A Catholic Writer’s Prayer

A Catholic Writer’s Prayer

This has been my prayer for many years. 

I reread it often. Rather, I pray it often. 

I’m happy to share it with you, and if you do pray it, kindly send one up for me too. Thank you.

 

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Heavenly Father,
there have been fits and starts to my creative life.
Help me to live more deliberately
in the creative flow of your Holy Spirit.
Let Jesus, the Word made flesh,
show me, by true incarnation,
how to use my words
for good and not for evil —
to bring comfort, hope, and healing…
to evangelize and catechize…
but always, always, with love and in love.

Lord, give me the ability
to trust you as the Creator of my life,
and the Giver of my gifts.
Help me to trust the gifts you have given me
and to use them for your glory.
Help me not to worry who gets the credit
and to be generous in what I give>
Let me provide the quantity and
leave the quality to you.

Let me start and let me finish with You, Lord,
and in You — let me be assisted
through the gentle mediation of Mary, my Mother.

Lead me not into doctrinal error
and do not let me lead anyone astray…
only close to You, Lord —
for me and for whatever audience you give me–
whomever they may be, wherever they may be.

Use me, Lord.
I’m ready to do your Will.
Thank you for the gifts and
thank you for the years of my life that remain.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Hail Mary…  

St Francis de Sales, pray for us.

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Top Post for 2014: Saint-Making Starter Kit: Parents Who Love God and Live It In The Home

Why is this no surprise? It is a topic that also coincided with the most downloaded podcast at Among Women.

The Family. It’s all about the family. For lay Catholics, this is Job One. We must support marriage and the family. (I’ll be going to the World Meeting of Families in Philly come June. Maybe I’ll see you there?)

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My family, Christmas 2014. L to R, Back row: Son-in-love Benjy, daughter & middle child Katie, eldest son Bobby, youngest son Peter. Bottom row, Bob, Brady, and me.

So here’s the top post on The Back Porch from the last year: Saint-Making Starter Kit: Parents Who Love God and Live It In The Home. It’s got links to a study on faith in family life and links by me and others on the subject.

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In other statistical date: The most popular place on this website was not the blog at all. The page that out-distanced any of my blog posts was the book page. I guess I ought to be grateful that folks are still looking for it, so humble thanks to you, dear readers. Let me also again thank the Catholic Press Association for the award given to Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, too. I’m sure that did not hurt my stats much either.

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Then again…

Stats are a funny thing. You learn things like what search engine traffic brings you…. for example, these two posts from 2013 still send this little blog crazy traffic:

4 Magazines for Catholic Women – which really is a bit dated now as only ONE — Catholic Digest is still in PRINT. Verily and Regina are only online. (Verily had a great print product but it was too costly for them to maintain.) And Radiant’s team is on hiatus… (a problem for a small press.) So, today I say: go subscribe to Catholic Digest! Yes, yours truly writes for them.  FWIW, if my blog stats are any indication, editors, many Catholic women are still looking for magazines…

You are the apple of God’s eye — I guess that’s what happens when one of your posts stays in Google’s top 10 for the search of that bible verse. It was a little bitty sharing from my morning prayer and, well, there you are.

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Thank you for reading in 2014. And if you also listen to Among Women, thank you for that too. We’ll talk again soon.

The Top 5 Among Women Podcasts from 2014

The Top 5 Among Women Podcasts from 2014

Here’s a list of the most popular episodes of Among Women from 2014.

1. AW 186 with Leila Marie Lawler: “On Faith, Grace, and Prayer in Marriage and Family Life”

This episode of Among Women looks at keeping good company with Jesus in marriage and family life. After passing my 32nd wedding anniversary, I opined on some of the wisdom I’ve gained from the graces found in the Sacrament of UnknownMatrimony. In keeping with the gift of the home and family life, I’m thrilled to share an extended conversation with author and blogger Leila Marie Lawler about the book she co-wrote with David Clayton, The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the HomeWe discuss making prayer the center of your family life by establishing a home altar, or little oratory, as a place to daily celebrate the liturgical year in our families.

This episode also introduces the inspirations from the little known mystic-saint, St Umilta (or St Humility). Listen. 

 2. AW 185 with Mary Ellen Barrett: “The Life of Ryan”

Maybe one of the most poignant Among Women episodes… where we look at the difficult subject of losing a child to death. My guest, blogger and Long Island Catholic columnist Mary Ellen Barrett, reflects on the fifth anniversary since the30440_409147118913_1842833_n-540x285 death of Ryan, her 14 year old son who died during a camping trip. The search for Ryan, who at first was thought to be lost, went on for many hours. Many, including myself, were glued to the internet for news of him during that time. Listeners familiar with this event will be encouraged by the musings and memories of Mary Ellen, his mother. Those uninitiated will be blessed by the faith of this Long Island family.

Mary Ellen and I celebrate the life of Ryan — his Christian devotion even as a young boy with special needs — as well as the ups and downs that he faced. We discuss the support from near and far for this grieving family, plus offer tips for helping others facing grief. In our saint segment, I look at the life of St Anna Schaffer, whose life offers a witness for how to make our heartaches and pains a path of redemptive suffering. Listen here. 

3. AW 179 with Danielle Bean: “Momnipotent”

This episode is dedicated to mothers — the physical and spiritual mothers in all of us. I start by exploring danielle_beanthe idea of Mary as a mother to us all. Then in our Among Women conversation, I welcome author and editor of Catholic Digest, Danielle Bean, who discusses her new book and study: Momnipotent! The not-so perfect guide to Catholic Motherhood.  This great book is for Moms who are busy raising families. It’s perfect for personal reading or group study!

Listen to this episode of Among Women.

4. AW 181 with Jennifer Fitz:”Spiritual Muscle for Life’s Curves”

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This Among Women podcast finds me conversing with author-blogger Jennifer Fitz. Jennifer shares her life as a blogger-catechist-author and discusses the good work of the Catholic Writers Guild. She also opens her heart describing how her past experience as a competitive cyclist enlightens her faith today as she powers through suffering when it comes.

Also: I unpack seven spiritual weapons found in the writings of St Catherine of Bologna — especially dealing with the spiritual warfare that increased as her faith and love for Christ increased.

Listen.

5. AW 177 with Mary Wallace: “Working Women, Leadership, and the Devotional Life”

She’s back… Mary Wallace, PhD, from Louisiana State University — Mary, for the second year, makes Among Women’s end of year list of “most downloaded” shows. Together we discuss the feminine genius, and the particular leadership mary-300x205strengths of women in the world, and list suggestions for strengthening the devotional life in working women. In this episode, rather than focus on one particular saint, I offer commentary on adoration of the Blessed Sacrament drawn from the writings of several women saints. We’ll explore the thoughts of St Jeanne Jugan, St Therese of Lisieux, St Elizabeth Seton, St Bernadette Soubirous, St Catherine Labore, and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Listen now.

Honorable mentions:

AW 177 with Kitty Cleveland: “Winter Chill Gives Way to Blue Skies”

1688392_601752809894102_357447804_n-393x285Who doesn’t love great music? A truly enjoyable podcast spotlighting the release of Kitty Cleveland’s jazz album, plus inspiring conversation about Kitty’s life in Christ. Listen! 

AW 171 with Sr Grace Remington, OCSO: “The Joy of the Incarnation”

This one ranks among the most listened to Among Women podcasts of all time, but since it was released late in December of 2013, many more downloads occurred into 2014. In this episode, I discuss Christmas through the eyes of  Mary, as told by St Ephrem the Syrian, a 4th century Doctor of the Church. Our guest 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 now! 

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Note: The Top 5 Popular Among Women episodes are determined by “most downloaded” in 2014.

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Other “best of” collections…

Best of Among Women 2013

12 Podcasts for Moms

7 Podcasts On Prayer

7 Podcasts About Conversion

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Among Women on iTunes – Subscribe and never miss an episode!

Among Women website – Subscribe and never miss an episode!

God Became Man – my latest article at Catholic Digest

God Became Man – my latest article at Catholic Digest

Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of Christian faith.” (CCC, 463)

As Catholics, we profess our belief in the Incarnation in the Nicene Creed: Jesus Christ “came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

The Incarnation is a unique and singular event. Its truth informs the way we view God and ourselves.

Divine condescension

When Jesus arrived on the earth, he changed the way humanity viewed God. In Jesus, God came down from heaven to earth, without compromising his divinity.

The Incarnation of Christ crowned centuries of divine revelation, God’s slow revealing of himself, making himself known to humanity over time. God’s divine communication was now to be known through the Person of his Son. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Incarnation as “the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it” (CCC, 461).

This is the deepest meaning behind our Christmas celebrations.

[T]he Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. (CCC, 464)

This holy condescension of God means that we can never accuse God of being absent or lofty or unreachable or inaccessible. The Incarnation—the taking on of flesh in the Virgin’s womb—is the moment whereby the inexhaustible, inexpressible, invisible, omnipotent, and almighty Holy One takes on human visage. The divinity of God shines through a human person now.

At the time appointed by God, the only Son of the Father, the eternal Word, that is, the Word and substantial Image of the Father, became incarnate; without losing his divine nature he has assumed human nature. (CCC, 479)

Divine dignity

Jesus, coming as a human person, changed the way we view ourselves. The Second Vatican Council declared that the Incarnation raises our own human dignity.

He who is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) is himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam he restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as he assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. (Gaudium et Spes, 22)

Humanity now counts the face of God among its own.

Never again may I look at another person, or myself, with disdain or disrespect, for there is an inherent dignity in all.

Read the rest at Catholic Digest.

I’m pleased to be a regular columnist there writing about the beauty and inspiration that comes from the Catechism of the Church. Click here to subscribe to Catholic Digest. 

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The Pink Candle and other Musings – from my Patheos archives…

To the uninitiated, that pink candle at church makes no sense from a decorating point of view. It throws off the symmetry of the other three purple candles in the Advent wreath. Yet, it immediately draws attention.

A common sight in Advent, the pink or rose candle lit on the Third Sunday is a harbinger, a signpost, a little light that stirs the imagination. Something is a little bit different this week . . .

And what are we paying attention to? A respite from purple candles? Um, in a way, yes. But there is a much bigger picture, a broader context than ambience and church décor. Like so many visuals in the Mass, color is just one of the things that corresponds to the liturgical season, always pointing to a deeper truth.

If the purple candles are to remind us of the penitential and preparatory season of Advent, then the pink or rose candle is there to remind us of the soon coming joy of Christmas and the future joy of Christ’s coming again. Therefore, the object of our love and devotion should animate our penance, prayer, and service.

In years gone by, most Catholics learned that the Third Sunday was commonly called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete was translated from the Latin as “rejoice”! Gaudete Sunday gets it name from the opening antiphon and prayers of the Mass that declare: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (“Gaudete in Domino semper”) (Phil 4:4).

This Third Sunday, the Church is harkening to its good news: the Word is made flesh in Jesus, and the Kingdom of Heaven is born in our midst.

The imagery in Sunday’s First Reading from Isaiah, recorded centuries before the first coming Christ, hints at this coming joy.

The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.

They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God . . .

Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you . . .

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; 
they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee (Is 35:1-2, 4, 10).

As always, there is much to meditate on, but the simple phrase that captures my attention as we come to this Sunday with joy is that once-and-future hope that the prophet gives about one day coming back to our true homeland, “crowned with everlasting glory.”

And I wonder if we could envision ourselves on that special Day, would we live any differently than we do now?

After all, rejoicing, as a verb, means it is something that we do.

Why? Because it is something that we Christians are: Joyful.

Or, are we still works in progress in the joy department?

It is here that the Church is giving hints to what our witness ought to be even within a penitential season. While the ransoming of our lives through Christ takes place long before the crowning occurs, such knowledge is a deep well for joy, hope, and the kind of repentance that leads back to joy.

Joy can be our watchword in this season for it reveals the deepest truth about the deepest reality of Christ’s Coming. But even more profoundly, that he has come and will come for me. And you. This joy is personal as well as corporate.

(Read the rest over at Patheos…)

Among Women 188: Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood and Ours

Among Women 188: Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood and Ours

This new episode of Among Women discusses Mary’s spiritual maternity, her spiritual motherhood of the Church, and of us! The recent Marian feasts of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Immaculate Conception gives the perfect liturgical setting to call women to go deeper with Mary. Not only that, I give my summarization of spiritual motherhood — an aspect of the feminine genius that all women are called to exercise in imitation of Mary, our mother.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.41.32 PMAlso in this show, I enjoy a conversation with Mary Matheus, this year’s Treasurer of the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW). Together we talk about how the NCCW shines the light on the leadership of women in the Church and in the world.

As a special additional feature of today’s show, I’m sharing my keynote address from the NCCW’s 2013 annual conventional — “What the World Needs Now are Spiritual Mothers.” Be sure to listen to that talk after the interview with Mary Matheus.

photoThe theme of spiritual motherhood is very dear to my heart, and I spend a few chapters on this subject in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood. This show features an opportunity to win a free copy of the book in a random drawing I’m having now until Dec 21. Listen for more details on Among Women 188.

Listen the latest show, Among Women 188, or choose a show from our archives. 

My #BBB book plus all Ave Maria Press titles NOW 35% OFF thru Nov 30!

My #BBB book plus all Ave Maria Press titles NOW 35% OFF thru Nov 30!

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Use the BLACK14 code when you place an order at Ave Maria Press. 

Lots of great new titles from Lisa Hendey, Fr Robert Reed, Sr Miriam James Heidland, Eve Tushnet and more. Check out this great sale! 

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Here’s my book too: Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.

Among Women 187: Saintly Models for Charity, Diligence, and Temperance

Among Women 187: Saintly Models for Charity, Diligence, and Temperance

This week on Among Women, I interview author and Catholic Fire blogger, Jean Heimann. We discuss her blogging life and her new book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues. This new book profiles saints who model the virtues we all need. Traditionally, Catholics have trusted there are seven heavenly virtues that help defeat the seven deadly sins — the root sins responsible for all our sins and mistakes in life.

UnknownOn this episode of Among Women, we focus on Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St John Paul II, and St Augustine who shine in the areas of charity, diligence, and temperance. Charity, diligence, and temperance are virtues that help Christians fight the vices of pride, sloth or laziness, and lust or lack of self-control (especially when it comes to sex, food, drink or any other over-indulgence).   You might want to know what saints and virtues the rest of the book covers.

They are:

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Model of Charity
St. Agnes, Model of Chastity
St. John Paul II,  Model of Diligence
St. Joseph, Model of Humility
St. Catherine of Siena, Model of Kindness
St. Monica, Model of Patience
St. Augustine, Model of Temperance

Listen to Among Women today!

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I write for Catholic Digest; Make this your easiest-to-give Christmas present…

I write for Catholic Digest; Make this your easiest-to-give Christmas present…

imageFor a few years now, I’ve been privileged to be a columnist in the Catholic Digest. My space is “From the Catechism”. (I always thought it should be called “The Pat in the Cat” — but I’m grateful to my editor, not only for the work each month, but for her good taste in not posting every title I recommend to her.)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not on everyone’s reading list, I know this. That’s why I love to introduce it in snippets. Often I highlight themes from the liturgical year or from the themes captured in each issue. It’s a page or two of faith and Catholic doctrine served in easy digestible bites. Each column I write offers something positive and inspiring from the book I’ve grown to love since it first came out in English is 1994.

Now and then, I’ll write a feature besides the column. Last year I shared about my book and spiritual motherhood. In a coming issue, I’m writing about healing.

I not only write for Catholic Digest, I also subscribe!

Sure, I totally love the seasonal gift guides, and the books it recommends. But there’s more! This past year, there was a special issue commemorating the canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II.
photoFor me, it’s the family-friendly Catholic content that wins me over. And it’s beautiful shot and laid out with photos and lovely fonts that make reading it nicer than ever. Once in a while I try one of the recipes…

This new issue has Mary Ellen Barrett, my recent guest on Among Women, talking about thoughtful gift giving, Daria Sockey writing about purgatory, Sean Patrick describing about growing up Catholic in America, and Tom Hoopes with his take on the ice bucket challenge with an amazing story of his Mom and her legacy despite her battle with ALS. And who knew that actor Ray Liotta, from the movie The Identical was a faithful guy? Susie Lloyd’s got that interview.

Some of Catholic Digest’s content is online after the magazine publishes, but not as much as you’d like. So its best to just subscribe. You can even get a free trial.

Think Christmas, good people! This is a gift that keeps giving. And it helps to add salt and light to the culture around us!

This is the gift to send to your distant relatives — think of the shipping you’ll save and the smiles you’ll bring!

imageThis is the gift to give that religion teacher your children are so fond of, or your auntie in Florida and your Godmother in Tucson, or that young family down the block. This is the gift you could send to all the Catholic newlyweds you know. Or your dear old Mom and Dad.

Really. Subscribe for yourself and for someone you love. 

People ask me all the time for Catholic Resources and I tell them what I like. Catholic Digest is something I like so much that I work for them. If you like the work I do, as a writer and a speaker, or as a podcaster, here’s one way you can support that. Really. Thank a Catholic writer today.

 

Coming Up Nov. 8:  Long Island NY’s Women’s Conference — with yours truly & team

Coming Up Nov. 8: Long Island NY’s Women’s Conference — with yours truly & team

Come join me for a day-long event this Saturday, November 8th! The day features Mass plus three main talks adapted from my award-winning book, Blessed, Beautiful, and BodaciousI’m pleased to be womens_conference_2014_231x273_231x273joined by three dynamic women — Peggy Clores, Bridget McCormack, and Angela Rizzo — who will share the podium and with testimonials on the how the feminine genius shapes their dignity, gifts, and mission. Eileen Benthal will provide the music ministry.

It will be a privilege to present this day “back home” in New York, after my move to New England twenty years ago. The event will be at St Joseph’s Church in Babylon, NY. Register here.