“Love is stronger than terror.” – Dear World project #BostonStrong (the ’13 Boston Marathon survivors)

“Love is stronger than terror.” – Dear World project #BostonStrong (the ’13 Boston Marathon survivors)

Needs some inspiration? Come to Boston next week for the running of the Boston Marathon.  These are some of the people you will meet.

Dear World has given us a thoughtful photo essay: Read the stories of survivors who talk about their thrivership after being victimized by the bombings at last year’s Marathon. Check out their amazing photos posed at the finish line.

Here’s a little video to get you started.

Dear World, a love letter from Boston marathon bombing survivors. from Dear World on Vimeo.


The Boston Marathon is Monday, April 21.

36,000 runners will compete — 9000 more than last year.

Area marathon runners who missed the chance to finish last year’s race gear up to come back to Boston.


Banner photo: Screen shot of Alyssa and Brittany Loring Photo (copyright 2014 Dear World)

The F.U.N. Quotient… women’s Olympic style

The F.U.N. Quotient… women’s Olympic style

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Screen shot from WCVB video, Team USA Women’s Hockey, Boston Logan Airport


So proud of these great women from the silver-medal winning US hockey team — some of them returning to home here in the Boston area.

Watch the video of their comments after landing at Logan Airport in Boston, via WCVB-TV.

Also here’s some top Olympic moments for Team USA’s Women in other sports at Sochi. 

Lisa Hendey on Inter Nos on Catholic TV– a great synopsis of her life and work!

Lisa Hendey on Inter Nos on Catholic TV– a great synopsis of her life and work!

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 2.41.56 PMI first met Lisa Hendey at the end of 2004 through an email. Who would have known what would become it? Eventually I was writing regularly for Catholic Mom, back then when there was a little more than a dozen of us offering columns there. Today there’s close to 150 writers at CatholicMom.com and over the years, and I’m still there.

But I’m more than happy to be one of Lisa’s friends in real life.


She’s been a friend in the trenches of motherhood, writing, and podcasting. I was pleased to write a sidebar for her back when her first book came out, The Handbook for Catholic Moms. And I was even more pleased when Ave Maria Press asked that I record portions of the Audiobook version for it too. And I’ve been a cheerleader for her successive books along the way.

What began as a small apostolate in her kitchen at her computer has mushroomed into a writing and speaking career, with travels around the USA, Canada, Rome, the Holy Land, and most recently, to Rwanda with Catholic Relief Services. Yes, she’s impressive, but she’s really got both feet on the ground, and a heart that is truly grounded by her love of God, the faith, and her family.

You can learn about Lisa, her family, and her work, in this television profile of all that we love about Lisa Hendey on Inter Nos, hosted by Fr. Bob Reed, the president of Catholic TV.

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 2.41.01 PMWatch the episode on Catholic TV. 


Helen Alvare in action before a Congressional Committee reviewing on H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

Women Speak for Themselves (WSFT) is a pro-woman, pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family women’s advocacy group I’ve recommended to my readers and listeners before. More recently here.

Please make yourself familiar with it on Facebook too.

Here’s a video below of WSFT founder Helen Alvare as she testified today at the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice hearing on H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” This legislation would make the Hyde amendment permanent and government-wide and would stop funding abortion insurance coverage in the “Affordable Care Act” (P.L. 111-148).

Professor Helen Alvare, from George Mason University, in action.

For the Love of Francis…

Lovely book of photos and quotes for the Pope’s birthday yesterday at the Vatican website.


<–no, not this one… this one’s from Catholic Memes.

(But you’ll like them, trust me!)

Newsworthy: Federal District Court Exempts 4 Catholic Orgs from HHS Mandate

This is a victory for religious liberty and especially the rights of conscience for Catholics and Christians and others.

News has just come out of a Brooklyn federal district court with a ruling that says Catholic organizations named in the case do not have to provide insurance that covers contraception as previously mandated by the so-called HHS Mandate. This is just one of 75 similar cases filed around the USA. You can catch up on this on-going story via the USCCB’s page (and see all the links at the bottom of that page).

This just came in my email this morning from Helen Alvare of WomenSpeakForThemselves.com and the Chiaroscuro Institute:

A federal district court in New York has handed victory to religious plaintiffs in another mandate case against Kathleen Sebelius and HHS.
In legalese, the federal government/defendant is “enjoined and restrained from enforcing or implementing the challenged regulations, which require the prevailing plaintiffs and their respective health plans to provide, or execute a self-certification to enable a third party administrator to provide, health insurance coverage for all FDA approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling concerning these subjects…against the prevailing plaintiffs.”
A few highlights?
1-The court was very sensitive to the harm caused by the feds’ exerting “compulsion [on religious plaintiffs] to engage in affirmative acts forbidden by [their] religion

2-The government’s argument that “it’s just a form” – i.e. that religious parties who self-insure have only to fill out a form in order to get their insurance company to do the paying for contraceptives – got a similarly chilly response from the court which answered:
 ”The non exempt plaintiffs are required to complete and submit this self-certification, which authorizes a third party to provide the contraceptive coverage to which they object. They consider this to ’compel affirmation of a repugnant belief’…. It is not for this court to say otherwise.” 
3-The government’s argument —  that plaintiff employers themselves don’t have to use contraception, so where’s the burden? — was also rejected. The Court replied, “Religious plaintiffs are being required to actively participate in a scheme to provide such services. This is compulsion to do an affirmative act in violation of their religious beliefs.” And Courts are not permitted to tell religious actors that their religious beliefs are theologically wrong. That is not a court’s place.

4-The government’s having exempted a large number of people and groups from the Mandate already (grandfathered health plans, small businesses and some religious employers) shows that they don’t really have a compelling interest in getting free contraceptives to every woman. Even if they could show such an interest, there are many less restrictive means by which the government could pursue it — like tax incentives, or government-provided services or insurance.
Also, fyi, did you see Vanity Fair’s exposé of NuvaRing??? The Mandate includes this contraceptive device. Wow, Vanity Fair… that’s important.
Note among the comments, a doctor writing:
“There are numerous clinical trials which show that all hormonal contraception increases the risk of clot, and that the Nuva Ring is no better or worse than oral contraceptives…” 
And this one from parents who lost a child using this device: 
Thank you for publishing this article about the dangers of NuvaRing.  My own 29 year old daughter died in March of this year from blood clots in her lungs.  She was on NuvaRing.  This is a heartbreak that no parent wants for their daughter.
Our work on this Mandate is important on so many levels.
Here’s to even more and even better in the coming year.
My best to you,
Helen Alvare

Alice Herz Sommer — amazing woman, musician, Holocaust survivor — describes the healing power of music

The first music, I’m sure, was sung by angels… who to this very day sing out the praises of God.

But closer to home there are composers… and skilled musicians whose creative gifts image the loving God who creates.

Even though music and grace and two different things, I think they act on us humans in similar ways. I think Alice Herz Sommers is on to that, here in her commentary about music, though she uses different words to describe it.


A Woman of Holy Influence: Alice von Hildebrand, philosopher-theologian, knighted by Francis

In my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, as in my podcast, Among Women, I often discuss what it means to be a woman of holy influence. And what the end game really is: making a difference in the culture as spiritual and physical mothers. You cannot get there unless you understand the dignity and the gifts of women in the first place. I quote Alice von Hildebrand’s wisdom in two places in my own book, and at the back of my book I encourage readers to read her short, academic treatise on women: The Priviliege of Being A Woman. (Her other writings are listed here.)

Her life’s work as a professor at New York’s Hunter College for over three decades, and being the keeper of her husband’s philosophical legacy, as well as her own work, Von Hildebrand always kept the dignity of the human person in full view.

John Burger at Aleteia reports:

The aim of education is to cultivate in students a “listening heart,” Cardinal Raymond Burke said in New York this week.

Cardinal Burke invested von Hildebrand as a Dame Grand Cross of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great, an honor Pope Francis bestowed on her Sept. 19. The investiture took place during a dinner at a club in midtown Manhattan. The affair marked von Hildebrand’s 90th birthday and was held by the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, which seeks to disseminate the work of the German Catholic philosopher of the same name.

Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Vatican Signatura – the highest judicial body in the Church – said in a keynote address that both Dietrich von Hildebrand, a professor at Fordham University, and his wife… faithfully carried out the role of Catholic educators in engendering in students the “listening heart” that leads one to the fullness of truth in the Catholic faith.

“So often today, we find individual Catholics as well as Catholic endeavors and institutions in the state of some confusion or even error about their Catholic identity,” he said. “In particular, a notion of tolerance of ways of thinking and acting contrary to Catholic teaching and morals seemingly has become the interpretative key of many of our Catholic activities. This notion is not securely grounded in the moral tradition, but it tends to dominate our approach to the extent that we end up claiming to be Catholic while tolerating ways of thinking and acting which are diametrically opposed to the moral law and therefore to the Catholic faith.” Such a relativistic approach is illogical, he said.

The piece also noted Von Hildebrand’s love of students, and the moral leadership she offered to students from every walk of life…

The cardinal said that Alice von Hildebrand “tirelessly gives witness to the truth of the faith through the witness of her life and through her speaking and writing. … So many students were drawn to Christ and assisted in receiving faith in him who alone is our salvation. She truly loved her students, and therefore wanted them to know the truth and its living source in God.”

Alice von Hildebrand has said that she never sought to proselytize her students, but that simply teaching that there is an objective truth that can be known led many to the Catholic faith.

One of her former students, journalist Stephanie Block, herself a convert, said that von Hildebrand was often under fire at Hunter, part of the City University of New York system, for her adherence to objective truth.

“Why would someone remain in such an environment?” Block asked, answering with a quote from her former teacher’s memoirs: “I was convinced I was doing meaningful work and was equipped to address every possible nationality, every possible philosophical outlook and every sort of background, particularly the humble and problematic circumstances typical of Hunter College students.”

“There’s a whole passel of former students who are her godchildren, and for every one of them dozens of others, if not hundreds who owed so much to her intellectually and spiritually,” Block continued. “Her wit and generosity were the sugar that made the medicine go down. The medicine was the truth, the salubrious truth that was her gift to us in a world that was so stingy about it.”

Author Genevieve Kineke, blogger at the Feminine Genius, and a recent Among Women guest, chimes in on Von Hildebrand’s efforts being honored.

Consider the spiritual motherhood at work in that very classroom, and how her active and listening heart won over so many souls to the truth. Truth and beauty speak a language of dignity and consistency, which must have been present even in the indifferent halls of Hunter College. Her integrity of character is tremendously inspiring, showing us that there is no setting where maternal wisdom cannot shine.

While Pope Francis seems to think that we need a new “theology of women,” it seems that the theology surrounding the truth of God is sufficient to form young men and women–even today. Dame Alice always sensed that, and used her classroom as a “seat of wisdom.”

Burger reports that Von Hildebrand poignantly offered deep gratitude to the many important people in her life as she marked the occasion. Indeed, the fire of a Christian’s soul is fanned by grace and good company.

“My husband said toward the end of his life, ‘Love and friendship are remnants of the earthly paradise.’ In this vale of tears, when we encounter so many difficulties, to have people you can call friends is such a joy, such a comfort, such a gift,” von Hildebrand said. “We are meant to be united by a bond of love. Friendship implies that you have a clear vision of what the other person is called to be. You see that person with imperfections but you are willing to forget that.”

Read the whole report at Aleteia.

I found an interview with Alice von Hildebrand archived at Catholic Answers, and one more recent at Blog Radio. 

Podcast fans! Go Vote: 3 SQPN Podcasts Nominated in the Podcast Awards

Podcast fans! Go Vote: 3 SQPN Podcasts Nominated in the Podcast Awards

As an affiliate podcaster with SQPN, and a member of the Board, it gives me great pleasure to see this press release from SQPN about the three podcasts under consideration in the Podcast Awards. From SQPN:

Catholic Vitamins
Catholic Vitamins‘ is a weekly Catholic podcast produced by Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee. Every episode, a guest is invited to explore a faith topic (a ‘Catholic Vitamin’). More information at catholicvitamins.com

The Break
The Break with Fr. Roderick‘ is one of the longest running podcasts in the world. Started in 2005, the show counts almost 900 episodes covering faith, films, popular culture and technology. More information at thebreak.sqpn.com

Airline Pilot Guy
Airline Pilot Guy‘ is presented by Catholic Pilot Jeff Nielsen, who also hosts the weekly show ‘Catholic Weekend’. In his podcast, he shares his experiences as a pilot and answers listener questions about the world of aviation. More information at airlinepilotguy.com

The shows with the most daily votes from their listeners will win this year’s podcast awards. Votes can be cast at www.podcastawards.com.