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This makes me think… what is my spoken and silent witness saying?

A few generations back, you can understand why many Catholics didn’t see the need to evangelize. They could live their faith in their homes and parishes, and when they walked outside — going to work, or school or the playground — the cultural temperature didn’t feel that much different than it felt inside. For all appearances the gap between the Catholic way of life and the American way of life didn’t look that great.

Today, however, when Catholics walk outside our homes and parishes into the culture at large, we feel the difference. It hits us in the face like a slap of ice-cold wind. The culture has turned toxic, and the gap between how the Church calls us to live and how the culture tells us to live has grown so wide, we can no longer bridge it. 

But while we can’t bridge the gap, we can attempt to close it. That’s what the New Evangelization calls us to do. It calls us to transform not just individuals, but the entire culture, recognizing that just as the de-Christianization of culture led countless men and women away from the Church, so can the re-Christianization of culture lead en and women back to the Church. 

That’s what we’re doing when we share our faith, through both our silent and spoken witness, with the people in our neighborhoods, and communities, schools, and workplaces. We’re transforming culture by introducing the individuals within it to a Person who will transform the very fabric of their lives. We’re welcoming them into a family of believers who will walk with them as they strive to live the life to which God calls them.

That’s something your parish priest can’t do. He can’t bear witness to the guy in your office who has never stepped foot in a Catholic Church. He can’t strike up a conversation at the gym or the coffee shop with the person who stopped going to Mass a decade ago. Your priest’s reach is limited… they can’t go where you can go.

-Scott Hahn-
Evangelizing Catholics, 2014

Lenten Almsgiving opportunity: support a Missions company with lay people and families in mission together

Lenten Almsgiving opportunity: support a Missions company with lay people and families in mission together

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 2.23.34 PMYou may remember my friends, Jonathan and Kristen Weiss? They are full-time missionaries supporting married couples, families, and single lay persons in mission work in five countries with Family Missions Company. Different than a missions outreach supported by the work of Catholic religious orders, this apostolate offers lay persons a temporary or permanent mission outreach opportunities.

Here’s a fast recap of the past year at Family Missions Company.

You may also want to listen to the podcast I did with Jonathan and Kristen back during the Bloggers with a Mission campaign for World Missions Sunday.

Donate directly.

Support a Missionary.



photo courtesy of Jonathan Weiss.

Video courtesy of Family Missions Company.

Embracing Lent… links to read, stuff to do, prayers to pray…  and podcasts!

Embracing Lent… links to read, stuff to do, prayers to pray… and podcasts!

This year I was feeling a bit overwhelmed facing down the Lenten season. It felt like one more thing on my to-do list. But after praying about that I realized that some of the difficult things in the family (lots of illness and joblessness for many loved ones), and in the world (you name it, just watch the news channels and you will have an instant call to prayer), and elsewhere (lots of deadlines and pending work) were weighing heavy.

Lent was not coming to weigh me down — it was coming to lighten my load through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. So all the more reason to GO BIG.  Make a splash by calling on ALL the GRACES.

So I went to confession this past weekend. I made a fasting plan. I made a schedule. I’m engaging Lent, embracing it. And it requires some disengagement from other distractions that I’ve been having.

In the end, it’s not about how I feel, its about how I respond. If I do the right things I’m called to, my heart will follow.

OK Jesus – here we go!

Let us pray for one another, shall we?  

I’ve compiled good stuff that might help inspire you along the way.



Go to Mass, or if that’s not possible, watch it daily on Catholic TV, or read the bible readings or hear reflections.

Learn how to pray the Rosary.

Learn how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Join an online retreat with Authors Vinita Hampton Wright and Kerry Weber

If you live in the Archdiocese of Boston, there’s confession everywhere… many places around the country are doing the same.

TheLightIsOnForYou.org Advent from Archdiocese of Boston on Vimeo.

READ and USE these Resources:

Get a printable Lenten calendar from the USCCB, with great suggestions for living every day.

Why Do Catholics Practice Fasting and Abstinence? by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

5 Reasons to Love Fasting by Matthew Warner (I love #4!)

Fasting suggestions from Life Teen

Read the Daily Meditations of Pope Francis

Get daily Lenten reflections from the late great Fr Henri Nouwen in your email.

Watch The Power and Purpose of Confession, a video with Johnnette Benkovic and Fr Mitch Pacwa. (an oldie from 2008)

Catholic Vote has 40 Things You Should Give Up for Lent

40 Ways to Give during Lent, from the gals at Sound Mind and Spirit blog

Simcha Fisher recommends quality spiritual reading at her Register blog.

Find great soups and inspiration for Lent from The Practicing Catholic’s series “Soup and Stories.

100 Things to Do for Lent by Meg Hunter-Kilmer

The award for the most-comprehensive-Lenten-Mega-Post goes to Aggie Catholics for the most resources in one place – you’ll find something there that you like, for sure!

The Social Media Scene:

If you are not fasting from social media, make your social media count!

Be a grateful tweeter, or tithe on your social media!

Check out these Lenten apps recommended by the iPadre – Fr Jay Finelli. Don’t forget the CRS Rice Bowl App!

Follow Pope Francis on Twitter. Oh, and there’s this:


Finally, some Podcasts:

Of course, there’s Among Women… 

AW 175: The newest episode is “An Appointment with God”. This features a chat with Allison Gingras about her story of growing in relationship with Christ. It also profiles Mary Clopas, friend of Jesus and Mary, and mother to James the apostle, bishop, and writer of an Epistle. 

From the archives: AW 126: Special Editon for Lent — AW listeners share their favorite Lenten practices

Word on Fire Podcasts: Don’t miss a single Sunday sermon from Fr Robert Barron, or check out his lenten reflections.

iPadre Podcast: Fr Jay Finelli has been podcasting for years!


About the Photo above– that’s a photo I took at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. Take a virtual tour. 

What captures a woman’s heart… (a beautiful, yet non-romantic, story for Valentine’s Day)

If you are looking for a romantic kind of post here for Valentine’s Day, you might have to read something from my archives here, or here. This is one is a salute to another kind of Valentine that captures a woman’s heart.

I wept the first time I saw this. No, it wasn’t hormones. Something inside me just gave way to see what I’ve tried to put in print, and share in talks, revealed on this tiny screen*: the transformational power of loving and the inner beauty of the feminine gift of maternity.

Maternal love is genuinely expansive. At the very same time it is very, very personal.

I have spilled many words on this subject in Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious. It unpacks the beauty of womanhood found in her four amazing gifts… receptivity, generosity, sensitivity, and maternity. These gifts not only make women truly beautiful, but they are how women pour beauty into the world. All four gifts unfold in this little story told in seven minutes. The video even captures how maternity is being mocked and belittled in the world today — or thrown away.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, and in thanksgiving for the God of Love who designed women with innate, beautiful gifts, let me share this reminder of why this little video is so poignantly beautiful.

[In his 1988 document,] On the Dignity and Vocation of Women… John Paul II taught that women, by the beauty of their physiology and God-given design, are particularly well disposed to human persons, and this is our feminine genius.

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way—precisely by reason of their femininity. . . .

A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting . . . always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them “strong” and strengthens their vocation. (Mulieris Dignitatem, par. 30)

[O]ur being blessed comes from the core of who we are… our dignity is rooted in how we are made. There’s no mistaking our biology. The beauty of our feminine design prepares us for motherhood. It flows from the sublime blessing of who we are in our creation. Our womanly bodies are wonderfully made and purposefully created with an empty space of a womb that we carry under our heart.

Our womb, or uterus, signals that we are made for something and someone more than ourselves. It is an organ that is made for welcoming and receiving the life of a child, and generously sheltering and nurturing the child, and finally, bringing the child to birth. Our breasts are meant to feed that child. Everything about a woman is made to give and support life.

The gift of maternity is being a beautiful life-bearer through motherhood. And even if a woman never gives birth, her life is still inclined and ordered toward mothering. Maternity is an inherent gift of femininity. That means all women have it. All women are entrusted with the call to care for the people within their sphere of influence. (From Chapter 7, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious)


Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all!

 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Cor 13: 13.


*Thai, with subtitles.

Friday in Lent… Picking up splinters from the Cross

Friday in Lent… Picking up splinters from the Cross

For regular readers of this blog, the weekly “F.U.N. Quotient” is taking a little break for Lent. It will return in the Easter season. Fridays, being the day Christ died on the Cross, begs for my attempt at solemnity for Lent. So for the next several Fridays in Lent, I’d like to deal with the splinters of trouble, heartache, and fear, and how our sufferings really do offer a way toward redemption.


When I was a young girl, I heard a poem about how each of our own trials were like splinters from the Cross of Christ. In the years hence, that image about the splinters stayed with me.

Here’s the poem… It’s a little schmaltzy, its not Tennyson or Byron or Keats, but it gets the job done.

Splinter from the Cross

Little headaches, little heartaches
Little griefs of every day.
Little trials and vexations,
How they throng around our way!
One great cross, immense and heavy,
so it seems to our weak will,
Might be borne with resignation,
But these many small ones kill.
Yet all life is formed of small things,
Little leaves, make up the trees,
Many tiny drops of water
Blending, make the mighty seas.
Let us not then by impatience
Mar the beauty of the whole,
But for love of Jesus bear all
In the silence of our soul.
Asking Him for grace sufficient
To sustain us through each loss,
And to treasure each small offering
As a splinter from His Cross.

– Author Unknown –

While I love the spiritual life, the truth is, the more I know, the more I don’t know. Another way to say it is, the closer I come to Christ, the more I’m stripped down to the basics more and more. The call to holiness for me often comes down to dealing with these little trials each day… little headaches, heartaches, and vexations.

Isn’t that just a lovely way of describing the things that really piss me off?

I’ve had a quick temper my whole life. And learning to not fly off the handle, forgive the archaic cliché, has been one of my biggest life lessons. If there has been one consistent area of sin for me, it has been that. Trying to tame the tongue that goes with it has also been a challenge.

What I’ve learned over the years is that I need to lower the set point for my anger. Just as we work to slowly lower the set point of weight gain, we can slowly lower the trigger points for anger. Like weight loss that comes from finding a good balance between less caloric intake and adding more exercise, reducing the anger in my life came from finding the balance between taking in less anger, or avoiding the near occasion to sin with anger, and adding more joy and laughter… such as raising the fun quotient, looking to the blessings and good things in life, and having people in my life who help me “lighten up” when my somber moods and seriousness get in high gear. I can’t change my temperament that tends toward the serious side of life, but I can change how I cope with it. That’s where the grace comes in, to help make those adjustments and course corrections. I may still be bent toward anger, but I don’t have to sin toward anger. Being tempted to anger is not the sin, only the harmful actions of anger are.

So I’ve collected quite a pile of splinters that I’ve pulled from the anger years in my life. Prayer and the sacraments are still the antidote for me.



The Dog Mother and Valentine’s Day

The Dog Mother and Valentine’s Day

So it Valentine’s Day. Or, should I say, Valentine’s Night. And it’s way late. After 11pm. No sweetie in sight — he’s 3000 miles away in California for work, and will be home tomorrow. For that I’m grateful. I’m staying up late for his call from another time zone, as we continue to commiserate about our day, his spent at the tail end of a long conference, and mine spent with the tail end of our Boston Terrier. My Valentine’s Day was spent in the company of a sick dog.

Things got worse as the day went on, enough so that I brought Brady to the Doggy ER… where I shelled out $200 for a check up, tests, and a prescription to bring home. Part of the doggie problem is, umm, that my dog has to pee a lot. I’m mean A LOT. And that’s probably all you wanna know. I’ve been walking him like every 30 minutes since we woke up this morning. I was afraid it was renal failure, but it looks more like an infection. We’ll know more tomorrow when the lab tests return.

So I’ve spent a very unromantic day with a dog that won’t let me out of his sight, and who has been rather anxious and frantic all day. A lot like when you have a baby or a toddler who is sick, only you don’t have to walk them outdoors in the snow 40 times a day to help them feel better.

The vet recommended that the dog eat bland food like chicken and rice while he weathers this illness. So tonight, I cooked Valentine’s supper for the dog.

The things we do for love… of a pooch.



For those of you who wondered if, indeed, I got a love letter from my Hubby, I did. It was the highlight of this day of continuous distraction and dog piddle.

The Art of the Love Letter: Tips for husbands and husbands-to-be as Valentine’s Day Approaches

The Art of the Love Letter: Tips for husbands and husbands-to-be as Valentine’s Day Approaches

In which I kind of get to brag on my husband a little as I encourage men to commit their love to paper in honor of St Valentine…

In the rush to go green and paperless, and in the never ending screen-related communication that we face daily, the love letter will never lose its power. Sure, there’s flowers, and candy, and dates, and tokens of affection that warm the heart. But a letter… an offering of thought and emotion and whimsy and truth — surely I hope a few men will look to try their hand at it, especially if they’re shy about it. Here’s an except from my latest column at Patheos:

We are looking for words that endure, that are authentic, and worthy of being committed to paper in a moment that cannot shut off or erased. (And yes, you can buy that awesomely tender card in the store and sign your name, and really, she will love your thoughtfulness. But stick with me here, guys, go for something a bit more customized, and permanent.)

Remember: If you’ve found a woman who loves you, then you’ve found a treasure.

Do you see all those empty and counterfeit “loves” out there? Do you see the heartaches and the pain that exists between women and men today? So does she. It grieves her soul. Do what you can to sure up the foundations of love in your life. Make sure she knows what she’s won, when she has won your heart.

For Valentine’s Day, or really, for any special occasion — her birthday, your anniversary, you name it — you want to do the uncommon thing, the heroic thing, the thing that sets you apart from anyone else in the world, the thing that she will carry in her heart, or in her top dresser drawer, or purse, until next Valentine’s Day and beyond.

She wants to hear and know the words that only you can give her: words from you that describe how you cherish her and value your love together.

How does a guy accomplish this love letter thing? I give him a few tips in this article — writing prompts for writing for a woman’s heart.

You can thank me later, ladies and gents.



Among Women 156: Countdown to Lent!

Among Women 156: Countdown to Lent!

This week on Among Women I encourage us to take a few moments to begin to prepare our hearts and our schedules for Lent.

In our “Blessed are They” segment, I look back into the Old Testament and talk about Miriam, Moses’ sister who helped to spare his life. It’s a neat story that reminds us that you never know how God is going to use our actions when we stand up for life.

In our “Among Women” segment, I’m pleased to welcome author-columnist Marybeth Hicks. Together we discuss her brand new blog On the Culture  and ways to combat the moral relativism that continues to plague American life.



To put your name in for the free drawing for Fr Michael Gaitley’s new book, The ‘One Thing’ is Three, send your comments to Pat Gohn at amongwomenpodcast@me.com, or to the Among Women podcast facebook page. All names will be entered, and one winner will be chosed at random. Deadline: Feb 11, 2013.

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Among Women 246: The Stations of the Cross

Among Women 246: The Stations of the Cross

This newest episode of Among Women is a departure from our usual format.

It’s been a few weeks since my last podcast and in that time the United States has taken many measures to attempt to curb the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

This has been a difficult time for many people. Most difficult for Catholics has been the temporary suspension of public Masses. Given that this is Lent I exhort you to lean into prayer even more — but especially as we pray against and through this pandemic.

The Stations of the Cross is a traditional Catholic devotion. I encourage you to make it your own. This podcast captures my own prayer, my own reflections on the Stations. I hope it will be something we can pray together.

Listen to Among Women 246.



Image credit: Pat Gohn