In the latest episode of Among Women, author and Catholic.Mom found Lisa Hendey shares her amazing trip to India and her ongoing association with the mission of Unbound.org. We talk about how personal sponsorship can be a loving almsgiving plan.
Let me invite you to listen to Episode 13 of the Among Women “Espresso Shot”
– a short strong coffee break of faith sharing and teaching from Pat Gohn.
This episode’s topic: My Adoration Story
This 15-minute show is a short discussion of my Adoration roots and my developing a more intimate relationship with Jesus back in my late 20s. Get ready for Lent, and the coming of Easter by making a weekly appointment with Jesus – by praying a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. It’s another way to contemplate Christ.
Links for this episode:
An interesting additional link from my podcast archives on this same topic is AW 93. It is a longer message on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with a great panel of women. (If you just want to hear the panel discussion, skip to 26:30.)
I’ve shared about this book before its release, but now you can get it in your hands! Its a great book to share with the women you know, whether through church, or right around your kitchen table.
Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Women is a labor of love for Christ, and it was written in support of a powerful Catholic women’s ministry called WINE or Women in the New Evangelization.
Here’s the book’s summary from Amazon:
What if you could have been a witness to the events of the last days of Jesus’ life–walking with him as he entered Jerusalem, observing his crucifixion, and embracing him on Easter? What would you have thought and done? How would you have been changed?
Walk in Her Sandals, edited by popular Catholic author and speaker Kelly M. Wahlquist, takes you deeper into your relationship with Jesus by helping you relate to him in a profoundly intimate way. Looking at six universal gifts of women through the eyes of women in the gospels, the book guides you on a prayerful and creative journey through the days of Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.
As you imagine the experience of the women who met Jesus, you will discover how each of them expressed one of six, distinctive, feminine gifts identified in the writings of St. John Paul II. Through the eyes of an imagined woman who watched Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, you will understand how she conveyed the gift of receptivity. Through the hands of Veronica, who reached out to wipe the face of Jesus, you will discover how sensitivity is present and can grow in your own life. These gifts, along with generosity, prayer, maternity, and the Holy Spirit, come to life through the vivid portrayal of women who walked with Jesus. Their imagined stories are complemented by the real accounts of contemporary women who share their own stories of receiving and cultivating these gifts.
This book offers Scripture study, reflections on the feminine genius, and powerful storytelling in a kind of you-are-there way that makes the bible come alive. You’ll also find dynamic personal testimonies from women who are trying to walk with Jesus today. And naturally, there are reflection questions for you (or your group) to help foster discussion about the deeper truths of Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.
This book was a group effort with these wonderful women, and our fearless leader, Kelly Wahlquist:
You may very well enjoy reading this book for yourself, but we wrote it to be shared! The benefit of getting together with other women, will deepen your experience. So ask yourself, and ask the Lord, who might you invite to a six week experience with this book? I recommend doing this during Lent, so you can buy the book now, but plan for something in the new year. (But really, you can do this little study any time of the year! It’s up to you!) Read it now, and perhaps you’ll be inspired to plan for that group event in Lent 2017!
This just in: Ave Maria Press is now offering 20% off of the book’s cover price. Go here to order and use the promo code #walk. Now thru Oct 31.
Among Women podcast listeners may enjoy this interview with Stephanie Landsem, who wrote a large part of this book. In this interview, we talk about her love of writing historical fiction with a view toward the women in the bible. We also talk about the writing process for Walk in Her Sandals. Listen here.
See all the books to which I’ve contributed here.
Listen to Episode 7 of Among Women “Espresso Shot”– a short strong coffee break of faith sharing and teaching from Pat Gohn.
Today’s topic: The Wisdom of St Katharine Drexel
Following up on my recent post, this short podcast dives into some of the writings of St Katharine Drexel. We recently passed her feast day, March 3, and as we press on in Lent, I share some timely inspiration from this American saint.
In this program we look at the art of giving — specifically, alms-giving this Lent. Together with my guests, Sherry Brownrigg and Lisa Hendey, we talk about the work of almsgiving this Lent through the mission of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its Lenten apostolate called “Rice Bowl”. Both Brownrigg and Hendey recently toured CRS’s mission in Colombia’s coffee country and share their pilgrimage stories and their passion for Rice Bowl as a powerful means of almsgiving and personal transformation.
Been there. This is the truth.
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.
#Fast Friday from last week.
#Fast Friday from two weeks ago: midlife, mid-Lent
Matthew Kelly on Fasting
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.
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.
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.
More on I-am-faithless-but-God-is-faithful.
For Ordering a Life Wisely
O merciful God, grant that I may desire ardently, search prudently, recognize truly, and bring to perfect completion whatever is pleasing to You for the praise and glory of Your name.
Put my life in good order, O my God.
Grant that I may know what You require me to do.Bestow upon me the power to accomplish Your will, as is necessary and fitting for the salvation of my soul.
Grant to me, O Lord my God, that I may not falter in times of prosperity or adversity, so that I may not be exalted in the former, nor dejected in the latter.
May I not rejoice in anything unless it leads me to You; may I not be saddened by anything unless it turns me from You.
May I desire to please no one, nor fear to displease anyone, but You.
May all transitory things, O Lord, be worthless to me and may all things eternal be ever cherished by me.
May any joy without You be burdensome for me and may I not desire anything else besides You.
May all work, O Lord, delight me when done for Your sake and may all repose not centered in You be ever wearisome for me.
Grant unto me, my God, that I may direct my heart to You and that in my failures I may ever feel remorse for my sins and never lose the resolve to change.
O Lord my God, make me submissive without protest, poor without discouragement, chaste without regret, patient without complaint, humble without posturing, cheerful without frivolity, mature without gloom, and quick-witted without flippancy.
O Lord my God, let me fear You without losing hope, be truthful without guile, do good works without presumption, rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness, and—without hypocrisy—strengthen him by word and example.
Give to me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no capricious thought can lure away from You.
Give to me a noble heart, which no unworthy desire can debase.
Give to me a resolute heart, which no evil intention can divert.
Give to me a stalwart heart, which no tribulation can overcome.
Give to me a temperate heart, which no violent passion can enslave.
Give to me, O Lord my God, understanding of You, diligence in seeking You, wisdom in finding You, discourse ever pleasing to You, perseverance in waiting for You, and confidence in finally embracing You.
Grant that with Your hardships I may be burdened in reparation here, that Your benefits I may use in gratitude upon the way, that in Your joys I may delight by glorifying You in the Kingdom of Heaven.
You Who live and reign, God, world without end.
[These and other prayers by St Thomas Aquinas can be found in the volume entitled, The Aquinas Prayer Book: The Prayers and Hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, available from Sophia Institute Press (1-800-888-9344).]
I’ve been at home a lot. There’s some much snow up here in New England, it’s keeping me indoors. Clutter within the four walls is starting to drive me crazy and slowly.
As part of my Lenten penances, and to grow in humility and diligence, I’m cleaning a lot of grime out of the corners. You know the kind. In the kitchen it’s the grimy places along the back edge of the stove where it meets the countertop and the wall. Or, there’s that infrequently seen part of the counter under the knife block. Just a few nights ago we moved the dog’s crate out of the corner where it usually stays put and swept up the sniggling little scraps that have fallen behind it the past year.
Last weekend, I actually took our furniture polish and cleaned up some wooden furniture needing attention. After first having to organize and dust all the shelves.
This coming week I’m staring down multiple stacks of books that I simply must categorize and place in the office or give away. Oh gosh, the office, that’s another zone crying for my attention.
I simply must manage the little piles whose girth keeps spreading.
There are many days that I lament that I do not have a cleaning service because I’m so lazy with the domestic arts. But our budget cannot afford it, so it falls to me. (Bob is a help when I ask… but he doesn’t complain much and somehow he doesn’t see the grimy build-up the way I do.)
Did you catch that previous admission? I’m l.a.z.y. Doing these little chores can become penitential for someone like me. Sure I tidy up a lot during the week…. but the deep cleaning… whoa, that’s a commitment. I can only overcome laziness and procrastination by growing more diligent. (Remember, my doing these thing without complaining and without any recognition is worth more value to my soul than talking about it in a blog post. So, you can see, I’ve still got some growing to do.)
It’s not lost on me that the penitential nature of Lent requires us to go after the grime in the corners of our souls. Those little piles of sins we’re been meaning to get to… but somehow, and I’m speaking to myself here, we’re simply willing to live with or ignore. Dat grimy gunk over dere ain’t botherin’ nobody, right?
Naturally, as a practicing Catholic, I know all the rules about venial and mortal sins. I’ve been at this long enough to try to really steer clear from the mortal ones…. but O Lordy watch me still trip over those venial ones…. especially the bad language. It’s a default code my tongue finds when I’m stressed, over-tired, or frustrated. And that’s for starters, and I already mentioned the laziness about chores…. but I don’t need to confess my sins to you here. Today I had to take off to confession and Mass, and, trust me, I was grateful to go.
Any of this familiar to you? I’m not here to nag you. Just reminding you that we’re all got stuff to confess and clean up. By all means, let’s all get to confession this Lent.
Release the grime. Make the commitment.
For comic relief: Life is messy. Clean it up.
This might help: Forgiveness is Waiting for You: 8 Tips for an Awesome Confession
Why #Fast Fridays?
After I wrote this, I found this great advice from Chris Stefanick… loved that he mentions the corners…