Hey – I was on “The Good Catholic Life” on WQOM — podcast version here!

Hey – I was on “The Good Catholic Life” on WQOM — podcast version here!

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 8.32.15 PMYesterday I was happy to share some studio time with two of my favorite media guys from the Archdiocese of Boston, Fr Chip Hines and Dom Bettinelli. The show opens with film critic, Fr Chip, giving some of his thoughts on the new movie “Son of God”. And then I was introduced.

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We talked about the church’s positive message for women as presented in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious on the radio show “The Good Catholic Life”, produced in the studio at the Pastoral Center in Braintree.

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It was a wide ranging discussion and I’m grateful for the questions that were asked.

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Listen or download the show here.

Photos by the talented George Martell. More photos here.  Thanks George!

Thanks to Johnette Benkovic, of Women of Grace, for the invite! Links for archived shows!

Thanks to Johnette Benkovic, of Women of Grace, for the invite! Links for archived shows!

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 3.21.00 PMThanks to the blessed, beautiful, and bodacious, Johnnette Benkovic, the host of Women of Grace on EWTN, for a great week together of shows talking about the feminine genius and all it means for us as Catholic women…. knowing our dignity, gifts, and mission! Much of the conversation over the five days covers ideas from my book, and what I’ve learned of the positive message that the Church teaches regarding women. Please share these with women you know!

Again, big time thanks to Johnnette who offered an EWTN debut to a new author, giving her a shot at reaching a new audience. I am truly grateful.

Here’s a recap of the archived shows in case you missed them. It’s a conversation that builds over the course of each day, so you may wish to view them in order.

 

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Living the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, Part 1

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Living the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, Part 2

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Living the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, Part 3

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Living the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, Part 4

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Living the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, Part 5

 

For more reviews or interviews regarding the message of my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, go to Ave Maria Press.

Purchase my book at your local Catholic bookseller, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Ave Maria Press, or get a personalized copy from me here.

For more content from Johnnette Benkovic, including book resources, radio and television, go to Women of Grace. 

Among Women 171: The Joy of the Incarnation

Among Women 171: The Joy of the Incarnation

This week on Among Women we think about the coming of Christmas through the eyes of Mary, as told by St Ephrem the Syrian, a 4th century Doctor of the Church. We examine some of his Nativity Hymns, in a departure from our usual saint segment that typically profiles women saints — after all, he is talking about Mary and he’s a Church Doctor!

Our guest today is a cloistered contemplative nun — Sr Grace Remington OCSO, a Cistercian Sister of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, Dubuque, Iowa. Together we discuss the life of a Trappist nun and Sr Grace’s portrait of Mary and Eve (below)… as well as the abbey’s candy-making endeavors!

Listen to the whole podcast here — or on iTunes, episode 171. This is the final episode until 2014!

Mary & Eve, Sr Grace Remington OCSO

Mary & Eve
Pencil and Ink
copyright 2005 Sr Grace Remington OCSO

Another feast day for Momma Mary — as Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe

Another feast day for Momma Mary — as Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe

IMG_0123Our Lady of Guadalupe is among my favorite titles for Mary. And though my circumstances prevent me from sharing very much here, I do have a few things you may like…

My favorite quote from this apparition:

“Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”
(Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego)

You can watch a short video reflection about the feast day here — look for today’s date!

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Unrelated to Guadalupe, but now my favorite new Mary-related quote from Francis’ latest apostolic exhortation:

She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. 

(See Evangelii Gaudium, par. 286 )

And in case you don’t get the joke — or more importantly the catechesis — from Francis, see John 2, or the Second Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, or let Dr Ed Sri explain it all for you.

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From my Patheos archives, a cool post by Maria Johnson.

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From the Among Women archives, going back a few years to Among Women 37: my Blessed are They segment features details about Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the “Among Women” segment features a little Christmas miracle that took place in a little boy’s life… one of my friend’s who will forever be “God’s Will” to me.

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Photos and video of the Shrine to Mary in Mexico.

Book on the subject.

Among Women 169: A Saintly Sisterhood

Among Women 169: A Saintly Sisterhood

In this week’s episode of Among Women, I discuss one of my favorite topics from the French spiritual master, St Louis de Montfort:  how Mary is the molder of saints. In addition, I share the wisdom of Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) who echoes how we ought to entrust our lives to Mary. After all, Mary desires nothing more than to make saints out of us, fashioned in the image of her son, Jesus.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 11.41.24 PMAll of this leads to a discussion of saints with author Melanie Rigney who recently penned a new volume of women saints stories, Sisterhood of the Saints.  Listen for how you can win a copy of this keepsake-style book for yourself or someone you love.

I also chronicle my recent visit to EWTN to record TV shows with Johnette Benkovic of Women of Grace. (There’s also a radio interview that you can hear.)

Plus I announce a book sale her at my website for Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious through December 15.

Listen to the Among Women podcast today!

A peek into monasticism… videos from a Cistercian monastery in Iowa

Ok, so my post yesterday had me sharing a drawing from Sr Grace Remington OCSO that I love to share when I’m giving a retreat that mentions Mary’s role in the work of redemption alongside our Lord. Since I’d like to share this drawing more in the future, I am inquiring at the monastery where Sr Grace lives as to whether or not this drawing can be made into a prayer card, or similar. I did not hear back from the monastery as yet, but in the meanwhile I enjoyed discovering their monastery in Iowa by way of their videos.  Here’s one here…

More videos here.

This makes me think… about Mary as the New Eve

This makes me think… about Mary as the New Eve

In Mary, Eve discovers the nature of the true dignity of woman, of feminine humanity. This discovery must continually reach the heart of every woman and shape her vocation and her life.

-Blessed John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, par 11.

I’ve always been moved by this illustration.

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Crayon & pencil drawing
by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO.
Copyright 2005,
Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey

 

Faith, Fiat, and Fidelity to a Catholic Way of Thinking and Living

So I’ve been reading Francis’ encyclical and writing about it over at Patheos. My latest piece on Lumen Fidei’s chapter three is up over at my column, A Word in Season.

I’d like to zero in on one section of chapter three that I write about in the longer piecethe unity of faith is the unity of the Church. The unity of our faith — that we Catholic Christians assert to believing in the deposit of faith that has been handed on since the time of Christ and the Apostles — is the source of our communion, our belonging to God and to one another. We are made for communion with one another by virtue of our human dignity, and by virtue of our baptism we are especially made for communion with God and the Church. The unity of the Church depends on its members believing in the same profession of faith, and its tenets that flow from that.

Allow me to quote a portion of it here.

True believers understand that Church presents a unity of faith and an integrity of faith. St Paul taught “There is one body, and one Spirit… one faith (Eph. 4:4-5).” This faith unites all believers to a common vision; “we receive a common gaze (LF, 47)”.

This is a further development of the idea that we do not live the faith alone, and cannot live it in a vacuum. This common faith brings us into communion — a unity of faith — with one another.

By professing the same faith, we stand firm on the same rock, we are transformed by the same Spirit of love, we radiate one light and we have a single insight into reality. (LF, 47)

This unity in faith is derived from the integrity of what we believe. This faith is consistent and does not change. It is we who are changed by it. This is one of the primary roles of the institutional Church, to be the guardian of the deposit of faith, and to be on mission to share it with the world.

The faith is based on the whole truth handed down with integrity from the Apostles, with the continuity and assurance of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus himself guaranteed.

Since faith is one, it must be professed in all it purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected to deny one of them, even those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole. Each period of history can find this or that part of faith easier or harder to accept: hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety (Cf. 1 Timothy 6:20) and that all aspects of the profession of faith are duly emphasized. (LF, 48)

When I read these lines from Lumen Fidei, I am challenged and reminded that we must not fall into a kind of “cafeteria Catholicism” that rejects the integrity of faith that the Church has maintained. Tempting as it might be, we cannot select what doctrines of Catholic belief we wish to believe and live by, as if we were selecting items from an a la carte menu.

Further, we reject the unity of faith when we choose to ignore or live without certain beliefs; we are breaking our communion with God and with each other. If we forsake the unifying and universally Catholic way in order to go our own way, we make our preferences into a god of our choosing. We oppose rather than trust the God who first chose us. We bring discord, disunion, and disintegration of the one faith and one Church.

Francis goes so far as to suggest that our unity of faith indicates our unity with the Church, and without it, we are breaking the bonds that Christ died to create.

Indeed, inasmuch as the unity of faith is the unity of the Church, to subtract something from the faith is to subtract something from the veracity of communion… harming the faith means harming communion with the Lord. (LF, 48.)

This is a stirring measure with which to examine our own hearts and minds to discover the real depth of our faith and true communion with Christ and the Church.

Read the whole thing if you have time.

This is the great invitation of our faith, and the very essence of being Catholic Christians: To belong to God and to one another — universally connected to the God who made us, and to all of creation.

Lumen Fidei affirms that there have always been periods of history where some tenets of the faith have been harder for some people to accept than others. When we think of our world today, we probably both can name certain beliefs that the Church holds that folks have trouble with today, or just clearly want to reject for any number of reasons. A wise priest once preached that the Gospel is meant to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. Us having to wrestle with certain dogmas or doctrines is not a new thing. But wrestle we must.

This communion idea — a common vision and a common life — is a countercultural message in a world that glorifies individualism to a fault.

Our society celebrates our self-made separateness, our freedom to do as we please, and to believe in whatever suits our fancy, and live according to our own rules. Many people, including many Catholics, reject the idea of our being subject to another’s authority, much less the Church’s. Yes, I know church members themselves have made a poor showing of the Gospel message. Yet even with all the times that I can acknowledge that both church leadership and church members have made grievous mistakes that must break God’s heart, we Catholics continue to assert that the Holy Spirit guides and leads and upholds the fundamental framework that is the Church, in message and in mission. That means, even though the human side of the Church can mess things up pretty badly, the divine side is worthy of all our trust and belief. We see this in the Church’s prolonged 2000 year history. Something bigger than herself keeps her afloat.

Here’s what I’m getting at: When we debunk the authority of the Church, we debunk the Holy Spirit’s hidden yet profound guidance contained therein. We need the power of God (through graces) to live out the Christian life. When we separate ourselves from the source of grace (the Church and her sacraments), God doesn’t lose, we lose. And the Holy Spirit grieves this. We need the Church and we need to be church.

I see this as one of the great needs of the new evangelization – to find ways to repair the breach between our faith and our daily lives, and between our personal faith lives and our unity with the church. There is an ache in my heart for every one who something along the lines of “I’m a Catholic but I just don’t buy it all. I love the Mass, but I don’t believe in ________.”

All of us must ask ourselves the penetrating questions: if the faith has been passed on to us, has it indeed taken hold in our own lives?

Are we changed and transformed by it in such a way as to desire to conform our minds, hearts, and wills to the Lord and his Church in gratitude for all he has done for us?

Do we hold tight to some tenets of the faith while discarding others? Are there doctrines we choose not believe, seemingly carving an idol of our opinion as superior to what is held by the universal Church? Do we profess the faith only marginally or just part of the time? As opposed to the full gospel all the time?

Do we live from that deep place of gratitude, and knowing our faith is inseparable from the faith of the Church?

The Church holds that there is an indissoluble union between Christ and his Church, if we reject something that the Church teaches, it is almost like asking which part of Christ would we prefer to live without? How could we reject any part of HIM?

We need to grow in fidelity to Christ and the Church. That means we need to find ways to mend the disunity and the disconnection we may have with the Church, to be Christians full time, even as we wrestle, and struggle, and wonder if we can really submit to all that is required? The Holy Spirit will help us. Just like the Holy Spirit flowed through Mary’s yes, her fiat, to say yes to God’s ways and not our own.

Don’t be discouraged: I’m so encouraged the Church calls us to on-going conversion… that it takes time to grow in faith and love with all God calls us to be and do.

Here’s something else that is encouraging:  Francis’ recent homily of consecrating the world to Our Lady… the woman of the radical yes to God, the fiat…. 

Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.

And I ask myself: am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.