“This is my body, which is given for you”: reflecting on the Eucharistic parallel in motherhood – a book excerpt

“This is my body, which is given for you” (Lk 22:19).

These words of Jesus captured the heart of his mission. His life on earth would be given in sacrifice on the Cross for the sake of our redemption from the sins that separated us from God. For Catholics, these precious words also capture the institution of the Eucharist, the great sacrifice and sacrament considered to be the source and summit of their faith.

In these holy words, uttered in prayer by a priest at Mass, we cannot escape the “bodiliness” of God––the truly superlative way that Jesus continues to be present in the world today––that his flesh and blood would be miraculously concealed under the auspices of consecrated bread and wine that we consume in the Eucharist.

“This is my body, which is given for you.”

These words reveal the significant value and sacredness of our own bodies. And if you’ll forgive the informality—the bod—which God created for us is bodacious! Everything God does, he does for a reason. Our bodies have as much meaning in the eyes of God as our souls, to which they are remarkably joined.

Dictionaries list meanings for the word bodacious as “most excellent” or “remarkable,” or “audacious in a way that is considered admirable.” Some consider the word bodacious a portmanteau, a word that is a linguistic blend of two meanings, such as “bold” and “audacious.” How bold that our God would come to earth as a human person in a body, and how audacious that our bodies might somehow image the divine God who made us, and one day be glorified in heaven.

Our Creator creates the body; our Baptism consecrates the body. Through Baptism, the body is baptized and anointed, as the soul is marked with the sign of faith. A woman’s body is part of the Body of Christ. So, too, is a man’s body. We are grafted in our entirety into the Body of Christ.
Just as the body of Jesus exemplified his mission as the Christ, so, too, the mission of the Christian is lived in and through the body. We do all things—we carry out our mission—in our bodies and through our bodies. Indeed, our bodies belong to the Body of Christ.

Catholic churches have depictions of the body of Christ on the Cross—the crucifix—a man’s broken body hanging on a cross. We are confronted with the bodiliness of God. In his suffering and broken body, we can see our own wounds of body and soul. Through our sin and ignorance, we defile the body, revile the body, ignore the body, and denigrate the body. Yet in the crucifix, we also are confronted with the godliness of grace. Through Christ’s sacrifice, the deepest graces are found in the Body of Christ––graces to restore and heal the brokenness we find in ourselves.

“This is my body, which is given for you.”

The body of a woman signifies her mission; she is designed to mother.

Our female bodies point to the bodacious life-giving mission of women. The mission of the eye is to see. The mission of the tongue is to speak. The mission of the skin is to feel and protect. The mission of the uterus is to house new life. The mission of the breast is to nourish.

“This is my body, which is given for you.”

With all due reverence, these could be the same words that a mother might say to a child growing in her womb. A pregnancy is a concrete way to lay one’s life and body down for another person. (Now imagine the reality of the mother of multiples carrying more than one baby!) Recall the generosity and beauty of mutual self-giving, self-donating love between spouses. In pregnancy, a woman builds on this self-donating love. She makes a minute-by-minute gift of self to her unborn child.

I’ve mentioned my own pregnancy struggles. My third trimesters for my three pregnancies were as unpredictable as my first trimesters and filled with medical testing. I was poked and prodded and checked for blood-pressure issues, gestational diabetes, large-gestational-age issues, and more. These, plus the returning nausea and heartburn that I began each pregnancy with, brought bouts of worry and uncertainty for me.

Yet the Christian is called to rely on God: “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pt 5:7). Despite my temperament’s bent toward worry, I did something each Sunday that brought me great peace: I attended Mass and received the Lord in the Eucharist.
I lived to hear those words: “This is my body, which is given for you.” And I tried to join myself to the words as Christ joined himself to me through that sacrament.

As I received the nourishing host and the precious Blood at the altar, I imagined the Lord’s Body and Blood pumping through my veins, reaching through the umbilical cord where my unborn baby received nourishment. My heart was consoled that my baby “received” Christ in some miraculous way that was unknown to me from a scientific or biological standpoint, but in some kind of supernatural way, very much known to Jesus. As I was being touched by and nourished by Christ, so was my child. And with each Communion I made a deeper connection with the baby that was yet to be born.

Philosopher Alice von Hildebrand captures the immense privilege women have as they participate in the biological and spiritual processes of maternity. In The Privilege of Being a Woman, she explains:

The special role granted to women in procreation . . . is highlighted by the fact that as soon as she has conceived (and conception takes place hours after the marital embrace), God creates the soul of the new child in her body. This implies a direct “contact” between Him and the mother-to-be, a contact in which the father plays no role whatever. This contact gives the female body a note of sacredness, for any closeness between God and one of His creatures is stamped by His Holy Seal. This divine “touch” is . . . a special female privilege that every pregnant woman should gratefully acknowledge. (86.)

While pregnant, a woman has the unique privilege of carrying two souls in her body: hers and her child’s. My sense of this was magnified every time I received the Eucharist during pregnancy. Before I ever got to teach my children about Jesus or the faith, God had already visited my womb in creating the souls of my sons and daughter, and “touched” them in their creation and via the Eucharistic miracle. This armed me with confidence that I was never alone in caring for this tiny child in utero. It also indicated my growth as a spiritual mother, as praying for this child was a totally natural thing to do. Spiritual mothering was something I did not have the words for when I was young, though I was slowly intuiting the reality that physical and spiritual mothering was the way my body and soul were designed.

As a parent, my spiritual maternity was found in this longing in my heart that my children might know and receive the Lord and live in his will. With each successive pregnancy, this desire grew, and it motivated me to act in ways that would teach and lead my children to know Christ.

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. (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, 18)

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The preceding post was an excerpt from Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood. 

Among Women 177: Kitty Cleveland’s new Jazz album – Blue Skies

Among Women 177: Kitty Cleveland’s new Jazz album – Blue Skies

This special edition of Among Women features the vocal gifts of Kitty Cleveland. This week I’m privileged to share in celebrating the debut of Kitty’s new jazz album, Blue Skies. This ninth album covers great jazz standards and this show features several tracks from the album as well as Kitty’s commentary.

Kitty Cleveland is a popular Catholic artist and speaker. Many people have been blessed by her singing of the Divine Mercy chaplet as well powerful Catholic hymns and chants. Her life as a singer-songwriter has spanned many styles and genres and taken her many places to sing and share her Catholic faith.

Don’t miss this show celebrating the music and faith of Kitty Cleveland.

Embracing Lent… links to read, stuff to do, prayers to pray…  and podcasts!

Embracing Lent… links to read, stuff to do, prayers to pray… and podcasts!

This year I was feeling a bit overwhelmed facing down the Lenten season. It felt like one more thing on my to-do list. But after praying about that I realized that some of the difficult things in the family (lots of illness and joblessness for many loved ones), and in the world (you name it, just watch the news channels and you will have an instant call to prayer), and elsewhere (lots of deadlines and pending work) were weighing heavy.

Lent was not coming to weigh me down — it was coming to lighten my load through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. So all the more reason to GO BIG.  Make a splash by calling on ALL the GRACES.

So I went to confession this past weekend. I made a fasting plan. I made a schedule. I’m engaging Lent, embracing it. And it requires some disengagement from other distractions that I’ve been having.

In the end, it’s not about how I feel, its about how I respond. If I do the right things I’m called to, my heart will follow.

OK Jesus – here we go!

Let us pray for one another, shall we?  

I’ve compiled good stuff that might help inspire you along the way.

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PRAY:

Go to Mass, or if that’s not possible, watch it daily on Catholic TV, or read the bible readings or hear reflections.

Learn how to pray the Rosary.

Learn how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Join an online retreat with Authors Vinita Hampton Wright and Kerry Weber

If you live in the Archdiocese of Boston, there’s confession everywhere… many places around the country are doing the same.

TheLightIsOnForYou.org Advent from Archdiocese of Boston on Vimeo.

READ and USE these Resources:

Get a printable Lenten calendar from the USCCB, with great suggestions for living every day.

Why Do Catholics Practice Fasting and Abstinence? by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

5 Reasons to Love Fasting by Matthew Warner (I love #4!)

Fasting suggestions from Life Teen

Read the Daily Meditations of Pope Francis

Get daily Lenten reflections from the late great Fr Henri Nouwen in your email.

Watch The Power and Purpose of Confession, a video with Johnnette Benkovic and Fr Mitch Pacwa. (an oldie from 2008)

Catholic Vote has 40 Things You Should Give Up for Lent

40 Ways to Give during Lent, from the gals at Sound Mind and Spirit blog

Simcha Fisher recommends quality spiritual reading at her Register blog.

Find great soups and inspiration for Lent from The Practicing Catholic’s series “Soup and Stories.

100 Things to Do for Lent by Meg Hunter-Kilmer

The award for the most-comprehensive-Lenten-Mega-Post goes to Aggie Catholics for the most resources in one place - you’ll find something there that you like, for sure!

The Social Media Scene:

If you are not fasting from social media, make your social media count!

Be a grateful tweeter, or tithe on your social media!

Check out these Lenten apps recommended by the iPadre - Fr Jay Finelli. Don’t forget the CRS Rice Bowl App!

Follow Pope Francis on Twitter. Oh, and there’s this:

 

Finally, some Podcasts:

Of course, there’s Among Women… 

AW 175: The newest episode is “An Appointment with God”. This features a chat with Allison Gingras about her story of growing in relationship with Christ. It also profiles Mary Clopas, friend of Jesus and Mary, and mother to James the apostle, bishop, and writer of an Epistle. 

From the archives: AW 126: Special Editon for Lent — AW listeners share their favorite Lenten practices

Word on Fire Podcasts: Don’t miss a single Sunday sermon from Fr Robert Barron, or check out his lenten reflections.

iPadre Podcast: Fr Jay Finelli has been podcasting for years!

 

About the Photo above– that’s a photo I took at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. Take a virtual tour. 

I’m off my rocker… over at CatholicMom.com today

I’m off my rocker… over at CatholicMom.com today

I have a now-and-again series at Catholic Mom I affectionately call “Tales from the Empty Nest”.  This latest installment talks about the bittersweet heartache of losing my rocking chair…

Here’s an excerpt:

A long time back, almost 27 years ago, my husband bought me a rocking chair. We were expecting our first baby. I was looking forward to refinishing the rocker. It would be one of my household “nesting” projects as we prepared for the new baby. I used a maple stain and a satin finish on the rocker’s wood. The chair was a fixture in our home all through our childrearing years. Over time it rocked a lot of babies and a lot of guests who visited our home. Until recently.

The rocker developed a small split in one of the natural curved seams of its wood. Eventually one of the braces split and the back support broke. Sadly, it rendered the chair unstable and beyond repair.

A little part of my heart broke along with the rocker, as it seemed to signal the end of an era. With our children grown now, and our youngest son is in college, I’m already pretty far from the days of little ones wanting hear a story or waiting to be rocked and held before naptime.

I could not help but notice that the rocker’s demise coincided very closely with my entering menopause… another end of an era where motherhood is concerned.

Both of these changes, the rocker’s demise, and the menopause, have rocked me a bit, if you’ll forgive the obvious pun.

Somehow I thought the rocker would be with me as I aged. I’m going to miss the therapeutic soothing of my rock-a-bye chair, but I miss a more youthful and vigorous body even more. Yet I’m learning to be more comfortable with the woman I am now, and not worry so much about losses or gains. Midlife has its unique challenges, but it also has new blessings to offer me.

Learning to let go is one of the primary tasks of motherhood, and it comes to us in many different ways, even if we do get sentimental about a chair or certain phases of life now and then…

Read the rest at Catholic Mom.

Meet Missionaries Jonathan and Kristen Weiss – Married Twenty-Somethings with Family Missions Company

Meet Missionaries Jonathan and Kristen Weiss – Married Twenty-Somethings with Family Missions Company

Catholic Missionaries: Jonathan and Kristen Weiss and family

Catholic Missionaries: Jonathan and Kristen Weiss and family

Today is World Mission Sunday. Missionaries are on the front lines of the new evangelization!

Meet Jonathan and Kristen Weiss, a young married couple with two small children who are part of the lay community of missionaries with Family Missions Company. 

Listen to a podcast where Jonathan and Kristen Weiss share their story of how they became missionaries, and the rewards and challenges they face in the missionary life.

This post is part of the Bloggers on a Mission Campaign.

 

Discussions of a “theology of women in the church” continues in the press… my thoughts

Discussions of a “theology of women in the church” continues in the press… my thoughts

Two pieces that have come out in the press this past week that continue to express interest in what Pope Francis alluded to when he talked about “a deeper theology of women in the church.” One very much reflecting an important Marian perspective found in magisterial teachings, and the other offering a wide ranging sampling of opinions from Catholic women from around the country — yours truly was even quoted among them.

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My photo of a pilgrim image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas

The first is from theologian Pia di Solenni, PhD, in the National Catholic Register, who very much echoes my own view that the church already has a theology of women, and what we need is a deeper integration of that message world-wide. Further, in my previous post, and in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, I made the point that Blessed John Paul II’s writings are calling women to a new feminism that fully integrates our Christian values. And in so doing, the Church must look to Mary, the Mother of God, as shedding light on a woman’s dignity. Long before John Paul took up the subject, we have had centuries of Marian meditation and Mariology, such that Mary ought to be the cornerstone of that new feminism, just as Jesus is the cornerstone of Christianity.

At the Register, Di Solenni describes her doctoral studies that explored John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignatatem as well as other works. She describes John Paul’s thoughts on womanhood through the lens of Mary… and how an adequate theology must look deeply into the woman as she truly is, not just what she does.

[John Paul II] focused on Mary, the woman, whom, in Mulieris, he had set up as a paradigm for all humanity, including himself and every other priest, by virtue of her response to God’s call.

The shift to Mary emphasizes the change in emphasis from doing to being. We actually know very little about what Mary did. But we know who she is: the Mother of God. Her ability to become a mother fundamentally enabled her to be open to God in a relationship that only a woman could have. Her response, uniquely feminine, paradoxically, became the model for all humanity.

Toward the end of John Paul’s life, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued a letter to the bishops, On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, which emphasized that women “have a role in every aspect of society.”

If we follow the example of Mary, that means working from within, wherever we happen to be, whether as chancellor of a major archdiocese, a mother home with small children, in business, politics or countless other places. It means recognizing that women bring something to the table by virtue of who they are rather than simply by what they do.

If Mary’s role as homemaker had been so vital, Jesus would have left the preparation of the Passover meal to her and not to the apostles. (I’m willing to bet she would’ve put on a better spread.) She was defined by who she was, by her relation with Jesus, not by what she did. Similarly, we know that the apostles weren’t the smartest or the holiest bunch of men. But Jesus didn’t pick them for their accomplishments.

[Read the rest.]

I think there are two areas that we should address when we want to discuss a theology of women… the first is the role of women in the church alluded to in the Pope’s comments. Specifically, that is, roles within the Church that equal leadership, that is the doing of things. Yet, this doing must flow from the primacy of one’s being. And the context of being is the larger context, embracing the doing. DiSolenni’s point is the profound starting place… women bring something to the table by virtue of who they are rather than simply by what they do.

In yesterday’s Washington Post’s “On Faith” article by Elizabeth Tenety, a wide-ranging discussion continues under the headline, “What Catholic Women Want.”

It is largely a discussion of the doings of women, and within it, and one aspect the article describes is the seeming inequity of women not being allowed to be priests. The Catholic Church has an ordained hierarchy. Francis makes the point that the subject of woman’s ordination is closed. And frankly, I don’t have a beef with that, and never have. I believe that decision flows from the being question. The “doing” of things is not requisite for the dignity of being. Yes, the human dignity questions go very deep, all the way to a person’s ontology — their very being. The dignity of a man, flows from his personhood, but in a man’s personhood we also see and regard his masculinity and his paternal gift, that of fatherhood. A woman’s dignity flows from her personhood, including her femininity and maternal gift  –motherhood. We share one human nature with complimentary and distinctive genders, male and female. There are ontological, biological, spiritual, and anthropologically differences between men and women, and respect for these aspects of our humanity need to be acknowledged.

Meanwhile over the last several years I increasingly see more women emerging in local Northeast church leadership and administration of dioceses and parishes. This trend, in time, may eventually lead to more qualified women serving in the Roman Curia or as leaders within Pontifical societies without having to be ordained. There is room for the complimentary gifts of lay women and lay men, as well as members of religious orders, to work in collaboration with the ordained hierarchy, as mentioned in DiSolenni’s article above.

I discussed the emergence of women leaders, both current and historical, with Ms. Tenety in our conversation leading up to her article, and I was very pleased to see her express similar ideas in her piece.

No one denies that women have played a crucial role in the spiritual life of the church, from the often-thankless work of raising children and ministering to the needy in parishes, to the theological contributions of the four female “doctors of the church” (all named since the 1970’s) like Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. The church, as Francis referenced, already has a theology of women, centered in documents like ‘On the Dignity of Women’ and John Paul II’s work on what is called the “theology of the body,” the teaching that differences in gender point to differences in men and women’s nature. But even the pope says more must be done.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the first female director of communications at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, says that “women don’t feel heard. So just being heard is a major move forward.”

Catholic writer, activist and new mother Ashley McGuire recommends the Vatican start by convening a council of women theologians, activists, educators and leaders at all levels to help the hierarchy address “the issues women are struggling with and then helping the church then to present church teaching back to women in a way that reaches women.”

Permission to lead

One issue Catholic women struggle with? The question of authority and leadership in the church. This is 2013, they say, and Catholic women want to lead, they want to be allowed to lead, and they want to be encouraged to lead.

“The feminine presence in the church has not been emphasized much, because the temptation of chauvinism has not allowed for the place that belongs to the women of the community to be made very visible.” The source of that quote? Jorge Bergoglio, the man now known as Pope Francis, in a 2010 book.

The exclusion of women from the priesthood is one highly-cited practice that is often seen, even within the church, as plainly discriminatory, and a 2010 poll by The New York Times/ CBS showed that 59 percent of American Catholics favor the ordination of women. But the church does not operate by popular opinion and the longstanding teaching on the all-male priesthood is one of the oldest traditions of one of the oldest religions in the world. Pope John Paul II said the question of female ordination was not open for debate and said the church “has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women”; Pope Francis, in his news conference, affirmed that teaching. For some Catholics, anything short of ordination means that women will never achieve equal status or influence as men.

From my vantage point, according to the dignity of the human person, women already possess an equal status with men as persons, and women’s ordination will not change that, or strengthen it. This is a confusion of the being and doing. Not everyone is clamoring for women’s ordination and I was glad to see Tenety’s piece identify that.

Others see nothing unfair about men and women having different roles, and identify huge potential for female leadership in the church, from the parish level all the way to the Vatican.

“The first step is to encourage what is already permissible,” says [Sr Mary Ann] Walsh. In other words, deepening a theology of women would encourage the church to find ways to get women in positions of greater authority and influence. Catholic women have already proven their ability to lead major organizations like schools and hospitals. Can that authority extend to the Roman Curia?

Pope Francis says he wants to move beyond the image of the church as chauvinistic. Catholic women have some ideas on how to get there: Bring more women into key positions in the Vatican, as consultants and theologians and heads of offices that don’t require holy orders. Map an affirmative action plan for qualified females to infiltrate Curia positions, such as members of the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith, where few women today serve. Encourage women to work as chancellors of dioceses around the world. Help them to prepare for careers as pastoral associates, who fill many of the roles of the traditional parish priest, a task needed more than ever due to the priest shortage in the West. Some even say that a theological argument can be made for women to serve as deacons, with a spate of articles in the Catholic world exploring the issue. Catholic women across the ideological spectrum, many of whom point to female leaders already working in the church like Harvard legal scholar Mary Ann Glendon, now serving as adviser to Pope Francis on Vatican finances, nonetheless agree that these are positions that women not only can fill, but should.

So that’s part of the doing questions that should be discussed, and I’d welcome Francis’ thoughts on this in the future — how women can best serve within the church’s leadership, besides the many roles they are already doing within catechesis, in schools, or as diocesan or parish staff members.

What remains is the larger framework — the being questions — that side of “what women want” that is more universal. Simply, women would like to know the church is for them, not against them. The Church does have a positive message about women — with aspects that we call the feminine genius, or the gospel of life, or the dignity of the human person, or theology of the body —  but much of it is still not widespread and known. The media’s contrary spin about the church’s negative attitude toward women has affected our cultural mindset. We need a renewal of our consciences on these matters, and I take up the idea of renewing our conscience in chapter one of my book.

This message to women — the beauty of the feminine genius and the call to a new feminism — is clearly suffering from a marketing problem among Catholic women themselves. One of the reasons I wrote my book was to begin conversations to familiarize women with what the church has already proclaimed about women, and share the resources on the subject.

I see advancing the dignity and vocations of women as an important part of the new evangelization that cannot be overlooked. It is easy to see that from a human dignity standpoint, anti-women biases, especially in the third world are still prevalent and need correction. And in the West, where women have the most advantages, there are mounting anti-life losses that affect the maternal core of femininity — contraception, abortion, sexual abuse, and more.

A new feminism, a deeper or more profound theology of women, universally preached and taught will have life-giving and healing results for women and men. As more people embrace this message, it will transform the landscape, not just locally, but globally. I said as much in Tenety’s article:

Pat Gohn, a Catholic author of a recent book on the church and women, sees the potential for a renewed theology of women to “have a ripple effect in civil society.” Says Gohn, “I think this idea of the dignity of women has not been made universal yet. Women are still suffering on multiple levels from all types of injustice like abuse and sexual slavery.” Because the Catholic Church has global reach, she says, the result of a deepening theology of women could “touch all of those problem areas where women are in trouble and in need.”

The impact could not only touch those in desperate poverty, but also women in the developed world who still struggle in other ways.

For example, Alvaré says, “corporate culture, law and policy would have to do a whole lot more taking account of motherhood than it does now.” Paid maternity leave for all mothers is on the table. So is an invigorated cultural effort to support women who want to work part-time in order to spend more time with their families. Also just as relevant, says Janet Smith, would be a greater respect for women who choose to stay at home and raise children.

“Feminism didn’t fight the diminution of a woman who chose to spend her time dedicating herself to being a wife and mother,” Smith says. Enter: a theology of women, which she says “to some extent is meant to show that women don’t have to live life by the rules of men.” [Read the rest.]

To be clear, an enriched theology of women, like any good theology, is never about what any of us might want, as Tenety’s catchy headline might read, as if we could concoct a recipe for it…  a theology must examine how the church might apply Sacred scripture and tradition to the problems of our time, and in this case, to the problems that face women. A theology is the study of God, and if we are talking about a theology of women in the church, we must look critically at God’s creation in light of God’s revelation. And God’s Incarnation has revealed himself quite profoundly in and through The Woman, Mary — God’s masterpiece of creation.

A deeper or more profound theology of womanhood would speak to women universally, and at the same time, it would not invalidate what has been already accepted doctrinally within the church. It would build on them, enhance them. Divine revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. We already possess the fullness of truth, thanks to the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Yet, we can grow deeper in our awareness and understanding of our faith traditions, such as the dignity of the human person, and of Mariology, already mentioned. These  social and Marian doctrines are in keeping with Scripture and Tradition.

One final thought for the moment in distinguishing between doctrine and disciplines. (And thanks to Fr Dwight Longenecker’s eloquence in an interview recently when he said, “Doctrines develop and grow, but they can’t be changed. A discipline of the church can be changed, however.”) We must remember that doctrine is different from the disciplines of the church, or even, say, the local or national hiring practices within dioceses and parishes. It is here where a deeper theology and universal acceptance of the dignity and vocation of women would assist increasing the number of women within leadership roles in the church, for that is within the disciplines of church governance, in collaboration with the hierarchy.

From a doctrinal standpoint, we already have the social doctrine of the dignity of the human person, and the dignity and vocation of women falls well within that. Plus, particularly in the last fifty years, the church through her popes have given us documents pointing out the beauty and strength of the feminine genius. And, finally, I’ll end where I began this post: we have Mary, whose power and influence cannot be overlooked in terms of the action of the Spirit of God through her.

We need a deeper, better, and more profound reception of these things now, and in the years ahead.

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Don’t Miss the USCCB sale on Catechism Titles Every Catholic Home Should Have!

Don’t Miss the USCCB sale on Catechism Titles Every Catholic Home Should Have!

Besides the Bible, every Catholic home should have this reference texts!

This is the annual sale that USCCB offers on these titles. This is the Church’s equivalent of a back-to-school sale. Do it!

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 10.25.36 AMNow thru Sept 30 (yes, there’s a typo above, its not Sept 3, but the 30th) you can get 20% off hard copies of the Catechism (CCC), the US Catechism for Adults, the Compendium of the CCC, and the Compendium of Social Doctrine. Here’s a download of an online-form (.pdf) to use in ordering. 

Use the promo code “faith”!

Website: http://www.usccbpublishing.org

Phone: 800-235-8722

E-mail: publications@usccb.org  Customer Service: css@usccb.org

 

4 Magazines for Women: Verily, Regina, Catholic Digest, and Radiant

4 Magazines for Women: Verily, Regina, Catholic Digest, and Radiant

Sara Kerens, Verily Magazine, First Date shoot, March 2013Tonight at 8pm Eastern, Verily Magazine is having a Twitter Party, according to their Facebook post celebrating their debut print edition. (Find it on Twitter: @verilymag, #VerilyParty)

I’ve been watching the growth of Verily, from an online dream to an in-print magazine over the past year, and I’m very happy to see it’s growth, and its beautiful sense of style and beauty that respects both the dignity and the intelligence of women. Their first print issue debuts now, and its cover is on the left. (Yeah, you bet, I’m subscribing, and getting one for my twenty-something daughter.)

Here’s the purpose and principles guiding Verily:

It is no secret that women today are more educated, influential, and affluent than ever before. Yet we report record levels of anxiety and decreased happiness. Is this what we were striving for?

In a world that seems to offer us limitless choices, somehow the modern narrative about women – what we should look like, how we should date, how to be successful, what should make us happy – can ring hollow. So Verily is starting a new conversation – one for those who want a fresh take on life; an honest message that relates to their experiences which is uplifting, affirming, and true.

STYLE

All women desire to be beautiful and alluring. Fashion can serve as an expression of that desire or it has the ability to betray a woman’s true worth. Verily will showcase current fashion trends – from street style to runway – for truly inspirational, wearable looks that complement women and enhance their dignity rather than compromise it.

RELATIONSHIPS

Women have made great strides in achieving educational and career advancement. Yet in their personal lives, many young women still face confusion as they navigate their relationships with friends, colleagues, family members, or romantic interests. Verily will combine empirical research, real stories, and a best-friend mentality for a holistic and positive vision of relationships to which women can aspire.

LIFESTYLE

From being effective at the office to making a house a home, running a marathon, or giving back to the community, what a woman does in her day-to-day life contributes deeply to her sense of who she is. Verily will offer fun, thoughtful articles to inform and inspire the woman who desires to set her own agenda for personal success without shunning her uniquely feminine gifts in order to get there.

CULTURE

No one is an island unto themselves – we are all engaged in the world and participate in shaping the culture. Verily will provide distinctive essays, reports, and profile pieces that highlight empowering stories of real women in the world. With attention to good writing and bold investigating, this section will feature articles on today’s most important issues.

-From Verily’s “about us” page-

 Subscribe to Verily.

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Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.55.18 AMHere’s another new magazine that has a growing readership, Regina. This magazine seems to have a more global approach, with stories that come from around the world, it is offered for free, so its production budget is different, but there’s good content on its pages.

Here’s some Q and A with the magazine’s editor, Beverly De Soto:

Q. What made you start REGINA?

A. Basically, I see so many GREAT Catholic real-life stories that are ignored by the media (both secular and religious, sad to say) that I just HAD to. It is unutterably sad. Many Catholics don’t know their religion OR their culture anymore.

Q. What is ‘Catholic’ culture?

A. That is a fascinating question. Fundamentally, since the Church is the foundation of Western culture, everything we think of as being ‘civilized’ ultimately derives from the Church.  What is called “Western” culture is actually based in the Church, which fused the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures and the accomplishments of Greece and Rome, then re-interpreted all of this through the lens of the Faith. Everything – the rule of law, science, technology, the very CONCEPT of a university – derives from the Church.

Q. How is Catholic culture passed on?

A. Through families, primarily women.  Through what is taught – or NOT taught – in a Christian home. Traditions, mores, values – a Catholic family passes these things down as easily as breathing.  However, today the twin threats of materialism and relativism have severely eroded both women’s security and our culture.

The result is what we see today – a landscape littered with broken families and Catholics who are really lost. It feels like a kind of widespread spiritual starvation.

Q. What is the significance of the name, “REGINA”?

A. LOL, well “REGINA” means “QUEEN” in Italian and I thought that ANY Catholic would recognize who THAT Is – Mary, the Queen of Heaven, of course. And one thing is for SURE — we need HER help with this project! This is why we have dedicated Regina to her.

Q. Who are REGINA’s readers?

A. Regina is mainly aimed at women, though about 20% of our subscribers are men. These are people who consider themselves to be serious Catholics, about half of whom attend the TLM (the Extraordinary Rite). There are many who have NEVER attended a TLM, however – whether because it is not available near them or simply because they have never been exposed to the beauty of this Mass.

Q. What is REGINA all about?

A. As you will note from the Winter and Spring issues, we are aiming for the center of Catholicism and seeking to evangelize with beauty, taking as our starting point the topics women care about — ie how to live a beautiful life. We cover Catholic culture in each article, in a humorous, interesting and non-confrontational way. So many in the West have never really been educated or exposed to the true beauty of a ‘Catholic’ lifestyle that we need to go slow, and show them the beauty.

Q. Why is REGINA covering fashion?

A. Fashion is a sore point in the culture, as it has become increasing coarse. TV shows and so-called ‘women’s magazines’  feature actresses and models wearing low-cut or very tight clothing, as well as hair styles and tattoos designed to garner as much (positive or negative) attention as possible.

This hunger for attention is more evidence of what I call ‘spiritual starvation,’ and women imitate these negative role models in daily life – in offices, for example. This results in all kinds of bad situations, including ill feeling among spouses, friends, co-workers and customers.

Years ago the Catholic culture was strong enough to blunt the impact, but now women take their cues from the media.  For them it’s a business — it is all about selling cheap sex, let’s face it. It’s a downward spiral, too, as girls spend money they don’t have on more and more provocative clothing, which brings diminishing returns in terms of male attention and respect.

Regina covers fashion from a classic point of view. The Faith has always known that women’s beauty is a great good, to be prized, not abused. St Thomas Aquinas even wrote about this, from a moral point of view. Fashion is also a great art, and a global industry and it is important, therefore, to cover.

Q. Why is REGINA covering food?

A. Food — what you eat, where you eat, if you cook – has also become politicized. Regina covers food because the Christian table is the core of Catholic families and friends – our table culture, if you will. This has long been known in Europe, but America’s ‘fast food lifestyle’ has all but killed this – taking our health with it

Q. How is REGINA doing?

A. Well, I must say that Our Lady is an EXCELLENT patroness! Regina is growing exponentially, thanks to the help of some committed Catholics like my husband Harry Stevens and our webmaster Jim Bryant. Our readership list has grown 500% since our first issue, which was first emailed as an attachment Feb 14. The Facebook page now reaches 30,000 people per week and we are publishing in German and Spanish too.

Q. Any plans to charge for REGINA?

A. No. Regina is free and always will be.

Q. Plans for the next few issues?

A. I’m SO glad you asked! The Summer issue of REGINA will focus on Catholic England and the Autumn issue is all about Catholic America!

-From Regina’s “our story” page-

Subscribe to Regina.

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photoLongtime readers of mine will know that I’m a contributor to Catholic Digest magazine, and I’ve profiled it in a recent blog post. Catholic Digest, though not specifically aimed at women alone, editor-in-chief Danielle Bean has brought the magazine to a new era where it’s content is concerned. She has also worked to make the magazine  beautifully displayed. The most recent cover is at left.

Subscribe to Catholic Digest.

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Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 12.30.42 PMFor  younger women and teens, you can’t go wrong with Radiant magazine. Targeted for 15-25, this is a great magazine with short to-the-heart articles and resources for young Catholics. A few years back, as Radiant was launching, I interviewed editor and founder, Rose Rea on Among Women. I’ve been pleased to see this magazine distributed at Catholic events too!

Subscribe to Radiant. 

Still practicing… the Bodacious Basics blog tour lands at The Practicing Catholic today!

Still practicing… the Bodacious Basics blog tour lands at The Practicing Catholic today!

Here’s a little introduction to the book’s blog tour: Ten Bodacious Basic… Ten Minutes at Time:

Blogger and Iowa Catholic Radio host, Lisa Schmidt* and her hubby, Joel, are gaining a growing readership over at The Practicing Catholic, and I’m honored that

Hanging out with Lisa Schmidt at the Catholic New Media Conference in 2012.

Hanging out with Lisa Schmidt at the Catholic New Media Conference in 2012.they are hosting the blog tour today where I read an excerpt about becoming a beloved daughter of God. Look for that post here!

they are hosting the blog tour today where I read an excerpt about becoming a beloved daughter of God. Look for that post here!

Tomorrow’s stop on the blog tour: Snoring Scholar. 

A schedule for the blog tour is here.

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*You might appreciate my conversation with Lisa Schmidt from 2012 on Among Women 123.

Wanted: Spiritual Fathers and Mothers – my latest column @PatheosCatholic

Do you have spiritual heroes? I do. They are people who remain dear to my heart. They are men and women who have showed me the way to change my life for the better, and many of them, through their friendly mentoring helped to grow me up in the faith. I could list many names from years gone by beyond my family circle. They were church folk, school folk, older women friends. Somehow they generously took time to love me and encourage me even when I could not offer anything of value in return. They were magnanimous spiritual mothers and fathers to me. I’m fortunate to still know a few today.

I could also list the names of many favorite saints who have inspired me along the way.

I thank God for all of them, the saints, and the good Christians I met who have shepherded me, especially as a teen and younger woman. Somewhere along the way, I started to want to be like them.

If you read my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, you’ll find that I make the case that Christian women are called to grow and mature in such a way as to be able to make disciples through their holy influence in their spheres of life — to be physical and spiritual mothers. Whether single, married, or religious, women are baptized and called to participate in the universal mission of the Church that ignites faith and light and love in others. That we not only come to know, love, and serve Christ ourselves, but that we bring others along to Heaven with us as well.

Yet we live in a society that often demeans parenthood and degrades or ignores the spiritual dimensions that are so necessary to human flourishing. As I wrote in my latest column at Patheos, we need spiritual heroes…

What the world needs now are spiritual heroes. Be they spiritual fathers or spiritual mothers, we need them. The Catholic Church has long known this and has produced spiritual fathers and mothers by the millions. We call them saints.

Besides all the famous names on the heavenly rolls like the Blessed Mother, St Joseph, the Apostles and Martyrs, and the rest, there are millions more –- unnamed and lesser saints — who started their days just like you and me. They got up in the morning and got to work.

Many of us mere mortals, while piously attempting to honor and revere saints, mistakenly see their heroic virtue as beyond our reach. What I’m saying is that many Catholics and others put saints on pedestals in ways that leave us fretting that such sanctity is unattainable for the regular folks, the Joe and Joan Q. Public sitting in the pew.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Saints in heaven this very moment are looking at us and praying that we dispatch with this silly notion, and dispel this excuse from the responsibility and, yes, the privilege, each baptized person has to grow in holiness. That is, to try to be a saint.

Let me say this as forthrightly as I can: Get a grip, People of God!

The saints began with the same raw materials we do: A sinful life in need of God and his grace. Fortunately grace is not in short supply, for where sin increases, grace abounds all the more. (Cf. Romans 5: 20)

There’s more, of course.

Go read it. There’s a bodacious mission out there waiting for you.