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I’m a guest at the WINE blog today… talking about wine and music and wisdom

I’m a guest at the WINE blog today… talking about wine and music and wisdom

A little proverb in the book of Sirach gets me started…

“Wine and music gladden the heart, but the love of wisdom is better than both.”
—Sirach 40:20

Ah, wine and music! Two of my favorite things! Yet the proverb from Sirach offers much to consider as we examine the love of wisdom.

The sound of a cork pop remains a signal to my heart that life is good. The influence from the French side of my family taught me the beauty of wine on the table. I grew up a wine drinker and to this day, it is a joy to shop for wine, to taste new labels, to pair a special vintage with a good meal. Even the delicate nature of wine glasses signals to us that we must handle wine with care, savor its bouquet, and drink temperately. Every glass of wine was years in the making. It ought be respected and consumed with gratitude.

Wine is an occasion waiting to happen; through it we toast the gift of family, we honor friends, and celebrate milestones. For Catholics, we intuit the wisdom of Jesus in bringing us together for the Eucharistic meal whereby he shares his very self under the guise of bread and wine. That knowledge alone elevates our notion of wine as a gift that must be shared with love.

I also grew up a music lover and a musician. For me, music is a way to sing, to dance, and to pray. Music moves us, not only to sing and dance, but it moves the heart.

I’ve seen the right choice of music change someone’s day. I’ve been privileged to choose and sing music at weddings where the memories of those songs will last a lifetime. Music offers a soundtrack to some of the most important moments of our lives. Music is the language of the heart.

Wine plus music equals a celebration! From simplest gathering to the more elaborate events—whether an intimate gathering for two, a party with friends, or a wedding reception—wine and music are complementary sensory gifts that make life better, joyous even!

Yet, Sirach reminds us, even as we find the gifts of wine and music enjoyable and inspiring … “the love of wisdom is better than both.” Why might this be?

Read the rest at the WINE blog.


(WINE = Women In the New Evangelization)

WINE has many events throughout the year, mostly in Minnesota, although its mission is growing.

The 2016 Women’s Conference Feb 6th

The Italy tour – June 2016

Dear St John Paul II… a thanksgiving for your holy influence in my life

Dear St John Paul II… a thanksgiving for your holy influence in my life

Dear St John Paul II,

What a blessing to go to Mass this morning on your feast day! Your life had such a big impact on mine; your holy influence has fueled some of my best prayer practices and my most earnest studies.

Long before you instituted World Youth Days, you struck a chord with me as a youngish youth minister when I accompanied my youth group to Madison Square Garden. You told us: “Look to Christ!” So simple, yet so life-changing. We have so much that distracts us in this age. Only one thing is needed: keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 4.23.47 PMYour love for the Blessed Mother caught my attention. I had mixed emotions about Mary until I read your advice in Redemptoris Mater about Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. You said it was a way to better live my baptismal promises. That inspired me to say yes to Marian Consecration when I was invited by some local friends to do so. Who knew the timing would be just months before my breast cancer diagnosis? I would need Momma Mary all the more during that time. But you know that ANY TIME is a good time to get closer to Mary.

To this day, I remember my profound shock and joy when the The Catechism of the Catholic Church came out in English in 1994. I have a first edition. Some people laughed that I cared to read it. Yet its teaching grounded my love for Christ and the wisdom of the Church. It’s amazing footnotes and multiple indices sent me back to grad school for my Masters to learn what all that “alphabet soup” meant — all those abbreviations! — all the magisterial teaching and the wisdom of the church doctors and saints continues to thrill and inspire my life and my work. I’m still learning from it, by the way. I’m grateful that I’ve been blessed to write a monthly column in Catholic Digest about it for the last few years.

A happy fallout of learning the Catechism in the 90s is that it put me in touch with the profound theological master, our dear Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Reading you and reading him made me grow to love Christ and the Church all the more.  What a legacy your remarkable friendship has given the world!

Your Theology of the Body renewed my marriage and gave me a path for raising my teens — sharing with them God’s plan for marital love and fidelity to whatever vocation that God gives them.

I remember standing with my Bob and my daughter Katie in St Peter’s Square with you, toward the end of your earthly life. It was our first general audience in 2004. That was a long time since our youthful selves were at the Garden in ’79. But your age and infirmity did not matter, you were still happy to be with us. By then I knew you were a living saint. I yelled out my love and prayers with that crazy throng as you passed by in your Popemobile.

Let me tell you one last thing. When I was a young mom, I stumbled upon your musings about “the feminine genius”, in Mulieris Dignitatem and Letter to Women… Little did I know the impact they would have. Later, those writings, and related homilies, and your encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), would eventually become the basis of my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood.  How can I ever thank you for that? Maybe someday in heaven, right? I’m hoping my work is part of that great thank you. Did you have a hand in my book being recently translated into Polish is advance of the next World Youth Day in Krakow? Either way, I’m crediting your influence.

Speaking of all good things Polish! I have loved the Divine Mercy devotion and St Faustina for years, thanks to you! It has changed my 3 o’clock hour. Not to mention your addition of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. That was brilliant.

Okay I’m rambling here, but you get the point. Thank you, thank you, dear Papa! There’s so much more I could write and gush about. I know you are praying for the universal church, and for your little friend here, who is writing a new manuscript with fear and trembling, and looking to you again for your holy tutelage. What a gift to ask for your intercession!

St John Paul II, pray for us!

Our Lady of Charity answers my prayers… she sent Maria Morera Johnson on pilgrimage with the #PopeInCuba

Our Lady of Charity answers my prayers… she sent Maria Morera Johnson on pilgrimage with the #PopeInCuba


Sisters in Christ, daughters of Mary.

One of the many fruits of my friendship with María Morera Johnson, is not only finding a friend who loves the Blessed Mother and the Rosary, but through her I learned about Mary’s title as Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba. Her full title in Spanish is La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. 

Good friends teach you about stuff. They share what moves them. I visited María’s extended family in Miami in 2011. Part of that trip included a little pilgrimage to Our Lady of Charity’s shrine there, also known as the Ermita del la Caridad. It is dear to many with Cuban ancestry. When I’m there, I think of the many people in the course of my lifetime who have left their country under difficult circumstances. The shrine looks out to sea from the shoreline. I can only imagine how many prayers and tears have mingled with those waters that fill the 90-mile gap from Florida to Cuba.

I have been very taken with this title of Our Lady of Charity, and her patronage.

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.33.38 PM

My statue of Our Lady of Charity.

After that Miami visit I had an opportunity to write about the story of Our Lady of Charity. I’ve even been back to Miami two more times to visit the Ermita. I’ve prayed for my friend and her Cuban family members’ intentions both there and before the image of Our Lady of Charity that is in my home — a gift from the Morera family.

Over the years I have prayed that María would one day have a chance to make a pilgrimage to the original El Cobre shrine in Cuba, the country of her birth.

I think Our Lady had that same prayer.

The thing about God’s timing and God’s plan is that it is always so much better than anything we can ever hope for or imagine.

I would have never predicted that such a pilgrimage would include a selfie with the Pope.

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Pope Francis, Maria Morera Johnson, Cuba, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Maria M Johnson.)

María just returned from a pilgrimage to Cuba that coincided with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Cuba. It’s her story to tell. And I’m happy to ask you to read it.

Read her second installment about her Cuban journey, complete with the selfie with the Pope, over at Aleteia. Her first installment is here.

You can also follow María Johnson’s blog.

Oh, in other news, María has a book coming out in the next few weeks: My Badass Book of Saints… 

One last thing… you see that little medal María is wearing in the photo above?  I’ve never seen one until I met her. It’s Our Lady of Charity.


Update from 10.5.2015: An Offering to Our Lady of Charity in Cuba. This post really touched my heart.

A visit with St Elizabeth Ann Seton, or, what I did over my summer vacation, Part 2

A visit with St Elizabeth Ann Seton, or, what I did over my summer vacation, Part 2

A great part of my vacation this summer was visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine of St Elizabeth Ann Seton, one of my home town heroes — meaning she is originally from New York City, and famous for being the first American-born saint lifted to canonization back in 1975.

I talk about St Elizabeth on the newest episode of Among Women.  In it I describe some aspects of her life and share some of her writing.

Here’s a few photos from the Shrine in Emmitsburg, MD.

Mother Seton was a native New Yorker. When she was canonized it was a big deal in my home state.

Mother Seton was a native New Yorker. When she was canonized it was a big deal in my home state. Here we are 40 years later.


Front door that leads into the basilica.

Front door that leads into the basilica.


View of the interior.

View of the interior.


Also depicted, Our Lady appearing to St Catherine Laboré.

Main altar.


Also depicted, Our Lady appearing to St Catherine Laboré.

Also depicted in the mosaic, Our Lady appearing to St Catherine Laboré.



The side altar with the relics of St Elizabeth Ann Seton.


A photo of an earlier time.

A photo of an earlier time of the same altar with casket.


A small reliquary.

A small reliquary.


Part of an extensive exhibit on the saint's life and works.

Part of an extensive exhibit on the saint’s life and works.



Outdoors. This is the statue named in the banner photo above.


Mother Seton with bible and rosary.

Mother Seton with bible and rosary.


There’s much to see. You might enjoy this virtual tour. 


All photos Copyright 2015 Pat Gohn. All Rights Reserved.


For love of Augustine, or, what I did over my summer vacation.

For love of Augustine, or, what I did over my summer vacation.

A Patron for Life

St Augustine has become a patron of mine for a few reasons. There’s the obvious one in that he is a saint who was one of the greatest writers and teachers in Western Civilization. What’s not to love when you do the work that I do? Then, there is the more personal reason, or how I came to focus on this saint and go deeper in reading him and understanding more of his life.

19 years ago today, before I was deeply into reading the lives of the saints, I was scheduled for a mastectomy and reconstruction after a diagnosis of breast cancer. I wrote about this more extensively last year.

After more consultations and weighing risks and benefits, I consented to a mastectomy with reconstruction. And there was a date placed on the calendar several weeks hence. August 28. It became burned in my brain. Ever since my finding of the lump, a shadow seemed to be cast that was hard to shake. August 28, we would pray, would vanquish that.

Looking for any kind of redemption for that day, I opened the church calendar to find that it was St Augustine’s feast day… perhaps the greatest mind of Western Christianity — with over five million words written as a bishop and theologian, after his legendary conversion. God did his best work in Augustine after Augustine relinquished all to Him.

Augustine’s feast day brought me great hope. [Read the rest.]

And, here I am, again, asking for Augustine’s great intercession and his inspiration to be a source of both of intercession and inspiration in my own life. Year 19 has included thus far a wonderful summer, even it has been keeping me away from the writing desk and from Among Women.


Visiting St Augustine

Listeners of Among Women, and my close friends, know that this summer I was far from home for about six weeks. It started out great. At the end of May, Bob and I took two weeks to drive down to Florida. Our final destination at the end of those two weeks was Clearwater, where I would go to spiritual direction school. Or what I’m affectionately renaming as my Summer Jesus Camp. (I hope to share something of that time a bit later on.)

In the first ten days of our road trip, we were able to visit Gettysburg,  the shrine of St Elizabeth Ann Seton in Maryland, drive the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, visit family in Myrtle Beach, enjoy Charleston, and attend the CNMC in Atlanta with all our podcasting friends... and former colleagues.

The last four days were spent on Florida’s northern coast in St Augustine, and Cocoa Beach, to tour the “space coast”, AKA the Kennedy Space Center. But first we treated ourselves to a mini-pilgrimage in the Cathedral of St Augustine. (Now down there they say AWW-gus-teen. Up here we say a-GUS-tin. But I digress.)

It was a real joy to pray in the oldest parish in the United States, and to honor my patron in sickness and in health… and a real intercessor when it comes to teaching the faith!

Note: Click on photos to enlarge them.

The view of the main altar. Upon entering you notice the very dramatic red ceiling.

The view of the main altar. Upon entering you notice the very dramatic red ceiling.


A close up, behind the altar.

A close up, behind the altar.


The pulpit, or ambo, with a majestic Holy Spirit depicted.

The pulpit, or ambo, with a majestic Holy Spirit depicted to the right of the altar.


St Augustine, Basilica in St Augustine, FL

St Augustine, Basilica in St Augustine, FL


The video below describes the amazing restoration of these paintings.

The video below describes the amazing restoration of these painted ceilings.


The view from the front to the rear.

The view from the front to the rear.


Atop that choir rail is this lovely statue of Mary with the Infant Jesus

Atop that choir rail in the rear is this lovely statue of Mary with the Infant Jesus. Love the colors… (but wait a sec, is Mary wearing pants?? Not likely.)



Bob and I spent time in the quieter Eucharistic chapel. The mosaic about the tabernacle is of the Last Supper.


The Eucharistic Chapel.

The Eucharistic Chapel.


Details of the mosaic...

Details of the mosaic…


right side of "the table"...

right side of “the table”…



and the left side.


This is a minor basilica.

This is a minor basilica.


There were some lovely side chapels as well. 'Tis himself! St Patrick! My patron!

There were some lovely side chapels as well. ‘Tis himself! St Patrick! Another of my patrons!


Lovely art honoring Our Mother.

Lovely art honoring Our Mother.


And the Cuban influence is found here too -- Our Lady of Charity. (Sadly she was behind glass and my camera did not get the shot clearly.)

And the Cuban influence is found here too — Our Lady of Charity. (Sadly she was behind glass and my camera did not get the shot clearly.)

The Life of Augustine in Glass

Yet what was most dramatic about this church was the stained glass. Some of the most beautiful I’ve seen of late, created at the beginning of the 20th century in Germany, over 100 years ago. All portrayed scenes from St Augustine’s life. Here’s a few…

Augustine's baptism

Augustine’s baptism


Augustine's ordination.

Augustine’s ordination.


Augustine preaching

Augustine preaching


At the seashore.

At the seashore.


At St Monica's death. (The mother of Augustine whose feast day was yesterday.)

At St Monica’s death. (The mother of Augustine whose feast day was yesterday.)

And I’m saving my favorite for last… I simply love this rendering of the relationship between a holy mother and son. The colors here do not do the glass justice. See the video below for more.

St Augustine with his mother, St Monica.

St Augustine with his mother, St Monica.


All photos above are 2015 Copyright Pat Gohn, All Rights Reserved.


A brief history of the Cathedral of St Augustine... Catholics landing in Florida in 1565, and its extensive renovation in recent months..


My favorite prayer, and there are many attributed to St Augustine…

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
that I love but what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
that I always may be holy. Amen.

– St Augustine of Hippo-

Making God a Priority in Your Catholic Home: Resources to help parents be prayer leaders

Making God a Priority in Your Catholic Home: Resources to help parents be prayer leaders

Priorities, to-do lists, goals…. we all get it, we’ve all got so much time and we’ve got to budget it according to what we wish to achieve. The spiritual leadership in our homes must be a priority.

As Catholics, our priorities are directed by the two great loves that could summarize the Ten Commandments: Love God and love our neighbor. And we must be deliberate about that — especially in our families. We must be in relationship with God — that means we pray — and we must share that relationship with our families. Parents need to be prayer leaders in our home. When my children were small we taught them prayers both formal and spontaneous. That and more! (I give real examples from our home in some of the articles I list for Catholic Mom and in the Among Women podcasts.) (Also, if you are a woman reading this, I also give a framework for spiritual motherhood in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.)

Here’s a few resources I suggest.

Three great books:

First, a new book: A Short Guide to Praying as a Family: Growing Together in Faith and Love Each Day.61eiluMcKxL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_

Last month on National Review Online, Kathryn Lopez interviews Sr Jane Laurel, OP, editor of the book. Sr Jane Laurel says…

Praying as a family helps us to see with the eyes of faith. We see others and the tasks of daily life in a different light, a light that sets us free from unrealistic expectations about ourselves, others, our time, and “the way things should be.”  Faith also helps us to see all the blessings the Lord gives to us.  As we see His providence and His presence at work in our daily lives, we are filled with gratitude and love.  And, we begin to invite Him more and more into our daily plans and decisions, to see as He sees, and to love as He loves.  Receiving His love for us inspires us to go out in love to the members of our family with this same love.  When family members love one another, they become more respectful towards and attentive to one other.  What we could really say is that they affirm one another’s existence, saying to one another in effect by their attitude and actions: “It is good that you are.” Everyone loves to be around people who love and appreciate them.  So, when family members love and appreciate one another, they are happy.  Thus, when a disagreement or a misunderstanding occurs, the foundation of faith and love are already there, and so opening the lines of communication and reconciliation comes more easily.

To be absolutely honest, it really is a matter of priorities. The things that are important to us are those for which we make time. God and family should be our top two priorities; but we are all weak, we can easily allow other things — technology, sports, social media, and entertainment — to crowd out our time for God and our time for family. We can allow ourselves to get on to the hamster wheel, keeping ourselves so busy that we never stop and take time to think about where we are placing priorities in our lives.  We don’t have to live on the hamster wheel. The Lord wants to show us a simpler way. So the Scriptures tell us, “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). The more cares we have, the more we need to rely on God. He can reveal to us where we are off with our priorities and pursuits. He knows those things that will not truly make us happy and the things that will.  Prayer is the way of entrusting our lives to Him and accepting His guidance.  He shows us the things that only create anxiety and frenzy.  He shows us also the things that lead to communion and communication, the things that genuinely refresh us, versus the things that only drain us of energy. His way is much simpler. Making prayer part of the fabric of daily life leads to peace. Through it, parents can also teach their children how to find peace. For instance, if a parent picks up a child from school and realizes that the child is preoccupied with something, the parent would most likely try to encourage the child to talk more about what he or she is thinking and feeling.  After listening and responding to the child’s answers, the parent could say, “Let’s pray about this together.” They can then pray together, and allow God to give them light and peace.  By making prayer the priority, they hand things over to God and this almost instantaneously makes life less stressful. It’s not about what we can do; it’s about what we can let God do in our lives. [Read it all. ]

Second, a book from last year that I’m still recommending, The Little Oratory: A Beginners Guid to Praying in the Home.  by David Clayton and Leila Maria Lawler. Look for the Among Women podcast I list below with Leila Lawlor — one of the most popular downloads in the last year!

Third, also from a year ago, still offers more: Six Sacred Rules for Families: A Spirituality for the Home by Tim and Sue Muldoon.

Articles from my Catholic Mom archives:Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 6.34.10 PM

Raising Them for Jesus

Spiritual Growth in a Catholic Family, Part One, and here’s Part Two.

Make sure you are familiar with Catholic Mom. It’s one of the best guide to family resources out there! For example, 3 Ways to Create a Prayerful Home, or this, Dear Young Family at Mass. Bookmark CatholicMom.com!

Among Women Podcasts:

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 7.09.47 PMAW 186: On Faith, Grace, and Prayer in Marriage and Family Life with Leila Marie Lawler talking about The Little Oratory.

AW 76: Raising Saints for the Church with blogger Laura Lee Richard

AW 104 Little Ones in the Domestic Church, Part One, with blogger Melanie Bettinelli, and here is its Part Two.

Finally, some strong encouragement and straight talk from School of Love in Kansas City.


PS: (Oh yeah, that vintage photo of me above in the banner photo? That’s the 1989 baptism of my daughter, my middle child.)


In the wake of Divine Mercy, a powerful testimony from Kitty Cleveland.

We are still in Divine Mercy’s wake.

Here’s a powerful testimony from my pal, Kitty Cleveland, and the answer to prayer that her family received during the Divine Mercy novena.

You may remember my interview last year with singer-songwriter, Kitty Cleveland.

Go listen to that Among Women episode.

#Fast Fridays in # Lent: 3 Things I Have Received From the “Love” of Strangers

#Fast Fridays in # Lent: 3 Things I Have Received From the “Love” of Strangers

Quickly, off the top of your head, try to recall 3 times that a stranger has done something kind for you and it made all the difference in your life. Then say a prayer for each of those people. Then go an do likewise. Pay it forward with your kindness, courtesy, and willingness to help.

Here are my top 3 things I have received from the “love” of strangers…

1. Faith in Jesus Christ

In 1976, I attended an Antioch Weekend — a kind of Cursillo for teens — in other words, it was a youth retreat that was staffed by strangers. The leaders were young adults and college students in their early twenties. Somehow they felt called together to put on a weekend for a bunch of high school students that they did not know, for the sake of the Kingdom. They were not the first Christians I had ever met; I had been baptized a Catholic as an infant and attended Catholic schools. But they were certainly the most influential. Their willingness to share, pray, listen, and speak about Jesus Christ helped to bring the Spirit alive in me. I will never forget their willingness to meet new people and serve those who were not their friends, but strangers. Not a year goes by that I am not grateful for that community of young men and women who touched my life so deeply, and slowly evangelized me.

There are no strangers here;
Only friends you haven’t yet met.
–William Butler Yeats

2. Recovery

Twenty years later, I was 36 years old and still hospitalized suffering the effects of mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries. Somewhere around day 5 in the post-surgical ward, I had a total tearful breakdown and was just sobbing and sobbing. I was alone in my room. My husband and family were back at home getting rejuvenated after the many days of being at my bedside. Sometime that afternoon I became overwhelmed by everything that was happening to me. There was this nurse — all I remember is that her name was “Mickey” —  she was there just doing her job. I had a lot of meds, and tubes, and monitors and bandages that needed periodic tending.  She came along and found me in quite a state. She just sat on my bed and held me as I cried and cried. It was a long cry. I did not know this woman, and I never saw her again. She did not have to counsel me or embrace me or even stay beyond what her duty required. But she did all those things. That was 1996. I still remember her.

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren,
a tender heart and a humble mind.
1 Peter 3: 8

3. My credit cards

On more than one occasion, I have left a credit or debit card at a counter, or in an ATM machine, and the people nearby have tracked me down to return them to me. One situation happened in France when I got my card stuck in a toll taking device before entering a tunnel. This tunnel went under a city and really, there would be no returning to this exact spot. After pulling off through crazy traffic to the guard booth, I described my gaffe in a combination of broken French and some sign language. A kind woman toll taker had mercy on me. She bounded through the toll traffic, opened the device, and retrieved the card so my vacation could continue. Another unforgettable occurrence was years back BC (Before Cellphones). I had left my pocketbook in a public place and someone found my address and returned my bag and wallet by wrapping it up and sending it to me through the mail — still with the cash and the credit cards in it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, good people, for saving me from my own stupidity, and for saving me from the replacement hassles that come with such negligence on my part.

Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another
as God has forgiven you in Christ.
– Ephesians 4: 32


Here’s a little more inspiration… those “little things” add up!

And just in case you need an upbeat reminder about the whys of  Holy Week, here ya go…


Previous #Fast Fridays:



Midlife, Mid-Lent


Humility, why #Fast Fridays.



#Fast Fridays in #Lent… Taming my will and not crushing my spirit when fasting

#Fast Fridays in #Lent… Taming my will and not crushing my spirit when fasting

This Lent, I’ve been working on a deeper sense of fasting. Of course, that’s supposed to be between me and the Lord, but I thought I’d share just a few things that I’m learning about myself and that perhaps these things will resonate with you. If not, just move along with your day, don’t let me be a distraction.

So that’s the first thing about fasting: Distraction. So many distractions that can try to pull us away.

Distractions make us want to give up.

If you are fasting on a fast day on bread and water, you suddenly see all the luscious fruit on the countertop from your last grocery shop and you secretly wonder if you don’t enjoy it now, it may go bad by tomorrow. Distraction! Or as you’re preparing the evening meal for others, you decide that maybe a glass of wine would be just what you need. Distraction!! These are the moments when fasting is really a test of your will. Identifying your distractions is helpful.

To decide to stay with your fast is the goal. So to defend your fast against distraction, it’s okay to put the fruit or the wine in another room on a fast day. It’s also okay to plan a recipe with the food you are fasting from today (or for the whole of Lent) that you will cook tomorrow (or on Easter). That way you can think about the gift that food truly is for you as you fast from it today. And you’ll enjoy a richer blessing of it tomorrow or in Eastertide.

Distraction and the temptation to end your fast prematurely will be less likely if you find the fast that works for you — that is, making fasting something truly sacrificial and something that lends to a conversation between you and the Lord, but one that is not negatively impacting those around you. Otherwise, every distraction will equal a fail in your mind, and you might consider skipping your fast all together. Talk to the Lord when you feel distracted and talk to your feet too… move away from the distraction!

The goal here is tame the will and not crush the spirit. And to let your fast be something that you can lift up for love of Jesus.

Here’s something I’ve learned about myself when I am fasting that may be a good example. In the last few weeks, I’m finding I’m less productive work-wise on a fast day. (This is a once a week bread and water fast that I’m doing). Translation: I’m a bit sleepier, slower, and finding that coffee really is my friend. I don’t want to be a grumpy faster or non-productive at work, especially when I have to lead a class or give a presentation. So what to do? If my bread and water fast days occur on a night when I have to teach, etc., I allow a little coffee into my schedule. I have to know myself, and I have to be considerate of those I interact with. I’m still working up to the full on bread and water fasts, but when I need to “on”, I choose to modify the fast. So my bread and water fast days may have additional coffee/tea breaks if needed, especially when I have to interact with others.

If moving my fast day is an option, I might do that, too. So, you might think I’m a slacker. I’m mean, why not just soldier on and keep that fast day as scheduled? Am I not holy enough to do that? Am I cheating or something?

This brings me to the second thing that fasting teaches me: The need to achieve is strong in this one. 

Patience, Not Perfectionism.

Fasting is not about perfectionism. Perfectionism is — A DISTRACTION!!!!!!

Honestly…  I’m also trying to let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism tells me I can do it all and it shows the world I can do it. My goal is to keep this between me and Jesus and not get all self righteous about my performance of this fast or task. Trust me, sometimes it takes more humility for me, and is a greater sacrifice, to change the day and to give up my control of things, than to keep the date I had scheduled. May the Lord be the Lord of my Day. Not me.

Finally, the third point about fasting and distraction… sometimes even delayed gratification is positive and moving you toward giving up full control, and that’s good too.

Delayed gratification is mortifying.

If you’re fasting from, say, television, suddenly it seems everyone you know is talking about the game you missed or the episode of such-and-such that you are now pining to see. The chatter from others, both in person or online, can be a real humbling of our need to part of the in-crowd among friends or colleagues.

(Fortunately, in the land of online streaming and DVR’s we are not really fasting from those things… we are merely post-poning our gratification… for eventually, we may indeed watch what we’ve missed and catch up.)

Certain moments like this remind me that even delayed gratification is worth doing. It is worth something not to live in an on-demand way, to accept rather humbly what comes our way, as if you are waiting for a surprise. You never know what God might send into the empty space of time you create for Him. It gives him the full access (dare I say the remote control access?) to our hearts, rather than us being in control.

Fasting is not a cruel Catholic joke. It’s meant to change us, to change what we depend on. Do I depend on myself or the Lord? If my fast does not have me seeking Jesus, then change it up. Yes, it’s okay to begin anew. To hit the restart button and select a fast that keeps you in closer contact with Christ.

So, for me, fasting is an exercise in giving up control… to say that its not my way or the highway, that I’m good with whatever the Lord is bringing my way today. He is the Lord of all Time, not me. He is Divine Providence, not me.

What does fasting build in me?

Gratitude and generosity, for starters.

I’m thankful for everything that Providence has supplied for me this Lent, and in many other ways.

That gratitude is allowing me to be more generous in giving alms and wanting to do more and give more and more over to Jesus. The more that I can hand myself over to Jesus, the more his Will will take root in me.

I want Jesus separate me from what I’m attached to, from what takes me away from him. And at the same time I humbly pray that I’m never separated from His Will.


#Fast Friday from last week. 

#Fast Friday from two weeks ago: midlife, mid-Lent

#Fast Friday on Confession

Why #Fast Friday in Lent?


Matthew Kelly on Fasting