Why I love Saint Mary Magdalene

Why I love Saint Mary Magdalene

From my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood:

Here’s a vision of hope for every woman stung by bad decisions and the pain of sin. It is the life of St. Mary Magdalene.  First, imagine Mary Magdalene, one of the notorious sinners mentioned in the New Testament, from whom seven devils were cast out. When she met the God of love, she turned from her sins, converted, and lived to love and serve Jesus.

Now, here’s a second picture to envision: At the foot of Jesus’s Cross, the Gospel records that Mary Magdalene stood next to the Blessed Virgin Mary—the woman the Church declares and Mother of God, and John Paul II called “the mirror and measure of femininity” (See Angelus Message, 3, June 25, 1995.)

In the New Testament  [Mary Magdalene] is mentioned among the women who accompanied Christ and ministered to Him (Lk 8:2–3), where it is also said that seven devils had been cast out of her (Mk 16:9). She is next named as standing at the foot of the cross (Mk 15:40; Mt 27:56; Jn 19:25; Lk 23:49). She saw Christ laid in the tomb, and she was the first recorded witness of the Resurrection. (Jn 20:11–18)

(Pope, “St. Mary Magdalen ”, New Advent.)

 If Mary Magdalene, with her checkered past, can stand with the Blessed Virgin Mary – the epitome of grace and womanhood – then we all have a chance to do the same. The Blessed Mother is truly the friend and refuge of sinners…

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Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious wins a 2014 Catholic Press Association Award, as do others from Ave Maria Press!

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious wins a 2014 Catholic Press Association Award, as do others from Ave Maria Press!

What a honor! Thanks to the Catholic Press Association! Let me also extend my deep gratitude to publisher Tom Grady and the great editorial, marketing, and creative teams at Ave Maria Press for their support of my book and those titles and authors listed below.

Ave Maria Press made this announcement via this press release:

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We are very pleased to announce that multiple Ave Maria Press books were selected as Catholic Press Association award winners this weekend. Congratulations to all these wonderful authors!

Check out all the results at the Catholic Press Association website.

Pastoral Ministry Category (First Place) 

Rebuilt by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran

Spirituality (Soft Cover) (First Place)  

Atchison Blue by Judith Valente

Best Trade/Seasonal Catalog Category (Second Place) 

Ave Maria Press Fall 2013 Trade Catalog by John Carson, Chris Tobin, and Heather Glenn

Professional Book Category (Third Place) 

Redeeming Administration by Ann Garrido

Gender Issues Category (Third Place) 

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious by Pat Gohn

Design and Production Category (Honorable Mention) 

Rebuilt by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran (Design by John Carson)

More here. 

In Thanksgiving for St John Paul and his contributions about Women… Enter to win my book.

In Thanksgiving for St John Paul and his contributions about Women… Enter to win my book.

My book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious would never have been written if I had not first been inspired by the goodness of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, and in particular, his preaching on the feminine genius and the dignity and vocation of women.photo

In honor of John Paul’s canonization on April 27, I’m holding a drawing to give away three copies of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, with the three winners announced on May 1.

To enter this free drawing, leave a comment in the box below.

To purchase a book go here, here, or for a personalized copy, go here.

And, please, join me in offering a prayer of thanksgiving to St John Paul for all he has given to our church.

 

“On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”

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. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way – precisely by reason of their femininity – and this in a particular way determines their vocation.

The moral force of women, which draws strength from this awareness and this entrusting, expresses itself in a great number of figures of the Old Testament, of the time of Christ, and of later ages right up to our own day.

A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that God “entrusts the human being to her”, always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them “strong” and strengthens their vocation.

Thus the “perfect woman” (cf. Prov 31:10) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit. These “perfect women” are owed much by their families, and sometimes by whole nations.

In our own time, the successes of science and technology make it possible to attain material well-being to a degree hitherto unknown. While this favours some, it pushes others to the edges of society. In this way, unilateral progress can also lead to a gradual loss of sensitivity for man, that is, for what is essentially human. In this sense, our time in particular awaits the manifestation of that “genius” which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance: because they are human! – and because “the greatest of these is love” (cf. 1Cor 13:13).

Thus a careful reading of the biblical exemplar of the Woman – from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation – confirms that which constitutes women’s dignity and vocation, as well as that which is unchangeable and ever relevant in them, because it has its “ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever”. If the human being is entrusted by God to women in a particular way, does not this mean that Christ looks to them for the accomplishment of the “royal priesthood” (1 Pt 2:9), which is the treasure he has given to every individual? Christ, as the supreme and only priest of the New and Eternal Covenant, and as the Bridegroom of the Church, does not cease to submit this same inheritance to the Father through the Spirit, so that God may be “everything to everyone” (1 Cor 15:28).62

Then the truth that “the greatest of these is love” (cf. 1 Cor 13:13) will have its definitive fulfillment.

 “If you knew the gift of God” (Jn 4:10), Jesus says to the Samaritan woman during one of those remarkable conversations which show his great esteem for the dignity of women and for the vocation which enables them to share in his messianic mission.

The present reflections, now at an end, have sought to recognize, within the “gift of God”, what he, as Creator and Redeemer, entrusts to women, to every woman. In the Spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a “sincere gift of self” to others, thereby finding themselves.

During the Marian Year the Church desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the “mystery of woman” and for every woman – for that which constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the “great works of God”, which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her. After all, was it not in and through her that the greatest event in human history – the incarnation of God himself – was accomplished?

Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for “perfect”women and for “weak” women – for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal “homeland” of all people and is transformed sometimes into a “valley of tears”; as they assume, together with men, a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.

The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine “genius” which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.

The Church asks at the same time that these invaluable “manifestations of the Spirit” (cf. 1 Cor12:4ff.), which with great generosity are poured forth upon the “daughters” of the eternal Jerusalem, may be attentively recognized and appreciated so that they may return for the common good of the Church and of humanity, especially in our times. Meditating on the biblical mystery of the “woman”, the Church prays that in this mystery all women may discover themselves and their “supreme vocation”.

-John Paul II-

Mulieris Dignitatem, par 30-31, August 18, 1988.

UPDATE: May 5, 2014: 

Comments are now closed. The three winners have been notified by email. Thanks to all who participated.

“This is my body, which is given for you”: reflecting on the Eucharistic parallel in motherhood – a book excerpt

“This is my body, which is given for you” (Lk 22:19).

These words of Jesus captured the heart of his mission. His life on earth would be given in sacrifice on the Cross for the sake of our redemption from the sins that separated us from God. For Catholics, these precious words also capture the institution of the Eucharist, the great sacrifice and sacrament considered to be the source and summit of their faith.

In these holy words, uttered in prayer by a priest at Mass, we cannot escape the “bodiliness” of God––the truly superlative way that Jesus continues to be present in the world today––that his flesh and blood would be miraculously concealed under the auspices of consecrated bread and wine that we consume in the Eucharist.

“This is my body, which is given for you.”

These words reveal the significant value and sacredness of our own bodies. And if you’ll forgive the informality—the bod—which God created for us is bodacious! Everything God does, he does for a reason. Our bodies have as much meaning in the eyes of God as our souls, to which they are remarkably joined.

Dictionaries list meanings for the word bodacious as “most excellent” or “remarkable,” or “audacious in a way that is considered admirable.” Some consider the word bodacious a portmanteau, a word that is a linguistic blend of two meanings, such as “bold” and “audacious.” How bold that our God would come to earth as a human person in a body, and how audacious that our bodies might somehow image the divine God who made us, and one day be glorified in heaven.

Our Creator creates the body; our Baptism consecrates the body. Through Baptism, the body is baptized and anointed, as the soul is marked with the sign of faith. A woman’s body is part of the Body of Christ. So, too, is a man’s body. We are grafted in our entirety into the Body of Christ.
Just as the body of Jesus exemplified his mission as the Christ, so, too, the mission of the Christian is lived in and through the body. We do all things—we carry out our mission—in our bodies and through our bodies. Indeed, our bodies belong to the Body of Christ.

Catholic churches have depictions of the body of Christ on the Cross—the crucifix—a man’s broken body hanging on a cross. We are confronted with the bodiliness of God. In his suffering and broken body, we can see our own wounds of body and soul. Through our sin and ignorance, we defile the body, revile the body, ignore the body, and denigrate the body. Yet in the crucifix, we also are confronted with the godliness of grace. Through Christ’s sacrifice, the deepest graces are found in the Body of Christ––graces to restore and heal the brokenness we find in ourselves.

“This is my body, which is given for you.”

The body of a woman signifies her mission; she is designed to mother.

Our female bodies point to the bodacious life-giving mission of women. The mission of the eye is to see. The mission of the tongue is to speak. The mission of the skin is to feel and protect. The mission of the uterus is to house new life. The mission of the breast is to nourish.

“This is my body, which is given for you.”

With all due reverence, these could be the same words that a mother might say to a child growing in her womb. A pregnancy is a concrete way to lay one’s life and body down for another person. (Now imagine the reality of the mother of multiples carrying more than one baby!) Recall the generosity and beauty of mutual self-giving, self-donating love between spouses. In pregnancy, a woman builds on this self-donating love. She makes a minute-by-minute gift of self to her unborn child.

I’ve mentioned my own pregnancy struggles. My third trimesters for my three pregnancies were as unpredictable as my first trimesters and filled with medical testing. I was poked and prodded and checked for blood-pressure issues, gestational diabetes, large-gestational-age issues, and more. These, plus the returning nausea and heartburn that I began each pregnancy with, brought bouts of worry and uncertainty for me.

Yet the Christian is called to rely on God: “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pt 5:7). Despite my temperament’s bent toward worry, I did something each Sunday that brought me great peace: I attended Mass and received the Lord in the Eucharist.
I lived to hear those words: “This is my body, which is given for you.” And I tried to join myself to the words as Christ joined himself to me through that sacrament.

As I received the nourishing host and the precious Blood at the altar, I imagined the Lord’s Body and Blood pumping through my veins, reaching through the umbilical cord where my unborn baby received nourishment. My heart was consoled that my baby “received” Christ in some miraculous way that was unknown to me from a scientific or biological standpoint, but in some kind of supernatural way, very much known to Jesus. As I was being touched by and nourished by Christ, so was my child. And with each Communion I made a deeper connection with the baby that was yet to be born.

Philosopher Alice von Hildebrand captures the immense privilege women have as they participate in the biological and spiritual processes of maternity. In The Privilege of Being a Woman, she explains:

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 the new child in her body. This implies a direct “contact” between Him and the mother-to-be, a contact in which the father plays 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 female privilege that every pregnant woman should gratefully acknowledge. (86.)

While pregnant, a woman has the unique privilege of carrying two souls in her body: hers and her child’s. My sense of this was magnified every time I received the Eucharist during pregnancy. Before I ever got to teach my children about Jesus or the faith, God had already visited my womb in creating the souls of my sons and daughter, and “touched” them in their creation and via the Eucharistic miracle. This armed me with confidence that I was never alone in caring for this tiny child in utero. It also indicated my growth as a spiritual mother, as praying for this child was a totally natural thing to do. Spiritual mothering was something I did not have the words for when I was young, though I was slowly intuiting the reality that physical and spiritual mothering was the way my body and soul were designed.

As a parent, my spiritual maternity was found in this longing in my heart that my children might know and receive the Lord and live in his will. With each successive pregnancy, this desire grew, and it motivated me to act in ways that would teach and lead my children to know Christ.

Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and “understands” with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the “beginning,” the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings—not only towards her own child, but every human being—which profoundly marks the woman’s personality. (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, 18)

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The preceding post was an excerpt from Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood. 

Hey – I was on “The Good Catholic Life” on WQOM — podcast version here!

Hey – I was on “The Good Catholic Life” on WQOM — podcast version here!

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 8.32.15 PMYesterday I was happy to share some studio time with two of my favorite media guys from the Archdiocese of Boston, Fr Chip Hines and Dom Bettinelli. The show opens with film critic, Fr Chip, giving some of his thoughts on the new movie “Son of God”. And then I was introduced.

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We talked about the church’s positive message for women as presented in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious on the radio show “The Good Catholic Life”, produced in the studio at the Pastoral Center in Braintree.

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It was a wide ranging discussion and I’m grateful for the questions that were asked.

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Listen or download the show here.

Photos by the talented George Martell. More photos here.  Thanks George!

On Spiritual Friendship, from The Christophers

On Spiritual Friendship, from The Christophers

This is a topic that is dear to my heart, and I’m very happy that The Christophers have taken up the subject in one of their newest booklets, written by author Mary De Turris Poust, who coincidentally, also wrote Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship

At his blog, Christopher Close-up, Tony Rossi gives us the text of the booklet, which you can request in a hard copy from The Christophers at the end of that blog post.

Here’s a snippet:

The definition of “friendship” has taken some hits in recent years. After all, we live in a world where social media allows us to “friend” or “unfriend” someone with the click of our computer or smartphone. But that’s precisely why face-to-face and heart-to-heart friendship is needed more than ever. These are the times that call for spiritual friendships, the kinds of bonds that reach to a place deep within our souls, far beyond shared interests, book clubs, and shopping dates.

SpiritualFriendshipSpiritual friendship is not an invention of our modern times. In fact, we can trace it back into the Old Testament. “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure,” we read in Sirach 6:14. We’re not talking about just any good friend here; we’re talking about a friend whose hunger for spiritual connection, whose journey toward God mirrors our own.

Aelred of Rivealux, a Cistercian monk who lived in the 12th century, wrote the original book on spiritual friendship. His collection of letters was meant to help readers discover the beauty of this kind of soul-to-soul relationship. Five centuries later, St. Francis de Sales took up the mantle and wrote extensively about spiritual friendship in his classic “Introduction to the Devout Life.”

“If the bond of your mutual liking be charity, devotion, and Christian perfection, God knows how very precious a friendship it is! Precious because it comes from God, because it tends to God, because God is the link that binds you, because it will last forever in Him,” wrote St. Francis.

But spiritual friendship is not some remnant of a bygone era. It is alive and well among faithful friends who want to be companions on the spiritual journey through highs and lows, good times and bad, from here to eternity.

There’s a lot of good stuff in this piece, so don’t miss it! I’m also pleased that my book gets mentioned.

Pat Gohn, author of “Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood,” talks about the importance of “spiritual motherhood,” those relationships where a woman—whether biological mother or not—nurtures the spiritual life of another. This is just one of the many incarnations of spiritual friendship available to us today.

Gohn says, “As the parent of a child, we freely pour our love and energy into their growth, even though a child is often not capable of a reciprocal giving back. A spiritual mother willingly gives of herself, and lets her love be planted in another person’s life, investing without expectation of a return, yet leaving the results to God, because God is the source of all our goodness in the first place.”

That same spirit is very much at the heart of spiritual friendship—loving without expecting anything in return, offering without strings attached. And it’s something that flies in the face of what our society tells us. In a world where there’s “no free lunch,” spiritual friendship is counter-cultural. It says, yes, you can give and receive this love, this bond, this communion without fear of indebtedness or guilt.

Read the rest here.

Give Books as Christmas Gifts this year…

Give Books as Christmas Gifts this year…

I love my publisher, Ave Maria Press… and yes, this is a little commercial for the joy of giving books as Christmas gifts.

You just might want to do some Christmas shopping over there, or wherever you buy your favorite books.

350_28683453709_2229_nSome of my best pals have books at Ave Maria Press…. and many of them have been my guests on Among Women chatting about what they’ve written…

Lisa Hendey,  Elizabeth Scalia,  Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss,  Dawn Eden,  Sarah Reinhard,  Tim & Sue Muldoon,  Patrice Fagnant MacArthur,  Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle,  Marge Fenelon… and me, too.

OR, if there’s a Mom in your life who’s not much of a reader, she may enjoy the audio book from Lisa Hendey, complete with chapter sidebar voice-over efforts from me on the audio book version of The Handbook for Catholic Moms.

Ave Maria also carries some of my longtime favorite authors like Henri Nouwen,  Caryll Houselander, and  Eugene Boylan.  

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banner photo credit

other photos: Ave Maria Press

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.)

PLACE AN ORDER.

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

Mine is April 10! When was your baptism? The Pope Gives Homework!

Pope Francis asks his audience today if they all know their baptismal day! When our children were growing up we celebrated their baptismal days in a way like birthdays!

My thoughts on baptism — it is one reason why we are soooo blessed! –from an excerpt from my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood:

In the graces of Baptism, God became a father to me. I was born into the family of God, and the love of the Trinity was extended to me by name—Patricia Ann—baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Of course, I was an infant at the time, and still, Baptism was and is a great gift that my parents obtained for me. Baptism secured my dignity as a beloved daughter and brought healing to my life. The graces of Baptism empower me to make Jesus’s words my own. As I said before, when she knows she is beloved, a daughter can trust the father’s love. It is a deep blessing. Whose we are matters.

 In Baptism we meet the fatherhood of God, blessed and dignified as beloved daughters. Unfortunately, it is a gift we can fail to recognize or take for granted. Imagine owning a costly heirloom worth millions, but having no idea of its value because it is locked away in a chest and forgotten. For many of us, that treasure is our Baptism, specifically the knowledge that we are God’s beloved daughters. That knowledge is the key that unlocks many graces.

In Baptism, we are made for holiness. We are brought into the family of God. We are yoked to God, a Blessed Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are daughters of a loving Father who is perfect and transcendent beyond our earthbound impressions. He always knows what’s best for his daughters. If we ponder that, relying on the graces we’ve already received in Baptism, we will begin to reclaim the girl who may be carrying around a lot of angst and rejection where fatherhood is concerned.

Baptized Christians utter the word Father six times in the Nicene Creed. There’s a reason. We are blessed daughters standing before a magnificent, loving, all-knowing Father. Plus, the Creed spells out our belief and relationship with the three-in-one God.

 We are a sister and friend to Jesus Christ, a most sublime, supernatural-yet-approachable brother. In Jesus, we see the invisible Father. The Savior who died for our sins reversed the curse imposed at Eden after the fall. Jesus is the truest friend we will ever have. Read the gospels and see his respect for every woman he has ever met, breaking with the social conventions of his day.

Finally, we are consecrated witnesses to the Spirit. The searcher of hearts, the source of all wisdom, and the giver of life abides in the tabernacle of our soul. By extension we are baptized into the Church, the family of God on earth, together with saints in heaven. This familial relationship with God is the truth of our dignity, our beatitude, and beatitude is supreme blessedness.

Everyone wants to find happiness, right? Blessedness is church-speak for happiness. You are extremely blessed. You belong to God. You were made for truth. You were made for goodness. You were made to know beauty.

You are beautiful. You are loved.

You are unrepeatable, unique, valuable.

You are sacred in God’s eyes.

You are sacred.

You.

You didn’t earn it. It was free. You have a link to God that you didn’t create. It flows from the lavishness of God’s love. Your worth, in his eyes, is priceless. The prophet says that God considers you “the apple of his eye” (Zec 2:8).

Baptism reveals our true dignity as children, beloved of God. That’s our beatitude, our blessedness.   

You can get  signed copies in time for Christmas.