The MOM podcasts: 12 “Best of” Among Women episodes on Motherhood – Bookmark these!

The MOM podcasts: 12 “Best of” Among Women episodes on Motherhood – Bookmark these!

Mother is another word for LOVE! Motherhood is call to raise saints for heaven. (<–this link has an except from my book.)

I’m pleased to look back to the Among Women archives to bring you some of the most memorable conversations I’ve had the joy of hosting. I hope you’ll be blessed.

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AW 179 Momnipotent with Danielle Bean - Don’t miss this most recent podcast dedicated to the feminine virtues that make Moms great! With author and editor Danielle Bean. Plus I discuss Mary’s spiritual motherhood in our lives. Listen!

AW 119 The Interior Life of Mothers - Make no mistake motherhood matters! Join me for a lively conversation with author Dorothy Pilarski about her book that explores that vital truth. Listen!

AW 71 Small Steps for Catholic Moms – They are the dynamite duo behind the book of the same name: Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss. These married women and longtime writers have eight and nine children respectively and give us a glimpse into the meaning of it all. Listen! 

AW 178 New Life in Christ – My guest describes how an unplanned pregnancy in her successful single professional life brought her to her knees and back to the faith. This is a joyous testimony. Listen! 

AW 56: CatholicMOM.com Founder Dishes – Catholic Mom.com founder, author, and social media maven Lisa Hendey takes us through the pages of her first book, The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Listen! 

AW 163 A Name for Eternity – A perfect podcast for mothers and mothers-to-be! Learn all about naming your baby from author Patrice Fagnant MacArthur. Listen!

AW 15o The Rosary and Pregnancy – perfect together! - Hear author Sarah Reinhard’s loving advice from her book, A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy. Listen!

AW 104: Little Ones in the Domestic Church, Part One, and Part Two – A rare gem for mothers getting their bearings in building up a Catholic home. Blogger Melanie Bettinelli  offers sage advice for starting to share the faith with the very youngest members of the family by creating an environment that naturally communicates the faith over time.  Listen to part one! Then: Listen to part two! 

AW 90 The Icing on the Cake - Got little ones? Need some cool — and simple!– ideas for growing your domestic church at home? Meet blogger Lacy Rabideau whose blog Catholic Icing is a favorite! This podcast offers great Lenten ideas, but make sure you check out her blog year round! Listen! 

AW 160 Mary’s Astonishing Motherhood - I teach a bit on Mary’s life with Joseph and her miraculous pregnancy, then I’m joined by Katherine Coleman who talks about her life’s joys and sorrows as she looks back on raising her autistic son, Matthew, to adulthood. Listen!

AW 121 Each Life is a Masterpiece - Moms of special needs children will be encouraged by the life and writing of Leticia Velasquez as she unpacks the wisdom from her collection of stories found between the pages of A Special Mother is Born. Listen!

AW 5 How to Form a Mothers Prayer Group – I am joined by Colette Crowley and together we both share our experiences in founding mothers prayer groups in our locales. My experience with my Mothers Morning of Prayer was a powerful aid to my spiritual life and my mothering. Don’t miss this very early archive from the early days of Among Women! Listen! 

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This makes me think… all women are called to promote a new feminism, even those who have had abortions

In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.

Making my own the words of the concluding message of the Second Vatican Council, I address to women this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life”. You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb … This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality”. A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change.

I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.

-Pope Saint John Paul II-
The Gospel of Life, 1995, par. 99. [Emphasis mine.]

The F.U.N. Quotient… for the Moms and Dads out there

Moms will love this: A song parody à la “Frozen”…

 

And there’s this one… (Viewer caution: a single use of a swear word, the ‘s’ word.) This is a comedy sketch from a comedian Dad talking about the upside-down-ness of doing simple things with children. Yes, to quote the previous video, he definitely needs to “let it go…”

Women in the Diocese of Springfield Illinois: I’ll be there Sept 13!

Women in the Diocese of Springfield Illinois: I’ll be there Sept 13!

Have you been to a Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious retreat yet? Midwesterners will have there chance when I come to the Diocese of Springfield’s first ever women’s conference — at the beautiful Chiara Center… event details below! Follow and “like” the Facebook page. Plan your escape and come for the weekend! You can’t beat the one-day price or location!!

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See more lovely photos of Chiara Center. 

A happy shout out to the Moms — these are the women I come from… (music video)

A happy shout out to the Moms — these are the women I come from… (music video)

My mom and me, circa 2009. New York.

My mom and me, circa 2009. New York.

My mom with my daughter Katie on her wedding day, last July 2013.

My mom with my daughter Katie on her wedding day, last July 2013.

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This is my mother’s mother, Margaret, on her wedding day. Circa 1934. With my grandfather, John Patrick. (Margaret is the one I most look like in the family, so they say.)

This is my paternal grandmother, Henrietta. "Henri" for short. In the days before her wedding in the 1920's.

This is my paternal grandmother, Henrietta. “Henri” for short. In the days before her wedding in the 1920′s.

Circa 1966, Backyard 25 Sheppard Lane, Huntington. L to R: Peg, Pam, Pat

Circa 1966-67. These are my sisters. Peg in the blue. Me in the daisy dress, and Pam the little one. Both my sisters are great moms too! They each have four children!

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Can’t forget an image of Momma Mary — this is the one from our home church in MA. Beautiful hand painted statue.

 

A throwback to 1994, with a recent remake… “These Are The Women I Come From”

lyrics: by Bonnie Keen and Tori Taff

These are the faces in photographs

Heads all held high

Not afraid to look life in the eye

They are women with backbone

Keepers of the flame

With a spirit even hard times couldn’t tame

These are the women I come from

The faith that sustained them is bred in my bones

I know what I’m made of and where I belong

‘Cause these are the women I come from

They were lovers of babies and lovers of God

With lessons and laughter in their songs

Did they dream better dreams for their children?

As they prayed silent prayers in the night

“Lord, make their way clear and always be near”

Purchase that music here.

The Blessed Beautiful and Bodacious Women’s Retreat goes International!

The Blessed Beautiful and Bodacious Women’s Retreat goes International!

photoMy first international women’s retreat (#BBBRetreat) outside of the US began with a lively conversation with the pastor of Saint Benedict parish in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Fr James Mallon in 2012. A media-savvy evangelist, Fr James and I shared a flight to Chicago following our independent presentations at the Diocesan Adult Education Conference in Springfield, IL. (H/T to @sullijo.)

Me with Fr James Mallon, pastor of Saint Benedict Parish

Me with Fr James Mallon, pastor of Saint Benedict Parish

In the correspondence that followed I was contacted by the lovely Dawn Purcell who was charged with forming a team for the first-ever women’s retreat at the parish. Dawn and I did most of our work together via email and phone calls. We talked about goals for the parish, and reaching women of all ages, and logistics.

A Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious retreat can be a single day event, or a Friday- Saturday event.

(Saint Benedict women decided on a Friday night that was followed by a wine and cheese reception with music provided by a harpist. Very elegant! Then we had a Saturday event that gave us a lavish amount of time for interaction between the talks and presentations. We also benefitted from Eucharistic Adoration in the midday hour.)

What happens at a BBB Retreat? 

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 4.23.47 PMIn the course of the retreat, I give three talks on the Blessed Dignity, the Beautiful Gifts, and the Bodacious Mission of women. The material is drawn from my book, and contains Catholic teaching from Scripture, the Catechism, magisterial teaching from St John Paul II from his ground-breaking documents on women and theology of the body, as well as other popes and saints.

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Momma Mary’s got my back. Can’t present without her!

Three local women give short testimony talks describing how these ideas take shape in their lives.

Stephanie, giving her witness talk.

Stephanie, giving her witness talk.

We discuss these things in small groups.

Members of a discussion group.

Members of a discussion group.

And large ones.

Women yield the floor to one another.

Women yield the floor to one another.

We laugh.

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Who knew Pope Francis would make a guest appearance on the retreat?

We get to know each other better.

So much goodness in one room!

So much goodness in one room!

We get to know Mary better.

Great witness talks from Sandra Kline, Heather Taylor, and Stephanie Potter.

Great witness talks from Sandra Kline, Heather Taylor, and Stephanie Potter.

We had over 200 women in Halifax.

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Just over 200 women in the parish hall.

I’ve given this retreat to groups from 50-500, and the event is adaptable to a variety of settings and budgets.

Fr James thanks Dawn Purcell for her leadership.

Fr James thanks Dawn Purcell for her leadership.

If you are interested in having this retreat in your parish or diocese, contact me through this website. I can offer recommendations from women who’ve booked me, or you can read a few online here. A few dates are open for the fall of 2014, and early 2015.

My Top Ten Inspirations from the Pontificate of St John Paul II

My Top Ten Inspirations from the Pontificate of St John Paul II

The long pontificate and life of St John Paul will have a lasting impact on the church until Jesus returns. Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 4.23.47 PMGiven his canonization today, I thought I’d share with you some of John Paul’s gifts to the church, and extraordinary accomplishments, that have held meaning for me through the years. He’s been an inspiration to me since I was 18, a college frosh when he was elected. I’m so grateful that in 1979 I was among the youth who greeted him in New York, as I chaperoned a trip to see him. (More on that below.) Decades later in Rome, I was, again, among the throng at a 2004 papal audience alongside my husband and daughter. Both experiences were unforgettable!

Today I woke up at 4am to watch the canonization. This, after giving a women’s retreat at Saint Benedict Parish in Halifax, NS, that highlighted our new Saint’s writings and teachings! But I could not miss it “live”. And as I sat there in my bed in my hotel room before I had to catch a plane home, all the fondness for this Saint flooded back to me. It’s not just who he was, but what he wrote and taught that has inspired me and helped to shape me as a Christian.

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Here’s my Top Ten List of Inspirations from St John Paul II:

  1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church - This was a monumental achievement, as it was the first update to the Roman Catechism in over 400 years. From my archives: some commentary on catechism trivia.  
  2. His Marian Devotion, especially through his Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, and his writings on Mary, including Redemptoris Mater and Rosarium Virginis Mariae.  The latter gave us the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. I’ve been personally inspired by John Paul’s devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on his life.
  3. The feminine genius, as described in Mulieris Dignitatem and Letter to Women… and other related homilies and writings, such as Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). I truly believe these were the fruit of the Saint’s devotion to Mary, our Mother. These specific works also had a positive influence in my own life, and I tell that story in my book… which I’m giving away in a free drawing here.
  4. The Theology of the Body - a series of papal audiences and teaching given over several years on human love, sexuality, and anthropology. You can find classes in this area of study here. In the US, there is a Congress this summer.
  5. His Apostolic visits to 129 countries around the world — including 7 trips to the United States.
  6. The myriad of saints he canonized.
  7. Restoration of the Sistine Chapel.
  8. His books, outside of his magisterial teaching, that are now read in popular culture, especially Crossing the Threshold of Hope and Love and Responsibility.
  9. The Jubilee Year 2000 (and the years of preparation for the new millennium).
  10. World Youth Days (I never did get to attend one, but I was at a special gathering for youth in Madison Square Garden with JP2 in 1979.)Below is a favorite quote from WYD 2000.

It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.

Dear young people, in these noble undertakings you are not alone. With you there are your families, there are your communities, there are your priests and teachers, there are so many of you who in the depths of your hearts never weary of loving Christ and believing in him. In the struggle against sin you are not alone: so many like you are struggling and through the Lord’s grace are winning!

Thank you St John Paul for your holy influence in my life! St John Paul, pray for us!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way – precisely by reason of their femininity – and this in a particular way determines their vocation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-John Paul II-

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

UPDATE: May 5, 2014: 

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