The Assumption: Our Lady … “a gracious reminder” because we’re forgetful.

The Assumption: Our Lady … “a gracious reminder” because we’re forgetful.

We need reminders.

Because we’re forgetful.

We need reminders of what’s true.

We need reminders that are unmistakeable.

We need reminding that God wants us… that God loves us.

God wants to be in relationship with us. He wants that to be part of our here and now. But we have to want it too. We have to choose to return this Great Love of God.

God’s Great Love of us is active. The love of the Trinity — Father, Son, and Spirit — “an eternal exchange of love” (CCC, 221) — has this plan of sheer goodness (CCC,1) — to draw us in.

It’s a plan that means we can be in relationship now. And for eternity.

Today’s feast of the Assumption helps to remind us of this Great Love — for eternity.

The Father sent his Son Jesus to seal the deal, to keep to the promise, that we are destined for glory in heaven. That means one day, by the unfathomable mercy of God, we may live body and soul in heaven, in union with the God of Love. That’s awesome, right?

It is an awesome — as in, full of awe — goal for our lives. It’s a real inspiration for being in relationship with God now, right? Like, why wait?

But it is a long wait (in our minds) to finally get there to heaven.

And even if we are longing for heaven, there are a few things we have to face before we get there.

That’s why we need reminders about how awesome this Great Love of God really is.

We still have to face death, for corruption of the body is one of leftover effects from Original Sin. And even though Jesus rescued us from Eternal death — death is no longer a dead end, but a threshold to the afterlife for our souls — it does not diminish this promise of union with God in our totality, body and soul.

We still have to face judgment. Our love still has to be weighed and measured, face to face by the lover of our souls, Jesus.

We still have to wait for the end of the world to have that total, remarkable re-union of body and soul with Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

That’s a lot of waiting.

In the meantime, we can begin to have this relationship with God now, thanks to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.

And today, we have a gracious reminder — a reminder full of grace — about the future glory of heaven.

One Great Woman has already said yes to this Great Love: Mary, the Immaculate Conception.

This is why the Divine Praises of the Church mention Mary’s Glorious Assumption.

Since Mary’s humanity was perfectly blessed, perfectly pure — sinless — her response to the Father’s Great Love was perfect and immediate. Her relationship with God was so perfect that she responded to the Father as an obedient Daughter, a faith-filled Mother to the Son, and an incarnate Spouse to the Holy Spirit.

Mary’s entire life was a complete and total yes – a perfect choice — to the Great Love.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-Romans 6:23-

All choices have consequences, right?

When the Father created Mary, He chose to make the future mother of his Son a sinless, perfect human person — the zenith of humanity. Since Mary knew no sin, the future consequence of this was that her body did not undergo corruption and death. Jesus brought Mary directly to heaven at the end of her life.

Mary’s obedient and Immaculate Heart always chooses the Good and the Beautiful. So her personal judgment was always in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Father’s will. In a way, her final judgment at the end of her life by God, was the same as when she was first created: she is perfect and without sin and, consequentially, bound for eternal glory.

God’s creation and redemption of Mary brought the consequence, the result, of the Assumption. Mary, taken into glory — body and soul — is “a gracious reminder”of that promise of future union with Christ — our own relationship — with God, who desired us from the very beginning.

Christ has risen from the dead, we need no further assurance of our faith. Mary assumed into heaven serves rather as a gracious reminder to the Church that our Lord wishes all whom the Father has given Him to be raised with Him. In Mary taken to glory, to union with Christ, the Church sees herself answering the invitation of the heavenly Bridegroom.

National Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Behold Your Mother” (1973)

Just as Jesus’ Risen Body, is a glorified body in heaven, one day, we too, will have glorified bodies in heaven after the Final Judgment. (See CCC, 1060.)

Mary is our gracious reminder that all Jesus has said and done is true.

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Also on the Assumption:

From my archives: My favorite reading and podcasts about the Assumption.

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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.]

Catholic Resources online — we love ‘em, we need ‘em! Share this!

My good buddy, author and blogger, Sarah Reinhard, AKA the Snoring Scholar has a great reference piece up at OSV: “Untangling the Catholic Web”.

Let me also share my Resources page at Among Women. 

Make sure your local church bulletins have this information too — share it with your pastors, church leaders, as well as your social media circles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Scott Hahn-
Evangelizing Catholics, 2014

7 Shows from the “Best of” Among Women — Great testimonies (Conversions/reversions)

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The new evangelization rises and falls with all of us sharing our stories of coming to know Jesus, to encounter the Lord of Love in a personal way. I’m happy to dive into the Among Women archives to bring you the inspiring stories of these Catholic women! You may wish to bookmark this post to come back to it!

AW 178: New Life in Christ – When an unplanned pregnancy interrupts this successful single career woman’s life plan, she returns to the faith of her youth and discovers God’s plan for her in a new way. Listen! 

AW 175 An Appointment with God - Catholic speaker, Allison Gingras, shares her reversion to Christ and what it means to be a friend of Jesus. Listen!

AW 43 A Chat with Amazing Catechist, Lisa Mladinich – Get to know the founder of Amazing Catchechists, author Lisa Mladinich, who tells the story of her reversion to the Catholic faith. Listen! 

AW 109 Metanoia! - A story of Erin Miller’s reversion — and the role Among Women played in her life. Listen! 

AW 40 Becoming a Catholic - This episode talks with Earline Tweedie, a former Methodist, now a Catholic, by way of the RCIA. Also inspiring is her sharing her story of mothering a son with Down’s Syndrome. Listen! 

AW 1 — The Among Women Premiere - (and there’s a part two) Join me on my very first podcast from March 2009, and after I overcome the jitters, listen to Virginia Kimball, a PhD in Mariology today, discuss her life and growth as a Christian, and her eventual return to school in midlife to study theology. Listen!

AW 131 The Vocation Story of a Young Nun — More of a memoir of her faith journey, Sr Emily Beata Marsh FSP, one of the newest members of the Daughters of St Paul describes her vocation experience and her recent vows. Listen!

Among Women 179: Momnipotent! With Danielle Bean

Among Women 179: Momnipotent! With Danielle Bean

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

 

“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.