Learn more about my latest book – All In: Why Belonging to the Catholic Church Matters. Available now!

Among Women: On Faith, Grace, and Prayer in Marriage and Family Life

Among Women: On Faith, Grace, and Prayer in Marriage and Family Life

UnknownThis week’s episode of Among Women talks about many things that are close to my heart — marriage and family — and the calling to make Christ the center of those relationship and in our home. I hope you’ll join me as I reflect back on 30+ years of marriage and family life, plus have an inspiring conversation with the woman who is part of the team behind the Like Mother Like Daughter blog, author Leila Marie Lawler. Together we discuss one of my favorite new books of the year, The Little Oratory: A beginner’s guide to praying in the home. 

There’s even a chance to win a signed copy of the book from the authors — hear the details on the podcast! 

Finally, I hope you’ll enjoy a look at the little-known mystic, St Umilta, as I read some of her passionate writings about our faith.

Don’t miss this episode of Among Women!

Advent Journal Entry: Advent Advice from Isaiah 1:5

Isaiah 1: 5: “….come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

 

Come…

What a beautifully simple invitation. To come.

It’s a opportunity. It’s a journey. It’s a call. It’s a visit.

God wants us to come to him this season. As he comes to us.

God wants us to be with him this season. Well, in all seasons, really. But sometimes we need loving, nudging reminders. Like a personal dinner invitation over the phone, or a party invitation in the mail, or the suggestion of a prophet to his God’s people at the First Sunday of Advent Mass.

Advent means, “coming”… and the One who is coming is Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Advent of the Lord. Am I engaged in his coming? Am I aware of his presence? Will I choose to come and enter into this season, to enter into this walking?

Let us walk…

Walking is a human activity. Walking is a naturally occurring movement for most people.

Walking is a pace of activity that does not involve running or rushing. Like walking with someone and talking at the same time. Or walking and observing the world around us. Breathing and moving with purpose. Not standing still, but not zooming either. Walking.

Walking is getting from here to there and back again. Walking is healthy. It is good for me and I need to do more of it.

Am I walking or running? Or am I standing still?

Where I am walking? Who am I walking with?

I read that Isaiah is being pretty specific about that.

In the light of the Lord…

What does this mean — to be in the light of the Lord? In the preceding verses the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord’s mountain and how his people come to it for instruction.

In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”

What does this mean to me? The light of the Lord comes from his instruction to me. To be in the Lord’s light means I must be close to his teaching… both in God’s Word in the Bible, and his words coming through the Church.

To walk in the light of the Lord suggests that I must be close to the lights of Advent. Like confession, prayer, Eucharist, almsgiving. Even fasting as we await the feasting of the holy days. These bring the light of the Lord to my heart, my days, my attitude.

But the light of the Lord is more…  for the light that I’ve described so far comes to us is merely a by-product of the Presence of the Lord.

The call to come, to walk, to be in the light… this is a personal invitation to be with Someone. It suggests the Lord is already with us. Here. Now.

The bottom line is that Advent lights point to the Light of the world — Jesus who is Joy to the world.

What if every single light we saw this season, from the candlelight of advent wreaths, to the stars on Christmas trees, to the twinkling house lights and storefront windows, had the power to increase our joy of Him?

1375017_89926289Well, what if we actually let that happen?  What if, as a kind of crazy advent experiment, we choose to pause and to breathe in joy with every light we see and to breathe out, deeply, the presence of the Lord? We would indeed be walking in the light of the Lord! But really, what I’m talking about is much more than the power of positive thinking… that is exactly the kind of grace we can get from the sacraments — the very presence of Jesus lives in us– during this Advent season!

This is the start of a new year… the chance to begin again with God… to come… to walk… to dwell… in the light of the Lord.

Let us welcome the invitation The more we know of Him, the more we want of Him, the more we can anticipate the joy of the coming Christmas and the Coming Again.

 

God is light and in him is no darkness at all.

1 John 1: 5

 

photo1

photo2

Woman, YOU are a gift! Encouragement for women in the Washington Post: an article by yours truly…

Woman, YOU are a gift! Encouragement for women in the Washington Post: an article by yours truly…

Here’s  a snippet:

Woman, you are a gift!

 

From the first presentation of woman to man in the Garden of Eden, the gift of who you are is nothing less than “wow!” Your dignity comes from the gift of your being, and the gift of your being created feminine.

 

Man saw your profound and complementary gifts right away, and rejoiced. In God’s first act of blessing humanity, the Creator smiled upon and blessed the union of the first couple, encouraging them be fertile and multiply (Gen 1:28).

 

Their loving union was a blessed gift to each other, and their offspring, delivered through woman’s maternity, was designed to be a visible sign of that blessing; another gift.

 

Then sin entered the world. For their failures the woman and man suffered grievous losses, and because we are their progeny, our own pains followed.

 

Tragically, humanity has habitually lost sight of the true gifts we are to one another, and the treasure of maternity was rarely appreciated as the blessing it is, until Jesus; the Savior of all was born of a woman.

 

In and through Mary, the world heard once more: Woman, you are a gift!

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 6.27.30 PM

[Read the article in its entirety here.]

Listen to my interview about it, on “A Closer Look” on Relevant Radio, tonight at 5:30pm central/ 6:30pm eastern.

 

 

30 years ago I said “I do”. Here’s a recap on faith, grace, sex, kids, and love…

30 years ago I said “I do”. Here’s a recap on faith, grace, sex, kids, and love…

Bob and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this week. Dang! Has it been that long? It went by so fast! 

My latest column at Patheos is a look back, and a testament to the graces of living the Sacrament of Matrimony these thirty years. It’s one part our experience, one part what we have learned, and one part verifying that God’s plan for marriage is still a viable, and noble, and satisfying enterprise.  Bob and I often joke that we’ve seen it all, done it all… all the having and holding… and all the cycles of better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, and health… and that we’d do it again. Here’s a small section of a much longer missive…

People ask what makes our love special, or what “works” for us, and we tell them: long before we fell in love with each other, we fell in love with Jesus. There’s an old proverb in Scripture that says, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiates 4: 12). Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote a whole book on the subject that it takes three to get married, and we believe it.

We have faith in God, and faith in each other. When we said our marriage vows in the church that crisp fall morning in 1982, we knew we would vow for life… and that what we lacked in our own strength would be made up for by grace.

Talk to any Catholic couple married for a few decades or more and the subject of grace is bound to come up. They may not always use the word itself. It might be their reference to “God only knows” or an indescribable or halting acknowledgement of something that is bigger and grander than they are. But what they will say next is also true: that this love has changed them, made them better, even transformed them.

There is a glue that is stronger than our human love… it is divine grace. Sometimes we think it is just because we were fortunate enough to marry someone better than ourselves — that we lucked out — or discovered someone who believes the best in us despite our frailties, a soul mate. But what we’re really seeing is the truth of the matter: the radiant beauty of God is in our spouse. God magnifies their best human qualities, attracts us to them, and then He give us the privilege of knowing His Love through them. And yes, I’m here to say, in all honestly, that the profound gift of God’s Love made visible in my life, today, has a few wrinkles, some gray, and a few extra pounds.

Just in case you think I’m offering some kind of romanticized view of the love of God and the love between married couples, let me also say that there is a side of grace that is gritty, tough and sturdy under fire. This is the power of the vow; the grace and mercy that flows from the choice – the consent – of the lovers. When we think we cannot hold on any longer, the power of the vow keeps us true.

Read the rest at the Catholic Channel at Patheos. Feel free to subscribe to my columns here.

Mr & Mrs since October 23, 1982. (This photo is from last summer.)