Monday, January 31, 2011

This makes me think...

When God becomes our guide, He insists that we trust Him without reservations and put aside all nervousness about His guidance.  We are sent along the path He has chosen for us, but we cannot see it, and nothing we have read is any help to us. Were we acting on our own, we should have to rely on our experience. It would be too risky to do anything else. But it is very different when God acts with us. Divine action is always new and fresh, it never retraces its steps, but always finds new routes. 

---Jean-Pierre de Caussaude, SJ  Abandonment to Divine Providence.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Make me a channel... (video)

Beautiful imagery set to Sarah McLaclan's vocalizing the familiar words we attribute to the spiriti of St. Francis... I especially loved "Joy!"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Note to the Young: Thank you for your witness to life!

I am a mother of three young adults. 

I have long believed that the most important pro-life work I could do is to raise a family for God. I'm no saint or parenting expert, but together with their father, we have striven for years to lovingly and persistently remind these three that being their Mom and Dad was one of the greatest things that ever happened to us. And that's why we pursued their conscience formation... to teach them to choose good over evil, life over death, to trust that grace and mercy wins over sin and death. 

We ordered our lives around Love of God and Love of Neighbor, creating a context for their lives to flourish in. We were pro-life every time we reminded them of their dignity...

That there is a plan for your life that is for your good, and the good of others... 

That people always come first before things... 

That truth, beauty, and goodness should always be pursued for they lead to the One who is Truth, Beauty and Goodness... 

That with freedom comes responsibilities...  

That we should not scorn the struggles in our lives, for suffering in any form, when it is joined to Christ, can have redemptive value...

And that forgiveness is a restart button for every mistake and foible, large and small, so that we can start again. 

Finally we felt it was a mandate that God gave us as parents -- to teach that life is a sacred gift, and that one spends a lifetime giving thanks for it in a myriad of ways. 

I know other parents have done the same, often in the face of an uphill battle against the moral relativism that is ever-present in our culture. 

And now we are looking over our shoulder at the generation we've raised... and their strength that is at hand to raise the conscience of a nation...

For now they must choose for themselves, and they are choosing wisely...

Their voices and their actions affirm that life is sacred; they have a profound sense of celebrating survivorship, knowing that a large segment of their generation suffered death through abortion. Their message rings loud and clear: do not grow weary, don't stop believing, do not give in to the lies. We are alive! Alive to the truth, goodness and beauty that is Life!

These are the new witnesses to life. And many of them are going to be great parents one day...

Just look at some of the fine company they keep....

For Catholic Singles only: A Conference for You! The NCSC!

Don't miss the National Catholic Singles Conference taking place next month Feb 25-27 in San Antonio Texas! 


Pass it on!

Friday, January 28, 2011

More on the Beatitudes...

Been doing some thinking about the beatitudes... and how we might one day learn to become blessed. Find my column, Embracing the Catechism at Catholic Exchange here.

The Fun Quotient... You are Amazing, God!

So while you are enjoying the praises of God sung from Chris Tomlin, consider the awesomeness and indescribable creativity of God, as captured by the Hubble Telescope:

The Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared Light
Source: The Sombrero Galaxy

The Cat
Source: The Cat's Eye Nebula

 Light Echo  Illuminates Dust Around Supergiant Star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon)
Source: Light Echo Illuminates Dust Around Supergiant Star V838 Monocerotis

A Giant Hubble Mosaic of the Crab Nebula
Source:  The Crab Nebula

Interacting Spiral Galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163
Source:  Interacting Spiral Galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163

Hubble Captures View of
Source:  "Mystic Mountain" (A mountain of dust and gas rising the the Carina Nebula.)

A String of
Source:  A cosmic string of pearls surround an exploding star.

The Helix Nebula: a Gaseous Envelope Expelled By a Dying Star
Source: The Helix Nebula (A dead star.)

Source: Saturn's rings in ultra violet light

New Red Spot Appears on Jupiter
Source:  New red spot appears on Jupiter

Rings and Moons Circling Uranus
Source:  Rings and moons circling Uranus

The Dog Star, Sirius, and its Tiny Companion
Source:  The Dog Star, Sirius, and its tiny companion

The Heart of the Whirlpool Galaxy
Source:  The heart of the Whirlpool Galaxy

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1512 in Many Wavelengths
Source: Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1512 in many wavelengths

Source:  Hubble's deepest view of the universe reveals never-before-seen galaxies...

There is so much more to see -- check it out!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

To Be Blessed: An Attitude

I'm over at Patheos today... my column discusses the Beatitudes that we encounter in this Sunday's Gospel. And I share how my own attitude toward them has steadily improved over the years... Here's a tease:

...over time, I was learning that the Christian way is no easy way, but it is a blessed way. For me, beauty, graces, and freedom were yet to be found within those paradoxical Beatitudes, after all.
Maybe that’s why Jesus started the Sermon on the Mount with their counsels. Central to his gospel, they teach the presence of eternal value inherent in the experiences of our daily lives… even the difficult ones.
The Beatitudes are meant to shape and form us -- like “be attitudes” -- the way that Jesus wants us to be. The Beatitudes give us choices to deliberately “be more” than minimalists or skimmers of the surface of life. They dare us to believe in the necessity of being a blessing now in exchange for a blessing yet unseen. This is no immediate transaction. The return on one’s investment is in the hands of Someone else.
The whole article is at "A Word in Season" at Patheos.

Among Women #86- Spirituality and Creativity

Among Women 86 celebrates the gift of creativity and its integration within the spiritual life.  Come join me for a very engaging discussion with author Vinita Hampton Wright as we tackle the subjects of being intentionally creative in life, and discover the beauty of the imagination and its place in our life with God. Together we unpack some of the themes found in Vinita's books The Soul Tells a Story, Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life and Days of Deepening Friendship: For the Woman who Wants an Authentic Life with God.

Also in this episode, a reading from St Therese of Lisieux.

Would you like to have your voice be heard on Among Women?  Pat is planning the next AW Special Edition on the Bible.  Write or call Pat with your favorite bible verses and a brief description as to why it is meaningful for you.  Email Pat at or send your voice feedback to 206-203-2024. (Please note this new number for 2011.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

This makes me think.... world communication day message from BXVI

To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically. Furthermore, it is also true in the digital world that a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it. In these new circumstances and with these new forms of expression, Christian are once again called to offer a response to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is within them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

---Benedict XVI, Message for World Communications Day, 2011, entitled Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age.

There is an interesting juxtaposition of the news of this day. Liturgically, it is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, one of my favorite patrons, who just happens to be the patrons of writers and journalists... politically and culturally, today was the March for Life, commemorating the struggle against the culture of death, as evident in the decision of Roe. V. Wade. Finally, in terms of the Universal Church, we received the advance release of the Pope's Message for World Communications Day 2011, to be celebrated on June 5.

All of this news asks me, "What do you stand for, Pat?" "In the face of all of this, how would you respond?" It is something I will be reflect on today, and perhaps, every day. And I will wonder how I measure up? Am I living faithfully to the call of Christ in my life?  Am I making it count? Or am I wasting it?

I am amazed by the succinct nature of Benedict's words: they echo the bedrock of Marshall McLuhan's media theory and thesis from 1964 "The medium is the message".  That classic quote is one every communicator should take and know by heart. Even though those words were penned long before the invention known as the internet,  it tells us that the medium of our message is primary, not necessarily the content.  In other words, the medium, or the mode of communication, be it radio, tv, or new media, is a kind of messenger with inherent qualities, limitations, and liabilities.

This is sometimes hard to square with the idea that we are message-people... we Catholics, we are all about the message of the Gospel, right?  Aren't those words the most important things that we communicate in our work and ministries that may be found in the new media?  Yes, and no.

When we think of the Jesus, we may indeed think of his words and deeds that are very important. After all, they were handed down to us in the form of a written Gospel compiled from a faithful oral tradition. But before the oral tradition, there was the man, the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, that came to earth.

When all is said and done in our evangelization and catechesis in Catholic communication, is not the Person of Jesus Christ primary in our experience?  Does it not all boil down to an encounter with the living God, the Christ?

The first believers did not read a book, they met a person... a God-man who walked with them, ate with them, talked with them, and performed miracles that amazed many and scandalized others. The person who is Jesus was the medium.  Without Jesus, there is no message, there is no gospel. The Person of Jesus is the message. Nobody would ever accuse Jesus of an inconsistent witness.

Is not that true, now, of our liturgy?  Yes, the Word of God, rich as it is, is proclaimed as an appetizer to the main course; that is, the Person of Jesus, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, is the One we come to meet and receive?  It's all about the personal presence of Jesus in our midst. The same Jesus who preached in Galilee shows up at the Eucharist, the same Jesus who cured the blind and the lame, comes in person through the miracle of the Mass.

Benedict is writing to Catholics, specifically, Catholic communicators, and he says "in the digital world ...a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it."  What is he getting at here? Well, I don't presume to know the mind of the pope, but from McLuhan's perspective, the messages heard and seen on the internet are really extensions of ourselves. The medium of the internet is an extension of oneself. As such, it's my assessment, reading Benedict, that we, the communicators are the message. We are more than just the content providers. We ourselves are the message. After all, in this social and interactive medium, we speak and listen. We may have online personas but we are real people. Behind these flickering words on a screen is a person.

Consistency and integrity, of who we are speaks more loudly and says more than our words ever will. A consistent witness. That's our challenge as Catholic in new media.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Fun Quotient...

As has been stated in countless podcasts, I really do live down a country lane... and as has been stated in many weathercasts, it really is rather snowy here these days...

I wish I had something poetic to share about all this beauty, but I'm just kinda taking it all in.

Being as homebound as I have been (given my continued aircasted foot from my November ankle surgery) I am learning to savor the local sights in my own backyard.

Sometimes its the simple little things, like walking my dog who hates snow, that are the fun and silly things in my recent cloistered days.

Psalm 16: 11: Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fulness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Among Women #85- Standing Up for the Faith

Among Women 85 features a lively conversation with Elizabeth Scalia, AKA The Anchoress, who shares about her writing life and talks about her famous blog migrating to Patheos. Her latest adventures include being the managing editor for the Catholic portal at Patheos. Plus she shares her insights on giving voice to faith in the public square that is the internet.

Plus this episode features a look at the young life of the Christian martyr known as Agnes, who also freely gave voice to her faith in the public square and suffered the ultimate penalty.

St Francis de Sales on My Refrigerator Door

This week at "A Word in Season", I share how I was blest by the timely words of St Francis de Sales during a particularly difficult season in my life.

Here's a snip:

Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36, I was a young wife and mother to three children under age 9. To put it mildly, I was a mess over the news. And having a writer's vivid imagination, the kind that often writes the end of the script in my head while the play is still the first act, I was tending toward pessimism. (I have since worked to suspend that habit, learning that God is the superior scriptwriter, and he already knows the end of the story.)
But back then, my pessimist's wild imaginings coupled with a volatile pathology report brought misery. My believer's heart needed a trauma intervention.
God's rescue squad arrived in the form of my loved ones, my church, and a 16th-century saint I had heard about but never took serious note of. Until I read his words:
Do not look forward in fear
to the changes of life;
rather look to them with full hope
as they arise.
God, whose very own you are,
will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it, 
God will carry you in His arms.
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cared for you today
will take care of you then and every day.
He will either shield you from suffering,
Or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace 
And put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations,

The whole story is here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

This makes me think....

The basic reason why man can speak with God arises from the fact that God himself is speech, Word. His nature is to speak, to hear, to reply... Only because there is already speech, "Logos", in God can there be speech, "Logos" to God. Philosophically, we could put it like this: the Logos in God is the ontological foundation for prayer... In God there is speech and the intercourse of partners in dialogue. Man could speak with God if he himself were drawn to share in this internal speech. And this is what the Incarnation of the Logos means: he who is speech, Word, Logos, in God and to God, participates in human speech. Man is able to participate in the dialogue with God himself because God has first shared in human speech and has thus brought the two into communication with one another. The Incarnation of the Logos brings eternity into time and time into eternity. As a result of the incarnation, human speech has become a component in divine speech; it has been taken up, unconfusedly and inseparable, into that speech which is God's inner nature.  Through the Spirit of Christ, who is the Spirit of God, we can share in the human nature of Jesus Christ; and in sharing in his dialogue with God, we can share in the dialogue which God is. This is prayer, which becomes a real exchange between God and man... 

---from Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Fun Quotient...

This is my dog, Brady. He had two talents, neither of which require talking: playing fetch (endlessly), and sitting in his cute pose:

The Church as My Mother & Teacher

Like most of my better lessons in life, taking the Church as my Mother and Teacher was something that grew over time...

My best memories of my mother and my favorite teachers are what shaped my understanding of the Catholic Church as my Mother and Teacher. Sure, in my younger years, I lacked a real appreciation for the richness and wisdom that She was trying to impart to me.  But once I got a taste of real forgiveness and grace – the home cooking of what every soul is hungry for – I never wanted another Mother or Teacher again. Over the course of my young adult years, there were moments of on- going conversion. And since that time, I’ve found a sense of fulfillment within the Church like no place on earth because Jesus was there. 

Read the rest over at my column today at Catholic Exchange.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vocations Awareness Week in progress!

First, check out this comprehensive post from The Anchoress.

Second, you may enjoy this forthcoming film, The Calling.

Previous posts here about vocations:

Among Women #84- Faith, Fashion, and Modesty

Among Women 84 delves into the question of modest dress for women with writer-blogger Hallie Lord, AKA Betty Beguiles.  Not only that, Hallie shares a bit of her own faith journey and entrance into the Catholic Church.

Also featured is the life and writings of Blessed Angela of Foligno, who has a powerful conversion story of her own!

Finally, we pray the Devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ as a form of intercessory prayer on behalf of others who may be undergoing pain, strife, and suffering.

If you like what we do at Among Women, kindly consider making a charitable contribution to SQPN. Thanks!

I'm over at Patheos today... the word is Ordinary Time -- but it's anything but!

From today's column, A Word in Season, a look beyond the ordinary:

The beauty and the richness of Ordinary Time, as seen in the perennial green vestments and décor, gently remind us that all life is now infused with grace. Like the evergreen amidst the winter snow, the life of faith is alive inside of us. Ordinary Time is steeped in the knowledge and the witness that we are not alone. That God is still with us. That this is good, but it is not all that will be. 
Ordinary Time brings with it a kind of daily hope, not only of "the more" to come in the afterlife, but of "the more" of God's Word and Presence that inhabits the everyday.  
The cry of John the Baptist in this Sunday's Gospel is the same reminder that we hear following the consecration at every Mass: 
        Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away this sin of the world! (Jn. 1:29) 
The extraordinary God comes to us under the ordinary auspices of bread and wine, by the power of his Word. The bread of heaven and the cup of salvation are now part of our ordinary circumstances. And though we may have witnessed this time and time again, it is anything but ordinary.
Read it all

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowy forecast for Among Women... will wait another day for a new podcast!

Blizzard warnings for our area where the Among Women podcast originates! So, we're scurrying about and I'll have to wait a day or two to upload our next episode...hope it is warm where you are!

Monday, January 10, 2011

This makes me think....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Among Women #83- Special Supplement: Photos from Our Lady Of Good Help Apparition Site in the Green Bay area

Here's a special supplement to our most recent edition of Among Women 83, with theology prof, Dr. Maura Hearden, on the subject of Our Lady of Good Help Shrine in Robinsonville, WI,  a recently approved Marian apparition in the Diocese of Green Bay. If you've heard the episode, you know that Maura and I discussed some theological teachings about the Blessed Mother, and then we came around to talking about this Shrine, most recently in the news.

Recapping, this Shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary remembers the 19th century appearances of Mary to visionary Adele Brise, and the miracles and history associated with the event.  

As it turns out, Maura is a Wisconsin native who now resides in Pennsylvania, teaching at DeSales University. She recently returned to Wisconsin to visit her family while she was between semesters.  Fortunately for us she and her intrepid mother braved the wintry elements and made a pilgrimage to the Shrine. We are happy to share their photo essay of their visit, with Maura's captions below, (and mine in italics.)

Thanks so much, Maura, for taking time to remember the Among Women audience!!  Lovely to have a personal tour with the Hearden family!

Here's an overview of the shrine grounds.  
You can see the main church on the right, the outdoor Mass
 pavilion in the center (which is attached to a gift shop) and 
what used to be the Carmelite monastery on the left.
  The Carmelites are no longer there.  
The diocese is currently running it and, I hear, 
looking for an order to move in.

Here I am, about to enter the main church.

Its all decked out for Christmas.

The crypt, which is to the side of the church, is built over the actual apparition spot. 

Crutches on the wall are a sample of the hundreds that 
have been left at the shrine after healing miracles.

This is the the focal point of the shrine, where people invoke the Blessed Virgin.

Here's a close-up from the shrine website.

Here's my mom lighting a votive candle! 

The windows are from the original church that stood on this site.

Here's a picture of Adele! 

And a close-up!

This is where Adele now rests.

And a close-up.

Yikes its cold!!!!  (Gotta love Wisconsin in January!)

There is a lovely field dotted with the stations of the cross, 
the mysteries of the rosary, a Belgian Chapel and a shrine to Lourdes.  
Its great in the summer time!!

Outdoor altar 

This is the outdoor Mass pavilion for summer gatherings.

This is a new Fatima shrine.  
There's a koi pond in front of Our Lady.  
Do you think the fish are still alive???  
(I don't know Maura... are they below the ice?)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

To Become Like Jesus... Baptism gives us a great start!

My Patheos column, A Word in Season, looks ahead to Sunday's Gospel about the Baptism of the Lord, and what our own baptism means...
In baptism we have the potential and the power of grace to imitate Christ. Why? Because Christ's very life is in us. God has taken up residence in us. Not only that, we grow in that living intimacy of God-in-us whenever we receive the Eucharist.
The work of Christian life is to become like Jesus—to become, in full adult measure and stature, our truest selves, modeling Christ, while maintaining our unique personhood and distinctive qualities.
It is a calling, and we are called, each of us, by name.
As always, there's more, here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Among Women Podcast on hiatus this week!

Enjoying some down time this week... the post-holiday recouping underway!

Feel free to browse the AW archives!

Monday, January 3, 2011

25 Phrases from the CCC Worth Memorizing -- Can you learn 3?

To start the New Year right, why not make a small resolution to memorize just 3 lines of the Catechism of the Catholic Church?  Surely everyone can memorize three lines or phrases right?

Here's a few suggestions from my latest on Catholic Exchange:

CCC 27 The desire for God is written in the human heart.
CCC 68  By love, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. He has thus provided the definitive, superabundant answer to the questions that man asks himself about the meaning and purpose of his life.
CCC 70 The Son is his Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him. 
CCC 435 The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. 
CCC 658 Christ, "the first-born from the dead" (Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf. Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf.: Rom 8:11). 
CCC 682 When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace. 
CCC 780 The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men. 
CCC 826 Charity is the soul of the holiness to which all are called: it "governs, shapes, and perfects all the means of sanctification [Lumen Gentium, 42].” 
CCC 982 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive.

Go read the rest!


This makes me think....

Now,  just think a minute.... where did YOU see God today?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 1: Solemnity of Mary ("Our tainted nature's solitary boast...")

The Virgin

by William Wordsworth

Mother!  Whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! Above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;

Thy image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not forgiven, the suppliant knee might bend
As to a visible power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
Of high and low, celestial with terrine.

The new Roman Missal (click & learn about the coming changes):

Watch Catholic TV here! Find Women's programs: "WINGs" and "Woman at the Heart of the Church"

A Lovely Reminder for Every Day

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Ship a Cake, and Share a Blessing