Learn more about Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious or order a signed copy!

My Favorite Advice from Mary #ShareJesus

Ever feel like you’re doing things half-way with the Lord? Ask Mary, our model for perfect discipleship, to help you break out of that and be quick to offer God everything without holding back. This is the life work of a Christian.

The most simple and direct advice is often the best… at the Wedding at Cana, Mary instructs the servants to listen to Jesus and to “do whatever He tells you.” In this video John Beaulieu shares that the reward for your trust and obedience in God is… Jesus himself. This is what Mary learned at the Incarnation.

Atop a white page in the new year… “Lord do with me what You will…”

Atop a white page in the new year… “Lord do with me what You will…”

“I think of this new year as a white page given to me by your Father, on which he will write, day by day, whatever His divine good pleasure has planned. I shall now write at the top of the page, with complete confidence: Domine, fac de me sicut vis, “Lord, do with me what You will”, and at the bottom I already write my Amen to all the proposals of Your divine will. Yes Lord, yes to all the joys, the sorrows, the graces, the hardships prepared for me, which You will reveal to me day by day. Grant that my Amen may be the Pascal Amen, always followed by the Alleluia, uttered wholeheartedly in the joy of a complete gift. Give me Your love and Your grace and I shall be rich enough.”

-Sr Carmela of the Holy Spirit, OCD*

IMG_1087This seems a perfect quote on this Solemnity that honors the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. Here in the heart of the Christmas season we venerate Jesus’ first disciple, the one who modeled for us what it means to give one’s full “yes” to our Father God, one who lived wholehearted within His Will.

*as found in Divine Intimacy

Knots in Your Life? Mary Can’t Wait to Tackle Them! – guest post by Marge Fenelon

Knots in Your Life? Mary Can’t Wait to Tackle Them! – guest post by Marge Fenelon

I almost didn’t answer when the phone rang. I was slammed with work and deadlines looming. But, something nudged me to catch this call regardless.

I’m so glad I did.

On the other end of the line was an old friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. She’d called to thank me for my book, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena. She’d found it unexpectedly at her parish’s gift shop and snatched up a copy right away. She was really excited.

What she really called about what Day 4 of the Novena – Mount of Olives: The Knot of Hopelessness.9781594716300.jpg.232x

Slipping into tears, she told me that she’d called because she had to let me know how much that chapter meant to her. Unfortunately, she’s facing a heartbreaking, life-threatening, and seemingly hopeless situation with one of her grown children.

He’s lost in all senses of the word.

But, that’s why I describe my friend’s situation as seemingly hopeless rather than truly hopeless. Nothing is ever truly hopeless when we turn to our Blessed Mother under the title, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.

This devotion, dating back to the seventeenth century, has proven time and again to be exceptionally powerful. For centuries, people have taken the knots in their lives – injustice, separation, confusion, hopelessness, grief and loss, discord, betrayal, envy and pride, or affliction – to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. Once surrendered into her capable hands, the knots become undone and we are released from their snare.

Only, that is, if we’re willing to release those knots to her.

My friend had called to tell me that, by reading my book, she was given renewed courage and was able to release her knot of hopelessness into Our Lady’s hands. She immediately felt a sense of peace and needed to call to tell me so.

That’s exactly how it works. Mary is waiting to take up the knots in our lives the second we hand them over to her. Once in her possession, she works diligently, tirelessly, to undo them, one by tedious one. The knots most likely won’t be done instantaneously and probably not overnight, either. It may take a while, but they will become undone. Mary has that “power” given to her by the heavenly Father.

The difficulty is that we’re often reticent to turn our knots over to Mary because we either stubbornly want to untie them ourselves (we can’t) or because we’ve given up on them.

This is what my friend experienced. The simple act of turning her knot of hopelessness over to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots gave her immediate consolation and assurance that now far more adept hands were working on it.

Do you have knots in our life? Turn them over to Mary. She can’t wait to tackle them!



This post was written by Marge Fenelon. My thanks to Marge for sharing her love and trust in Mary, especially on this feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Marge Fenelon’s newest book, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena, is part of the celebration anticipating Among Women’s 200th episode. Enter a comment over at AmongWomenPodcast.com to enter the drawing. The deadline to enter is Dec. 9, 11:59pm. You can also purchase the book here.


Find the latest episode of Among Women here. Look for the 200th episode to be uploaded later this week on Dec. 10.



It’s First Saturday tomorrow — Make it a Morning with Mom! #5FirstSat4Mary

It’s First Saturday tomorrow — Make it a Morning with Mom! #5FirstSat4Mary

Tomorrow is a First Saturday. I hope you’ll join in beginning this 5-month devotion or continue along with me. This is my #5FirstSat4Mary4th of 5 first Saturdays. Earlier posts are here: the beginning, the second, and third. The first post outlines the “how-to’s” for the First Saturday devotion.

I’ve learned a few things as I’ve invited people to join me in this devotion.

Not all parishes have a Saturday morning or midday Mass. Of course, there’s a showstopper right there. However, if you can, check out surrounding parishes or shrines. I often go to a shrine church, several towns away, that is affiliated with a religious order. Their Mass schedule and confession schedule is different from my local parish, and often more in line with my work schedule. All I’m saying is that if you have the desire, ask Mary to give you a way to complete this devotion. I also know good friends and family who live in rural areas and this is simply not a viable option — having a Mass within an hour’s drive on Saturday. Might I suggest, then, the First Friday devotion?

Mentioning your desire to complete this devotion to a friend or two helps keep you accountable. It’s been years since I’ve made the First Saturdays when I was encouraged to make them again, (from a priest in confession, and no, it was not my penance, just a pious suggestion). I admit, it took me a while to actually commit based on my calendar, but once I did, the days opened up. Funny, right? It helps to join with a friend to do this together. But if you can’t you can always share it in person, try sharing it “long distance” like I did — with my Facebook and Twitter friends.

Monthly confession is truly a holy goal. The 5 First Saturdays require going to confession. It’s a good thing in terms of the practice and, of course, the graces. But what I’ve noticed is that when I’m committed to monthly confession (even if I’m not participating in the First Saturdays), I have a tendency to do an examen all month long. That is, I begin to make notes of what I want to bring to my next confession. And I do it in a relaxed way, as the Lord brings things to mind in the course of the month. It’s really made confession less stressful, or rather, the process of examining my conscience. I’m a journaling person, so I just keep notes there. And then when I get to go to confession, I’m able to summarize my sins and my needs. This is very helpful for the priest who hears my confession, too. I can be direct and succinct and really own up to sins without a lot of meandering or hemming and hawing. He can zone in on giving me good direction and a penance. Plus this is useful if there is a long line for confession before Mass and you want to be courteous to your neighbors waiting in line behind you.

So, join me, won’t you? Give yourself the gift of a morning with Mom. (Mary is your spiritual mother!)

Do it for Mary. Do it for Jesus who loves when we honor his Mother. Do it for Advent.

Maybe ask a friend?

Share #5First Sat4Mary.


Tomorrow is First Saturday! Who’s with me for Saturday #3?  #5FirstSat4Mary

Tomorrow is First Saturday! Who’s with me for Saturday #3? #5FirstSat4Mary


Our backyard shrine, Our Lady of Grace. (Photo by Pat Gohn, 2015, all rights reserved.)

Since September I’ve been on a quest to make the Five First Saturdays devotion. So tomorrow is my third of, Lord-willing, five Saturdays. Today I’m going to confession in advance of the first Saturday because where I’ll be attending the First Saturday Mass in the morning, there will not be confessions available. So my First Saturdays have been a kind of two-step two-day thing. But going to confession is part of the devotion. So I’m off today to do that.

If you don’t know what First Saturday devotion is, read this post from September. It’s part of the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. 

And here’s another post in-between about Saturday #2.

I’ve been garnering some support on Facebook and Twitter from friends and peeps who are joining in this devotion with me. You can use the hashtag #5FirstSat4Mary to share the love. However, you can start any first Saturday. Why not tomorrow? Do it for Mary.

Saturday #2 of “The Five First Saturdays… ” — who’s with me? #5FirstSat4Mary

Saturday #2 of “The Five First Saturdays… ” — who’s with me? #5FirstSat4Mary

We interrupt all the post-Pope coverage for this reminder… Tomorrow is a first Saturday.

Over the summer I was convicted to attempt to make the Five First Saturdays devotion. Let me just say that, like in most families, Saturdays can be pretty hectic. And on reflection, that’s probably why I need this all the more. It’s a taming of my chaotic heart. This devotions send me to monthly confession — always a good practice. It sends me to Mass to meet the lover of my soul in Holy Communion. And it asks me to pray the Rosary to be in touch with Momma Mary, and the intentions of the day.

In this post I share the precepts of making this devotion, so my purpose here is just to encourage you to join me. You can start your five Saturdays tomorrow. (Or if you are reading this down the line, on the next first Saturday.)

After I posted the invitation to join me in the First Saturdays, a little campaign developed on Twitter and Facebook that asked others to join in, as a kind of encouragement and solidarity with one another. What a blessing that is, so if you want, use the #hashtag  and let’s invite others.


A few notes about this from last month’s experience…

For me, it’s all about conquering the calendar: To make these five mornings a priority. Last month I was going to out of town on the first Saturday, so I had to look up and find a church in the area where I was staying. It also meant I had to restructure my Friday to find a confession time, since I could not rely on that as part of the travel. It afforded me a lovely respite visit to St Joseph the Worker Shrine, one of my favorite haunts over the years. A priest I had never met there before heard my confession and blessed my socks off.

After driving that night to New York, on the next morning, the church my husband and I found for Saturday morning Mass turned out to be a lovely classically hewed-stone church with a “first Saturday” group praying the rosary after Mass, and — bonus! — discovered an eucharistic adoration chapel before we left!

So try it. Ask Momma Mary to help you get this scheduled… to open your calendar and your heart to these prayers and reparation and love of Jesus and Mary. 


My photo from inside the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, PA.

A post for Mary’s birthday…. overcoming my misperceptions about Mary…

Today is Mary’s birthday!!!  And I’m so happy that it is. But I was not always Mary’s fan girl.

From my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious…

I was slow to follow Mary’s example in my life. Earlier, I did not trust her example. I’ll share the roadblocks I’ve had, in case you’ve had some. So let’s consider my early misgivings about Mary.

I mentioned how I came to know Jesus in my teens, and as I did, I read the bible more and more. Of course I came across Mary in the New Testament. Broadly speaking, I never discounted Mary’s role in God’s plan. I just never included her in any of mine. I kept a cordial distance and never openly disparaged her or the people devoted to her. I adopted a kind of live-and-let-live attitude towards her devotees.

Mary had little influence on me in my teens and twenties. Even though I had a Catholic upbringing, I have to say that the socio-political influences often held sway. The culture stressed a powerful feminism; it preached a woman’s empowerment. I was schooled in the cultural cliché that told women that you are what you do. My generation was among the first expected to compete with men––not rely on them or trust them. “I am woman, hear me roar” was a common mantra. There was so much to achieve, and I was an eager achiever.

There was very little appreciation for the Blessed Virgin Mary in me, let alone an urge to follow her example. I had no personal connection to Mary save that I had inherited my grandmother’s Rosary beads. (I had little gratitude for that gift until years later.)

From the gospel accounts, I knew Mary was necessary for the Incarnation to take place so that Jesus, who is God, could become a man. Mary also showed up at the foot of the Cross when Jesus died. Other than that, Mary and I had a passing acquaintance. I saw her as a religious figure in history rather than someone significant to me.

I loved Jesus although I lived as if Mary, his mother, were optional. She was outside my radar. I dismissed her as unnecessary to my spiritual growth and life. Jesus was enough for me.

My dulled ideas about Mary came through the opinions of others. It was like I believed gossip about Mary, never giving her the benefit of the doubt. Looking back and pondering Mary’s role in my life now, I regret my mistakes. I would never want people to trust gossip or falsehoods about me, but I easily adopted others’ opinions of Mary. No questions asked. I claimed I loved scripture, but my impressions were neither rooted in scripture nor Church teaching.

My misconceptions about Mary came from three sources.

First, some Catholics treated Mary as “old school,” a relic from the past. After Vatican II, in the New York area where I grew up, many churches dropped formal devotions to Mary and the saints. The Rosary and other prayer practices like novenas and chaplets were not emphasized. Basically, I ignored Mary.

Second, there was the feminist argument. What could a first-century Galilean woman possibly have in common with a woman like me? What did Mary know about my life? What did she know about going to college, getting a job, and having to earn a living? After all, she lived in a repressive patriarchal culture. She had no power. These days, women are powerful. We need strong heroines, not “handmaids”, as Mary had called herself. I viewed Mary as weak.

The third source of my disregard came from non-Catholic friends and colleagues. A few accused Catholics of worshipping Mary. The Ten Commandments prohibit false gods, and that would include worship of any creature. Since I did not know much about Mary, I could not defend her against such accusations.

Today I know that the Catholic Church teaches that we worship Jesus alone. Mary is not some goddess. She is a flesh-and-blood human creature created by God. Indeed, the Church teaches that Mary worships Jesus like we do. We worship Jesus with Mary and with the saints and angels. The honor we give to Mary and the saints is veneration. Therefore, we hold them with the highest human esteem, with a special kind of devotion and love that is lower than our worship. Adoration is reserved for God alone. Catholics don’t pray to Mary. We ask for her intercession, just like we ask a good friend to pray for us and with us. Catholics pray with Mary.

Eventually, as I pondered my own conversations with Jesus, I learned two things. One, that my early ideas about Mary were incorrect. And two, I was ignoring someone Jesus loved.

Get the rest of the story.

The Five “First Saturdays” devotion — who’s with me?

The Five “First Saturdays” devotion — who’s with me?

It’s been years since I’ve done a First Saturday devotion. It was something I learned about regarding Fatima, and Our Lady of Fatima is a patron of mine, thanks to St. John Paul II. I’ve been privileged to visit Fatima twice in my life.

Anyway, I was all set to begin the First Saturdays last month when an important family obligation prevented me. So I’m back in the hunt to begin this Saturday September 5. I’m on my way to confession today at a local shrine to prepare in advance because it may be harder to get to confession this Saturday when I won’t be close to home. So, Lord-willing, this is first of five. Why not join me?

If you’ve never made a First Saturday devotion, all you need to know can be found in this link, which summarizes what you are to do:

“This devotion has four parts – all four should be made in a spirit of reparation for blasphemy and ingratitude and for peace in the world,” Fr. Joseph continued. “First, one should go to confession, generally eight days before or after the First Saturday of the month; Second, one should receive Holy Communion on the First Saturday of the month; Third, recite five decades of the Rosary; and fourth, meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary.”

There are great benefits for those who comply with this request. Our Lady told Sister Lucia she would “assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months confess, receive Holy Communion, pray a rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour meditating on the 15 mysteries with the intention of offering reparation.”

Many ask why Our Lady asked her children to observe FIVE first Saturdays. Our Lady told Sister Lucia the five Saturdays are to make reparation for the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies uttered against her Immaculate Heart. The offenses are 1.) against her Immaculate Conception, 2.) against her virginity, 3.) against her Divine maternity, 4.) by those who openly seek to foster in the hearts of children indifference, or even hatred, for this Immaculate Mother, and 5.) by those who directly outrage her holy images. [Read it all.]


Mary, what wonder woman you are!

Mary, what wonder woman you are!



Happy New Year and Happy Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

When I give retreats to women, based on my book, I love to talk about Mary as our Wonder Woman. She really is!

To hear a recent talk, go here.

For more posts about Mary, go here. 



My favorite Christmas hymn is “What Child is This?” Yet it was only recently that I learned all the words. Some hymnals sell it short.

Here’s the fullest rendition I could find. It’s so powerful as a song-prayer.

What Child is This?

(text by William Chatterton Dix 1837-1898)

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and donkeys are feeding?
Good Christian, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spears shall pierce him through,
the cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
the Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The babe, the Son of Mary.