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Mama, This One’s For You – Beth Hart

I just came off another Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious retreat last week… the subject of motherhood is always a bittersweet one for many women. I love to speak about the joys and the trials of spiritual motherhood (what all women are called to) and of physical motherhood (what many of us are called to in the vocation of marriage). Then, there’s Mother Mary — who always loves us. In the order of grace, she is our true Momma, too.

It’s still May – the month of mothers and Mary… so here you go. Listen to this one and if you are able, go call your mother.

All that said, I get teared up when I see a video like this. I may have to add it to the retreat line-up.

A little hat tip to my pal, Heather Rice Fahey  (Go listen to her sing “Amazing Grace”!) for sharing it with her Facebook friends.

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.

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!


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!



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.


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.


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.


(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


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.