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“O death, where is thy victory?”

“O death, where is thy victory?”


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“O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 
But thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15: 55-57

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And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 
but when they went in they did not find the body. 

Luke 24 2-3

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From my house to your, a very blessed Easter!

Among Women 178: New Life in Christ

Among Women 178: New Life in Christ

As we celebrate the 50 days of Eastertide, I’m so happy to bring this new episode of Among Women to you featuring my interview with my dynamic friend, TJ, who shares her reversion to the faith and the powerful transformation that God brought about in her life… from faith in God as a young child and teen, to finding her faith slipping away when life’s sorrows mounted. Years later, an unplanned pregnancy brought her to her knees, and something powerful happened when TJ cried out to God.  

Also in this episode I read an excerpt from my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, that describes the women at the foot of the cross — the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene.

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I’m so glad that this episode finally got uploaded. It was pre-empted last Thursday by my pre-travel check-list that revealed my foible of a  having a an expired passport. Yikes! I was flying to Canada the next day to give a retreat. The passport renewal process took all day and then I was gone for three days on retreat. On Monday I needed to drive to my parents’ home out of state and that brings us to today…

So this podcast has a free drawing for my book (in honor of St John Paul’s canonization) you’ll want to take advantage of — and its ending quite soon– tomorrow! And there’s some out of sync Easter greetings because I recorded this show last week. So I’m a bit behind the news curve, but what can you do? I’m glad that the Easter season is 50 days long!

I hope you’ll listen and be encouraged.

“Love is stronger than terror.” – Dear World project #BostonStrong (the ’13 Boston Marathon survivors)

Needs some inspiration? Come to Boston next week for the running of the Boston Marathon.  These are some of the people you will meet.

Dear World has given us a thoughtful photo essay: Read the stories of survivors who talk about their thrivership after being victimized by the bombings at last year’s Marathon. Check out their amazing photos posed at the finish line.

Here’s a little video to get you started.

Dear World, a love letter from Boston marathon bombing survivors. from Dear World on Vimeo.

 

The Boston Marathon is Monday, April 21.

36,000 runners will compete — 9000 more than last year.

Area marathon runners who missed the chance to finish last year’s race gear up to come back to Boston.

 

Banner photo: Screen shot of Alyssa and Brittany Loring Photo (copyright 2014 Dear World)

This makes me think… what is really pressing on my calendar, and what is not…

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 

For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

-Matthew 16:24-27-

 

 

Reprise: Woman, you are a gift! Respecting women respects life!!

Reprise: Woman, you are a gift! Respecting women respects life!!

Last year, on the anniversary of Roe vs Wade, and the March for Life, I penned this column as a summary of the beauty of womanhood, and her gift of maternity and it was featured in the online version of the Washington Post…

Here it is in its entirety.

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!

Blessed John Paul II was especially eager to teach that women, by the beauty of their physiology and God-given design, are particularly well-disposed to seeing, comprehending and loving human persons. This is our “feminine genius.” This particular strength of woman bears repeating and rediscovery, as we survey the political rhetoric of the day that tends to degrade maternity, especially as the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade comes to pass.

The late pontiff’s major treatise on women, Mulieris Dignatatem, exults in the dignity and beauty of femininity. The gift of maternity, he wrote is a strength, not a weakness.

There’s no mistaking biology. Womanly bodies are wonderfully made, and purposefully created with an empty space of a womb carried under her heart.

A woman’s womb, her uterus, signals that she is made for something and someone more than herself. This reality touches a woman at her very core — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The womb’s raison d’etre illuminates this gift that welcomes and receives the life of a child, sheltering and nurturing it, until finally, a woman gives birth. We even use the expression — giving birth — denoting the gift that it is. The maternal gift ought to be honored and celebrated.

What’s more, a pregnant mother is entrusted with carrying an immortal soul besides her own — a soul that is destined for eternity. That’s why a woman really needs to be aware of the dignity of her feminine creation, and the sublime gift of her maternity, so she can confer that dignity on her child, and upon others through her love of life.

The gift of maternity is inherent in all women. They are predisposed to motherhood by their design. Yet, as we know, not all women bear children. Even if a woman never gives birth, a woman’s life is still inclined toward mothering. All women are entrusted with the call to care for the people within their sphere of influence. This broadens our ideas of maternity beyond gestation and lactation.

A woman’s relationships with others, even though they may not be fruitful biologically, can be fruitful spiritually. Therefore a woman’s life–her feminine genius–is characterized by physical and/or spiritual motherhood.

When the gift of a woman’s fertility and maternity are devalued, they are misinterpreted as liabilities or threats to a woman’s potential happiness, or earning power, or freedom.

Both women and men are crippled when disrespect for any of the gifts of the other are ignored, stifled, abused, or rejected. But women are demeaned when this precious part of them is reduced to a faculty to be managed, rather than a capability to be treasured.

Our beautiful maternity, and the lives and loves that issue forth from it, is why the church continues to stand in defense of chastity and marriage, along with its opposition to the use of contraception, abortion of the unborn and any other threat to human life.

Finally, dear woman, here’s something else the church teaches: If we’ve failed to live up to this teaching on maternity, if we’ve disrespected or abused the beautiful gifts of our womanhood, we can make our way back. The gifts of grace and forgiveness through the sacraments provide that path.

Let us trust that grace. Let us be gentle and generous in dealing with our own failures as regards our sexuality or our maternity. Jesus wants us to be healed, and especially to be healed of wounds related to our sexuality and maternity.

Let us come to him with our brokenness, and the sins against our genius of maternity, no matter how grievous or painful.

Let us come to know this God who came through the womb to save us.

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The On Faith column of the Washington Post has moved to On Faith at Faithstreet.com. Here’s the link for the column above.

 

This makes me think… about women as guardians of life

The maternal mission is also the basis of a particular responsibility. The mother is appointed guardian of life. It is her task to accept it with care, encouraging the human being’s first dialogue with the world, which is carried out precisely in the symbiosis with the mother’s body. It is here that history of every human being begins… with an exclusive and unmistakable plan of life.

-Blessed John Paul II, Angelus message, July 16, 1995-

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I write about this theme in Chapter 8 of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious. 

On midlife courage, surprises, and Providence

On midlife courage, surprises, and Providence

Jesus and Mary, thank you for the godly women that you send into my life.

Today I had breakfast with one of my good friends. The kind of friend that you lament that circumstances prevent you both from getting together more often, but you are so glad that you did.

We talked about the transitions we are in over eggs and toast, oatmeal and coffee. The mothering journey is different when you have adult children. The marriage journey is different than it was decades ago. The work we do now is ever changing from what we did long ago, too.

Yet the prayer life is deeper, more Eucharistic, steady. It is what always makes sense. And what makes sense of us.

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A few observances…

Midlife is one of those times when you really need courage…

-to make transitions,
-to try new things as we keep up with the old things,
-to be open to a season where both younger and older generations needs you…
-to finally be comfy enough in your own skin to accept whatever comes, with love and with more love…

God still has few surprises in store for us in midlife… so better get ready…

-you will shake your head and laugh at what God has planned for you… and those you love…
-because it is so good, or better, or crazier, and riskier than what you would imagine for yourself…

God knows you are much better at trusting His Plan for your life these days than you used to be.

-So you keeping showing up.
-Day by day
-Because He does.

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I am finding more and more comfort in the bedrock of Providence…

All I know about tomorrow is that God’s Providence will rise before the sun.

-Fr Jean Baptiste Lacordaire, OP-

This makes me think… about not keeping Jesus at a distance…

Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10). Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; Jesus is the everlasting “today” of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you dear sister, for you dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness… and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

-Pope Francis, Easter Vigil, Homily, 2013-

This makes me think… about Jesus as my all, and how devotion to Mary helps me get there

Jesus Christ our Savior, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our devotions, else they are false and delusive. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, of all things. We labor not, as the Apostle says, except to render every man perfect in Jesus Christ; because it is in Him alone that the whole plenitude of the Divinity dwells together with all the other plenitudes of graces, virtues, and perfections.

It is in Him alone that we have been blessed with all spiritual benediction; and He is our only Master, Who has to teach us; our only Lord on Whom we ought to depend; our only Head to Whom we must be united; our only Model to Whom we should conform ourselves; our only Physician Who can heal us; our only Shepherd Who can feed us; our only Way Who can lead us; our only Truth Whom we must believe; our only Life Who can animate us; and our only All in all things Who can satisfy us. There has been no other name given under heaven, except the name of Jesus, by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation of our salvation, our perfection, or our glory, than Jesus Christ. Every building which is not built on that firm rock is founded upon the moving sand, and sooner or later infallibly will fall.

By Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, we can do all things; we can render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy [Spirit]; we can become perfect ourselves, and be to our neighbor a good [fragrance] of eternal life.

If, then, we establish solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly devotion to Jesus Christ, and to provide an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ. Devotion to Our Lady is necessary for us… as a means of finding Jesus perfectly, of loving Him tenderly, of serving Him faithfully.

-St Louis de Montfort-

True Devotion to Mary, (no. 61, 62.)

Newtown CT: We pray with you and mourn with you. (Here’s my latest on Patheos on turning to the God who saves.)

Newtown CT: We pray with you and mourn with you. (Here’s my latest on Patheos on turning to the God who saves.)

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Newtown CT: we pray for you and we mourn with you.

Like so many of you, I’ve been disturbed about the carnage that took place in the sanctuary of an elementary school in Connecticut. Here’s a few thoughts on what I learned by recalling that the liturgical calendar places the Feast of the Holy Innocents squarely in the midst of our Christmas season, so we do not forget what we have been, and are being saved from.

Of course, may we pray never to be put to the test, but if we are, may we cling to Jesus as we cling to one another.

Here’s the opening of my article:

One night there was inexplicable, explosive joy. The kind of joy that sends its ripple effects not only around the world but the news of which transforms the hearts of generations to come.

The Savior was born. A heavenly host of angels announced his arrival, echoing the message of the prophets of old and the longing of humanity for centuries.

Yet several nights later, there was terror and excruciating heartache… Herod had arranged for a systematic killing of innocent Hebrew boys under the age of two. Only God knows how many little ones were massacred at the royal command, at the whim of a king who would not abide a future rival.

Generations later, we remember the heartaches of those parents whose children were taken from them so violently. For Catholics, in our liturgical calendar, we remember both… our Christmas season exults the Savior’s coming, and solemnizes his human peers that were lost because selfishness considered their lives expendable. The slaughter of the innocents – little ones who were martyred on behalf of the God-man who was in their very midst – are memorialized annually on Dec 28th, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. In their deaths, we recall that even though the Christ was born into their land, his presence was not yet born into the hearts of all those for whom he had come.

It is the same for us today. Unless Jesus is embraced by us we cannot dissuade the sin that is born from the free will of those hell-bent on rejecting the Savior’s way, truth, and life.

We have a hard lesson in that this week.

In this third week of Advent — the one that begins with the call of Gaudate!to rejoice, for the Lord is near! — it is hard to reconcile the mourning and weeping of a nation in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, with the joys of Advent and the coming of Christmas.

And yet… that very coming of the God who saves… Jesus… is the very heart of the hope of all who mourn with a magnitude of grief that, for most of us, is beyond our ability to fathom.

This week, many Americans came against something from which we need saving.

We cannot face the gruesome depravity that is in our midst. We want to look away. We want to go back to what we knew before what we know now. And for the bravest among us, we want one more chance to go back in time, to turn the tide, to do the one thing that may have stopped this evil from befalling us, and others.

The slaughter of innocents will always have that effect on us.

It is the same for Jesus.

In the fullness of time, it was Jesus who looked down from heaven at our depravity and destitution, our evils and ills, and turned to the Father and said, in effect, “No more. Send me.”

Read the conclusion here. Or subscribe here.

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Image credits:

Creche: from the Gohn home
Churches in Newtown, CT