Write In Between

Friday, August 31, 2007

Loving the Bride, vol. 37

Something old.... A prayer before communion.
I stand before the gates of thy Temple, and yet I refrain not from my evil thoughts. But do thou, O Christ my God, who didst justify the publican, and hadst mercy on the Canaanite woman, and opened the gates of Paradise to the thief; open unto me the compassion of thy love toward mankind, and receive me as I approach and touch thee, like the sinful woman and the woman with the issue of blood; for the one, by embracing thy feet received the forgiveness of her sins, and the other by but touching the hem of thy garment was healed. And I, most sinful, dare to partake of thy whole Body. Let me not be consumed but receive me as thou didst receive them, and enlighten the perceptions of my soul, consuming the accusations of my sins; through the intercessions of Her that without stain gave Thee birth, and of the heavenly Powers; for thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.
-----St. John of Damascus, 8th century.

Something new.... Think you've got darkness and doubts in your spiritual life? You've got good company. Recent reports about Mother Teresa (now Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) dealt with the same for much of her life. Great summary article here from Fr. Jim Martin in the NY TIMES. PS: a timely follow-up read to the Mother Teresa article would be from another "Fr. Jim", an older post from Dappled Things about "not feeling spiritual."


Great giveaway of bible study materials for 30 lucky winners going on over at Catholicmom.com! Check it out! Also, Lisa's Catholic Mom Moments blog talks about another giveaway from LIFETEEN's Mark Hart!

Something borrowed.... I am a miracle of God. And so are you.

Something blue.... The Cardinal who leads our Archdiocese of Boston has a blog. His Emminence Sean O'Malley recently visited Fatima, Portugal. (I've had the blessing of visiting there twice--in 1998 and 2002.) If you've ever wanted to have a mini-pilgrimmage there through the eyes of another's photographs, go to Cardinal Sean's blog now!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Writer's Wednesday -- Ann Luna

The Twenty-Third Cupcake

My doctor is my shepherd;
I shall not weigh more.
He maketh me to lie down in green sweatpants;
he orderth me to do situps.

He specify-eth my goal.
He sendeth me down jogging trails of endless length for my heart's sake.

Yea, though I stroll by the door of the bake shop,
I will not enter; my sweet rolls and crumbcake I secretly buy elsewhere.

I eatest my cupcakes in the presence of no one.
I feast on rich Twinkies and Ding-Dongs. My cup's full of ice cream.

Surely huge hips and thunder thighs will haunt be all the days of my life,
and I will live in a body of cellulite forever.

----Ann Luna, quoted in Living Somewhere between Estrogen and Death by Barbara Johnson.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dazzled by the Moon

Just came in tonight from a walk on the beach and dinner with my husband (both of which were sandwiched between carpooling obligations for our son.) And yet I'm grateful for the respite of time away together, even if it is a few hours inbetweenalltheotherstuffwehavegoingon. You might know what I mean if your children are returning to school this week, as mine are.

For a brief few moments, before the mosquitoes overtook us, we stood on the beach and just soaked up the most remarkable moonrise that I've seen in my entire life. Never saw one so orange and so huge and so, well, other-worldly. It was truly one of those moments when you realize that the moon hasn't really gotten larger, it's only your vision that is affected by the angle in which you view the moon. But you are dazzled by the view all the same.

That would be a good way to describe today. And the meaning it has for me.

For 11 years ago today, I had a mastectomy that saved my life from breast cancer. I just didn't know it at the time, yet that was our hope. And so, since then, whenever I hear the priest at Mass lift up our prayers, "living in joyful hope", I am reminded that that is exactly the posture I want my life to reflect: that I am living in joyful hope.

I am inching farther and farther away from living as a survivor, to living as one who is cured. Day by day, moon rise to moon rise.

Tonight, I saw my hope rise there on the beach... as if that moment was planned there, after all these years, by the One Who Knew I'd be standing there at that time of day, at precisely that moment as the moon came into view over the horizon. As the night wore on, we watched that moon rise in the sky and "shrink" in size. Indeed, eleven years ago, my cancer was a huge deal in my life. It was an ominous rising, not a beautiful one. But today, as I went to Mass, and enjoyed a day of peace and recreation, and finally, had this wonderful beach and dinner date with hubby, I realized that because of Christ, the angle of my vision has changed... cancer was once was this large looming presence in my life. Today, as I change my the angle of vision, it has shrunk in size. Now it is hope that looms large.

And I have a lifetime to give back my thanks for it. And I am dazzled by it.

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Loving the Bride, vol. 36

Something old...

Sacramental life is anticipation of heaven

In the context of Revelation, we know that the "heaven" or "happiness" in which we will find ourselves is neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit.

It is always necessary to maintain a certain restraint in describing these "ultimate realities" since their depiction is always unsatisfactory. Today, personalist language is better suited to describing the state of happiness and peace we will enjoy in our definitive communion with God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church sums up the Church's teaching on this truth: "By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has "opened' heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ" (n. 1026).

This final state, however, can be anticipated in some way today in sacramental life, whose centre is the Eucharist, and in the gift of self through fraternal charity. If we are able to enjoy properly the good things that the Lord showers upon us every day, we will already have begun to experience that joy and peace which one day will be completely ours. We know that on this earth everything is subject to limits, but the thought of the "ultimate" realities helps us to live better the "penultimate" realities. We know that as we pass through this world we are called to seek "the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1), in order to be with him in the eschatological fulfilment, when the Spirit will fully reconcile with the Father "all things, whether on earth or in heaven" (Col 1:20).

----John Paul II, Heaven Hell and Purgatory".

Something new...

If your local Bishop is not subject to regularly arrest by authorities, be thankful. Bishop Jia of China, at last count, has been arrested 11 times trying to lead his flock. Let us continue to offer our prayers for the underground Catholic Church in China.

Hat tip to my buddy Jane who emailed me this link: an amazing article in Crisis by Alice von Hildebrand called "On True Love". I've read it over a few times and it continues to inspire.

Have you heard about this low-cost Vatican travel service to international Shrine sites. I'll have to keep an eye on this!

Something borrowed....

Guess I haven't been tuned in... but there's a program called "Sunday Night Live" with Fr. Benedict Groeschel on EWTN, and its a call-in show!

This little missive from Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church about going to confession intrigued me...

I definitely see the benefit of frequent confessions. However, I have heard over and over it is a good idea to find one priest to be your primary confessor. This spiritual mentor will have a memory of your past confessions and can better guide you towards holiness. Intellectually, that makes perfect sense. But am still behind the screen and anonymous. I am actually quite relieved that the priest is not keenly aware that the sins I am confessing are remarkably similar to the batch I confessed just six weeks ago.

If you have a regular confessor and it is of benefit to you, you may wish to leave a comment on this post.
Here's a little something silly.

Something blue....

To find a collection of great Marian prayers by Pope John Paul II, go here.

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Writer's Wednesday -- Benedict XVI

(Writer's Wednesday has been missing in action since my study cycle has been in high gear. Hope you enjoy this! Read this one s-l-o-w-ly...)

We are at our most attentive when we are driven by inmost need to ask God for something or are prompted by a joyful heart to thank him for good things that happen to us. Most importantly though, our relationship to God should not be confined to such momentary situations, but should be present as the bedrock of our soul. In order for this to happen, this relation has to be constantly revived and the affairs of our everyday lives have to be constantly related back to it. The more the depts of our souls are directed toward God, the better we will be able to pray. The more prayer is the foundation that upholds our entire existence, the more we will become men of peace. The more we can bear pain, the more we will be able to understand others and open ourselves to them. This orientation pervasively shaping our whole consciousness, the silent presence of God at the heart of our thinking, our meditating, and our being, is what we mean by "prayer without ceasing." This is ultimately what we mean by love of God, which is at the same time the condition and driving force behind love of neighbor.

This is what prayer really is--being in silent inward communion with God. It requires nourishment, and that is why we need articulated prayer in words, images, or thoughts. The more God is present in us, the more we will really be able to be present to him when we utter the words of our prayers. But the converse is also true: Praying actualizes and deepens our communion of being with God. Our praying can and should arise above all from our heart, from our needs, our hopes, our joys, our sufferings, from our shame over sin, and from our gratitude for the good. But we also need to make use of those prayers that express in words the encounter with God experienced both by the Church as a whole and by individual members of the Church. For without these aids to prayer, our own praying and our image of God become subjective and end up reflecting ourselves more than the living God. In the formulaic prayer that arose first from the faith of Israel and then from the faith of praying members of the Church, we get to know God and ourselves as well. They are a "school of prayer" that transforms and opens up our life.

----Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth. (2007)

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Twenty years a mom

Today, my oldest son turned 20.

And I turned into a 20 year old veteran mother.

If I close my eyes I can still see the delivery room... I can still hear his first cackling cry. Could it really be twenty years ago?

Today I went to my adoration hour -- a normal part of my Friday schedule. And I thanked God for my boy. Who is now a man.

I am finally figuring out that a mother never really knows how well she has done her job until years later... and it's usually after she has made A LOT of mistakes in getting there.

So, that's where I am. Just really grateful that the woman whose peers might have voted "least likely to be a mother" actually did become one (three times, in fact) and is still "becoming."

And that, even at my age, it's important to continue to learn to love someone for just who they are and not for any other reason. And to be willing to let go--realizing that, at 20 years old, a son who lives away at college most of the year may be no longer within my sphere of influence, but never beyond the reach of my love and my prayers.

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Loving the Bride, vol. 35

Something old....

According to the Letter to the Ephesians [See Eph 5:21-33.], the bride is the Church, just as for the Prophets the bride was Israel. She is therefore a collective subject and not an individual person. This collective subject is the People of God, a community made up of many persons, both women and men. "Christ has loved the Church" precisely as a community, as the People of God. At the same time, in this Church, which in the same passage is also called his "body" (cf. Eph 5:23), he has loved every individual person. For Christ has redeemed all without exception, every man and woman. It is precisely this love of God which is expressed in the Redemption; the spousal character of this love reaches completion in the history of humanity and of the world.

Christ has entered this history and remains in it as the Bridegroom who "has given himself". "To give" means "to become a sincere gift" in the most complete and radical way: "Greater love has no man than this" (Jn 15:13). According to this conception, all human beings - both women and men - are called through the Church, to be the "Bride" of Christ, the Redeemer of the world. In this way "being the bride", and thus the "feminine" element, becomes a symbol of all that is "human", according to the words of Paul: "There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).

From a linguistic viewpoint we can say that the analogy of spousal love found in the Letter to the Ephesians links what is "masculine" to what is "feminine", since, as members of the Church, men too are included in the concept of "Bride". This should not surprise us, for Saint Paul, in order to express his mission in Christ and in the Church, speaks of the "little children with whom he is again in travail" (cf. Gal 4:19). In the sphere of what is "human" - of what is humanly personal - "masculinity" and "femininity" are distinct, yet at the same time they complete and explain each other. This is also present in the great analogy of the "Bride" in the Letter to the Ephesians. In the Church every human being - male and female - is the "Bride", in that he or she accepts the gift of the love of Christ the Redeemer, and seeks to respond to it with the gift of his or her own person.

----John Paul II's MULIERIS DIGNITATEM, The Dignity and Vocation of Women.

Something new....

Attention Women readers (and the men who love them!): Don't miss this chance to learn about a beautiful Apostolic Letter (from which the above quote is taken) from (who else?) John Paul II on the Dignity of Women as we approach the 20th anniversary of its proclamation in 2008. Here's a powerful salute to the document and a great line-up of women who are encouraging us to delve deeper into the joys of our feminine genius...-> Go HERE now! Hat tip to Genevieve Kineke for a great article to launch us all on this journey!

Something borrowed....

You can always learn something from Mike Aquilina's blog "Way of the Fathers." This week, he has a great post about some little-known history about "mothers" of the church>,--y'know, like the Church Fathers? Also don't miss his superb link about Benedict XVI's homily on the Feast of the Assumption.


As a cancer survivor myself, I know these special kids can really use your prayers. Thanks to Catholic.org for the story!

Something blue....

"When the time had fully come, God sent forth his son, born of woman". With these words of his Letter to the Galatians (4:4), the Apostle Paul links together the principal moments which essentially determine the fulfilment of the mystery "pre-determined in God" (cf. Eph 1:9). The Son, the Word one in substance with the Father, becomes man, born of a woman, at "the fullness of time". This event leads to the turning point of man's history on earth, understood as salvation history. It is significant that Saint Paul does not call the Mother of Christ by her own name "Mary", but calls her "woman": this coincides with the words of the Proto-evangelium in the Book of Genesis (cf. 3:15). She is that "woman" who is present in the central salvific event which marks the "fullness of time": this event is realized in her and through her.

---More from John Paul II's MULIERIS DIGNITATEM, The Dignity and Vocation of Women.

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Feast of the Assumption: A Journal Entry

Dear Momma Mary,

On feast days like this, I wonder what to say to you. After all, you are The Woman. Major Catholic Feast Days abound in your honor. The History of Salvation passed in and through your willing heart. You are The Woman for all eternity who merits favor with the Trinity as Daughter, Mother and Holy Spouse.

Actually, in my own little way, I'm trying to do the same--just the part about being a good daughter, mom and spouse, I mean. I struggle with the holiness of it all many a day. But since I've gotten to know you these last 20 years, you've given me a few clues on how to live it more honestly--with a passionate attachment to your Son, Jesus. And with a deep imagination that allows my spirit to ponder the action of The Spirit in my own life.

Thanks for your holy influence in my life. So much of has come from moments together praying through the mysteries of the rosary--and watching how those mysteries play out in my own life. And, yet, so much has also came from the tangible touches you sent along the way--from the holy women you have sent to accompany me on this pilgrimage. Somehow, the ones who have touched me most were women who also held a special devotion to you. I guess they were taking their cues from you all along for they too have loved, served, and mentored me. How much have I delighted in the joy of their company! And when I do, I realize it pales before the day that we will one day meet, Lord-willing, in paradise. That idea still blows my mind. (Sorry for the lame 60s idiom.) But it's true. Meanwhile, I'm still counting on your help. So, pray for this sinner, now, and at the hour... wherever it comes. I'll be looking for you to be there, ok?

Thanks for showing me my path to daughterhood in the Father, by allowing your life to be vulnerable enough and empty enough to be filled with abundant love for God and for others.

Thank you for showing me your faithfulness, and loyalty, and prayerfulness, and graciousness, and chastity, and simplicity, and humility, and, most dear, your servant's-heart, so that I may continue to grow in those virtues as a spouse.

And you have my most sincere gratitude for mothering me as I needed it over the years as I mothered my own children.

Thank you for being my prayer partner, my confidant, and my intercessor. Thanks for your countless inspirations that get me through my day, my week, my years.

Thanks for rescuing me when I've needed it most. Thanks for taking an interest in the things I do. Thanks for pointing me to Jesus. Most of all, thanks for embracing Him so that in Him you could embrace us all, including me.


Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bloggus Interuptus

One again, this blog will be silent for a few days more, as I travel to attend the wake and funeral for Susan. (see post below.) Pray for her and her family. Thank you.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

The First of our Circle

Once upon a time, I prayed the rosary with a great group of women on a weekly basis. What started as a simple experiment among four friends, grew into a wider circle to include other women from our parish. They were the growing-up-years with our small children, and some of the most enjoyable and rewarding years of my life.

Susan was part of that original circle of faith and fellowship. She was a faithful member of the group for many years. She was devoted to her family and to the Word of God. And she always carried a pocket-sized New Testament in her purse. I remember it had a green leather cover. And its pages were well-worn. She was a reading teacher by trade. But she taught me more about reading the Bible by her example than by any discourse.

A bit older than I was, Susan always reverently referred to us—the group collectively--as "the women.” At the time it made me feel older than my years. Indeed I was a grown woman, but those young kids I had made me feel like a girl. But Susan’s remarks about “the women” would remind me of the dignity of our state in life. I appreciated the serious earnest with which she approach sharing her faith with me.

Thirteen years ago, while my children were still small, the Lord saw fit to move my family away from that little parish in a beach community in New York to the hills and valleys of New England. And while I have met new women and forged new friendships in new circles, those holy women from New York remain in my heart every time I pick up my rosary to pray.

I just learned this past week that Susan was gravely ill and died. She is the first of our circle from those years to go on to glory.

It came as a shock and I immediately remembered the last time I saw her. It was a number of months ago, during a visit to my old church in New York. She was the lector (of course!) and we had a delightful chat catching up in the parking lot after Sunday Mass.

It wasn’t until today that the phrase “the women” jumped off the page for me as I read from First Timothy, 3:11: The women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.

Indeed, I had found a verse that, for me, described the Susan I knew and admired. Serious. No tolerance for gossip. Temperate. And yes, faithful.

Susan, thanks for being a faithful woman. You helped keep us faithful. Your race to Jesus is over. For the rest of us, well, we have a few more laps to go… around the rosary, at least. And when we pray, we know we’ll find you there in between the mysteries… standing with Jesus, the Word, and right alongside Mary, The Woman.

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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Friday, August 03, 2007

An Amazing Mom (Anita Renfroe) singing a little ditty

For all the Moms out there, with love...

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Loving the Bride, vol, 34

Something old...

"The great honor we can give to Almighty God, greater than all our sacrifices and mortifications, is to live gladly, joyfully, because of the knowledge of His love."

-----Julian of Norwich, mystic, 14th century

Something new...

Once again I repeat that only Christ can fulfil the most intimate aspirations that are in the heart of each person. Only Christ can humanize humanity and lead it to its “divinization”. Through the power of his Spirit he instills divine charity within us, and this makes us capable of loving our neighbour and ready to be of service. The Holy Spirit enlightens us, revealing Christ crucified and risen, and shows us how to become more like Him so that we can be “the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ” (Deus Caritas Est, 33). Those who allow themselves to be led by the Spirit understand that placing oneself at the service of the Gospel is not an optional extra, because they are aware of the urgency of transmitting this Good News to others. Nevertheless, we need to be reminded again that we can be witnesses of Christ only if we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit....

There are those who think that to present the precious treasure of faith to people who do not share it means being intolerant towards them, but this is not the case, because to present Christ is not to impose Him (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80). Moreover, two thousand years ago twelve Apostles gave their lives to make Christ known and loved. Throughout the centuries since then, the Gospel has continued to spread by means of men and women inspired by that same missionary fervour.

Today too there is a need for disciples of Christ who give unstintingly of their time and energy to serve the Gospel. There is a need for young people who will allow God’s love to burn within them and who will respond generously to his urgent call, just as many young blesseds and saints did in the past and also in more recent times. In particular, I assure you that the Spirit of Jesus today is inviting you young people to be bearers of the good news of Jesus to your contemporaries. The difficulty that adults undoubtedly find in approaching the sphere of youth in a comprehensible and convincing way could be a sign with which the Spirit is urging you young people to take this task upon yourselves. You know the ideals, the language, and also the wounds, the expectations, and at the same time the desire for goodness felt by your contemporaries. This opens up the vast world of young people’s emotions, work, education, expectations, and suffering ... Each one of you must have the courage to promise the Holy Spirit that you will bring one young person to Jesus Christ in the way you consider best, knowing how to “give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but [to] do it with gentleness and reverence” (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

In order to achieve this goal, my dear friends, you must be holy and you must be missionaries since we can never separate holiness from mission (cf.
Redemptoris Missio, 90). Do not be afraid to become holy missionaries....

Be prepared to put your life on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the risen Christ in every corner of the earth.

----Benedict XVI, in his Message to the Youth of the World (in preparation for WYD 2008)

Something borrowed...

As we try to Love The Bride (the Church), this month I was struck by Pope Benedict's general intention: to pray for those who suffer from mental illness, or from poor mental health. Don't we all know someone with that need? Maybe it is even ourselves? So much of our modern world is hurting not only in visible ways, but in the truly invisible ones. So, I ask you to pray and to read more about this intention. Go here and maybe bookmark The Apostleship of Prayer for those monthly papal intentions to include with your own.

Something blue....

The Church "becomes herself a mother by accepting God's word with fidelity."Like Mary, who first believed by accepting the word of God revealed to her at the Annunciation and by remaining faithful to that word in all her trials even unto the Cross, so too the Church becomes a mother when, accepting with fidelity the word of God, "by her preaching and by baptism she brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God."....

It can be said that from Mary the Church also learns her own motherhood: she recognizes the maternal dimension of her vocation, which is essentially bound to her sacramental nature, in "contemplating Mary's mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father's will." If the Church is the sign and instrument of intimate union with God, she is so by reason of her motherhood, because, receiving life from the Spirit, she "generates" sons and daughters of the human race to a new life in Christ. For, just as Mary is at the service of the mystery of the Incarnation, so the Church is always at the service of the mystery of adoption to sonship through grace.

----Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 1987

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