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Among Women 232: On the Cusp of Advent

Among Women 232: On the Cusp of Advent

Connie Clark, author

This episode of Among Women begins with a few Advent tips. Then, it shines a spotlight on the life of two women who, as writers, offer their gifts for the sake of the Church, and advancing its mission. Blessed Mary Theresa Ledóchowska is a Polish saint whose writing for the missions eventually blossomed into a religious order. And Connie Clark is a prolific Catholic author with numerous Catholic titles including the one that recently prompted my contacting her, Pep Talks for Catholic Parents. She’s also the editor of Living Faith Kids(Find more of her books linked at the podcast page.)

Listen to this episode of Among Women here, or find it on iTunes, episode 232.

I’m at Catholic Mom today with another installment from “Tales from the Empty Nest”

I’m at Catholic Mom today with another installment from “Tales from the Empty Nest”

Over the years, it has been a gift to write for Catholic Mom. Though my frequency there is not what it used to be, I love to add a piece over there a few times a year. Having just launched my youngest into the real world of work and rent-paying, I’m sharing these thoughts from “The Last Serenade” about my son, Peter. You can read the whole piece here.

Maybe your mind pictures a dashing minstrel serenading his beloved beneath her window to win her heart… this wasn’t that. Actually, the last serenade was live classical music floating in from my living room accompanying my morning breakfast prep. I scrambled eggs and fried bacon. Later that same day I would pack the car with my Hubby to move our youngest out of state, the last child to leave home.

This boy-turned-man had won my heart years ago, and his twilight serenades were a staple in my midlife musical diet. Often a private concert just for me, these sessions were much more than recompense for 12+ years of shuffling to piano lessons and recitals.

This breakfast was the last one I would prepare for my son for a long time…

Read the rest over at Catholic Mom.

Saint-Making Starter Kit: Parents Who Love God and Live It In The Home

Saint-Making Starter Kit: Parents Who Love God and Live It In The Home

Happy All Saints Day!

One of the key teachings of Vatican II — is the universal call to holiness — or more simply, everyone is called to be a saint. As I read and share many saint bios and hagiographies  in my writing and on Among Women, I often discover that would-be saints often start out in devoted Catholic families. Not all mind you, but I’d say most.

Vatican II called married couples to live the graces of Matrimony in a daily way… walking the talk — to make of their homes, a domestic church… specifically that parents are to be the first preachers of the faith.

Today in the Huffington Post, there’s a quote that echoes what Vatican II taught us, from University of Notre Dame Sociologist Christian Smith, lead researcher for the National Studies on Youth and Religion. 

“Parents, for better or worse, are actually the most influential pastors … of their children,” Smith said.

Just for history’s sake, let’s dial back 50 years to Lumen Gentium – the key document from the Second Vatican Council.

From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state. [LG, par. 10][Emphasis mine].

We’re a society that loves research and its findings. Today we have more data on faith and the family from the National Studies on Youth and Religion.

The HuffPo piece “No. 1 Reason Teens Keep The Faith as Young Adults” reiterates what the Church’s wisdom has been all along…

The holy grail for helping youth remain religiously active as young adults has been at home all along: parents.

Mothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are far and away the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to new findings from a landmark study of youth and religion.

Just 1 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid-to-late 20s.

In contrast, 82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to data from the latest wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion.

The connection is “nearly deterministic,” said University of Notre Dame Sociologist Christian Smith, lead researcher for the study.

Other factors such as youth ministry or clergy or service projects or religious schools pale in comparison.

“No other conceivable causal influence … comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth,” Smith said in a recent talk sharing the findings at Yale Divinity School. “Parents just dominate.

Parents, if you need a place to start, to recapture this calling to praying and living the faith in your home, here is an easy way to start: In the last 48 hours I posted the latest Among Women interview with Leila Marie Lawler, co-author with David Clayton of The Little Oratory: A Beginners Guide to Praying in the Home. Listen and start with what works for you. I highly recommend this book!

Here’s a few more resources:

Written by me:

Raising Them for Jesus, at CatholicMom.com

Raising Saints for Heaven (from my book Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious)

The Powerful Light of the Family Table, at CatholicMom.com

Among Women Podcasts:

Raising Saints

The Mom Podcasts

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H/T to Deacon Greg Kandra for sharing the HuffPo story that got me to the keyboard.

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The MOM podcasts: 12 “Best of” Among Women episodes on Motherhood – Bookmark these!

The MOM podcasts: 12 “Best of” Among Women episodes on Motherhood – Bookmark these!

Mother is another word for LOVE! Motherhood is call to raise saints for heaven. (<–this link has an except from my book.)

I’m pleased to look back to the Among Women archives to bring you some of the most memorable conversations I’ve had the joy of hosting. I hope you’ll be blessed.

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AW 179 Momnipotent with Danielle Bean – Don’t miss this most recent podcast dedicated to the feminine virtues that make Moms great! With author and editor Danielle Bean. Plus I discuss Mary’s spiritual motherhood in our lives. Listen!

AW 119 The Interior Life of Mothers – Make no mistake motherhood matters! Join me for a lively conversation with author Dorothy Pilarski about her book that explores that vital truth. Listen!

AW 71 Small Steps for Catholic Moms – They are the dynamite duo behind the book of the same name: Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss. These married women and longtime writers have eight and nine children respectively and give us a glimpse into the meaning of it all. Listen! 

AW 178 New Life in Christ – My guest describes how an unplanned pregnancy in her successful single professional life brought her to her knees and back to the faith. This is a joyous testimony. Listen! 

AW 56: CatholicMOM.com Founder Dishes – Catholic Mom.com founder, author, and social media maven Lisa Hendey takes us through the pages of her first book, The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Listen! 

AW 163 A Name for Eternity – A perfect podcast for mothers and mothers-to-be! Learn all about naming your baby from author Patrice Fagnant MacArthur. Listen!

AW 15o The Rosary and Pregnancy – perfect together! – Hear author Sarah Reinhard’s loving advice from her book, A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy. Listen!

AW 104: Little Ones in the Domestic Church, Part One, and Part Two – A rare gem for mothers getting their bearings in building up a Catholic home. Blogger Melanie Bettinelli  offers sage advice for starting to share the faith with the very youngest members of the family by creating an environment that naturally communicates the faith over time.  Listen to part one! Then: Listen to part two! 

AW 90 The Icing on the Cake – Got little ones? Need some cool — and simple!– ideas for growing your domestic church at home? Meet blogger Lacy Rabideau whose blog Catholic Icing is a favorite! This podcast offers great Lenten ideas, but make sure you check out her blog year round! Listen! 

AW 160 Mary’s Astonishing Motherhood – I teach a bit on Mary’s life with Joseph and her miraculous pregnancy, then I’m joined by Katherine Coleman who talks about her life’s joys and sorrows as she looks back on raising her autistic son, Matthew, to adulthood. Listen!

AW 121 Each Life is a Masterpiece – Moms of special needs children will be encouraged by the life and writing of Leticia Velasquez as she unpacks the wisdom from her collection of stories found between the pages of A Special Mother is Born. Listen!

AW 5 How to Form a Mothers Prayer Group – I am joined by Colette Crowley and together we both share our experiences in founding mothers prayer groups in our locales. My experience with my Mothers Morning of Prayer was a powerful aid to my spiritual life and my mothering. Don’t miss this very early archive from the early days of Among Women! Listen! 

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Priests grow up in families — like yours!

Every priest was once a mother and father’s little boy. Every priest is born into a family. The family, most often, has great impact on the life of a priest and his receptivity to God’s call in his life.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has a wonderful new video that shares this idea very well.

There you go — we who raise families are the incubators of future vocations to the priesthood. We must be afraid of this — after all, God wants us to live generously as parents — and ultimately raise saints!  

Finally, I’d like to spend a few words on that subject as it relates to mothers of families, and all women, no matter what their state in life.

The Congregation for the Clergy (at the Vatican) has a wonderful document that asks a woman’s spiritual maternity to be directed to priests. It is a call for all women, in imitation of the Blessed Mother, to spiritually “mother” priests and future priests through the gift of our prayers for them – most especially when we are before the Eucharist in Adoration. This is a particular call for consecrated religious women, but it is also a call for the rest of us to consider this hidden ministry of spiritually adopting a priest by name as we pray before Jesus in Blessed Sacrament.

Independent of age or social status, any woman can become a mother for priests. This type of motherhood is not only for mothers of families, but is just as possible for an unmarried girl, a widow, or for someone who is ill. It is especially pertinent for missionaries and religious sisters who have given their lives entirely to God for the sanctification of others.

Every priest has a birth mother, and often she is a spiritual mother for her children as well. For example, Giuseppe Sarto, the future Pope Pius X, visited his 70-year-old mother after being ordained a bishop. She kissed her son’s ring and, suddenly pensive, pointed out her own simple silver wedding band saying, “Yes, Giuseppe, you would not be wearing that ring if I had not first worn mine.” Pope St. Pius X rightfully confirms his experience that, “Every vocation to the priest- hood comes from the heart of God, but it goes through the heart of a mother!”

One sees this particulary well in the life of St. Monica. Augustine, who lost his faith at the age of 19 while studying in Carthage, later wrote in his famous “Confessions” regarding his mother:“For love of me, she cried more tears than a mother would over the bodily death of her son. Nine years passed in which I wallowed in the slime of that deep pit and the darkness of falsehood. Yet that pious widow desisted not all the hours of her supplications, to bewail my case unto Thee where her prayers entered into Thy presence.”

After his conversion, Augustine said thankfully, “My holy mother never abandoned me. She brought me forth in her flesh, that I might be born to this temporal light, and in her heart, that I might be born to life eternal.”  [From Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Motherhood]

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Related: How to Grow a Priest, by yours truly.

Among Women 179: Momnipotent! With Danielle Bean

Among Women 179: Momnipotent! With Danielle Bean

danielle_bean

This episode is dedicated to mothers — the physical and spiritual mothers in all of us. We celebrate the coming of Mother’s Day by first exploring the idea of Mary as a mother to us all. Then, in our conversation segment, I welcome author and editor of Catholic Digest, Danielle Bean — one of my favorite people — who discusses her new book and study: Momnipotent! The not-so perfect guide to Catholic Motherhood.  This great new book is for Moms who are busy raising families.

 

Raising Them for Jesus – 3 influences your kids need today to have faith tomorrow

I’m over at CatholicMom.com this week, sharing a post on parenting…

The young bride-to-be, a good friend’s daughter, sent me a thank you note for my gift and my attendance at her bridal shower. She wrote: “Thank you for being a ‘second mother’ in my life. I am blessed to have grown up with role models of faithful, holy women.” That’s the second time I’ve heard her call me that. The first time was at the shower as she opened the gift. Her mother smiled at the compliment, recognizing how she, too, has been a kind of spiritual mother to some of my children.

Every young Catholic, especially teens, needs to find credible witnesses for the faith. I’m so grateful to the family members and the friends who have helped to spiritually mentor my children – especially in their teenage years on the way to adulthood. Those Catholic friends made the faith real to my children. I’m seeing its effects now as my grown children age into their mid-twenties.

Spiritual mentoring, or other faithful adults whose witness bears an impact, is just one of three important factors that raises the odds for our children having an adult faith.

Three powerful influences help shape the spiritual life in children in a lasting way – the faith practice of their parents, a spiritual mentor or two outside of the family, and a personal encounter with God.

The first is the practice of faith in the daily life of the family. There is no replacement for the genuine faith and devotional practices of a child’s parents in leading the family. The eyes and ears of children are the most sensitive spiritual surveillance systems ever designed. They pick up on authenticity, honesty, and integrity of their parents’ relationship to God and to the teachings of the Church better than we imagine.

Read the rest at Catholic Mom.

I’m off my rocker… over at CatholicMom.com today

I have a now-and-again series at Catholic Mom I affectionately call “Tales from the Empty Nest”.  This latest installment talks about the bittersweet heartache of losing my rocking chair…

Here’s an excerpt:

A long time back, almost 27 years ago, my husband bought me a rocking chair. We were expecting our first baby. I was looking forward to refinishing the rocker. It would be one of my household “nesting” projects as we prepared for the new baby. I used a maple stain and a satin finish on the rocker’s wood. The chair was a fixture in our home all through our childrearing years. Over time it rocked a lot of babies and a lot of guests who visited our home. Until recently.

The rocker developed a small split in one of the natural curved seams of its wood. Eventually one of the braces split and the back support broke. Sadly, it rendered the chair unstable and beyond repair.

A little part of my heart broke along with the rocker, as it seemed to signal the end of an era. With our children grown now, and our youngest son is in college, I’m already pretty far from the days of little ones wanting hear a story or waiting to be rocked and held before naptime.

I could not help but notice that the rocker’s demise coincided very closely with my entering menopause… another end of an era where motherhood is concerned.

Both of these changes, the rocker’s demise, and the menopause, have rocked me a bit, if you’ll forgive the obvious pun.

Somehow I thought the rocker would be with me as I aged. I’m going to miss the therapeutic soothing of my rock-a-bye chair, but I miss a more youthful and vigorous body even more. Yet I’m learning to be more comfortable with the woman I am now, and not worry so much about losses or gains. Midlife has its unique challenges, but it also has new blessings to offer me.

Learning to let go is one of the primary tasks of motherhood, and it comes to us in many different ways, even if we do get sentimental about a chair or certain phases of life now and then…

Read the rest at Catholic Mom.

The F.U.N. Quotient… the parenthood edition

 

Update: Ha! Two F.U.N. posts today cuz I forgot I had this one scheduled! Hope you like it, and hope I can get a handle on this post-vacation re-entry! Have a great day!

Among Women 163: A Name for Eternity, with saint name researcher extraordinaire Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Among Women 163: A Name for Eternity, with saint name researcher extraordinaire Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

This time on Among Women we look at the beauty of being both Martha and Mary with an excerpt from author Lisa Hendey’s A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, just one of the book in the Catholic Mom imprint series from Ave Maria Press.

This episode also introduces another new book in the line, The Catholic Baby Name Book compiled by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur. Join me for this conversation with Patrice about the long standing traditions around naming children with saints names, and finding the right Confirmation name. Also find out where else you can find Patrice’s writing online.

You’ll also hear about details about the upcoming Special Edition I’d like to create for Among Women, using the voices of women who have read the book. You can help!

Listen to this Among Women podcast here. 

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