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A short Mother’s Day reflection from St John Paul II on Mary and the glory of womanhood

A short Mother’s Day reflection from St John Paul II on Mary and the glory of womanhood

For every Christian, for every human being, Mary is the one who first “believed,” and precisely with her faith as Spouse and Mother she wishes to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as her children. And it is well known that the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the “unsearchable riches of Christ”(Eph. 3:8). And to the same degree they recognize more and more clearly the dignity of man in all its fullness and the definitive meaning of his vocation, for “Christ…fully reveals man to man himself. [Gaudium et Spes, 22]”

This Marian dimension of Christian life takes on special importance in relation to women and their status. In fact, femininity has a unique relationship with the Mother of the Redeemer, a subject which can be studied in greater depth elsewhere.* Here I simply wish to note that the figure of Mary of Nazareth sheds light on womanhood as such by the very fact that God, in the sublime event of the Incarnation of his Son, entrusted himself to the ministry, the free and active ministry of a woman. It can thus be said that women, by looking to Mary, find in her the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement. In the light of Mary, the Church sees in the face of women the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-offering totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement.

John Paul II
Redemptoris Mater, par. 46

*My book also looks at these fundamentals. Find it on sale here til June 19.

My Favorite Advice from Mary #ShareJesus

Ever feel like you’re doing things half-way with the Lord? Ask Mary, our model for perfect discipleship, to help you break out of that and be quick to offer God everything without holding back. This is the life work of a Christian.

The most simple and direct advice is often the best… at the Wedding at Cana, Mary instructs the servants to listen to Jesus and to “do whatever He tells you.” In this video John Beaulieu shares that the reward for your trust and obedience in God is… Jesus himself. This is what Mary learned at the Incarnation.

This makes me think… God is way bigger than the devil…

God is infinitely more powerful than the Devil and his hosts. So why doesn’t God prevent them from their evildoing on planet earth? We could ask a similar question about why God doesn’t stop human beings from committing wicked deeds. Evil’s continuing presence among us is a mystery we can’t fully figure out in this life.

Nevertheless, we can say this much: God allows evil because He’s powerful enough to bring out of even the greatest evil a much greater good.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ provides a vivid illustration of this reality. According to the Gospel, when “Satan entered Judas,” one of the twelve Apostles, he went out to betray Jesus (see Luke 22:3-14). So the worst evil we can imagine — the torture and murder of God’s innocent Son — occurred through the Devil’s influence.

Yet the triumph of the empty tomb transformed the horror of the Cross. Satan was thwarted. When Jesus rose from the dead, He displayed God’s power to bring out of the greatest of evils an even greater good: the world’s redemption.

Meanwhile, our days in this life provide a season for God to test, purify, strengthen, and perfect us, making us fit to live with Him forever in heaven. To that end, demons serve as useful tools for Him as they constantly test us by tempting us, so that we become purer and stronger and closer to perfection every time we resist temptation.

In this sense, we might say, quoting St Augustine: “As an artist, God makes use even of the Devil.”

– Paul Thigpen-

Manual for Spiritual Warfare, TAN books, 2014.

This makes me think… Nothing makes sense unless God wants us in heaven to share his joy.

God created us only so that we could share in His joy. It is were not true God created us so that we could share eternally in His Life, existence would have absolutely no meaning; the world would be absurd. It is only in faith in the intentions of God’s love that the world finds its meaning. There world has no other justification than its having been destined in Christ for divine beatitude. This is the response to all those who would object that “a good God would not have been able to created a world so full of misery and suffering.” St Paul responds that it is through this that God seeks to build — and will irrevocably and ultimately succeed in building — the city of God in which his children will be bathed in the light of the Trinity.

–Jean Daniélou, Prayer: The Mission of the Church.

Among Women Podcast 190: Cultivate your faith in a garden – with Margaret Rose Realy

Among Women Podcast 190: Cultivate your faith in a garden – with Margaret Rose Realy

I’m pleased that my Among Women guest is Margaret Rose Realy, author of A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac and my longtime friend from the Catholic Writers Guild. We discuss the new book and the intersection of faith and the beauty of creation. Margaret is not only a blogger and author, but she’s a Master Gardener. Enjoy this conversation from the Among Women podcast!

The latest Among Women podcast also introduces four new saints canonized by Pope Francis earlier this month — four religious women. (After all, this is the Year of Consecrated Life.)

Don’t miss the newest episode of Among Women! 

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This makes me think… “Let your heart be an altar…”

Paul says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy. The prophet said the same thing: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me. Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest. Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you. Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity. Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection. Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you. Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer. Take up the sword of the Spirit. Let your heart be an altar. Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice. God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self-surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will.

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop, 5th century.


This makes me think… “I would rather die loving you, than live without you.” – St John Vianney

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:5

Prayer… draws everything into the love by which we are loved in Christ and which enables us to respond to him by loving as he has loved us. Love is the source of prayer; whoever draws from it reaches the summit of prayer. In the words of the Cure of Ars:

I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you. I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally. . . . My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath. (St Jean Vianney, Prayer)

Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2658


Want to learn more about St Jean Vianney? He is an inspiration to all priests and believers. Listen to this 10-minute homily about his life and heart. H/T to Fr Michael Duffy.

This makes me think… about Mercy as a bridge that connects us to God and others…

Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him. The Father, “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4), after having revealed his name to Moses as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6), has never ceased to show, in various ways throughout history, his divine nature. In the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), when everything had been arranged according to his plan of salvation, he sent his only Son into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, to reveal his love for us in a definitive way. Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God.

We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.

Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love. The Church “has an endless desire to show mercy.” [Evangelii Gaudium, 24.] Perhaps we have long since forgotten how to show and live the way of mercy. The temptation, on the one hand, to focus exclusively on justice made us forget that this is only the first, albeit necessary and indispensable step. But the Church needs to go beyond and strive for a higher and more important goal. On the other hand, sad to say, we must admit that the practice of mercy is waning in the wider culture. It some cases the word seems to have dropped out of use. However, without a witness to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert. The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.

Pope Francis
Misericordiae Vultus, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy