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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.

Atop a white page in the new year… “Lord do with me what You will…”

Atop a white page in the new year… “Lord do with me what You will…”

“I think of this new year as a white page given to me by your Father, on which he will write, day by day, whatever His divine good pleasure has planned. I shall now write at the top of the page, with complete confidence: Domine, fac de me sicut vis, “Lord, do with me what You will”, and at the bottom I already write my Amen to all the proposals of Your divine will. Yes Lord, yes to all the joys, the sorrows, the graces, the hardships prepared for me, which You will reveal to me day by day. Grant that my Amen may be the Pascal Amen, always followed by the Alleluia, uttered wholeheartedly in the joy of a complete gift. Give me Your love and Your grace and I shall be rich enough.”

-Sr Carmela of the Holy Spirit, OCD*

IMG_1087This seems a perfect quote on this Solemnity that honors the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. Here in the heart of the Christmas season we venerate Jesus’ first disciple, the one who modeled for us what it means to give one’s full “yes” to our Father God, one who lived wholehearted within His Will.

*as found in Divine Intimacy

It’s a new year — a Year of Mercy! Time for #5FirstSat4Mary! Try the First Saturdays devotion!

It’s a new year — a Year of Mercy! Time for #5FirstSat4Mary! Try the First Saturdays devotion!

This Saturday I’m planning to complete my five month-long devotion to Mary by making the First Saturdays.  Honestly, the biggest problem for me was clearing my calendar to do this faithfully. I had made the 5 First Saturdays many years ago, and was invited to do it again by Fr Andrew Apostoli, after he heard my confession at a conference I attended. I want to thank him for his encouragement to do it, even though it took me a while to follow through. But taming my calendar for the Lord’s business, not my own agenda, has deep benefits.

It’s a great way to start the new year — a way to enter more deeply into the Year of Mercy that began recently on December 8th and will continue through November 2016. If you’ve never made the five first Saturdays, you can begin this week! Here’s a previous post from me that offers the background on the devotion, given to us from Our Lady of Fatima. I write about my previous months here: first, second, third, and fourth.

The benefits are spiritual in nature. This devotion is a call to prayer (via Mass and the Rosary), and a call to conversion and a deeper turning away from sin (via monthly confessions), and a chance to offer reparation for the sins committed against Our Lady’s honor and goodness. The benefits of this devotion is that it calls many Catholics to develop the habit of monthly confession — an important emphasis of Pope Francis in the Year of Mercy —  and adds more Masses and Rosaries to their year. That means more graces to live by!

#5FirstSat4Mary

I’ve been garnering support on Facebook and Twitter from friends and peeps who are joining in this devotion with me. You can use the hashtag #5FirstSat4Mary to share the love. Feel free to use my banner photo or the one in this post as well. I created them for this effort. Remember, you can start on any first Saturday. Why not this Saturday, January 2?

Do it for Mary.

Knots in Your Life? Mary Can’t Wait to Tackle Them! – guest post by Marge Fenelon

Knots in Your Life? Mary Can’t Wait to Tackle Them! – guest post by Marge Fenelon

I almost didn’t answer when the phone rang. I was slammed with work and deadlines looming. But, something nudged me to catch this call regardless.

I’m so glad I did.

On the other end of the line was an old friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. She’d called to thank me for my book, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena. She’d found it unexpectedly at her parish’s gift shop and snatched up a copy right away. She was really excited.

What she really called about what Day 4 of the Novena – Mount of Olives: The Knot of Hopelessness.9781594716300.jpg.232x

Slipping into tears, she told me that she’d called because she had to let me know how much that chapter meant to her. Unfortunately, she’s facing a heartbreaking, life-threatening, and seemingly hopeless situation with one of her grown children.

He’s lost in all senses of the word.

But, that’s why I describe my friend’s situation as seemingly hopeless rather than truly hopeless. Nothing is ever truly hopeless when we turn to our Blessed Mother under the title, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.

This devotion, dating back to the seventeenth century, has proven time and again to be exceptionally powerful. For centuries, people have taken the knots in their lives – injustice, separation, confusion, hopelessness, grief and loss, discord, betrayal, envy and pride, or affliction – to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. Once surrendered into her capable hands, the knots become undone and we are released from their snare.

Only, that is, if we’re willing to release those knots to her.

My friend had called to tell me that, by reading my book, she was given renewed courage and was able to release her knot of hopelessness into Our Lady’s hands. She immediately felt a sense of peace and needed to call to tell me so.

That’s exactly how it works. Mary is waiting to take up the knots in our lives the second we hand them over to her. Once in her possession, she works diligently, tirelessly, to undo them, one by tedious one. The knots most likely won’t be done instantaneously and probably not overnight, either. It may take a while, but they will become undone. Mary has that “power” given to her by the heavenly Father.

The difficulty is that we’re often reticent to turn our knots over to Mary because we either stubbornly want to untie them ourselves (we can’t) or because we’ve given up on them.

This is what my friend experienced. The simple act of turning her knot of hopelessness over to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots gave her immediate consolation and assurance that now far more adept hands were working on it.

Do you have knots in our life? Turn them over to Mary. She can’t wait to tackle them!

 

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This post was written by Marge Fenelon. My thanks to Marge for sharing her love and trust in Mary, especially on this feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Marge Fenelon’s newest book, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena, is part of the celebration anticipating Among Women’s 200th episode. Enter a comment over at AmongWomenPodcast.com to enter the drawing. The deadline to enter is Dec. 9, 11:59pm. You can also purchase the book here.

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Find the latest episode of Among Women here. Look for the 200th episode to be uploaded later this week on Dec. 10.

 

 

It’s First Saturday tomorrow — Make it a Morning with Mom! #5FirstSat4Mary

It’s First Saturday tomorrow — Make it a Morning with Mom! #5FirstSat4Mary

Tomorrow is a First Saturday. I hope you’ll join in beginning this 5-month devotion or continue along with me. This is my #5FirstSat4Mary4th of 5 first Saturdays. Earlier posts are here: the beginning, the second, and third. The first post outlines the “how-to’s” for the First Saturday devotion.

I’ve learned a few things as I’ve invited people to join me in this devotion.

Not all parishes have a Saturday morning or midday Mass. Of course, there’s a showstopper right there. However, if you can, check out surrounding parishes or shrines. I often go to a shrine church, several towns away, that is affiliated with a religious order. Their Mass schedule and confession schedule is different from my local parish, and often more in line with my work schedule. All I’m saying is that if you have the desire, ask Mary to give you a way to complete this devotion. I also know good friends and family who live in rural areas and this is simply not a viable option — having a Mass within an hour’s drive on Saturday. Might I suggest, then, the First Friday devotion?

Mentioning your desire to complete this devotion to a friend or two helps keep you accountable. It’s been years since I’ve made the First Saturdays when I was encouraged to make them again, (from a priest in confession, and no, it was not my penance, just a pious suggestion). I admit, it took me a while to actually commit based on my calendar, but once I did, the days opened up. Funny, right? It helps to join with a friend to do this together. But if you can’t you can always share it in person, try sharing it “long distance” like I did — with my Facebook and Twitter friends.

Monthly confession is truly a holy goal. The 5 First Saturdays require going to confession. It’s a good thing in terms of the practice and, of course, the graces. But what I’ve noticed is that when I’m committed to monthly confession (even if I’m not participating in the First Saturdays), I have a tendency to do an examen all month long. That is, I begin to make notes of what I want to bring to my next confession. And I do it in a relaxed way, as the Lord brings things to mind in the course of the month. It’s really made confession less stressful, or rather, the process of examining my conscience. I’m a journaling person, so I just keep notes there. And then when I get to go to confession, I’m able to summarize my sins and my needs. This is very helpful for the priest who hears my confession, too. I can be direct and succinct and really own up to sins without a lot of meandering or hemming and hawing. He can zone in on giving me good direction and a penance. Plus this is useful if there is a long line for confession before Mass and you want to be courteous to your neighbors waiting in line behind you.

So, join me, won’t you? Give yourself the gift of a morning with Mom. (Mary is your spiritual mother!)

Do it for Mary. Do it for Jesus who loves when we honor his Mother. Do it for Advent.

Maybe ask a friend?

Share #5First Sat4Mary.

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I’m a guest at the WINE blog today… talking about wine and music and wisdom

I’m a guest at the WINE blog today… talking about wine and music and wisdom

A little proverb in the book of Sirach gets me started…

“Wine and music gladden the heart, but the love of wisdom is better than both.”
—Sirach 40:20

Ah, wine and music! Two of my favorite things! Yet the proverb from Sirach offers much to consider as we examine the love of wisdom.

The sound of a cork pop remains a signal to my heart that life is good. The influence from the French side of my family taught me the beauty of wine on the table. I grew up a wine drinker and to this day, it is a joy to shop for wine, to taste new labels, to pair a special vintage with a good meal. Even the delicate nature of wine glasses signals to us that we must handle wine with care, savor its bouquet, and drink temperately. Every glass of wine was years in the making. It ought be respected and consumed with gratitude.

Wine is an occasion waiting to happen; through it we toast the gift of family, we honor friends, and celebrate milestones. For Catholics, we intuit the wisdom of Jesus in bringing us together for the Eucharistic meal whereby he shares his very self under the guise of bread and wine. That knowledge alone elevates our notion of wine as a gift that must be shared with love.

I also grew up a music lover and a musician. For me, music is a way to sing, to dance, and to pray. Music moves us, not only to sing and dance, but it moves the heart.

I’ve seen the right choice of music change someone’s day. I’ve been privileged to choose and sing music at weddings where the memories of those songs will last a lifetime. Music offers a soundtrack to some of the most important moments of our lives. Music is the language of the heart.

Wine plus music equals a celebration! From simplest gathering to the more elaborate events—whether an intimate gathering for two, a party with friends, or a wedding reception—wine and music are complementary sensory gifts that make life better, joyous even!

Yet, Sirach reminds us, even as we find the gifts of wine and music enjoyable and inspiring … “the love of wisdom is better than both.” Why might this be?

Read the rest at the WINE blog.

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(WINE = Women In the New Evangelization)

WINE has many events throughout the year, mostly in Minnesota, although its mission is growing.

The 2016 Women’s Conference Feb 6th

The Italy tour – June 2016

Tomorrow is First Saturday! Who’s with me for Saturday #3?  #5FirstSat4Mary

Tomorrow is First Saturday! Who’s with me for Saturday #3? #5FirstSat4Mary

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Our backyard shrine, Our Lady of Grace. (Photo by Pat Gohn, 2015, all rights reserved.)

Since September I’ve been on a quest to make the Five First Saturdays devotion. So tomorrow is my third of, Lord-willing, five Saturdays. Today I’m going to confession in advance of the first Saturday because where I’ll be attending the First Saturday Mass in the morning, there will not be confessions available. So my First Saturdays have been a kind of two-step two-day thing. But going to confession is part of the devotion. So I’m off today to do that.

If you don’t know what First Saturday devotion is, read this post from September. It’s part of the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. 

And here’s another post in-between about Saturday #2.

I’ve been garnering some support on Facebook and Twitter from friends and peeps who are joining in this devotion with me. You can use the hashtag #5FirstSat4Mary to share the love. However, you can start any first Saturday. Why not tomorrow? Do it for Mary.

My contribution to Word by Word – Slowing down with the Hail Mary

My contribution to Word by Word – Slowing down with the Hail Mary

9781594716409.jpg.232xI’m a contributor to the new book, Word by Word: Slowing down with the Hail Mary, edited by Sarah Reinhard. 

Today, I’m over at CatholicMom.com talking with Sarah about my contribution to the book.

I loved what author Amy Welborn had to said about this book: “Reading Word by Word is like participating in a warm, honest, faith-sharing session among good friends. A marvelous way to enter into more intimate communion with the Blessed Mother, which means, ultimately, gazing more deeply into the face of her Son.” Yes, it is! I recall when Sarah first approached me with this idea — I knew it would be a book someday and I’m glad to see it come to fruition — anything for the Blessed Mother!

Read my thoughts over at Catholic Mom.

You can browse or buy the book here.

Dear St John Paul II… a thanksgiving for your holy influence in my life

Dear St John Paul II… a thanksgiving for your holy influence in my life

Dear St John Paul II,

What a blessing to go to Mass this morning on your feast day! Your life had such a big impact on mine; your holy influence has fueled some of my best prayer practices and my most earnest studies.

Long before you instituted World Youth Days, you struck a chord with me as a youngish youth minister when I accompanied my youth group to Madison Square Garden. You told us: “Look to Christ!” So simple, yet so life-changing. We have so much that distracts us in this age. Only one thing is needed: keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 4.23.47 PMYour love for the Blessed Mother caught my attention. I had mixed emotions about Mary until I read your advice in Redemptoris Mater about Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. You said it was a way to better live my baptismal promises. That inspired me to say yes to Marian Consecration when I was invited by some local friends to do so. Who knew the timing would be just months before my breast cancer diagnosis? I would need Momma Mary all the more during that time. But you know that ANY TIME is a good time to get closer to Mary.

To this day, I remember my profound shock and joy when the The Catechism of the Catholic Church came out in English in 1994. I have a first edition. Some people laughed that I cared to read it. Yet its teaching grounded my love for Christ and the wisdom of the Church. It’s amazing footnotes and multiple indices sent me back to grad school for my Masters to learn what all that “alphabet soup” meant — all those abbreviations! — all the magisterial teaching and the wisdom of the church doctors and saints continues to thrill and inspire my life and my work. I’m still learning from it, by the way. I’m grateful that I’ve been blessed to write a monthly column in Catholic Digest about it for the last few years.

A happy fallout of learning the Catechism in the 90s is that it put me in touch with the profound theological master, our dear Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Reading you and reading him made me grow to love Christ and the Church all the more.  What a legacy your remarkable friendship has given the world!

Your Theology of the Body renewed my marriage and gave me a path for raising my teens — sharing with them God’s plan for marital love and fidelity to whatever vocation that God gives them.

I remember standing with my Bob and my daughter Katie in St Peter’s Square with you, toward the end of your earthly life. It was our first general audience in 2004. That was a long time since our youthful selves were at the Garden in ’79. But your age and infirmity did not matter, you were still happy to be with us. By then I knew you were a living saint. I yelled out my love and prayers with that crazy throng as you passed by in your Popemobile.

Let me tell you one last thing. When I was a young mom, I stumbled upon your musings about “the feminine genius”, in Mulieris Dignitatem and Letter to Women… Little did I know the impact they would have. Later, those writings, and related homilies, and your encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), would eventually become the basis of my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood.  How can I ever thank you for that? Maybe someday in heaven, right? I’m hoping my work is part of that great thank you. Did you have a hand in my book being recently translated into Polish is advance of the next World Youth Day in Krakow? Either way, I’m crediting your influence.

Speaking of all good things Polish! I have loved the Divine Mercy devotion and St Faustina for years, thanks to you! It has changed my 3 o’clock hour. Not to mention your addition of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. That was brilliant.

Okay I’m rambling here, but you get the point. Thank you, thank you, dear Papa! There’s so much more I could write and gush about. I know you are praying for the universal church, and for your little friend here, who is writing a new manuscript with fear and trembling, and looking to you again for your holy tutelage. What a gift to ask for your intercession!

St John Paul II, pray for us!