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California here I come! Ladies: Join me on retreat May 13-15 near San Diego at Whispering Winds!

California here I come! Ladies: Join me on retreat May 13-15 near San Diego at Whispering Winds!

I’m packing my bags and flying to the hills of scenic Southern California May 13-15 for a three-day get-away to share the love of faith, fun, and the feminine genius with the women of greater San Diego.

Join us for Whispering Winds’ 2015 women’s retreat! I’m honored to be the guest speaker for this retreat, and looking forward to talking, walking, eating, laughing, and praying together!

A PDF flyer of the event is found here. Other important details on the schedule and rates are here.

Whispering Winds Catholic Camp & Conference Center is located on 161 acres in the scenic mountains of the Cleveland National Forest, five miles south of the historic gold-mining town of Julian, about an hour’s drive from San Diego.

Check out their video of the beautiful grounds and facilities, below! I’m sooooo looking forward to this!

Whispering Winds – Meeting Spaces from Whispering Winds on Vimeo.

 

Thank you, Mother Angelica, for teaching us the art of networking for Jesus…

Thank you, Mother Angelica, for teaching us the art of networking for Jesus…

Jesus was her spouse and Eucharistic Adoration was the center of her television ministry. That’s what stands out for me as the Catholic world mourns the passing of Mother Angelica, foundress of two religious orders of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and Franciscan Missionaries, and the Eternal Word Television Network, EWTN. 

IMG_1975With prayer and holy chutzpah Mother Angelica, together with others, launched what would become a global Catholic network in 1981 to bring Jesus to the world. Donations from faithful Catholics around the world continue to sustain the mission today.

Mother Angelica taught us a lot about the beauty of the Catholic faith, as well as the feminine genius, in the way she lived.

Mother is definitely not a stereotypical nun. She appears stereotypical, but beneath the habit is this gutsy, determined woman who wields an incredible faith.

Her feminine genius resides just there I think: in her radical faith, in her abandonment to God’s will in the present moment. Additionally, she had an intuition that allowed her to see events as they were and to follow her heart and God, always.

We need that feminine aspect in the Church today. Mother used to say that the faith had become too “heady,” too theoretical. And I think she is right…

…she says, “Most people today are seeking master’s degrees, then they forget the Master.” She never forgot her Master.

Isn’t it curious that some of the same people who were the most outspoken advocates of “women’s power” in the Church, were the first ones trying to shove Mother Angelica back into the cloister once she appeared on the scene?

The idea of an orthodox, faithful woman leading people to Christ was a threat somehow. It shouldn’t have been. Time has shown that it was actually a blessing. – 2007 Zenit interview with Raymond Arroyo

Raymond Arroyo from The World Over at EWTN announces Mother Angelica’s passing and offers a few notes on her legacy…

Thank you, Mother Angelica for your wit and wisdom as a catechist, intercessor, and a spiritual mother to millions.

Oil painting of Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, outside the chapel area.

Oil painting of Mother Angelica, outside the chapel area at EWTN

Thank you for loving Jesus and teaching us not to keep that love to ourselves, but to spread it to others… and that sometimes we are asked to do that with a microphone or camera in hand. You built a network for Jesus both in the relationships you grew in religious life and in your expression of the faith person to person.

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In 2013, I visited EWTN as a guest to record a few programs with “Women of Grace” host, Johnette Benkovic, I took time to pray in the Adoration Chapel and attend Mass. (The banner photo above is the monstrance above the chapel altar at EWTN in Irondale, AL. I took the picture during a period when Mass or adoration was not taking place, so there is no Host in the photo.)

Find more of my photos from that visit here, and here.

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No doubt you can search the internet for hundreds of tribute to Mother Angelica, but I’m happy to recommend a few.

 

 

Can’t Make the #MarchForLife? Three Powerful Things To Do Instead

Can’t Make the #MarchForLife? Three Powerful Things To Do Instead

There are many of us, for very good reasons, who cannot attend the March for Life in Washington DC on January 22, or the ones scheduled in other cities. Yet we yearn to attend. Let us channel that yearning beyond wishful thinking and DO SOMETHING.

Discern on what front God wants you. Catholics have a consistent life ethic. Preventing abortion is a very important aspect of that ethic, but so is caring for those women. men, and families needing support in their daily needs, and those facing the end-of-life. The USCCB’s Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities has four emphases that you should consider. I’m here just to say we all can DO SOMETHING.

Here are three suggestions:

1. Pray and fast. Offer your intentions for the March and the marchers’ witness to life, for families in need, and for women contemplating abortion. Also discern where God is nudging you to act.

Pray as you are able. Pick one or more:

  • Go to Mass
  • Pray a Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
  • Spend an hour in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Fast as you are able. Pick one or more:

  • Fast from lunch, or choose a bread and water fast for the day.
  • Fast from coffee, or whatever your go-to beverage is.
  • Fast from television, or better yet, your internet connection, for a period of several hours or days.

2. Support and celebrate motherhood. 

  • Do you know a single mother? Call her today and tell her you are ready to give her one day a month to serve her. She has the hardest job in the world. Make a plan and let this be your private march for life during the Year of Mercy. March on over to her house and get involved. Perform a chore, babysit, pay a bill if you are able, tutor a child, paint a room. You get the picture. And remember to invite her to church with you, and tell her you’ll help with the children.
  • This is a very unique idea: Offer to host the 2016 Catholic Conference 4 Moms, themed “Faces of Mercy”, at your church or in your living room during Lent. This is an online conference with videos and support materials — a complete “conference in a box”. Listen to this Among Women podcast for a conversation with the conference organizer, Tami Kiser.

3. Donate your time or your money to those who are assisting women with crisis pregnancies, or trying to find healing from “the after affects” of abortion.

These groups support women and babies:

These groups support women in recovery from abortion, with confidential retreats, counseling, etc.

May the “people of life” constantly grow in number and may a new culture of love

and solidarity develop for the true good of the whole of human society.

– Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, no. 101_

 

A Summer Leadership Conference in DC for Catholic Women ages 20-30 — The Given Forum. Apply now!

A Summer Leadership Conference in DC for Catholic Women ages 20-30 — The Given Forum. Apply now!

I’m happy to share this information about an exciting opportunity for faithful Catholic women between the ages of 20 and 30….

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What’s it all about? From the event website…

Why the theme, GIVEN?

There are three pillars upholding this Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum.

First: You are a gift!

Second: God has given you gifts of nature – particular talents and charisms, and gifts of grace – the family of the Church, the Sacraments, and a relationship with Him.

Third: We’re created to respond to these gifts by giving the gift of ourselves – a gift the world needs and awaits, and a gift that will bring us the fulfillment for which we long.

Receive the gift you are. Realize the gifts you’ve been given. Respond with the gift only you can give.

What will I gain?

The GIVEN Forum presents you with an opportunity of a lifetime. You will be surrounded by the witnesses of prominent Catholic lay women and Religious Sisters who desire to share with you from their store of knowledge and lived experience of the feminine genius in leadership. Simultaneously, you will be equipped to share your unique gifts with the Church, while getting to know 300 other rising leaders.

Participants will have the opportunity to experience the community of the Church upholding and investing in them, allowing for dedicated time to encounter the Lord at Mass, Holy Hour, and the in the Sacrament of Reconciliation – which will bear long-term and abundant fruit in your life, in the Church and in the world.

For more details go the the GIVEN Forum website.

Apply here before February 2. 

Sisters of Life featured in NY Times & WSJ! #YearOfConsecratedLife

Sisters of Life featured in NY Times & WSJ! #YearOfConsecratedLife

Did you know that the Sisters of Life were founded by the late Cardinal John O’ Connor to serve the Church and, in particular, to spread the pro-life teachings of our faith and fight against the culture of death? And as this is the Year of Consecrated Life, let’s just take a few moments and send up a prayer or two for this religious order.

You might also be interested in this article that recently ran in the NY Times regarding the Sisters of Life…”Nuns of a New Generation Forge Their Own Path”…


The members may hold to traditional teachings, but as they see it, there is nothing more countercultural in 2015 than a young woman’s becoming a nun — eschewing careerism, material possessions, sex.

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All of the 84 Sisters of Life have joined since 1991, when Cardinal John J. O’Connor, who was the archbishop of New York, founded the order. Ten postulants, or first-year members, are expected in September. On Thursday, at the order’s retreat center in Stamford, Conn., eight sisters professed “final vows,” making a commitment for life. To the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Sisters of Life add a fourth vow, “to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life.”

“They have a very clearly defined focus,” said Brother Paul Bednarczyk, the executive director of the of National Religious Vocation Conference in Chicago. “There was a very real need which Cardinal O’Connor responded to, and that real need captures the imagination of younger women.”

The Sisters of Life work with about 1,000 pregnant women a year, at several sites including a home for expectant and unwed mothers in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan, a mission on the East Side of Manhattan and a mission in Toronto. They operate a house for first-year members in the Bronx. Last year, at their Stamford retreat center, more than 4,000 people attended retreats, including weekends for women “healing after abortion.” Next month, four sisters are opening the order’s newest mission in Denver.

“Our experience is that once a woman is given the love and practical support that she needs and deserves, she almost always desires to carry her baby to term,” said Sister Mary Elizabeth, who was acting as a spokeswoman for the group.

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The Wall Street Journal also captured some cool ideas about final profession, when sisters take their final vows…

The idea of religious sisters as brides of Christ is easily lampooned. But the metaphor isn’t just a pretty substitute for the weddings and husbands they give up. Just as the ideal of conventional marriage calls upon husbands and wives to rise above themselves to put their spouses first, so it is for these nuns.

For it is precisely the abandonment of self to Christ that sustains these women in those moments when perhaps they’d rather not obey, when they might prefer not to get out of bed in the middle of the night to help a pregnant mother who is throwing up in the next room.

In other words, the vows they make today and the rings they received as a sign of these vows isn’t about “no.” It’s about a radical “yes,” an echo of the assent given more than two millennia ago by a Jewish girl in Nazareth: Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word. Or, as a young redhead in Florida says she put it in her own prayer when she first considered religious life: “You know that I’ve had my wedding planned since kindergarten . . . but I can take a hint if you want me to be Yours.”

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While I was on retreat at Spiritual Direction School, (my Summer Jesus Camp), I met a couple of fabulous sisters from this order who were also learning to be spiritual directors. In fact, one went to the same high school I attended, albeit she graduated several years after me. I was just happy to meet another native New Yorker in Florida. (What am I saying? Florida is full of native New York transplants. But I digress…)

If you’re a fan of helping women through crisis pregnancies, or you know a woman who needs to heal following an abortion, I highly recommend the Sisters of Life for counseling and retreats! Find more details about their mission here and their retreats here. 

Find an earlier post about the Sisters of Life here. 

Ladies: The Blessed, Beautiful, & Bodacious one-day retreat comes to Elkhart IN – May 9! Join me!

Ladies: The Blessed, Beautiful, & Bodacious one-day retreat comes to Elkhart IN – May 9! Join me!

I’m hoping you’ll join me for a day-long retreat just for us girls! This women’s event, even though it is on Mother’s Day Weekend, is not just for Moms! We love Moms, of course! But the day is a celebration of the feminine genius — and that’s all women! I’ll be offering three talks on the three aspects I covered in Blessed, Beautiful, & Bodacious — our blessed dignity, our beautiful gifts, and our bodacious — most excellent — mission!

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Catholic Women’s Ministries

This event is sponsored by “Be It Done” Catholic Women’s Ministries representing women from six different parishes from the Catholic Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, and hosted at St Vincent de Paul parish in Elkhart.

Come one, come all!  Sign up here! Buy the book here!

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Give yourself and your girlfriends the gift of faith, fellowship, food, and fun! All the details are here. 

 

I’m speaking in Wayland MA this Wednesday night April 29 at 7:30pm! Please pre-register!

On this Wednesday April 30, the Elizabeth Ministry of Good Shepherd parish welcomes all guests to a woman’s event featuring a talk on the “The Gift of Womanhood: Answering the God’s call to lead through Spiritual Motherhood”.

This evening will be held at St Zepherin Center at Good Shepherd parish in Wayland, MA. 7:30-9:15pm. The event is free, but kindly pre-register by phoning or emailing Lucy Prunier at 508-988-0338 or Luciana.prunier@gmail.com.

Tribute: Lauren Hill, #22 “Live well to the grace of the moment. Do your best and leave the rest to God.”

What an inspiration you are, Lauren!

On Lauren’s honorary degree and more. From that post: Lauren lives out the words of St. Elizabeth Seton: “Live well to the grace of the moment. Do your best and leave the rest to God.”

The Feminine Genius and reading ’round the Web… Don’t miss these posts!

The Feminine Genius and reading ’round the Web… Don’t miss these posts!

There has been, in the last two weeks, much important reading on subjects close to my heart, and many women’s hearts, relating to the feminine genius and the beauty of womanhood — and our loss of that sensibility and truth. Much of my writing and speaking in the three years has been to point out the basics of woman’s dignity, gifts, and mission as presented to our through the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is more pro-woman and pro-life than any other institution or organization you could name. (To learn more on this perspective, see my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious. Or come to one of my events.)

Sadly, I have been unable to comment on these posts, save for the briefest ideas,  due to my current writing work load and travel schedule

I am, however, linking to a few of those posts here. It’s Lent, after all, so I invite you to read and reflect on these in light of the Gospel, and our call to live it.

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1. Mary Eberstadt’s piece on Jailhouse Feminism over at National Review online is jarring as it is astutely on to something… the rage of women in the media and elsewhere is pointing to their abuse and abasement by themselves and others all in the name of freedom. This is must reading. Warning: course language here.

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2. Read Our Emotions, Our Bodies, Ourselves by Carolyn Moynihan as she comments on a female psychiatrist, writing in the NY Times about a boom in the number of women (1 in 4) talking medications… it was most emailed article on the New York Times website over the weekend, “Medicating Women’s Feelings”. I admit I have not had time to read the NY Times article but this reply references offers much quoted source material.  It is worth reading this piece by the ever-wise Carolyn Moynihan.

A few of my thoughts: One of the powerful gifts of women is their sensitivity, or empathy. It is more than emotions, for sure. But if we don’t understand the body-soul connection of a woman’s great ability of “seeing” with her heart, she might not understand that what breaks her heart also points her in the direction of holy actions: To be deeply rooted in prayer and clinging to Christ, and to be ready to acknowledge the the persons in their midst in need of care and nurture.

Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts. They see them independently of various ideological or political systems. They see others in their greatness and limitations; they try to go out to them and help them. In this way the basic plan of the Creator takes flesh in the history of humanity and there is constantly revealed, in the variety of vocations, that beauty—not merely physical, but above all spiritual—which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women.

(St John Paul II, Letter to Women, 12)

How many women may have been medicated, or told they were crazy or unbalanced, when, really they are not — just normal? I can’t take that in now, but it grieves my heart.

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3. Yet another post on one of the gifts of women, this time, maternity: Motherhood is the Strongest Bond written by a blogger who describes the heart of women… and how we need to stand alongside one another, mother to mother, when we encounter the toughest of all crosses, the death of a child. I’m reminded here how mothers are well disposed, as St John Paul would say, not only their own children, but to all children. The author of the piece has this central message: “You’re a mother, you know.”

Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and “understands” with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the “beginning,” the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her 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. (St John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, 18)

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4. The Christophers’ Tony Rossi has a piece up includes some compelling lyrics from singer Kelly Clarkson, and others who are trying to combat the madness of sexual imagery that is everywhere.

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5. Some hope here from Lisa Hendey in her piece on The Blogosphere as a Mission Field, with lots of commentary from women leaders, including myself.

While I really appreciate this well written piece, it’s important to remember Lisa’s end point: we are all called to the new evangelization. For many of us, it’s the call to be saints whose mission is to rescue the culture from its confusion and chaos regarding the gifts of masculinity and femininity.