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Among Women Espresso Shot #30: Devotion to the Rosary (My Top Ten Reasons)

Among Women Espresso Shot #30: Devotion to the Rosary (My Top Ten Reasons)

Welcome to Episode 30 of Among Women “Espresso Shot”
– a short strong coffee break of faith sharing and teaching from Pat Gohn.

Today’s topic: Devotion to the Rosary (My Top Ten Reasons)

This is the 10th installment in a 12-part series on the monthly church devotions. In October we are called to pray the Holy Rosary, and honor Mary as Our Lady of the Rosary, whose feast day is October 7.

In this episode, I offer my Top Ten Reasons for Praying the Rosary:

  1. To Pray the Second Most Powerful prayer in the world. The first being the Mass; the second being the Rosary.
  2. Being obedient to your Momma (Momma Mary)
  3. The Fruits of the Rosary: Yes there are many benefits!
  4. We become intimately acquainted with the deepest moments in the Gospels.
  5. Its portable! It goes anywhere!
  6. So easy to learn, but a lifetime to master its riches.
  7. It lowers my blood pressure. (The gift of peace.)
  8. It’s the prayer of intercession — the prayer to pray when you don’t know what to pray.
  9. The promises that Mary makes about the Rosary via St. Dominic. Find all 15 promises here.
  10. It will call you to be a saint — to grow in holiness.

Listen now, and discover more podcasts on the Rosary at this page.

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.

Among Women 202: Chastity is for Lovers with Arleen Spenceley

Among Women 202: Chastity is for Lovers with Arleen Spenceley

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 10.13.08 AMIn this latest episode of Among Women the subject is the virtue of chastity and my guest, Arleen Spenceley, is a writer for the Tampa Bay Times. A few years back, an essay she wrote on being a chaste single adult garnered much discussion in print and went viral online. All this led to her book release Chastity is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin. Join us for a discussion of the influence of St John Paul’s thoughts on love between the sexes, and how chastity is a virtue every person must cultivate.

Also in this episode, a look at a Welch saint who rivals St Valentine as a saint for lover, St Dwynden.

Listen and share this episode!

 

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!

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! Love and mercy has taken form and has a name: Jesus Christ!

[W]e live in a time of deep worldly skepticism about any “bigger plan” or higher meaning to human experience. For many people, the human person is little more than an accident of evolution; carbon atoms with an attitude. In other words, for many people we have no higher purpose than whatever meaning we create for ourselves.

In an era of sophisticated technology and material wealth, that kind of reasoning without God can sound plausible. But in the end it’s too small a vision of who we are as women and men. It undermines human dignity. It leaves starving souls hungry. It is not true.

In fact, we yearn for meaning.

With so many conflicting answers, our age is a confusing time. Many people today honestly seek meaning, but don’t know whom to trust or where to commit their lives.

Amid this uncertainty, Christians are people who trust in Jesus Christ. Despite the ambiguities of human history, the Catholic way of hope and joy, love and service grounds itself in an encounter with Jesus. As Saint John Paul II proclaimed in his first encyclical: “in man’s history, [the] revelation of love and mercy has taken the form and name: that of Jesus Christ. Everything follows from that. Jesus Christ is the basis of Christian faith.” – Love is Our Mission, Catechesis for the World Meeting of Families, 2015

St Joseph, a more recent hero of mine

St Joseph, a more recent hero of mine

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St Joseph and Jesus, a stained glass window in St Francis of Assisi Church, Springfield, IL

A few men in my family have Joseph as a name. Many of my recent meditations on the infancy narratives have given me a stronger love for Joseph. As I’ve been praying the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, every week I make my own little trip to St Joseph’s retreat house in Milton, MA. So I’m developing an even greater fondness for the Universal Patron of the Church.

St John Paul II thought Joseph was pretty special too. He wrote quite a bit on Joseph and about his faith. I’m particular struck by his submissive will to God’s will. We often hear of Mary’s perfect alignment with the will of God, and then we think — she was sinless. Yet St Joseph does this too, like all great saints, really — finding delight in God’s will rather than one’s own. Let’s just say I’m taking notes.

The Primacy of the Interior Life

25. The same aura of silence that envelops everything else about Joseph also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is, however, a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what Joseph “did.” Still, they allow us to discover in his “actions” – shrouded in silence as they are – an aura of deep contemplation. Joseph was in daily contact with the mystery “hidden from ages past,” and which “dwelt” under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in Western Christianity.

26. The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah’s coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that “very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family.

This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion. (From Guardian of the Redeemer)

The Feminine Genius and reading ’round the Web… Don’t miss these posts!

The Feminine Genius and reading ’round the Web… Don’t miss these posts!

There has been, in the last two weeks, much important reading on subjects close to my heart, and many women’s hearts, relating to the feminine genius and the beauty of womanhood — and our loss of that sensibility and truth. Much of my writing and speaking in the three years has been to point out the basics of woman’s dignity, gifts, and mission as presented to our through the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is more pro-woman and pro-life than any other institution or organization you could name. (To learn more on this perspective, see my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious. Or come to one of my events.)

Sadly, I have been unable to comment on these posts, save for the briefest ideas,  due to my current writing work load and travel schedule

I am, however, linking to a few of those posts here. It’s Lent, after all, so I invite you to read and reflect on these in light of the Gospel, and our call to live it.

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1. Mary Eberstadt’s piece on Jailhouse Feminism over at National Review online is jarring as it is astutely on to something… the rage of women in the media and elsewhere is pointing to their abuse and abasement by themselves and others all in the name of freedom. This is must reading. Warning: course language here.

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2. Read Our Emotions, Our Bodies, Ourselves by Carolyn Moynihan as she comments on a female psychiatrist, writing in the NY Times about a boom in the number of women (1 in 4) talking medications… it was most emailed article on the New York Times website over the weekend, “Medicating Women’s Feelings”. I admit I have not had time to read the NY Times article but this reply references offers much quoted source material.  It is worth reading this piece by the ever-wise Carolyn Moynihan.

A few of my thoughts: One of the powerful gifts of women is their sensitivity, or empathy. It is more than emotions, for sure. But if we don’t understand the body-soul connection of a woman’s great ability of “seeing” with her heart, she might not understand that what breaks her heart also points her in the direction of holy actions: To be deeply rooted in prayer and clinging to Christ, and to be ready to acknowledge the the persons in their midst in need of care and nurture.

Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts. They see them independently of various ideological or political systems. They see others in their greatness and limitations; they try to go out to them and help them. In this way the basic plan of the Creator takes flesh in the history of humanity and there is constantly revealed, in the variety of vocations, that beauty—not merely physical, but above all spiritual—which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women.

(St John Paul II, Letter to Women, 12)

How many women may have been medicated, or told they were crazy or unbalanced, when, really they are not — just normal? I can’t take that in now, but it grieves my heart.

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3. Yet another post on one of the gifts of women, this time, maternity: Motherhood is the Strongest Bond written by a blogger who describes the heart of women… and how we need to stand alongside one another, mother to mother, when we encounter the toughest of all crosses, the death of a child. I’m reminded here how mothers are well disposed, as St John Paul would say, not only their own children, but to all children. The author of the piece has this central message: “You’re a mother, you know.”

Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and “understands” with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the “beginning,” the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings—not only towards her own child, but every human being—which profoundly marks the woman’s personality. (St John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, 18)

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4. The Christophers’ Tony Rossi has a piece up includes some compelling lyrics from singer Kelly Clarkson, and others who are trying to combat the madness of sexual imagery that is everywhere.

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5. Some hope here from Lisa Hendey in her piece on The Blogosphere as a Mission Field, with lots of commentary from women leaders, including myself.

While I really appreciate this well written piece, it’s important to remember Lisa’s end point: we are all called to the new evangelization. For many of us, it’s the call to be saints whose mission is to rescue the culture from its confusion and chaos regarding the gifts of masculinity and femininity.

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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Pray the Rosary… (Resources, and more on this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary)

Pray the Rosary… (Resources, and more on this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary)

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

I’ll go to Mass. I’ll have breakfast with a friend. Then I’m going to get my stitches out from some oral surgery that took place last week.

And I’ll pray the rosary.

In other words, its a typical day. And the rosary fits my life. It fits in my day anytime… morning, noon, or night. I often pray it in the car, or on my walks. Or with friends.

The Catechism calls the Rosary an “epitome of the Gospel (CCC 971).”

Here’s some of my favorite resources about this prayer that has shaped my life over the last thirty years.

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I’ve written about praying the rosary many times. About prayer in groups. About my grandmother’s rosary.

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I’ve got many Among Women podcasts about the rosary — about forming local rosary groups for mothers… plus interviews with several knowledgable guests like Rosary Army’s Jennifer Willits… and author Karen Edmisten with an epic primer on the rosary…  and the rosary and pregnancy with Sarah Reinhard. Plus one of my favorite podcasts of all time — the Among Women listeners sharing what they love about the rosary!

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My most favorite book to pray the rosary with is the Scriptural Rosary. 

The best advice about loving the rosary  and Marian devotion comes from the classic books of St Louis de Montfort.

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Finally, I’ve learned what St John Paul has long taught: the Rosary conforms us to Christ. Outside of the Mass, it is the most powerful prayer we can pray.

Christian spirituality is distinguished by the disciple’s commitment to become conformed ever more fully to his Master (cf. Rom 8:29; Phil 3:10,12). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Baptism grafts the believer like a branch onto the vine which is Christ (cf. Jn 15:5) and makes him a member of Christ’s mystical Body (cf.1Cor 12:12; Rom 12:5). This initial unity, however, calls for a growing assimilation which will increasingly shape the conduct of the disciple in accordance with the “mind” of Christ: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). In the words of the Apostle, we are called “to put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27).

In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary’s company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ’s life and as it were to share his deepest feelings. In this regard Blessed Bartolo Longo has written: “Just as two friends, frequently in each other’s company, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection”.

In this process of being conformed to Christ in the Rosary, we entrust ourselves in a special way to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin. She who is both the Mother of Christ and a member of the Church, indeed her “pre-eminent and altogether singular member” is at the same time the “Mother of the Church”. As such, she continually brings to birth children for the mystical Body of her Son. She does so through her intercession, imploring upon them the inexhaustible outpouring of the Spirit. Mary is the perfect icon of the motherhood of the Church.

-St John Paul II-
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 15
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Emphasis mine]

This makes me think… all women are called to promote a new feminism, even those who have had abortions

In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.

Making my own the words of the concluding message of the Second Vatican Council, I address to women this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life”. You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb … This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality”. A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change.

I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.

-Pope Saint John Paul II-
The Gospel of Life, 1995, par. 99. [Emphasis mine.]