate cancer treatment and recovery. She was a one-woman support group and mentor rolled into one. In time we shared our love of writing, books, and the Bible. Her favorite Gospel story was the Transfiguration when Jesus’ friends momentarily saw him glorified—a glimpse of heaven on earth! I think of her when I pray that Luminous Mystery of the Rosary. Judi was my friend for ten years until her death. She taught me how to suffer well and live joyously at the same time.

Read the rest. 

Better yet, subscribe to Catholic Digest for just $21.95!

The F.U.N. Quotient… potty scrubbin’ edition

It is the job that nobody likes –cleaning the bathroom bowl, and yet, it must be done!

I don’t know what my pal Barb was doing the other day, but she tells me she likes to listen to podcasts while she scrubs the bathroom.

Ya gotta  keep a sense of humor about these things! Barb, you and I are gonna love this!

This lady has 5 tips you're gonna love!

This lady has 5 tips you’re gonna love!

Check out her video!

And you Moms with potty-training toddlers, you may wish to laugh along with this archived potty post.

Among Women 170: Holy Souls, Holy Bones, and Giving Thanks

Among Women gets ready for thanksgiving as we work our way through this month remembering saints and souls. This episode features the return of Emily Stimpson to the podcast with a peek inside her new book, These Beautiful Bones. This is an interesting take on the everyday ways to live the meaning and message of the theology of the body.

I’m also sharing on the life of St Agatha Kim of Korea whose stirring story or martyrdom from the 19th century that does not seem so far removed in light of the ongoing persecution happening today. 

You’ll also find prayers for thanksgiving and links to help you read Pope Francis’ Lumen Fidei.

Listen to the podcast.

About Emily’s book:



Photo Credit: Photo credit:  en.wikipedia.  2006-11-13 17:10 Stanthejeep 1280×960×??? (1154128 bytes) * Description: Capuchin Crypt * Source: Photo by [[User:Stanthejeep|stanthejeep]] * Date: June 18, 2006 * Location: Rome, Italy. Near Barbarini Square * Author: [[User:Stanthejeep|stanthejeep]] == Licensing == {{cc-by-sa-2.5}}

This makes me think… not about what, but who, is at the center of my faith.

The movement of love

between Father, Son and Spirit

runs through our history,

and Christ draws us

to himself

in order to save us.

At the centre of our faith

is the confession of


the Son of God,

born of a woman,

who brings us,

through the gift of the Holy Spirit,

to adoption

as sons and daughters.

– Francis, Lumen Fidei, 59


These are just two lines from the end of the encyclical Lumen Fidei. Each phrase could be a sermon in itself. They were so succinct and perfect, that I chose to set them in poetic form, different from their original prose setting in a magisterial document. You might also be interested in the related readings behind this text: Jn 12: 32; Gal 4: 4.

You can find my 5 part series on Lumen Fidei at Patheos.


Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious receives more kind reviews… get signed copies on sale before Christmas for $12 each!

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious receives more kind reviews… get signed copies on sale before Christmas for $12 each!

Buy a signed copy of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious at a sale price!

Peggy Eastman of the Catholic Daughters of America magazine SHARE writes:

This book provides a refreshing, honest affirmation of the special gifts of Catholic women in a breezy conversational style that photoenhances the message. At its heart, this book is a joyful look at what it means to be feminine, faith-filled and both.

In an era when there is still some confusion about women’s roles and about gender equality, Gohn sets the record straight, writing “Men and women, while being distinct, are equal in the eyes of God. For women who have been made to feel inferior or who have suffered unjustly at the hands of others because of their femininity, this is very good news.”

This book is divided into three parts: The Blessed Dignity of Women; The Beautiful Gifts of Women; and The Bodacious Mission of Women. In the last section, the author delivers an unabashed love letter to Catholic womanhood, encouraging women to live fully as God’s beloved. Here are two summary sentences: “Femininity in its fullness, naturally and supernaturally, in body and soul, is a gift of God to you to bring you into a relationship with him and with other people. It is God’s plan for you.”

Dawn Eden, author of My Peace I Give You, now in pursuit of doctoral studies in theology, writes on why this book makes a great gift:

When I saw the title and cover of this book, I feared it would be corny or glib. It’s not. Pat Gohn is an engaging, intelligent writer who clearly lives her Catholic faith deeply and longs for others to discover the joy she has found. I was very impressed at how well she was able to convey the truths of the faith with great depth in highly readable language. This is an excellent book to give to a convert who wants to intensify her faith life, a cradle Catholic who needs help understanding the Church’s teachings on women, or to a mom who needs help keeping the faith while managing her work/life balance.

More endorsements here. More reviews and interviews here.

Order a signed copy before December 15, and get your book before Christmas!

(Sale price: $12! Plus $5.95 for a padded envelope via Priority US Mail. Limit 3 books per envelope, US Mail delivery only.)



Need something cheaper and faster? Get your e-book here.