You are amazing. You are enough. So am I.

You are amazing. You are enough. So am I.

Ok, I just love this…

Once upon a time, I had my own “mirror” moment… a moment when the truth of love shot straight to the heart… only it wasn’t with a mirror — it was with a well-traveled, well-prayed rosary.

I talk about it in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious…

Sensitivity is a profound orientation in women that makes them quick to sense, or detect, people needing love, care, or nurture. A woman’s sensitivity picks up the cues or signals others give, and it makes her receptive nature ready to respond. It is easy to see the connection with a woman’s receptivity. Sensitivity is also deeply attuned to a woman’s maternal sensibilities (as we find out in the next chapter).

Sensitivity is both emotional and spiritual; it leads a woman to be present and ready to love and serve someone in terms of direct care and intentional prayer. A woman’s sensitivity makes connections between people and thoughtfully assists those in need.

Many times I have been on the magnificent receiving end of another woman’s sensitivity, most especially when it flows from women who are my family and friends. I have also experienced it through the different women’s ministries in my local parish.

Some of my fondest memories from my stay-at-home mothering years in New York come from my belonging to a parish prayer group for mothers. It was a weekly group, dubbed “Mothers’ Morning of Prayer,” for mothers and children to visit together to pray the Rosary aloud for one another’s intentions and needs. It was a strong source of spiritual support and friendship for me for many years.

In time, my husband’s work necessitated a move to Massachusetts. We were not looking to move away from our longtime home, so it was a hard decision. Before we left, the mother’s group gave us a lovely sendoff, complete with a Mass, a dinner, a keepsake photo album, and parting gifts for our new home. Most important, however, was their promise of their continued prayers. Not only that, the women challenged me to start a new Rosary group in my new town if one did not exist. In time, those prayers were answered. After finding some receptive women, Mothers’ Morning of Prayer was born in my new parish.

Two years later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Talk about tears! The physical lump in my breast was nothing compared to the silent lump that formed each day in my throat. It was often hard to talk aloud about this situation, since my young children were always around me. Yet I let the tears and fears wash my face when I was alone or with Bob, so as to minimize the impact on my children. When I was in public, at school with the children, or at church, the women who knew my circumstances helped me keep it together.

 I found endearing comfort—and the rhythm of normalcy—praying the Rosary each week in the company of those women from my parish. One day, without my knowledge, someone passed around a set of Rosary beads to all the women in the group. Each woman prayed for me on those beads. Then, again, unbeknownst to me, they sent the same Rosary beads to my former prayer group in New York, where the women there did the same thing.

Shortly before my surgery for a mastectomy and reconstruction, I walked out to the mailbox to retrieve the daily mail. A box arrived addressed to me with the recognizable handwriting of a dear friend from New York. I did not even make it back into the house. Right there I had to open it. Out came the well-traveled, well-prayed Rosary, plus dozens of cards and letters from all the New Yorkers who lifted prayers to heaven for me.

I cannot tell you the blessings I experienced in those minutes. For a few moments, time stood still, worry and stress dissipated. Joy at being spiritually and emotionally cared for, mingled with invisible long-distant hugs from friends and old neighbors, flooded my heart and leaked profusely from my eyes. I just sat in the grass in the front yard, as tears poured out of me, and grace poured over me.

These women and their families had been reaching out to heaven on my behalf for weeks and weeks. Then they found a tangible way to share those prayers with me, through the gift of that Rosary and their written messages of hope. My kitchen soon became wallpapered in well-wishes and cards.

That was just the beginning; their spiritual concern would turn into full-fledged physical compassion and beautiful service in the days to come.

A six-week recovery followed my surgery, when I needed rest, medication, and help orchestrating the family’s schedule. I had a limited range of motion and was banned from driving—a tough situation for a busy suburban mom with children who were three, six, and nine. It was not a worry for these faith-filled women from the local Rosary group. Together with my sisters and parents, they made sure meals and carpools and laundry and housework were covered. If there was a need, someone was there to fill it, almost immediately.

What a boon—a godsend—to my husband, my children, and me. Just as Mary and others walked with Jesus on the way to Calvary, my support group was with me all the way. I was not alone in carrying my cross.

Four years later, deep into my cancer survivorship, another beautiful moment came from the hearts of these same sensitive women. For my fortieth birthday, the same two groups of women threw a surprise party at a geographically central location in Connecticut. There, the two groups from Massachusetts and New York were united for one special afternoon.

I cannot thank these beautiful women enough. Through them I healed in ways that could only come from God—thanks to their hearts being sensitive to his Spirit. Not only was I touched on the occasion of my birthday—each one a milestone for a cancer survivor—but their concern for my inner life brought an additional blessing. Missing my family and friends in New York was always a small emotional cross in relocating to Massachusetts. Through the new Rosary group, I put down roots in a new town, and survived a major health crisis with phenomenal support. On that birthday, looking across the room at the faces of those women was overwhelming. Through their prayer and care, the two sides of my heart, my old life and my new life, came together.

 

This makes me think… to keep offering it up to Jesus…

Years ago I saw a poster that said: “One person with a belief is equal in force to ninety0nine people who merely have an interest.” When we believe in our faith, rather than merely have an interest in it, we become a witness and a source of strength to others. You might be the only person in your office who refuses to curse and who won’t participate in things that aren’t right. You may be criticized. You may be shunned. But gradually some will begin to respect you and even in some cases imitate you because you are willing to be a sign. At any rate, your sacrifices will count for much in the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged.

Christ said, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Is the power of Satan stronger than the power of Christ? Not at all, so don’t be afraid. Be faithful in prayer for others and offer sacrifices for them.

Often, when I think of the redemptive nature of suffering, I recall the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand with the five loveaves and two fish that a boy in the crowd offered. Such a meager food supply seems unlikely to do much good. Yet Jesus in a real sense made Himself dependent on this boy who gave so generously; Jesus multiplied the food and fed that immense group. That is what He also does with our prayers and sufferings. They seem very little in the face of the needs of the world, yet joined to His own sufferings, they take on that redemptive quality. Jesus uses them to redeem the world. This is redemptive suffering.

Jesus needs our suffering to use in redeeming souls. We need our suffering so that we can share with Him in the co-redemptive mission. The world need it that none may be lost eternally from God’s love.

Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR
Walk Humbly With Your God

The Catholic Apologetics Academy came to the Boston area

The Catholic Apologetics Academy came to the Boston area

I had some unexpected space free up in my weekend, courtesy of a change in a church calendar, and my husband being away on a business trip. So I asked the Lord — what should I do with my time?

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 3.33.35 PMI think I was one of the last ones to sign up for the Catholic Apologetics Academy  being held in Massachusetts. I was fortunate that there was a seat available, because the meeting room at St William Church in Tewksbury was full of 100+ eager students from around MA, New England, and some folks coming even farther distances!

Patrick Madrid’s Envoy Institute brought together not only the man himself, but also the always amazing Peter Kreeft, and Kenneth Hensley. 

From Thursday night, to two full days on Friday and Saturday, and Mass and a morning program on Sunday, all three gentlemen offered talks to help us learn to defend the faith better, and to do it all with love and gentleness and reverence for Christ and the other. (See 1 Peter 3: 15.) And they did it all — from offering lectures, to taking questions and tackling thorny problems — without an ounce of ego between them. What very calm, yet strong teachers. I’m grateful for their service and commitment to passing on their knowledge and conversational tips and etiquette to the rest of us.

I think Patrick said it best when he offered: “This is not about winning arguments, it is about winning souls… authenticity must accompany our apologetics.” That could be a billboard for New Evangelization 101.

"Pat and Pat" (Gohn and Madrid)

“Pat and Pat”
(Gohn and Madrid)

Finally, adding a touch of class and aural beauty to our experience, was the unexpected gift of Anna Maria Mendeita, a world-class harpist, who sat in on the weekend talks — and sat behind a harp she borrowed from a generous local person. Anna Maria played at Masses, and accompanied our meals and wine and cheese gatherings. Magnificent!

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Some photos courtesies of Catholic Apologetics Academy website.

 

The F.U.N. Quotient… silly kid jokes edition

I always love kid jokes. Clean, fun, silly. Here’s a neat website I found that specializes in clean jokes submitted by children.

Insert your own comic rim shot after each one.

Here’s a sample:

Q. How do you make seven an even number?
A. Take the s out!

Q. What dog can jump higher than a building?
A. Anydog, buildings can’t jump!

Q: What’s black and white and makes a lot of noise?
A: A zebra with a drumkit.

Q. How do you make a fruit punch?
A. Give it boxing lessons.

Q. Where can you find an ocean with no water?
A. On a map!

Q. What animal needs to wear a wig?
A. A bald eagle.

Q. Why did the Oreo go to the dentist?
A. Because he lost his filling. 

Go read some more. 

 

Among Women 184: Show Me, Lord, That I’m Beautiful

Among Women 184: Show Me, Lord, That I’m Beautiful

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 7.09.47 PMThis week on Among Women, in our first segment, we look at a miraculous conversion story taken from the life of St Catherine of Siena wrought through the power of prayer. In a similar vein, in our second segment, we meet a modern woman with her own story of transformation.

Life with Jesus Christ has the power to change every aspect of our lives. University of Miami Campus Minister Michelle Ducker candidly shares her life and work in this extended interview. Michelle’s story shows us that when we let Jesus do the heavy lifting, he’ll heal our hearts and minds and bring us joy, truth, and true beauty — the kind that shines from the inside out! Michelle reflects on several years of her life, including her walking away from a modeling career, dealing with illness, and wrestling with body and self-image issues. Today she shares what she has overcome in and through Christ, and how she walks with others so that they may experience friendship in Christ, and discover true beauty and love.

This is an episode you won’t want to miss! Listen!

 

This makes me think… about living from the inside out…

God, in giving us life, gives each of us a mission to accomplish and a role to fulfill in his eternal plan. The most important thing, then, is to recognize this particular mission, to discern the divine will in our life, and then to work to make of our entire life and death a means of salvation for ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

We are the good God’s humble workers, the laborers of the Father, and when night falls, we must be able to say confidently that the harvest is ready and that the living Sun may now cause the seeds we have sown to grow.

“Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Mt 7: 16, 20)

God knows us in all our depths; he is aware of our least desire, the least impulse of our hearts, and the least movement of our will. But others see only what we show on the outside. That is why our actions and words and even our bearing must be the harmonious and truth expression of our interior depths. Others will judge our depths, or what is more important, God will judge them on the basis of the fruits he produces in us and the works he inspires us to do.

-Elizabeth Leseur-
Selected Writings

The F.U.N. Quotient… pee wee football edition

This isn’t just something fun. This is something that will warm your heart. Way to go, boys! Proud that your from MA.

Read more here. 

Facing the sword of martyrdom, St Cyprian responds: “Thanks be to God!”

From today’s Office of Readings:

On the morning of the fourteenth of September a great crowd gathered at the Villa Sexti, in accordance with the order of the governor Galerius Maximus. That same day the governor commanded Bishop Cyprian to be brought before him for trial in the court of Sauciolum.

After Cyprian was brought in, the governor asked him: “Are you Thascius Cyprian?”

And the bishop replied: “Yes, I am.”

The governor Galerius Maximus said: “Have you posed as the pontiff of a sacrilegious group?”

The bishop answered: “I have,”

Then the governor said: “Our most venerable emperors have commanded you to perform the religious rites.”

Bishop Cyprian replied: “I will not do so.”

Galerius Maximus said: “Consider your position.”

Cyprian replied: “Follow your orders. In such a just cause there is no need for deliberation.”

Then Galerius Maximus, after consulting with his council, reluctantly issued the following judgment: “You have long lived with your sacrilegious convictions, and you have gathered about yourself many others in a vicious conspiracy. You have set yourself up as an enemy of the gods of Rome and our religious practices. The pious and venerable emperors, the Augusti, Valerian and Gallienus, and Valerian the most noble of Caesars, have been unable to draw you back to the observance of their holy ceremonies. You have been discovered as the author and leader of these heinous crimes, and will consequently be held forth as an example for all those who have follow you in your crime. By your blood the law shall be confirmed.”

Next he read the sentence from a tablet: “It is decided that Thascius Cyprian should die by the sword.”

Cyprian responded: “Thanks be to God!”

After the sentence was passed, a crowd of his fellow Christians said: “We should also be killed with him!”

There arose an uproar among the Christians, and a great mob followed after him. Cyprian was then brought out to the grounds of the Villa Sexti, where, taking off his outer cloak and kneeling on the ground, he fell before the Lord in prayer. He removed his dalmatic and gave it to the deacons, and then stood erect while waiting for the executioner. When the executioner arrived, Cyprian told his friends to give the man twenty-five gold pieces. Cloths and napkins were being spread out in front of him by the brethren. Then the blessed Cyprian covered his eyes with his own hands, but when he was unable to tie the ends of the linen himself, the priest Julian and the sub-deacon Julian fastened them for him.

In this way the blessed Cyprian suffered, and his body was laid out at a nearby place to satisfy the curiosity of the pagans. During the night Cyprian’s body was triumphantly borne away in a procession of Christians who, praying and bearing tapers and torches, carried the body to the cemetery of the governor Macrobius Candidianus which lies on the Mappalian Way near the fish ponds. Not many days later the governor Galerius Maximus died.

The most blessed martyr Cyprian suffered on the fourteenth of September under the emperors Valerian and Gallienus, in the reign of our true Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belong honor and glory for ever. Amen.

From the proconsular Acts of the martyrdom of Saint Cyprian, bishop
(Acta, 3-6: CSEL 3, 112-114)

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St Cyprian, and St Cornelius, pray for us!! 

:::

The number of persons dying for the Christian faith in the last hundred years is staggering, so said this report from 2002.

In two millennia of Christian history, about 70 million faithful have given their lives for the faith, and of these, 45.5 million — fully 65% — were in the last century, according to “The New Persecuted” (“I Nuovi Perseguitati”).

12 years later, we are seeing an increase in persecutions. Just last year, John L. Allen, Jr. wrote a book, A Global War on Christians, in which he said, this “global war on Christians is in many ways the greatest story never told about the 21st century.” His report, it seems to me now, to be prophetic.

Two months ago, Pope Francis talked about the recent persecutions, especially in the Middle East.

“Today – [Pope Francis said] – we look upon the Church of Rome that grows, fed by the blood of martyrs. So it is right – he continued – that our thoughts turn to the many martyrs of today, the many martyrs who give their lives for faith. It is true that during the times of Nero many Christians were persecuted, and today – he said – there are just as many.”

“There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians. Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an ‘elegant’ way, with ‘white gloves’: that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries. So during this Mass, remembering our glorious ancestors, let us think also to our brothers who are persecuted, who suffer and who, with their blood are nurturing the seed of so many little Churches that are born. Let us pray for them and for us”.

In the days since then, we’ve seen an escalation of epic proportions. There are calls for prayers, and for help for the victims and refugees who have had to flee persecution.

“It has shocked the conscience of the world that people are systematically being purged from the region where their families have lived for millennia simply for their faith. It is imperative that we stand in solidarity with them in defense of the freedom of religion and conscience, and provide them with whatever relief we can.”

Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus

The Order of the Knight of Columbus has a long history of providing humanitarian relief and has long supported persecuted Christians. You can donate here.

Catholic Relief Services continues to provide help too, donate here.

 

 

This makes me think… just praise Him! Always!

Nothing, then, must keep us back, nothing separate us from him, nothing come between us and him. 

At all times and seasons, in every country and place, every day and all day, we must have a true and humble faith, and keep him in our hearts, where we must love, honor, adore, serve, praise and bless, glorify and acclaim, magnify and thank, the most supreme and eternal God, Three in one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creator of all, and Saviour of those who believe in him, hope in him, and who love him; without beginning and without end, he is unchangeable, invisible, indescribable and ineffable, incomprehensible, unfathomable, blessed and worthy of all praise.

-St Francis of Assisi-
Rule of 1221, Ch. XXIII*

 

 

 

*Source

 

The F.U.N. Quotient… Catholic geek edition

The F.U.N. Quotient… Catholic geek edition

I’ve had a few days to relax and retreat (and yes, work) while at Chiara Center in Springfield, IL. It’s a lovely place, and the Sisters are very hospitable and this is a very modern facility. I love the Franciscan heritage and the profoundly beautiful St Francis of Assisi church on the property. (Read all about it, with photos. in this PDF.)

My prayer times have been very special. And, well, my Catholic geeky side has been enthralled, much like when I’ve been at other cathedrals, basilicas, or shrines. Thought you’d like to share in the fun.

Of course the oldest things in here, beside the dirt the church is built on, are the relics. Let’s start with the church’s patron, St Francis.

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St Francis of Assisi’s reliquary

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First class relic, bone of the saint.

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Ornate reliquary containing a fragment of the True Cross, with authentication alongside.

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Close up of a splinter from the Cross

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A view from across the grounds.

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Facade of St Francis Assisi Church

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A mosaic of Francis is over the front door “greeting” you as you arrive… it’s Francis depicted as receiving the stigmata. (Don’t know what that is? Go look it up.)

There’s wonderful marbles and stained glass and art all through the church.

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A view from the rear balcony

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Inside the dome.

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The tabernacle, complete with cherubim, reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant.

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Our Lady of Perpetual Help. (Yes that is all marble from several different European countries.) (This is kind of rare to see in the States.)

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St Teresa of Avila

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St Rita of Cascia

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St Rose of Lima

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St Joseph with the child Jesus

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St John the Evangelist, and beloved disciple

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I love this depiction of Martha and Mary of Bethany with Jesus.

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This one stirred me… Jesus in Gethsemane — the agony in the Garden.

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“Ecce Homo” = “Behold the man.” (What Pilate said about Jesus.) (And yes, those eyes are amazing. I never before felt like stained glass was staring at me till I saw this one)

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Entrance to Chiara Center – where tomorrow 100+ women from the Diocese of Springfield will come for our women’s conference together.

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One more of St Francis, from the grounds.

All photos taken by me, Pat Gohn, with my trusty iPhone 4s.