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Among Women Podcast 199: Beatitude = Being Like Jesus

Among Women Podcast 199: Beatitude = Being Like Jesus

The latest episode of Among Women focuses on the heart of the matter — or more specifically, the heart of Jesus and the face of Jesus we find in the Beatitudes. My guest is Melanie Rigney. Her latest book, in which I was privileged to compose the foreword, is one part a meditation on the Beatitudes and one part a reflection on the lives of the saints… Blessed Are You: Finding 9781616368807_mediumInspiration from Our Sisters in Faith, is the basis for our conversation today on how to live the beatitudes. In other words, it’s how to live like Jesus. Also in this episode, enjoy a profile on the life of St Frances Xavier Cabrini, and encouragement to tune into the Jubilee Year of Mercy coming Dec 8th.

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Related:

My stop on the Blessed Are You blog tour. 

A previous Among Women conversation with Melanie Rigney on her earlier book, Sisterhood of the Saints.

Melanie Rigney’s Blessed-Are-You Blog Tour Finishes Here! “Blessed are the meek…”

Melanie Rigney’s Blessed-Are-You Blog Tour Finishes Here! “Blessed are the meek…”

Welcome!

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 4.09.42 PMThis is the final stop of the 8-beatitude blog tour for Melanie Rigney’s latest book, Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from our sisters in faith!

This book is available today for you to browse or purchase through this link: Blessed Are You!

Franciscan Media summarizes the book this way…

Melanie Rigney uses stories of the saints, our sisters in faith, to help readers grow in their spiritual lives. Some of these saints are familiar—Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Bernadette of Lourdes, Elizabeth Ann Seton—while others are not so well known—Maria Karlowska, Claudine Thevenet, Josephine Bakhita, Margaret Flesch. They come from different places and different times, creating an intimate portrait of the universal Church. Yet the lives of each of these women illustrate the qualities of the Beatitudes—what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “the heart of Jesus’s preaching” (1716)—in a down-to-earth and human way. Through the lives of these exemplary women saints and the qualities they espouse—meekness, mourning, poverty of spirit, justice, mercy, purity of heart, peace, righteousness—women will find ways to live more fully the Gospel values of Christian life.

Melanie Rigney invited me to write the foreword for this book and I gratefully accepted. Her book is a fantastic mix of lessons from the beatitudes of Jesus and the inspirational lives of saints who live them.

Beatitudes = Being like Jesus.

This book is a call for all of us to live the beatitudes – to know them and love them.

Here’s a little bit from the foreword I wrote:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares: “the Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity.”

To live the Beatitudes is to be like Jesus, to reflect his countenance, and to be his charity in the world. Picture Jesus’ face, and his example, in each of the Beatitudes as you read them in Blessed are You. The real blessing will come when you can picture your own face, and your faithful example, following Jesus! It’s challenging, yet rewarding. What Melanie Rigney has done in this book is demonstrate the powerful countenance of Jesus that comes through the faces of faith-filled women, chapter by chapter, beatitude by beatitude. So take notes on the women who inspire you. More than famous list of proverbs, the Beatitudes are paradoxical promises – hope in the midst of tribulation — and a response to the holy desire for happiness that God has placed within our hearts. Memorize them and make them your own.

Meekness matters!

Today, on this final leg of the blog tour, we focus on the beatitude meekness.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

When I was growing up I was a bit rambunctious. I frequently had parents and neighbors asking, “why are you so loud?” I had not yet realized the gentility needed for the deep and booming voice God had given me. You could say that it took a while before meekness was on my youthful radar. In time I learned that meekness is one of the qualities that Jesus describes as a key to happiness in Christian life, and indeed, meekness properly asserted brings rewards from God.

Melanie Rigney writes… “In today’s world, meek gets a bad rap. We link it to words like submissive and deferential, words that might make for a deeper relationship with God in theory but that make us uncomfortable to say, let alone consider using as guideposts in our relationships with others here on earth. We want to be strong, empowered, confident, successful, popular—not meek, for goodness sake!

The thing is, we become all of those things when we embrace meekness and humility.”

How true!

Rigney’s book shows that meekness is what Jesus (who was all powerful, being God himself) ultimately demonstrated when he humbled himself in the Garden of Gethsemani at the beginning his passion. He was humble to God’s sovereign will for his human life. Meekness was also a quality of Mary — she humbly yet confidently submitted her request to Jesus at Cana when the wine ran out. Jesus went on to perform his first of many miracles at his mother’s request.

Meekness, though it rhymes with weakness, is anything but. Meekness waits on God. Meekness trusts God implicitly. Meekness lets God lead.

One aspect that I love about Blessed Are You is its liberal use of quotes from the saints. Among those mentioned in this chapter are two of my favorites saints — Gianna Beretta Molla and Thérèse of Lisieux. I’ve included their prayerful quotes for our edification.

“O Jesus, I promise to submit myself to all that you permit to happen to me. Only make me know your will.”
St. Gianna Beretta Molla

“… Dear Lord, Thou knowest my weakness. Each morning I resolve to be humble, and in the evening I recognize that I have often been guilty of pride. The sight of these faults tempts me to discouragement; yet I know that discouragement is itself but a form of pride. I wish, therefore, O my God, to build all my trust upon Thee. As Thou canst do all things, deign to implant in my soul this virtue which I desire, and to obtain it from Thy Infinite Mercy, I will often say to Thee: ‘Jesus, Meek and Humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.’”
St Thérèse of Lisieux

Find out more about Melanie Rigney

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 1.35.18 PMCatch the earlier dates of the Blessed Are You blog tour — click the links below:

Week One

Week Two

Find a conversation with Melanie and myself about The Sisterhood of the Saints, a previous book, on Among Women.

Find Melanie’s posts at Your Daily Tripod.

Go to MelanieRigney.com.

 

 

My Year to Write Forewords: 3 great books coming from Melanie Rigney, Lisa Mladinich, and Maria Morera Johnson

My Year to Write Forewords: 3 great books coming from Melanie Rigney, Lisa Mladinich, and Maria Morera Johnson

When the first request came in, I was a bit shocked and humbled. Within a couple weeks two more invitations came in. Last winter, amidst the trials of being cooped up by continual snow storms, God gave me three new assignments in support of other writers with new books.

It is with deep gratitude that I share with you three forthcoming books in which I have been privileged to write the forewords.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 4.09.42 PMThe first one is new this month. You’ll be hearing more about it here on the blog soon — Melanie Rigney’s Blessed are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith. The book’s blog tour stops here next week — look for it here on August 27. However the blog tour is currently underway this week, so go visit MelanieRigney.com for a list of where and get clickin’!

This book is a wonderful mash-up of the Beatitudes-meet-saints stories. If you’ve never had a firm grip of what the beatitudes might look like in daily life, this book will help! I’ll brag on it a bit more when the blog tour gets here! Regular listeners of Among Women may remember when Melanie was my guest when her last book about the saints came out.

Get Blessed Are You by Melanie Rigney now!

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The second book I want to share is Lisa Mladinich’s True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of LifeThis book is due out in October, but I had the pleasure of catching up with Lisa at the Catholic Writers Guild conference that paralleled the Catholic Marketing Network show last month in New Jersey. It was great to see an early proof of the book.

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Me with Lisa Mladinich at CMN and a copy of her new book!

Can you say “I’d like to grow old gracefully?” Its something we all ought to aspire to for ourselves and others. I love how Lisa’s new book points us toward the glory of heaven while keeping our feet down to earth. Lisa is also a longtime friend of Among Women and you’ll find two conversation with me that I retrieved from the Among Women archives here and here.  A lot of good things have happened in Lisa’s life since those two recordings, and this new book is just one fine example… pre-order it today! 

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Third, but not least, is Maria Johnson’s My Badass Book of Saint: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live. Yeah, that’s a mouthful to say but its a great story book… you’ll meet gun-toting nuns,  women who worked in the French Resistance,  and the author herself, a first-generation Cuban-American whose family fled Cuba, telling stories of badass women who kept faith first despite oppressive odds. I can’t wait to see this book finally in print.

Maria and I do a lot together as friends and as colleagues but what a joy to be asked to collaborate on this eye-popping title! Look for it this November, but hey – go pre-order it now! 

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Ok, look for more about each of these books in the weeks to come. In the meantime, here’s one amazing photo that really brought me joy…. two friends with two new books with forewords by moi. They had never met before but they shared their books with each other, and took a photo for the sake of me…. Too funny…

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Maria Johnson (l) with Melanie Rigney (r) both holding each other’s books! (Photographed at the Edel Conference, 2015) (Facebook photo courtesy of Maria Johnson)

For a look at all the books I have contributed to in recent years, go here.

 

#Fast Friday in Lent …  mid-Lent, midlife…

#Fast Friday in Lent … mid-Lent, midlife…

Here we are, approaching mid-Lent! I was encouraging my bible study students this week that it is never too late to make a good Lent. Lots of folks have a fast start. They get all excited to maintain the practices of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer and then forget, or can’t maintain the habit, or peter out. Or they get too busy. Or too easily discouraged. Nobody said this would be easy.

But really, even great saints remind us that it is never too late to begin again.

Nunc coepi! — now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve — to love! — our God with a wholehearted loyalty.

-St Josemaria Escriva-

Hit the re-set button. Begin anew. Begin today. Take one small step.

A saint is not someone who never sins,

but one who sins less and less frequently

and gets up more and more quickly.

-St. Bernard of Clairvaux-

It’s not just mid-Lent, for me it’s mid-life. Yet the message is the same. It’s never too late to change and start over — not just in Lent, but in our longing to do good and love the Lord more.

Never give up hope. We can all become saints, even if we get a late start in life.

Grace leads the way.

What Jesus is by nature, we can become through grace.

The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace… in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God’s gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received…. to live “as becomes saints”…

…that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity…

…they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. (Lumen Gentium, par 40-41, from Vatican II)

Some of the mightiest saints converted and came alive in their middle years.

Great saints for midlife include St Peter, and St Paul. Both met Jesus in midlife — the former because his brother dragged him to meet Jesus, and the latter because Jesus met him is flash of light on the road to Damascus  Of course, St Augustine dilly dallied for quite some time before caving into the love of God, too. Augustine’s conversion deeply affected his mother, St Helena. Then there’s St Teresa of Avila whose deepest conversion — in the “on going conversion” sense — began in her forties, long after first giving her life to Christ as a religious sister. There are so many more. Look into St Margaret of Cortona, St Olga of Kiev, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (AKA Edith Stein), and the later in life convert-to-Catholicism Elizabeth Ann Seton.

(H/T to my author-friend Melanie Rigney, the saint researcher, for our emails about saints with later-in-life conversions.)

There’s an old expression, “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.” But my Dad, whom I call a dog whisperer, teaches old rescued dogs things all the time. I’m not calling anyone here an old dog, but the same adage applies. The Heart Whisperer, the Lover of Our Soul, Jesus Christ can rekindle the flame in us, no matter what our age! But especially those of us a little older in years. We might think change is beyond us. Yet it is never beyond grace and mercy.

Who could ever forget Abraham and Moses? They got the call to shift gears and follow God — complete with cross-country moves to new places — deep into their graying years.

It’s only mid-Lent. That means for some of us, we’re just gettin’ started.

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Good encouragement here:

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For Comic Relief: Speaking of St Peter and other saints, Stephen Colbert is fan of Simon Peter…

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Why #Fast Friday in Lent?

#Fast Friday on Confession

 

 

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Among Women 169: A Saintly Sisterhood

Among Women 169: A Saintly Sisterhood

In this week’s episode of Among Women, I discuss one of my favorite topics from the French spiritual master, St Louis de Montfort:  how Mary is the molder of saints. In addition, I share the wisdom of Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) who echoes how we ought to entrust our lives to Mary. After all, Mary desires nothing more than to make saints out of us, fashioned in the image of her son, Jesus.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 11.41.24 PMAll of this leads to a discussion of saints with author Melanie Rigney who recently penned a new volume of women saints stories, Sisterhood of the Saints.  Listen for how you can win a copy of this keepsake-style book for yourself or someone you love.

I also chronicle my recent visit to EWTN to record TV shows with Johnette Benkovic of Women of Grace. (There’s also a radio interview that you can hear.)

Plus I announce a book sale her at my website for Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious through December 15.

Listen to the Among Women podcast today!