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Melanie Rigney’s Blessed-Are-You Blog Tour Finishes Here! “Blessed are the meek…”

Melanie Rigney’s Blessed-Are-You Blog Tour Finishes Here! “Blessed are the meek…”

Welcome!

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 4.09.42 PMThis is the final stop of the 8-beatitude blog tour for Melanie Rigney’s latest book, Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from our sisters in faith!

This book is available today for you to browse or purchase through this link: Blessed Are You!

Franciscan Media summarizes the book this way…

Melanie Rigney uses stories of the saints, our sisters in faith, to help readers grow in their spiritual lives. Some of these saints are familiar—Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Bernadette of Lourdes, Elizabeth Ann Seton—while others are not so well known—Maria Karlowska, Claudine Thevenet, Josephine Bakhita, Margaret Flesch. They come from different places and different times, creating an intimate portrait of the universal Church. Yet the lives of each of these women illustrate the qualities of the Beatitudes—what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “the heart of Jesus’s preaching” (1716)—in a down-to-earth and human way. Through the lives of these exemplary women saints and the qualities they espouse—meekness, mourning, poverty of spirit, justice, mercy, purity of heart, peace, righteousness—women will find ways to live more fully the Gospel values of Christian life.

Melanie Rigney invited me to write the foreword for this book and I gratefully accepted. Her book is a fantastic mix of lessons from the beatitudes of Jesus and the inspirational lives of saints who live them.

Beatitudes = Being like Jesus.

This book is a call for all of us to live the beatitudes – to know them and love them.

Here’s a little bit from the foreword I wrote:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares: “the Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity.”

To live the Beatitudes is to be like Jesus, to reflect his countenance, and to be his charity in the world. Picture Jesus’ face, and his example, in each of the Beatitudes as you read them in Blessed are You. The real blessing will come when you can picture your own face, and your faithful example, following Jesus! It’s challenging, yet rewarding. What Melanie Rigney has done in this book is demonstrate the powerful countenance of Jesus that comes through the faces of faith-filled women, chapter by chapter, beatitude by beatitude. So take notes on the women who inspire you. More than famous list of proverbs, the Beatitudes are paradoxical promises – hope in the midst of tribulation — and a response to the holy desire for happiness that God has placed within our hearts. Memorize them and make them your own.

Meekness matters!

Today, on this final leg of the blog tour, we focus on the beatitude meekness.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

When I was growing up I was a bit rambunctious. I frequently had parents and neighbors asking, “why are you so loud?” I had not yet realized the gentility needed for the deep and booming voice God had given me. You could say that it took a while before meekness was on my youthful radar. In time I learned that meekness is one of the qualities that Jesus describes as a key to happiness in Christian life, and indeed, meekness properly asserted brings rewards from God.

Melanie Rigney writes… “In today’s world, meek gets a bad rap. We link it to words like submissive and deferential, words that might make for a deeper relationship with God in theory but that make us uncomfortable to say, let alone consider using as guideposts in our relationships with others here on earth. We want to be strong, empowered, confident, successful, popular—not meek, for goodness sake!

The thing is, we become all of those things when we embrace meekness and humility.”

How true!

Rigney’s book shows that meekness is what Jesus (who was all powerful, being God himself) ultimately demonstrated when he humbled himself in the Garden of Gethsemani at the beginning his passion. He was humble to God’s sovereign will for his human life. Meekness was also a quality of Mary — she humbly yet confidently submitted her request to Jesus at Cana when the wine ran out. Jesus went on to perform his first of many miracles at his mother’s request.

Meekness, though it rhymes with weakness, is anything but. Meekness waits on God. Meekness trusts God implicitly. Meekness lets God lead.

One aspect that I love about Blessed Are You is its liberal use of quotes from the saints. Among those mentioned in this chapter are two of my favorites saints — Gianna Beretta Molla and Thérèse of Lisieux. I’ve included their prayerful quotes for our edification.

“O Jesus, I promise to submit myself to all that you permit to happen to me. Only make me know your will.”
St. Gianna Beretta Molla

“… Dear Lord, Thou knowest my weakness. Each morning I resolve to be humble, and in the evening I recognize that I have often been guilty of pride. The sight of these faults tempts me to discouragement; yet I know that discouragement is itself but a form of pride. I wish, therefore, O my God, to build all my trust upon Thee. As Thou canst do all things, deign to implant in my soul this virtue which I desire, and to obtain it from Thy Infinite Mercy, I will often say to Thee: ‘Jesus, Meek and Humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.’”
St Thérèse of Lisieux

Find out more about Melanie Rigney

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 1.35.18 PMCatch the earlier dates of the Blessed Are You blog tour — click the links below:

Week One

Week Two

Find a conversation with Melanie and myself about The Sisterhood of the Saints, a previous book, on Among Women.

Find Melanie’s posts at Your Daily Tripod.

Go to MelanieRigney.com.

 

 

Honoring Momma Mary, a new book: Word by Word, edited by Sarah Reinhard

Honoring Momma Mary, a new book: Word by Word, edited by Sarah Reinhard

9781594716409.jpg.232xToday is the feast of the Queenship of Mary, so it’s a great time to share this forthcoming book that honors Momma Mary!

My pal, Sarah Reinhard, is an energetic author and a good ideas person. Her latest brainchild is this forthcoming book, Word by Word. So happy to have been able to add my own itty bitty prayers to the pages of this book! When I contributed to this, I just knew it would make a dandy book of meditations on the Hail Mary! So many good writer friends are in this book. Check it out!

From Ave Maria Press: In Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary, popular Catholic author Sarah Reinhard compiled an accessible, profound, and unique meditation on each word of the Hail Mary, one of the most important prayer traditions in Catholic life. Each of the reflections encourages readers to “slow down” with the Hail Mary and experience previously unseen dimension in the popular devotion, making it come to life in a new way. This unique, formative, and informative exploration of the beloved prayer is a gift to anyone who wants to be continually changed through it—learning to slow down and examine things more closely.

The book is based on a blog series Reinhard facilitated with popular Catholic writers and social media experts, including Lisa M. Hendey, Brandon Vogt, Paula Huston, Kate Wicker, Pat Gohn, Kevin Lowry, Lisa Mladinich, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, Fr. Patrick Toner, and Jeff Young.

Order your copy of Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary, edited by Sarah Reinhard. Note: This is pre-order time, the book become available in October — the month of the Holy Rosary!

My Year to Write Forewords: 3 great books coming from Melanie Rigney, Lisa Mladinich, and Maria Morera Johnson

My Year to Write Forewords: 3 great books coming from Melanie Rigney, Lisa Mladinich, and Maria Morera Johnson

When the first request came in, I was a bit shocked and humbled. Within a couple weeks two more invitations came in. Last winter, amidst the trials of being cooped up by continual snow storms, God gave me three new assignments in support of other writers with new books.

It is with deep gratitude that I share with you three forthcoming books in which I have been privileged to write the forewords.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 4.09.42 PMThe first one is new this month. You’ll be hearing more about it here on the blog soon — Melanie Rigney’s Blessed are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith. The book’s blog tour stops here next week — look for it here on August 27. However the blog tour is currently underway this week, so go visit MelanieRigney.com for a list of where and get clickin’!

This book is a wonderful mash-up of the Beatitudes-meet-saints stories. If you’ve never had a firm grip of what the beatitudes might look like in daily life, this book will help! I’ll brag on it a bit more when the blog tour gets here! Regular listeners of Among Women may remember when Melanie was my guest when her last book about the saints came out.

Get Blessed Are You by Melanie Rigney now!

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The second book I want to share is Lisa Mladinich’s True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of LifeThis book is due out in October, but I had the pleasure of catching up with Lisa at the Catholic Writers Guild conference that paralleled the Catholic Marketing Network show last month in New Jersey. It was great to see an early proof of the book.

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Me with Lisa Mladinich at CMN and a copy of her new book!

Can you say “I’d like to grow old gracefully?” Its something we all ought to aspire to for ourselves and others. I love how Lisa’s new book points us toward the glory of heaven while keeping our feet down to earth. Lisa is also a longtime friend of Among Women and you’ll find two conversation with me that I retrieved from the Among Women archives here and here.  A lot of good things have happened in Lisa’s life since those two recordings, and this new book is just one fine example… pre-order it today! 

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Third, but not least, is Maria Johnson’s My Badass Book of Saint: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live. Yeah, that’s a mouthful to say but its a great story book… you’ll meet gun-toting nuns,  women who worked in the French Resistance,  and the author herself, a first-generation Cuban-American whose family fled Cuba, telling stories of badass women who kept faith first despite oppressive odds. I can’t wait to see this book finally in print.

Maria and I do a lot together as friends and as colleagues but what a joy to be asked to collaborate on this eye-popping title! Look for it this November, but hey – go pre-order it now! 

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Ok, look for more about each of these books in the weeks to come. In the meantime, here’s one amazing photo that really brought me joy…. two friends with two new books with forewords by moi. They had never met before but they shared their books with each other, and took a photo for the sake of me…. Too funny…

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Maria Johnson (l) with Melanie Rigney (r) both holding each other’s books! (Photographed at the Edel Conference, 2015) (Facebook photo courtesy of Maria Johnson)

For a look at all the books I have contributed to in recent years, go here.

 

This^ is one badass book by María Morera Johnson — literally! Did I mention it’s about saints?!

This^ is one badass book by María Morera Johnson — literally! Did I mention it’s about saints?!

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Yes, that’s really the title… My Badass Book of Saints... and from what I’ve read, the saints in there are pretty badass — but in a you’ll-never-guess-this kind of way! Fun stuff! And good story telling too. The book is due out in November, but let’s get excited and pre-order it NOW! Just cuz we can!

Let’s just say, this takes the idea of the feminine genius in a bold direction and breaks the weak and weird and un-funstereotypes some folks attribute to saints, and women saints in particular.

From the book’s description:

In this edgy, honest, and often audacious book… blogger and popular podcaster Maria Morera Johnson explores the qualities of twenty-four holy women who lived lives of virtue in unexpected and often difficult circumstances.

In My Badass Book of Saints, Johnson shares her experience as a first-generation Cuban-American, educator of at-risk college students, and caregiver for a husband with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Through humorous, empowering, and touching portraits of twenty-four spiritual mentors who inspired her, Johnson shows how their bravery, integrity, selflessness, perseverance, and hope helped her and can help others have courage to reach for a closer connection to God.

She presents remarkable holy women and saints–including the gun-toting Servant of God Sr. Blandina Segal who tried to turn the heart of Billy the Kid, and Nazi resister Irena Sendler who helped smuggle children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II–in a way that brings their vivid personalities to life and helps readers live out the challenges of their lives with virtue and conviction.

My publisher asked me to write the Foreword. Bodaciousness! 

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Confidential to Professor Johnson: Go, BeGo, Go!

Bodaciously toasting Badass...

Bodaciously toasting Badass…

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Related: Check out this archived Among Women podcast with Maria Johnson. 

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Review: “The Grace of Yes” by Lisa Hendey is about Answering God’s Action in Our Lives

Review: “The Grace of Yes” by Lisa Hendey is about Answering God’s Action in Our Lives

9781594714726v2.jpg.232xLisa Hendey has a lot to say about the Good Stuff — the sunny side of life — about God, graces, and generous living. Yet it does not come from Thinking Positive or a Pollyanna’s World View. No, this goodness flows from a life of gratitude lived in touch with her core Catholic belief in blessings — the graces that God gives her. And that’s the implicit challenge of the The Grace of Yes… Are you ready to honestly examine God’s divine action in your life — his graces — and respond in a way that he can use you for his glory — his will?

Longtime readers might know Lisa Hendey as the friendly Californian CatholicMom.com founder, an A-list conference speaker, a best-selling author, and a gracious media maven. She always writes with warmth and kindness, and a girl-next-door thoughtfulness. The truth is, when you read The Grace of Yes, you still come away away with that impression. She really is nice and friendly and thoughtful and generous, and yet, in this new book, she is vulnerable enough to let us see what really makes her tick. Long before Hendey became a recognizable face and name in Catholic new evangelization circles, she was a woman who simply chose to take small steps, sometimes haltingly and sometimes boldly, toward God and his goodness.

Lisa Hendey has encountered God’s blessings and gifts, and opened them for herself. They have, in turn, opened her to become a more generous and self-emptying person. She allows her life story to be Exhibit A in showing us what it looks like to be slowly re-created by God’s grace… to give God permission to write the script for our lives.

Everybody has a story about God’s movement in their lives. Yet few of us have the sensitivity to see it and the courage to test and examine it and, then, choose to live it. We’re really good at offering God partial yeses, or maybes, or could-I-get-back-to-you-on-that-God? We may have head knowledge about God, but we fear moving beyond to heart knowledge. One part memoir, and one part a come-and-try-this-for-yourself book of virtues, Hendey shows us where she has found the heart knowledge. She describes the ups and downs and zigzags of her own growth in virtue as an adult, from yuppiedom to motherhood, from web mistress to media missionary, from comfortable suburban dwelling to walking the blood-soaked hills of post-genocide Rwanda.

Hendey’s book offers this keen metaphor from St Augustine: the higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation. This rootedness in God — this needed depth — is an on-going thread in Hendey’s writing. Each chapter unpacks how she choose to go deeper with God during the rough and the smooth. The Grace of Yes chronicles where Hendey’s yeses to God have brought her thus far, and it reveals her findings: it is a net gain when we err on the side of generosity. That means giving God priority. This is especially true when it comes to the challenge of doing new things, rather than shrinking back in fear.

The Grace of Yes examines “Eight Virtues for Generous Living”: Belief, Generativity, Creativity, Integrity, Humility, Vulnerabililty, “No”, and Rebirth. Each chapter offers personal reflections in Hendey’s on-going conversion, as well as real life examples from people she knows and people in the news. Thoughtful study questions and prayers at the close of each chapter deepen the book’s message.

Hendey’s thesis for a generous life asks us to be generous with God first, by responding to God’s actions with “Your will, my yes.”

Ultimately, this is the reply that every believer is invited to make — to choose to live a life in God and with God and through God… whether you are a celebrity author on the speaking circuit, or the gal or guy next door. Fortunately, there’s grace in abundance for any heart willing to make that leap of faith.

 

 

 

A Veteran Saint in the Making? Fr Emil Kapaun’s cause for Canonization

I first learned of Fr Emil Kapaun when I gave a retreat to the women who were stationed or whose husbands were stationed at the US Army War College in Carlisle, PA.  I got a first class tour of the College’s Memorial chapel by Fr. Gregory D’Emma, a longtime Army Chaplain. He was the first person to share with me the life story and military service of Fr Emil Kapaun, whose cause for canonization is being considered.

Chris Stefanik posted this moving tribute video.

Ignatius Press has a book on Fr Kapuan’s life.

This makes me think… what is my spoken and silent witness saying?

A few generations back, you can understand why many Catholics didn’t see the need to evangelize. They could live their faith in their homes and parishes, and when they walked outside — going to work, or school or the playground — the cultural temperature didn’t feel that much different than it felt inside. For all appearances the gap between the Catholic way of life and the American way of life didn’t look that great.

Today, however, when Catholics walk outside our homes and parishes into the culture at large, we feel the difference. It hits us in the face like a slap of ice-cold wind. The culture has turned toxic, and the gap between how the Church calls us to live and how the culture tells us to live has grown so wide, we can no longer bridge it. 

But while we can’t bridge the gap, we can attempt to close it. That’s what the New Evangelization calls us to do. It calls us to transform not just individuals, but the entire culture, recognizing that just as the de-Christianization of culture led countless men and women away from the Church, so can the re-Christianization of culture lead en and women back to the Church. 

That’s what we’re doing when we share our faith, through both our silent and spoken witness, with the people in our neighborhoods, and communities, schools, and workplaces. We’re transforming culture by introducing the individuals within it to a Person who will transform the very fabric of their lives. We’re welcoming them into a family of believers who will walk with them as they strive to live the life to which God calls them.

That’s something your parish priest can’t do. He can’t bear witness to the guy in your office who has never stepped foot in a Catholic Church. He can’t strike up a conversation at the gym or the coffee shop with the person who stopped going to Mass a decade ago. Your priest’s reach is limited… they can’t go where you can go.

-Scott Hahn-
Evangelizing Catholics, 2014

Among Women 179: Momnipotent! With Danielle Bean

Among Women 179: Momnipotent! With Danielle Bean

danielle_bean

This episode is dedicated to mothers — the physical and spiritual mothers in all of us. We celebrate the coming of Mother’s Day by first exploring the idea of Mary as a mother to us all. Then, in our conversation segment, I welcome author and editor of Catholic Digest, Danielle Bean — one of my favorite people — who discusses her new book and study: Momnipotent! The not-so perfect guide to Catholic Motherhood.  This great new book is for Moms who are busy raising families.

 

Good Friday Meditation: A prayer before the Crucifix, by St Francis de Sales

Good Friday Meditation: A prayer before the Crucifix, by St Francis de Sales

A while back I came across this stunning prayer by St Francis de Sales. It’s a prayer about one’s death, and the grace to die a holy death that leads to union with Christ. It is a perfect prayer,  I thought, for our own meditation before the Cross of Christ on Good Friday.

“O Jesus, agonizing on the Cross, be my model at the hour of death. Although You are the Creator and Restorer of life, You willed to undergo death and accepted it willingly in order to expiate my sins. Death had no claim on You; You are the fountain of life and immortality, in whom and by whom all creatures have life; yet You willed to subject Yourself to death in order to resemble me and to sanctify my death.

“O death, who will henceforth fear you, since the Author of life bears you in His bosom, and without doubt, everything in Him is life-giving. I embrace you, I clasp you in my divine Savior’s heart; there, like a chick under the wing of the mother hen, I shall peacefully await your coming, secure in the knowledge that my most merciful Jesus will sweeten your bitterness and defend me against your rigors.

“O Jesus, from this moment I wish to employ all my powers in accepting all the circumstances and pains of my death; from this moment I desire to accept death in the place, hour, and manner in which it may please You to send it. I know very well that I must suffer and be ground by the teeth of tribulations, sorrows, privations, desolations, and sufferings in order to become bread worthy to serve at Your celestial banquet, O Christ, on the day of the general resurrection. I well know that if the grain of wheat does not fall into the ground and die, it brings forth no fruit; therefore, with all my heart, I accept the annihilation of death in order to become a new man, no longer mortal and corruptible, but immortal and glorious.” (St. Francis de Sales).

This quote is from Divine Intimacy by Fr Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdelen, OCD.

Note: I did try to find this quote within the writings of St Francis de Sales but I could not come up with its original source. I’d be obliged that if you know where the original text is from that you let me know in the comments box or send me an email.