Write In Between

Monday, March 27, 2006


In this Lenten season, I've been encountering situations that have led me to contemplate bones.

For instance, I've been very aware of my weary bones, as I return to my exercise program after several weeks hiatus post-injury. My bones and joints hurt. And yet, I need to exercise to keep those same joints lubricated and healthy. Advil is my friend.

Then there's my friend who is suffering the effects of breast cancer that has spread to her bones. She walks with tremendous difficulty. That's on the days when she can walk. Even rolling from one side to another in bed causes excruciating pain. I hug her gently and don't squeeze the broken ribs that no longer heal. Her pain relief comes in the form of self-injected morphine and oxycontin. (And I complain that I take Advil? Pul-lease!)

My friend's death looms in the future--a date known only to God. It's sobering, and yet the time to prepare for it is sacred. Her suffering and her final pains are intermingled with the sufferings of Christ. They are soon coming to an end. Then, we believe, she will be free. But in the meantime, she is dragging a very heavy cross on the way to her personal Calvary.

That's exactly one of the meditations we Catholics are called to make in this Lenten season. Not only will my friend one day leave the planet, but one day, so will I. And my time to prepare for it is sacred. My time here is meant to prepare me for eternity. And one day, my own bones will be laid to rest in a tomb. And I can only hope that my own tombstone will say that I was a faithful witness to Christ.

You may recall that the Catholic Church cherishes the bones of beloved Saints as relics. I've venerated and been in the presence of many sacred relics over the years, and I always marvel at the simplicity of the bone matter that once held the frame of one of God's great ones.

Two years ago, right after Easter, I had the privilege of making a pilgrimage to Rome with my husband and daughter. Among the days we spent at the Vatican, one of the highlights of the week was our trip to the excavations, known as the Scavi, under the altar of St. Peter's Basilica, where the bones of St. Peter are believed to be laid to rest. It was like going to the cemetery to visit the remains of a deceased relative. (I mean, I have a special devotion to St. Peter, our third child is named in his honor.) So it was an honor to pray there, and to be as close as I could to the bones of the Rock. And to understand that even Peter, one of Jesus' closest friends, experienced death--a crucifying one at that. His bones testify to the fact that no one gets out of this life alive. We all must cross the threshold of death. But, with Jesus, there is the promise of Heaven waiting, and so Peter embraced death, exchanging it for life eternal.

For more on this subject, you might find Amy Welborn's blog Open Book interesting. She recently described her trip to Rome, and more specifically, her trip to the Scavi. For an introduction to this material, read Discovering the Bones of Saint Peter. Another remarkable article about the same is here, composed by George Weigel. (One of my Catholic writing heroes.)

Do not be afraid to contemplate your own mortality. The Church calls you to do it. Not as an exercise in morbidity, but as an honest exercise that allows an eternal perspective to hold sway in our minds, so we may live more radically for Christ.

Proverbs 3: 5-8:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh and




Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Two Paths to Sainthood

My current studies are in that formidable area of Church History. (Capital C, capital H.) And I have been most intrigued by the apostolic era and the age of the earliest martyrs.

As a committed Catholic, I've always believed that Jesus died for me personally, and for the sake of the world. It was a given. No ifs, ands or buts. My readings of these martyrologies have left me truly inspired. I never realized that, much like Jesus, these heroes and heroines of the faith, have died for me in much the same way.

Without their witness1, I might not be here today. For without their bloodshed2, I might not have the Church (capital C.) And so this History really is HIS-story--the story of Christ and His Bride--the Church3. But it is also his-story and her-story, and his-story and her-story, again and again. The countless saints that have died before us are waiting in Heaven for us to join them there.

And to that end, I'd like to share my remembrance of a life-changing talk I heard almost 10 years ago now, given by Fr. George Kosicki on becoming a saint. (Forgive me, Father, while I paraphrase.) He explained there are two ways, or paths, to become a saint. The first path is to die for the faith. (The martyr's death being the straightest, surest path heaven.) The second path--for the rest of us who may never be martyrs--is to die daily4.

Luke 9:23: And [Jesus] said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church

1 2472 The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.

2 2473 Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude.
"Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it
will be given me to reach God."

3 2474 The Church has painstakingly collected the records of those who persevered to the end in witnessing to their faith. These are the acts of the Martyrs. They form the archives of truth written in letters of blood:

Neither the pleasures of the world nor the kingdoms of
this age will be of any use to me. It is better for me to die [in order to unite
myself] to Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. I seek him who
died for us; I desire him who rose for us. My birth is
approaching. . .

I bless you for having judged me worthy from this
day and this hour to be counted among your martyrs. . . . You have
kept your promise, God of faithfulness and truth. For this reason and for
everything, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal and
heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him, who is with
you and the Holy Spirit, may glory be given to you, now and in the ages to come.

4 957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself":

We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Monday, March 20, 2006

A Ray of Hope for New Orleans

Once upon a time, I worked in a parish to help bring Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to that church. It was a huge undertaking, but an incredible blessing to the parish and to our region. I was thus moved to read this article about the Holy Father blessing a monstrance for New Orleans. Be sure to check out the picture that shows the watermark of the flooding reached all the way to the foot of the crucifix that hung in the church.

Which brings me to this little Lenten encouragement: If you've never spent time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, Lent would be a good time to try it. Start with a 30 minute visit, and see if you can manage an hour. Jesus will meet you there.

Here are a few suggestions about making a prayerful visit.

Here is a simple prayer to bring with you.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

St Patrick and Me

I had a birthday this week. And thanks to my family and a few pals, for a few hours this week, it was all about me. Thus, the post below that gives you a bit of inside information about me and my life. There are no groundbreaking revelations but it's honest and factual.

When I was born, it was still fashionable to name children after saints, and so my sisters and I all have patrons to guide and inspire us. There's actually been little known about St. Patricia. But as we know, there's a wealth of fact and legend about St. Patrick. Being of Irish descent, I know he was the patron my parents intended.

The well-known prayer attributed to him is "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate". As you read it, you'll learn that alot has not changed since Patrick's time. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself todayThe strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity
in the UnityThe Creator of the Universe.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

100 Things About Me

  1. I'm a Catholic.
  2. I'm a John Paul II (theology & philosophy-wise) kinda Catholic.
  3. Married to the same guy 23+ years. (Update: Oct 23, 2007: 25 years! Whoa!)
  4. Yes, it's still good after all that time. Yes, that's really what I mean. We are living proof that Theology of the Body can be lived out. That and so much more.
  5. Met him in high school, but didn't date him until college.
  6. Native New Yorker, but transplanted to Massachusetts in 1994. (From one political sewer to another.)
  7. Three children, boy-girl-boy. All teens. 2 in high school, 1 in middle school. Oldest off to college in the fall 2006.
  8. Undergraduate degree from St. John's University. Major: Communications. Minors: Marketing; Theology
  9. [Updated! Completed my Masters in Theology, May 2008] at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
  10. Worst job: telemarketing.
  11. Best job: Mom.
  12. Other previous career paths: A former youth minister.
  13. A former Long Island radio disc-jockey and writer of commercials.
  14. A former parish pastoral staff member with spiritual development program responsibilities.
  15. Was a stay at home mom for 12 full years. Then worked part-time for 4 years. Now I'm back at home.
  16. I love to read.
  17. I love music. Rock, classical, jazz, and Christian stuff. Just don't offend me.
  18. I own 400 + music CDs but have been trying to cut down, honest.
  19. I play guitar. A rosewood Martin D-1, among others.
  20. Sometimes I play guitar at church.
  21. I write songs.
  22. I write stuff.
  23. I think there's a book in me.
  24. Maybe two.
  25. I think that I'd like to serve the Catholic Church with my writing.
  26. I keep a journal, mostly for my prayer time.
  27. I love photographs of family and friends.
  28. I believe in being a member of a parish, and supporting it financially.
  29. I am a breast cancer survivor. Lord-willing, I am coming up on 10 years cancer-free, Aug. 2006.
  30. Yes, I still go to regular check-ups, and still am occasionally freaked out by it.
  31. Yes, there are others in my family who have the disease.
  32. I raise money for the American Cancer Society every year. Send a donation here.
  33. I love to travel. Road-warrior is my middle name.
  34. Best vacations: Cross-country of the USA, 2000; Italy 2004; Fatima 1998 & 2002; Paris 2002; Sailing in the USVI & BVI -- 1993 & 2006.
  35. Favorite National Parks: Acadia; Yellowstone; Glacier; Grand Canyon; Bryce Canyon.
  36. Places I still want to visit: The Holy Lands, Alaska, Hawaii or any Pacific Island.
  37. Favorite fast food: Taco Bell.
  38. Favorite pizza: anything from the NY-tri-state area.
  39. Favorite food: dark chocolate, isn't it one of the food groups?
  40. Favorite dessert: cheesecake, but when unavailable chocolate ice cream will do.
  41. Things I miss about New York: family and friends; the Hamptons, and warm-water beaches in general; diners; bagels; Chinese food and restaurants that are open late.
  42. Things I have gained in Massachusetts: friends; good educations for my kids; deer in my yard; amazing ice cream; muffins; scones; chowdah. (I've also gained weight in Massachusetts.)
  43. Favorite ball teams: Besides the ones my kids play on??? In New York--the Mets and the Giants. In Massachusetts--the Red Sox and the Patriots.
  44. My favorite memory from the last ten years: actually there are three: each my children receiving their First Holy Communions.
  45. Worst nightmare from the last ten years: Besides "9/11;" my breast cancer diagnosis.
  46. Yes our family lost people we knew in the towers.
  47. Yes I lost a breast, and gained a reconstructed one.
  48. Yes, I still visit and LOVE New York City.
  49. Yes, I can still wear a bathing suit. Or not.
  50. And yes, both of these are somewhat related in that they both require faith, forgiveness and fortitude in order to wake up every day and give praise to God.
  51. My favorite game of all time is Scrabble. I once took 2nd place in a local Scrabble tournament.
  52. My favorite place indoors in my couch opposite our fireplace.
  53. My favorite place outdoors is my Adirondack chair on my back porch, with my hubby on his, too.
  54. Despite my love for beaches, we have a pool.
  55. I love most dogs, and own a Boston Terrier named Brady (after Tom Brady the quarterback.)
  56. Long ago, before children, my husband and I owned three cats: Cleo, Radar & Zeke.
  57. I hate mosquitoes, and other biting bugs. They usually pick me out of a crowd.
  58. I love birds and am an amateur birder. Yes I keep a log.
  59. I loved horse-back riding as a teen, but gave it up as an adult, as my husband does not ride well. (Trust me, its more painful for him to ride, than for me to give it up.)
  60. Ironically, I now have an allergy to horses.
  61. I love spending a day with my husband or a friend. It's a luxury.
  62. I love surprises. Those I get and those I give.
  63. I have read the Bible thro in one year twice.
  64. I love Magnificat for my daily devotions.
  65. I am Marian-devoted. My favorite Rosary meditations are found in this Scriptural Rosary.
  66. I think the must-have reference book every Catholic needs (outside of a personal copy of the Bible) is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  67. My top ten favorite saints, in random order are: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua (aka St. Anthony of Lisbon), St. Catherine of Siena, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Patrick, St. Peregrine, St. Augustine, St. Frances of Rome, St. Mary Magdalene and St. Peter.
  68. Favorite Blesseds are Teresa of Calcutta, Francisco and Jacinta of Fatima, and Julian of Norwich.
  69. I lift weights for exercise and do exercise videos in the privacy of my living room.
  70. I like to ride bikes.
  71. I ski both alpine and XC. But not very well.
  72. On some days I walk with a limp.
  73. On some days I battle vertigo.
  74. On all days I thank God for the gift of life.
  75. I am the oldest of three sisters.
  76. I have 17 nieces and nephews.
  77. I have little patience for traffic.
  78. I have a lead foot.
  79. After ten years of driving a family-sized van, I now drive a baby turbo known as Mom's Jet(ta).
  80. My family lineage is from Ireland, France, and Poland/Germany.
  81. Blue eyes.
  82. Blondish/brown hair depending on my mood and hair salon budget.
  83. Allergic to most make-up, so I do without.
  84. Favorite flowers: Iris, daisy.
  85. Favorite Catholic authors (non-fiction): Alan Schreck, Scott Hahn, Henri Nouwen, and George Weigel.
  86. Favorite authors (fiction): Jan Karon, Og Mandino, Taylor Caldwell, and Nicholas Sparks.
  87. I keep a fish tank.
  88. I love to snorkel and swim.
  89. I've been a secret fan of Cardinal Ratzinger for years. Now that he's Pope BXVI, I can come out of the closet.
  90. I like intelligent talk radio. My fav is Laura Ingraham.
  91. I like jigsaw puzzles and word puzzles, especially "The Puzzlemaster Presents...".
  92. Favorite movies: Lord of the Rings, It's a Wonderful Life, Casablanca, Ben Hur, Raising Helen, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice (the A&E version), Sleepless in Seattle, and The Passion of the Christ.
  93. Television I watch: 7th Heaven and '24'.
  94. I love hearing children tell jokes. Clean ones, of course.
  95. I don't giggle. But when I laugh, it's usually loud.
  96. I am not a great housekeeper.
  97. I can waste time by hanging out on-line too much.
  98. I often lack self-confidence.
  99. I am prone to worry.
  100. For these afflictions, but for so much more beyond my own failings, I go to Adoration of Blessed Sacrament every week.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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