Too many snow storms = many events with books left over! Check out my book sale going on now! Learn more about Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious or order a signed copy!
Too many snow storms = Too many books left over! Take advantage of my overstock discount on Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious!

Too many snow storms = Too many books left over! Take advantage of my overstock discount on Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious!

There were three New England events that I was speaking at this past winter where snow storms were a factor in attendance. In other words, I’ve got extra books on hand that I’m selling at a discount. I’ll send you a signed copy for $10.95, plus shipping. This price is lower than the current retail price and many of the prices online.

Order your signed copies here. (US orders only.)

This is a perfect book for Mother’s Day, bridal or baby showers, graduations, and more!

Looking for a great book club book for the women in your life? Order your copies during this sale and get personalized copies! Then email me (pat.gohn@comcast.net) and request the free study guide to duplicate for your group members!

This sale will last until May 1 or until the supply is gone! Order today! 

Note: Any orders that come in now through April 5, will ship the week of April 6.

Recap: Photos from the Sisters In Faith Conference, Billings MT

Recap: Photos from the Sisters In Faith Conference, Billings MT

Thank you, good women of Montana, and sponsor KJCR –Billings Catholic Radio, and all the other sponsors, for an unforgettable two days of wine, women, and song! (and prayer, and talks, and sisterhood, of course!)

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Joining me as a co-presenter was the gifted singer, Jaime Thietten.

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The event coordinators, Julie Koerber (r) and Pam Purinton (l).

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Yours truly, presenting on Saturday.

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Trust me, Jaime Thietten has great pipes and a beautiful testimony. Find her music here.

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Momma Mary, front and center!

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Wine, cheese, light fare on Friday night!

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A guest appearance by Pope Francis’ stunt double!

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I really enjoyed having Jaime Thietten along for this event. Her music really complimented the message of the talks I gave on Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious and our morning and evening prayers. We were able to collaborate in a way that does not often happen between conference speakers, and I’m very grateful to the conference leadership for the opportunity to craft a program with Jaime where we could share our gifts alongside one another.

I hope to have Jaime as a guest on an episode of Among Women in the weeks to come!

In the meantime, I wanted to share this video of one of Jaime’s songs. In her testimony talk over the weekend, she shared how her the Lord has led her to sing and to be a voice for the unborn. This song is a powerful reminder of the deep heartache that often accompanies a woman’s life, even years after an abortion. Keep a tissue handy.

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Finally home after this 4-day jaunt. I was amazed at the mild temps in Montana and no snow! I flew home via Minnesota and they didn’t have snow either! We’re still looking at the white stuff here in MA, as we got a few inches while I was away. There’s about a 18-24 inches covering the yard, and a 6-foot high plow pile at the end of the driveway. But my heart sure felt the surge of spring while I was away! I love those Montana women!

This makes me think… about what it takes to follow Jesus… I gotta quit my grasping…

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Mt 5:8)”

The organ for seeing God is the heart. The intellect alone is not enough.

The ascent to God occurs precisely in the descent of humble service, in the descent of love, for love is God’s essence, and is thus the power that truly purifies man and enables him to perceive God and see him. In Jesus Christ, God has revealed himself descending: “Though he was in the form of God” he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men… He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him” (Phil. 2: 6-9)

Those words mark a decisive turning point in the history of mysticism. They indicate what is new… which comes from what is new in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. God descends, to the point of death on the Cross. And precisely by doing so, he reveals himself in his true divinity. We ascend to God by accompanying him on this descending path.

-Benedict XVI-
Jesus of Nazareth, Vol I. (emphasis mine)

#Fast Fridays in #Lent… Taming my will and not crushing my spirit when fasting

#Fast Fridays in #Lent… Taming my will and not crushing my spirit when fasting

This Lent, I’ve been working on a deeper sense of fasting. Of course, that’s supposed to be between me and the Lord, but I thought I’d share just a few things that I’m learning about myself and that perhaps these things will resonate with you. If not, just move along with your day, don’t let me be a distraction.

So that’s the first thing about fasting: Distraction. So many distractions that can try to pull us away.

Distractions make us want to give up.

If you are fasting on a fast day on bread and water, you suddenly see all the luscious fruit on the countertop from your last grocery shop and you secretly wonder if you don’t enjoy it now, it may go bad by tomorrow. Distraction! Or as you’re preparing the evening meal for others, you decide that maybe a glass of wine would be just what you need. Distraction!! These are the moments when fasting is really a test of your will. Identifying your distractions is helpful.

To decide to stay with your fast is the goal. So to defend your fast against distraction, it’s okay to put the fruit or the wine in another room on a fast day. It’s also okay to plan a recipe with the food you are fasting from today (or for the whole of Lent) that you will cook tomorrow (or on Easter). That way you can think about the gift that food truly is for you as you fast from it today. And you’ll enjoy a richer blessing of it tomorrow or in Eastertide.

Distraction and the temptation to end your fast prematurely will be less likely if you find the fast that works for you — that is, making fasting something truly sacrificial and something that lends to a conversation between you and the Lord, but one that is not negatively impacting those around you. Otherwise, every distraction will equal a fail in your mind, and you might consider skipping your fast all together. Talk to the Lord when you feel distracted and talk to your feet too… move away from the distraction!

The goal here is tame the will and not crush the spirit. And to let your fast be something that you can lift up for love of Jesus.

Here’s something I’ve learned about myself when I am fasting that may be a good example. In the last few weeks, I’m finding I’m less productive work-wise on a fast day. (This is a once a week bread and water fast that I’m doing). Translation: I’m a bit sleepier, slower, and finding that coffee really is my friend. I don’t want to be a grumpy faster or non-productive at work, especially when I have to lead a class or give a presentation. So what to do? If my bread and water fast days occur on a night when I have to teach, etc., I allow a little coffee into my schedule. I have to know myself, and I have to be considerate of those I interact with. I’m still working up to the full on bread and water fasts, but when I need to “on”, I choose to modify the fast. So my bread and water fast days may have additional coffee/tea breaks if needed, especially when I have to interact with others.

If moving my fast day is an option, I might do that, too. So, you might think I’m a slacker. I’m mean, why not just soldier on and keep that fast day as scheduled? Am I not holy enough to do that? Am I cheating or something?

This brings me to the second thing that fasting teaches me: The need to achieve is strong in this one. 

Patience, Not Perfectionism.

Fasting is not about perfectionism. Perfectionism is — A DISTRACTION!!!!!!

Honestly…  I’m also trying to let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism tells me I can do it all and it shows the world I can do it. My goal is to keep this between me and Jesus and not get all self righteous about my performance of this fast or task. Trust me, sometimes it takes more humility for me, and is a greater sacrifice, to change the day and to give up my control of things, than to keep the date I had scheduled. May the Lord be the Lord of my Day. Not me.

Finally, the third point about fasting and distraction… sometimes even delayed gratification is positive and moving you toward giving up full control, and that’s good too.

Delayed gratification is mortifying.

If you’re fasting from, say, television, suddenly it seems everyone you know is talking about the game you missed or the episode of such-and-such that you are now pining to see. The chatter from others, both in person or online, can be a real humbling of our need to part of the in-crowd among friends or colleagues.

(Fortunately, in the land of online streaming and DVR’s we are not really fasting from those things… we are merely post-poning our gratification… for eventually, we may indeed watch what we’ve missed and catch up.)

Certain moments like this remind me that even delayed gratification is worth doing. It is worth something not to live in an on-demand way, to accept rather humbly what comes our way, as if you are waiting for a surprise. You never know what God might send into the empty space of time you create for Him. It gives him the full access (dare I say the remote control access?) to our hearts, rather than us being in control.

Fasting is not a cruel Catholic joke. It’s meant to change us, to change what we depend on. Do I depend on myself or the Lord? If my fast does not have me seeking Jesus, then change it up. Yes, it’s okay to begin anew. To hit the restart button and select a fast that keeps you in closer contact with Christ.

So, for me, fasting is an exercise in giving up control… to say that its not my way or the highway, that I’m good with whatever the Lord is bringing my way today. He is the Lord of all Time, not me. He is Divine Providence, not me.

What does fasting build in me?

Gratitude and generosity, for starters.

I’m thankful for everything that Providence has supplied for me this Lent, and in many other ways.

That gratitude is allowing me to be more generous in giving alms and wanting to do more and give more and more over to Jesus. The more that I can hand myself over to Jesus, the more his Will will take root in me.

I want Jesus separate me from what I’m attached to, from what takes me away from him. And at the same time I humbly pray that I’m never separated from His Will.

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#Fast Friday from last week. 

#Fast Friday from two weeks ago: midlife, mid-Lent

#Fast Friday on Confession

Why #Fast Friday in Lent?

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Matthew Kelly on Fasting

St Joseph, a more recent hero of mine

St Joseph, a more recent hero of mine

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St Joseph and Jesus, a stained glass window in St Francis of Assisi Church, Springfield, IL

A few men in my family have Joseph as a name. Many of my recent meditations on the infancy narratives have given me a stronger love for Joseph. As I’ve been praying the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, every week I make my own little trip to St Joseph’s retreat house in Milton, MA. So I’m developing an even greater fondness for the Universal Patron of the Church.

St John Paul II thought Joseph was pretty special too. He wrote quite a bit on Joseph and about his faith. I’m particular struck by his submissive will to God’s will. We often hear of Mary’s perfect alignment with the will of God, and then we think — she was sinless. Yet St Joseph does this too, like all great saints, really — finding delight in God’s will rather than one’s own. Let’s just say I’m taking notes.

The Primacy of the Interior Life

25. The same aura of silence that envelops everything else about Joseph also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is, however, a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what Joseph “did.” Still, they allow us to discover in his “actions” – shrouded in silence as they are – an aura of deep contemplation. Joseph was in daily contact with the mystery “hidden from ages past,” and which “dwelt” under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in Western Christianity.

26. The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah’s coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that “very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family.

This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion. (From Guardian of the Redeemer)

I love thee, St Patrick, don’cha know!

I love thee, St Patrick, don’cha know!

St Patrick, cathedral in Fresno, CA

St Patrick, cathedral in Fresno, CA

‘Tis true! I’m named for himself!

St Patrick, pray for me and guide me!

St Patrick archives: 2014, 2013

This makes me think… about being a saint…

As a spiritual director of mine once said when I was asking him to make me into another Catherine of Siena, “God already has St Catherine, now he wants St Ronda.” What we want to imitate in the saints is their love, their zeal, their intimacy with God, their astounding courage, their forgiveness, and their compassion.

-Ronda De Sola Chervin, Treasury of Women Saints

#Fast Fridays in #Lent… not that we might do, that we might be… not the sins, but the faith.

#Fast Fridays in #Lent… not that we might do, that we might be… not the sins, but the faith.

Lent is not a punch card. It is not a ticket to heaven. It is not dues paying or making deposits in some holy account.

Lent, in the briefest way, means 40 Days. In the longer way it means this.

40 Days.

Productivity experts tell us that it takes more than 30 days to make something a habit. Some say 66. 

Anyway, I think that’s the point of Lent for me in terms of my spiritual life. It’s making me look at my habits and asking me to add a few that will aid my faith and help me break the sinful habits. It’s like me staring at Jesus in the desert who is staring down temptation. It’s making me stronger. But only if Jesus is with me to give me courage. And the only way he is going to do that is if I’m faithful to the church which gives me the graces I need, since I’m not very courageous on my own.

Honestly, there are many days that I want my Lent to be a ticket that I punch. That way I don’t have to enter into it fully. It can become something that I check off my to-do list.

Sorry, Pat. It ain’t a to-do list.

It’s more like a to be list.

*sigh*

Honestly, I’m so much better at the doing thing.

This is much more than a Martha vs Mary struggle. I understand that message. And trust me, what I’m thinking about is way more than putting Christ above housework and people about things. I understand those priorities. It must now be Christ always. First always. Not first mostly…  This is about how fast do I want to conform to Christ? How quick am I to obey for love of Him? How long will it take for his cruciform to appear in me?

This little meditation from the Magnificat stopped me cold yesterday morning. It is anti-ticket punch. It is antithesis of the gold star mentality of earning our way to heaven, or at least earning our way through Lent. It’s about full on entering into being the one Jesus is recreating us to be. To let Jesus be in me that I might become more like him, to imitate him with greater proficiency and more in line with his thinking, his ways.

And guess what? It positively will not happen without the Church and what the Church prescribes for me, not only this Lent, but always.

Sometimes we take up the attitude vis-à-vis the Church of someone who is looking for a certificate of good behavior. But the Church doesn’t supervise: she exists and we exist within her. She is the Body of Christ and we are members of the Body. Our dependence on her and our commitment to her, if they entail external acts or signs, are above all an internal and vital dependence and commitment. Our dependence on the body that she is, is considerable.

But our initiative, our responsibility, and our function are also considerable. We are designed as irreplaceable parts of the Church. Both our submissions and our initiatives are matters of obedience, as they would be for a body’s cells…

We don’t make good on obedience with a prayer said at Mass, with a devotion to a priest or to a movement. We don’t even make good on it with a faithful life of the sacraments, or with a fervent life of prayer, but rather by carrying our sacramental life and our prayer life wherever they must go, all the way to the end for which they were made.

- Servant of God Madeleine Delbrêl (from We, the Ordinary People of the Streets)

Wherever they must go, all the way to the end for which they were made. That is purpose of Lent. Because that is the purpose of faith… that we might be in a relationship with the One who called us to be.

But let me tell you, I repeat: I cannot be all that I am to be without the Body of Christ, the Church. I cannot make it without grace.

It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes and sustains my faith. Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord: “Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you”, as we sing in the hymn “Te Deum”; with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: “I believe”, “We believe”. It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 168)

There is one tiny little prayer that priest offers at Mass before the Sign of Peace. Maybe you know it. It is a great consolation to me:

Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever. (Emphasis mine.)

I am always praying that in some way. Every day. Look not on the sins, but on the faith. My sins and the faith of the Church.

Thank you, Church.

 Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1Peter 4:8

 

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More on I-am-faithless-but-God-is-faithful.

This makes me think… about the intersection of humility and divine mercy…

St. Therese of the Child Jesus teaches, that “what offends God and wounds His heart most is want of confidence” (Letters).

To be wanting in confidence in God’s mercy, even after a grave fall, is never a sign of true humility but of insidious pride and diabolical temptation. If Judas had been humble he would have asked pardon and wept for his sins like Peter, instead of despairing. Humility is the virtue which keeps us in our place; and our place in God’s sight is that of children who are weak and miserable, yes, but confident children.

When we fall into the same imperfections after so many good resolutions; when after many efforts we still do not succeed in correcting certain faults or in overcoming certain difficulties, and we find ourselves in one way or another far beneath what we ought or would like to be, let us have recourse to the infallible remedy of humility. “Humility,” says St. Teresa of Jesus, is “the ointment for our wounds” (Interior Castle). Even if we seem to have used up all our strength, if we feel unable to do anything and see ourselves always prostrate, powerless to rise, there is still one possibility for us: to humble ourselves. Let us humble ourselves sincerely and with confidence; and humility will supply for all our miseries; it will heal all our wounds because it will attract divine mercy to them.
-Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy-