Write In Between

Friday, June 29, 2007

You'll find me under the laundry pile

Following the joys of vacationing with the fam comes the inevitable disorientation of "re-entry" (which my friends and I usually describe as varying degrees of "heat-shield loss") as we return to the earth of our beloved domiciles.

I have been away for two weeks on a wonderful trip with my husband and youngest son, and I hope to write a bit more about that in the days to come. However, in that later part of our journey I contracted a fever and wicked gastrointestinal flu that really made the flight home an adventure. My doc says I could feel lousy for the next week or so. Eeww! And so, I am back, physically, er, but not quite physically. There is much to be done, not the least of which is finding something clean to wear. Hope to be writing more soon...

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Loving the Bride, vol.30

Something old...

O Lord my God, thank you

for bring this day to a close;

Thank you for giving me rest

in body and soul.

Your hand had been over me

and has guarded and preserved me.

Forgive my lack of faith

and any wrong that I have done today,

and help me to forgive all who have wronged me.

Let me sleep in peace under your protection,

and keep me from all the temptations of darkness.

Into your hands I commend my loved ones

and all who dwell in this house;

I commend to you my body and soul.

O God, your holy name be praised.

-----Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (1906-1945).

Something new...

Newsflash from Rome: The Motu Proprio (what's that?) concerning the use of the Tridentine Mass is coming July 7th: as reported here.


The latest from That Catholic Show!

Something borrowed...

GREAT piece on the new Mass translation by one of my heroes, writer George Weigel.

Something blue...

And now, this handy reminder for all who pray the Rosary...

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Warp speed, and other good reasons to take a break

My life is approaching warp speed. (Old Trekkie fans can appreciate this.) So, in order not to become warped, and reach the end of my galaxy, I'm taking a bit of a blogging break till the end of the month.

We have just come through the momentous 8th grade Catholic School Graduation of our youngest son, and all the special events that surrounded that wonderful occasion, as well as the accompanying visits from out-ot-town grandparents. In between playing proud mama and hostess, I also had to manage time to write and hand in a paper for a class, and for the next few days I'll still be trying to find time to write a second one...

But the main reason for a few weeks off is this: It's travel time!

Of course, for a mother, the best way to describe that is: Life speeds up so it can slow down. (A.K.A. first you pay, then you play, and then you pay again.)

In other words, I have sooooo much to do before I leave on vacation!! The "to-do" list contains the obvious laundry, packing and the how-light-can-I-travel quandries, and numerous travel confirmations. I'm not complaining, 'cause I'm psyched to welcome the arrival of summer with these plans... but they don't include toting my laptop. Just pen and journal and camera.

So, while I'm away, check out the blog roll of other Catholic Mothers who blog listed in the right sidebar, and don't forget, to come back around the end of the month!

And, so I bid you a warm Adieu, until somewhere around June 30th!

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Writer's Wednesday -- St. Augustine of Hippo

Why then do I bother to let men hear my confessions? It is not as though men are likely to heal all my infirmities? Men are a race very inquisitive about other people's lives, very lazy in improving their own. Why should they want to hear from me what I am, when they do not want to hear from you what they are?

For to hear from you something about themselves is simply to know themselves...

Yet still, my inmost Physician, I beg you to make clear to me what advantage I get from doing this. You have forgiven and covered up my past sins, blessing me in you and changing my soul by faith and by your sacrament; yet when the confessions of these past sins are read and hear, they rouse up the heart and prevent it from sinking into the sleep of despair and saying, "I cannot." Instead they encourage it to be wakeful in the love of your mercy and the sweetness of your grace, through which the weak is made strong when, thanks to this grace of yours, he becomes conscious of his own weakness. Also good men are pleased when they hear of sins done in the past by people who are now free of them; they are pleased not with the sins themselves, but because what were sins have now ceased to exist.

But as to what I now am, at the very moment of writing these confessions, there are many people who want to know about this--both those who know me personally and those who do not, but have heard something about me or from me; but their ear is not laid against my heart, where I am whatever I am. And so they want, as I make my confession, to hear what I am inside myself, beyond the possible reach of their eyes and ears and minds. And in wanting to hear, they are ready to believe; but will they know? For that charity, by which they are good, tells them that I am not lying about myself in my confessions, and it is the charity in them that believes me.

But what advantage do they wish to gain from this? Do they desire to rejoice with me when they hear how close I have come to you by your grace? And to pray for me, when they hear how I am kept back by my own weight? It is to people like this that I shall show myself. For it is no small advantage, my Lord God, that many people should give thanks to you for me and that many people should pray to you for me. I would wish that their brotherly minds should love in me what you teach them is to be loved, and should lament in me what you teach them is to be lamented. It is a brotherly mind that I would wish for, not the mind of strangers... but that brotherly mind which is glad for me when it sees good in me and sorry for me when it sees bad in me, because, whether good or bad, it loves me. It is to people like this that I shall show myself, hoping that in my good deeds they will be glad and in my evil deeds they will be sad. My good deeds are your work and your gift, my evil deeds are my faults and your punishments. So I would wish there to be gladness for the one, sadness for the other, and that hymns and lamentations should rise up into your sight from those censers which are the hearts of my brethren. And I pray that you, Lord, pleased with the sweet incense of your holy temple, may have mercy upon me according to Thy great mercy for Thine own name's sake, and in no way forsaking what you have begun, perfect my imperfections.

So I will confess what I know of myself, and I will will also confess what I do not know of myself; because what I know of myself I know by means of your light shining upon me and what I do not know remains unknown to me until my darkness be made as the noonday in your countenance.

There is no doubt in my mind, Lord, that I love you. You struck my heart with your word, and I loved you.

----St. Augustine, Confessions, excerpts from Book X.

Okay, from the sublime to the ridiculous... no, not ridiculous, just a little something lighter after that heavy quote from Gus...

Couldn't resist adding this latest video on "Charity and Mercy" from "That Catholic Show" just for it's smile value!

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Life imitating Art

Okay, this joke is so my life right now...

Keep a smile on!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Moi meme

I was tagged by Heidi for this meme. (Ever the conscientious editor, Heidi even explains memes if you don't know what one is.)

Here's mine. I'm not tagging anyone, (see # 5 below) but you're welcome to self-tag.

8 Facts or Habits about me....

  1. ONE: A cradle Catholic who went to Catholic school all her life (even two colleges!). Fell in love with Jesus as a teen, and well, this life is the rest of the story.

  2. TWO: This year (on Oct 23) marks my 25th Silver Wedding Anniversary with my main squeeze. When people meet us and do the math, they are amazed that we married at 22. Yes, I fear we are a dying breed. (Our kiddos are 19, 17, and 14.)

  3. THREE: I am really not a "morning person" but I am married to one. And, honestly, the demands of life require me to be a morning person... 'nuff said.

  4. FOUR: I have a deep baritone voice, which, for a woman, has not always been my most flattering feminine feature.... (ahem, telemarketers often call me Mr. Gohn...) except that my voice let me have a moderately successful radio career in my early years, and I really know how to harmonize when I'm singing with the music ministry. (I mention this because, if you've only known me as a writer, you probably have your own imaginary impression of my writer's voice, so now you know. Sorry to shatter any illusions.)

  5. FIVE: I am "head-down" (read: housework, writing, and social life are suffering) in my graduate theology studies right now (yes, even thru summer, waaah!) endeavoring to complete my degree next May 2008. (This is usually the reason for my infrequent posts.) Think of me locked in my home office or out on the back porch reading and thinking deep thoughts or writing a paper... I humbly ask for your prayers.

  6. SIX: Habits, huh? One bad habit (in some folks minds) : blasting the stereo when driving alone in the car, or when engaged in a housework marathon. (A definite throw-back to my radio days.)

  7. SEVEN: Good habit: the daily rosary.

  8. EIGHT: More factoids here.
Tag, you're it!

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Live the Gift: Self-donation is Vocation

The fourth in a series on theology of the body.
To read the previous article, go here.

In our house full of teenagers, I sometimes hear a snicker when they learn I’m taking another class or reading another book about sex—(yes, the theology of the body!)—and I’m learning this stuff from a pope no less!! My graduate studies in theology have led me to read, study, and write about John Paul II’s theology of the body. I’m no expert, so, be assured that you don’t have to be a theology student to embrace the beauty of this teaching or to be inspired by its wisdom. And even a teenager might be impressed to learn that sex, and who we are as masculine and feminine persons, were God’s original ideas. Our sexual selves were designed for a radical calling—to make a complete gift of oneself for another.

Let us explore this idea of gift. And as we do, I want to invite you to, slowly and meditatively, read and “hear” the words of the Holy Father contained in the remainder of this article.

Before he was even pope, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (the future John Paul II) wrote in Love and Responsibility, (Ignatius Press, 1981):

It is not sexuality which creates in a man and a woman the need to give themselves to each other, but, on the contrary, it is the need to give oneself, latent in every human person, which finds its outlet… in physical and sexual union, in matrimony. But the need… to give oneself and to unite with another person is deeper and connected with the spiritual experience of the person. It is not finally and completely simply with union with another human being. Considered in the perspective of the person’s eternal existence, marriage is only a tentative solution of the problem of a union of person through love.

What John Paul II is saying is similar to St. Augustine who said, "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee." Very simply, this ache we have in our lives can only finally be filled by God. The best another person can be for us (for example, our marriage partner) is a sacrament (which indeed is a most wonderful gift since it communicates divine grace.) But, ultimately, our true fulfillment will be later on in Heaven.

But what are we to do in the meantime? Live The Gift.

The universal call to holiness in this: for the Christian we must live our lives in total self-donating love to others. Jesus said, as recorded in John 15:13: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Every human person is called to love unselfishly and to lay down their lives as a gift to others, like Jesus did. How radical is that? Totally radical, as a teen I knew once said.

What’s more, living the gift is completely counter-cultural. And because we have been so formed by the influence of our culture, for most of us, it is completely counter-intuitive. In other words, we are very much me-first, and then, maybe, others-second. Recall Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” And so, with the help of God, we can re-tune our intuitions and inclinations to the will of God, which redirects and reorders the gift of our love.

For married spouses, it means laying their lives and bodies down in loving service to one another and their families. The sign of this gift of total self-donation is the conjugal act, and it reflects, by analogy, the life of love and communion between the members of the Trinity.

The same goes for celibates in religious life. They, too, lay their lives down in loving service for others. In fact, the sign of their celibate vocation, in choosing freely not to experience the conjugal act, they make an offering of that gift unto God, as a sign to the rest of us of the purity and enormity of the heavenly marriage that is to come. Indeed, they image in their sign, that future union of Christ and His Bride, the Church. You might call it, an image of heaven on earth.

For single people of all ages, it means purely, chastely, pouring oneself out freely to others in loving service in preparation for eventual marriage or religious life. Or if neither vocation is available due to age or circumstances, then one should focus on the living the gift with as much humility and grace as possible.

In Gaudium et Spes (par. 24), from the Second Vatican Council, we read that since God initiates his self-gift by creating us in his image, “it follows, then, that man can only find himself through the sincere gift of self.”

John Paul II explains this in great detail in his enormous work, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, translated by Michael Waldstein:

This is the body: a witness to creation as a fundamental gift, and therefore a witness to Love as the source from which this same giving springs. Masculinity-femininity—namely, sex—is the original sign of [God’s] creative donation… This is the meaning with which sex enters into the theology of the body. (14:4).

All creation is Gift, and so our bodies and human nature as masculine and feminine are gift. We must receive the gift of the divine and, in a certain sense, give birth and return the gift to God. This goes back to that inner yearning or “ache” to be gift and to give a gift. Indeed, we are designed in our bodies to be gift to one another.

More from Waldstein’s translation of John Paul II:

Man appears in the visible world as the highest expression of the divine gift, because he bears within himself the inner dimensions of the gift. (19:3)

The gift reveals, so to speak, a particular charism… of the very essence of the person. When God-Yahweh says, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone’ (Gen. 2:18), he affirms that ‘alone,’ the man does not completely realize his essence. He realizes it only by existing ‘with someone’—and, put even more deeply and completely, ‘for someone.’ (14:2)

The concept of ‘giving’ cannot refer to nothing. It indicates the one who gives, and the one who receives the gift, as well as the relation established between them. (13:4).

The giving and accepting [of] the gift interpenetrate in such a way that the very act of giving becomes acceptance, and acceptance transforms itself into giving. (17:4)

This brings us to one of the central ideas in the theology of the body, as we recall, “the spousal meaning of the body.” We continue with Waldstein’s translation of John Paul II:

The spousal meaning of the body refers to the body’s power to express love: precisely that love in which the human person becomes a gift and—through this gift—fulfills the very meaning of his being and existence. (15:1).

The spousal meaning of the body also indicates the power and deep availability for the ‘affirmation of the person’ [as] someone unique and unrepeatable, someone chosen by eternal Love. The ‘affirmation of the person’ is nothing other than welcoming the gift. (15:4)

Even if this meaning does undergo and will undergo many distortions, it will always remain [at] the deepest level… as a sign of the ‘image of God’. (15:5)

Christ’s words, which flow from the divine depth of the mystery of redemption, allow us to discover and strengthen the bond that exists between the dignity of the human being (of the man or the woman) and spousal meaning of his body. On the basis of this meaning, they allow us to understand and bring about the mature freedom of the gift, which expresses itself in one way in indissoluble marriage and in another by abstaining from marriage for the kingdom of God. In these different ways, Christ fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme vocation clear. (86:8)

When we live the gift, we love as God intended, and when we love as God intended, well, then, it’s ALL GIFT. Even my teenagers get that.

©2007 Patricia W. Gohn
This article made extensive use of quotations from Man and Woman He Created Them: A theology of the Body, John Paul II’s general audience addresses on Human Love in the Divine Plan, Michael Waldstein, translator, (Pauline Press, 2006). Find it here.

With special thanks to Christopher West and the Theology of the Body Institute.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Loving the Bride, vol. 28

Something old....

Concerning Lowliness of Mind

These things I say, not in order that we should be careless of righteousness, but that we should avoid pride; not that we should sin, but that we should be sober-minded. For humbleness of mind is the foundation of the love of wisdom which pertains to us. Even if thou shouldest have built a superstructure of things innumerable; even if almsgiving, even if prayers, even if fastings, even if all virtue; unless this have first been laid as a foundation, all will be built upon it. That is on whatever foundation, other than that which may have been laid.
to no purpose and in vain; and it will fall down easily, like that building which had been placed on the sand.

For there is no one, no one of our good deeds, which does not need this; there is no one which separate from this will be able to stand. But even if thou shouldest mention temperance, even if virginity, even if despising of money, even if anything whatever, all are unclean and accursed and loathsome, humbleness of mind being absent. Everywhere therefore let us take her with us,
take her to dwell with us, in words, in deeds, in thoughts, and with this let us build these graces.

----St. John Chrysostom

Something new....

I've had a few great professors that always remind us we must "do" theology on our knees. The humility that comes from doing this work is staggering in my life. The more you know, the less you know. It's a paradox. But here's our dear pontiff, speaking this past week, reminding us that it's part of the deal.


Kindly send up your prayers for Catholic music minister Michael John Poirier who is dealing with a recent diagnosis of melanoma.

More on Pius XII as Venerable.

Something borrowed....

I echo the sentiments regarding Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur 's review of Immaculee Ilibagiza's book on the Rwandan Holocaust.

Something blue....

The greatest act of the giver of life is when the Word was made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

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