Write In Between

Thursday, January 29, 2009

For those who love to sing, and for those who love Mary...

If that describes you, then this will be doubly good.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - St. Clare of Assisi

Immediately finish the spiritual work you've already started!
Why wait?
Follow God's path in pure poverty and genuine humility.
Don't be afraid.
God follows through on everything he says,
and everything God does is good.

This same God will shower you with blessings.
God will be your helper and your best friend.
God will always comfort you.
God is our savior and eternal reward,
so we should pray for each other.

That way we can carry each other's love-duty
and satisfy the teaching of Christ
without feeling hassled.

---Claire of Assisi, Letters

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Ready or not, PatGohn.com is launched!

Those closest to me know that I'm more of an 'arts & letters' kinda gal, rather than a scientific or technical one.  That being said, here's my first foray into designing my own new website. Go here.

I ask for your prayers for my endeavors that my work will glorify our Lord Jesus Christ, and spread knowledge of the beauty and richness of the Catholic Faith, as I add my small voice to the ever-expanding reach of the new evangelization.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Our YOU TUBE Pope!

Benedict XVI Rocks! At least someone in the Vatican Press Office is finally getting the idea: THE NEW MEDIA FOR THE NEW EVANGELIZATION IS HERE TO STAY!

The Vatican is now part of YOU TUBE! Bookmark it here!

And there's an article about it here, and here.

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Vocation, Vocation, Vocation!

My first installment of a 5 part series about vocations begins today on Today's Catholic Woman, at Catholic Exchange. Go read "God Writes the Best Script".

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The Bleeding Wounds of Original Sin

A while back, I was arrested by a phrase from Henri Daniel-Rops’ book What is the Bible?: “We all bleed from the wounds of Original Sin.” Isn’t that the truth?

More than any commonality, other than the dignity we all share as human persons – made in the image of God, and called to be in relationship with Him – we all bleed from the wounds of Original Sin. We are all sinners.

I don’t often dwell on Original Sin, or meditate on it, so to speak. If it weren’t for grace, I’d have more than enough depressing topics consuming my mind. But, on the other hand, don’t they all descend from this one potent reality?

The effects of Original Sin touch us both body and soul.

I am well aware of the limits of the human body… I am aging, after all, not to mention I’ve survived childbirth, early-stage breast cancer, a pre-mature hip replacement, and, the nuisance of increasing changes in my prescription lenses!

Where else do I bleed from the wounds of Original Sin? More profusely than my material shortcomings, my spiritual weaknesses abound.

I am selfish. I am lazy. I get angry. I can be resentful or hold a grudge. I am undisciplined. I am intemperate with certain foods. I can be moody. Yup, with little introspection, I can easily recall my own misadventures with the “deadly sins”.

OK, that’s enough self-criticism… oh yeah, that’s another wound… I’m self-critical, doubting, and weak.

Now what? In my conscience, I can hear the solution to my plight bubbling up in the words of one of my hero-saints, St. Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” (John 6:68).

Not only did Jesus have the words of eternal life, but he, too, also bore for our sake the bleeding wounds of Original Sin.

And so I fly to prayer…

Dear Jesus…

You who came and bled and died… stop and stem the bleeding in my life.

Forgive me for my sins and give me the grace and resolve of repentance.

Allow me to see the repair work you are doing in me, and the beauty of the blood of the Lamb of God for my sake. Help me never to underestimate the blessings of my baptism and the gift of your grace.

Help me get it through my head, and let it permeate my heart, that, in the most perfect sense, YOUR BLOOD is the transfusion that saves me from permanent death from Original Sin.

Your Blood courses through my veins as I receive the Eucharist and it touches every cell of my body. Your Blood is my champion. Your Blood restores the weakness that is in the soul of me. Your Blood REVIVES me.

Even as I am faint-hearted, your Blood buffs me up, strengthens me, and renews me.
The old is passing away, the new has come. Not just in this life, but in the life to come.

Thank you for this loving transformational power that makes a new person out of me. Thank you for saving me.

And so I pray aloud, this mystery of faith, with the Church:

Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free, you are the savior of the world.


In closing, let me share another quote from Daniel-Rops who taught that the Bible shows us who we are and how we should live, in spite of the wounds of Original Sin:

We find in the Bible a conception of man that… is quite easy to define: it is a man who “stands before God” (cf. 1 Kings 18:15); a man who does not regard himself as the toy of blind fate or obscure and demoniacal forces, but as a factor in the divine will, a man who knows he is called to a destiny that is unique… a man who prays, and knows as he prays he is collaborating n God’s work; a man who thinks that the world will improve in proportion to the improvements he makes in himself; a man, in short, who as he stands before God, is also supported by God, and looks upon this state of dependence as his greatest pride and his greatest hope.

©2009 Patricia W. Gohn

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Exegesis and Analysis of Pres. Obama's Inaugural Address

Today is the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision known as Roe vs Wade. That decision gave women a constitutional right to end the lives of their unborn children.

People who are pro-life in their politics see in President Obama a threat to the sanctity of life, given his pro-choice rhetoric and strident pro-abortion campaign promises. I don’t disagree.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a political analyst, nor an English major. But once upon a time, I was a communications major, and I am also armed with a theology degree. And I’m a writer.

For me, words and combinations of words have meanings.

Exegesis, as I’ve often done in biblical studies, is an analysis of the words and phrases of a text in search of a text’s meaning. Exegesis can also serve us in analyzing non-biblical texts. Teachers of literature ask this of students all the time. By learning a text’s literary forms and vocabulary, the meaning of the text can be interpreted, often on more than one level.

I submit that we look at the closing remarks made by our new President, and look at what it might mean for the pro-life work we do... perhaps we can take his rhetoric and use it as a force for good.

It would seem to me, one could construct a pro-life argument from this section of text. (I know there are certainly gifted scholars who might do this with greater wisdom, but here are my impressions, at first glance, looking at this text. While I will address the subject of an unplanned pregnancy in my comments below, I believe the pro-life cause to be bigger than the subject of abortion alone. It relates to the dignity of the human person in all stages of life, so this argument could extend to many ethical situations not mentioned here.)

These were President Obama’s words toward the end of his inaugural address on January 20th:

With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

“With hope and virtue…”
Exegesis: First, let’s take the opening phrase, with hope and virtue. Hope is a both a noun and a verb. Hope, as a verb, is a want or expectation of something. As a noun, it is confident desire. Hope, for Catholics, is a theological virtue, grounded in our desire for God and eternal life, and the expectancy of grace to achieve it. Virtue is another noun, meaning goodness. Again, for Catholics, we might define it as a habit or the firm disposition to do good.

This phrase is consistent with Obama’s previous rhetoric regarding hope. His plea here is for an altruistic foundation for what he is about it say.

“Let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come…”
Exegesis: These are idiomatic phrases drawn from the context of Obama’s earlier reference to General George Washington’s beleaguered troops hunkered down in a winter storm, in need of crossing an icy river.

These phrases describe times of testing, of worry, of doubt. They describe times of pain and sacrifice, possible confusion, hardship, and inconvenience. But in this context, Washington’s story is used analogously to rally, to inspire, and to provide hope in the face of our nation’s current problems…to brave once more.

[My opinion: Let us apply this strong analogy to the plight of a women with an unplanned pregnancy. Imagine the time of testing, confusion, inconvenience, pain and sacrifice that might encounter a woman who is not ready for a child… or one who might even feel so low as to feel “punished” by a baby on the way? Could we bring her hope with President Obama’s words?

Might we even use President Obama’s mother as someone who had the audacity of hope, such that, even though she was, for most of her life, a single mother whose child was abandoned by its father, she was someone who “soldiered” on despite her circumstances to give birth to the man who would become the 44th President of the United States?

Might we even use President Obama, himself, as such an example, as someone who has braved icy currents and endured storms? (Be sure to see the video link at the end of this post.)

Indeed, is this not the experience of most human beings? We all face hardships that must be braved with hope and virtue if we are to survive. President Obama is not preaching a religious point of view here. He is simply pointing out one of the universal experiences of humanity –the ability to hope and exercise virtue in the face of difficulty.]

“Let is be said by our children’s children…”
Exegesis: Certainly, this is a forward-looking declaration. One could look at the adjective “our”… as belonging to us, or to everyone. “Our” can relate a member of the family as it is used here. It is a deeply personal reference. It affirms the existence of our future offspring, or issue, or heirs. It acknowledges not just “the now” and the satisfaction of the present moment, but reminds us of the next generation of humanity. You could say it infers a duty to this generation yet to be born…let it be said…

[My opinion: Is not the pro-life argument a call to duty, to do justice, on behalf of those not yet born? This is a responsibility we have to our children.]

"…that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter…"
Exegesis: Again, the strong use of idiomatic language by way of analogy. This is a reference, one might say, to not giving up on a problem prematurely, or taking an easy way out in avoidance of a particular destination. It implies responsibility for one’s actions.

[My opinion: The pro-life stance is one that affirms the ‘right to life’ -- as stated in the Declaration of Independence -- for all persons, even those in the womb, yet to be born. Abortion, one could say, intentionally ends the journey of life in the womb. It is a premature and permanent end. Is it possible to challenge those tested by an unwanted pregnancy not turn back or falter by resorting to early termination by abortion? We cannot escape that there are consequences to one’s actions, and even when times are difficult, it does not nullify the need to take full responsibility for those actions.]

"…with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us…"
Exegesis: This is more soaring rhetoric using idiomatic language emblematic of hope and virtue. (Recall, Obama’s own campaign logo of the sun on the horizon?) The speech here makes a reference using the Biblical terminology of God’s grace. This phrase can be taken two ways. The first is to keep one’s eyes fixed on the horizon, as in the future. Or it can mean to fix one’s eyes on two realities at once – that of the horizon as well as the presence of God’s grace upon us. Either way, it shows a way to cope and mitigate present difficulties, by looking forward beyond the present struggle, or, if one believes in God, to look to God’s grace for help.

[My opinion: To someone in crisis over an unplanned pregnancy, the pro-life message can be stated in universal terms using “hope” and “horizon;” an acknowledgement of a this-too-shall-pass mentality. If a person in need of hope can turn to God, so much the better.

For a Christian, there is hope even in negative situations. Recall Romans 8:28: We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

Grace works somewhat like an electro-magnet, which is a powerful force that draws things made up of a certain molecular structure toward itself. Grace is what God uses to draw human persons into a more perfect relation with himself. Often, the trials in our lives bring us in touch with this specific action of grace.]

"…we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations…"
Exegesis: This phrase states the imperative of carrying forth… moving onward and forward. It mentions the great gift of freedom this country was founded on. It is for all the future citizens of this country. It is a “gift” that must be passed on…deliveredsafely to future generations. This suggests future generations have a stake in our freedom right now.

[My opinion: If future generations have a stake in the gift of freedom we are carrying now, it implies that we are indebted in some way toward them. This defines our freedom as more than one person’s individual right. This suggests that the great gift of freedom is both personal for one person, and at the same time, collective or universal to all. This is why pro-lifers believe that life in the womb is sacred. It is part of the universal whole of humanity. The unborn child has a stake in its mother’s personal freedom, even if she is unaware of it to be true.

I find it curious that the words carried and delivered it safely are intentionally used in the same sentence in this part of the speech. These words are commonly used to describe a pregnancy that is carried to term whereby the child delivered safely.

Is it too obvious to mention that we only have a future generation by allowing them to be born? Future generations ultimately depend on our mothers’ sacrifice and generosity. Indeed, our actions have consequences for tomorrow. We must act responsibly for the sake of others. If freedom was the child we are carrying today, do we have the right to abort it, depriving others of so great a gift? The greatest freedom, or right, is life. No life, no freedom. Life precedes all other rights and must be protected.

So to all those who value life in all its forms, reread the section of Obama’s address. I think it clearly gives us our marching orders. And may we take the message of life to our country and culture with all the hope and virtue we can muster! ]

On a final note, check out this video.

HT to Kate Wicker.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Macrina Wiederkehr

Slowly, gently
I lift the clutter out of my life.
I must let go of my ego-self.
I've known this part of myself intimately.
It's like an old friend.
It's a bit hard to send it on its way.
It has become a kind of cherished sin for me
a dis-ease that I am familiar with.
Still, it has hindered my growth
and kept me from adoring. 
It has prevented me from noticing
the holy ground of my life.

And so, I kiss it good-bye.
Yes, I kiss it.
I embrace it.
It is part of myself
I cannot simply cast it aside.
I pray for its conversion.
All the clutter in my life
that I have clung to
with such devotion
will be born again
in some new and better form.

It is the shadow side of myself.
If I befriend it
it will arise 
from the ashes of falseness
into the glory of truth.

My uncontrollable anger
becomes a passionate, prophetic zeal.
My possessive clutching
becomes generous giving.
My abundance of unnecessary words
melt into the one great word.
My deafening noise
becomes the sound of silence.
My need for approval from others
becomes a need to affirm others.
My need to control
becomes my need to share.
My fear is changed into love
my anxiety into trust.

Yes, all the clutter of my life
that ego stuff that held me back
when embraced and owned
can change before my very eyes into grace.

What was a hindrance becomes a blessing.
What was an enemy becomes a friend.
What was darkness is now my light.
What was my clutter is now my treasure.

There is no freedom
like seeing myself as I am
and not losing heart.
There is no freedom
like looking at myself as I am
and saying, "Yes, that's me!"
There is no freedom 
like taking myself in my arms.
Only in that embrace
will I understand my wounds.
Only in that embrace 
will I understand healing.
Only in that embrace 
will I come to know my true self.

---Macrin Wiederkehr, Seasons of Your Heart

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let us pray for President Obama

This blog stands with our new President as President of the United States of America.  While I did not vote for him in the end based on his pro-choice advocacy, I still respect the office and his right to hold the office, and for that he will have my prayers.  

We live in a great country, and we live yet another day to make it the best country it can be. 

We have much to do in the way of respecting the dignity of human life both here and abroad.  And there is much to do to prevent passage of laws that threaten human life.

But for today, let us pray for this man on whose shoulders in now laid a most heavy burden. And may we as a nation be grateful for the gift of free elections and the freedom of public discourse. 

Lord God, grant President Obama your wisdom and strength in days to come. And together with our Congress and Supreme Court, may they work for justice and peace. Amen.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Latest column for Embracing the Catechism

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Scott Hahn

What is it that unites a people as members of our family?  Flesh and blood and a common name.  Accordingly, the members of God's universal family, the Church, are united in the sacrificial family banquet we call the Eucharist--Christ's flesh and blood.  Similarly, just as  a common name unites a family, we as Church are united through baptism, rebirth and adoption into God's family in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit [the Trinity]....

Thus, the Trinity is the eternal and original covenant family. As John Paul II writes: "God in His deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family, since He had in Himself fatherhood, sonship, and the essence of family, which is love."

-----Scott Hahn, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, (Servant Publications, 1998). 

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Catholic Writer's Conference--sign up now!

CWCOLast year, I was soooo busy preparing for my final semester in grad school, I gave myself the gift of a little "time off" by listening/reading to the first Catholic Writer's Conference.  Kudos to the leadership of the Catholic Writer's Guild for planning another great event.  Sign up here.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Embracing the Catechism

Just wanted to say thanks to the editors at Catholic Exchange for the opportunity to write a weekly column called Embracing the Catechism.

The first installment can be found here.

Hello and welcome to any new readers stopping by here for the first time!

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Vinita Hampton Wright

Forgiveness is the solution to situations that have no solution. When nothing else can be done, forgiveness can still be done. When everything has failed, gotten too complicated, and left a bad taste in your mouth, forgiveness is the one final step you can take.

Forgiveness is an act of letting go. It's required for long-term relationships... and for heavy-duty healing...

Forgiveness is for hurt that is deep and bitter and inescapable. It's what you do when the confusion over who said or did what just keeps getting more confusing. When you can't forget about it, make up as if nothing happened, or apply all those principles of conflict resolution, all that's left is to let go and say, "I forgive you. I don't understand why you've done this to me, I don't excuse it, and I'll never really forget it. But I forgive you, and it's time to move beyond this."

Jesus Christ was very big on forgiveness, and this was one reason he stuck in the craw of a lot of rigid, play-by-the-rules people. Forgiveness is what you apply when the rules are broken beyond repair...

Often, when I say the Lord's Prayer and come to the part about forgiving those who sin against me, I insert the names of a few people... in that way stating my intention to really forgive these people. It's a small step, but I know it will take many such steps to complete this particular journey.

---Vinita Hampton Wright, Simple Acts of Moving Forward.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Today's Catholic Woman is launched at Catholic Exchange!

One of my favorite websites,Catholic Exchange, has launched its on-line magazine for women: Today's Catholic Woman!

CE's senior editor introduces the idea here.

Your truly will be a featured columnist every Friday, and I am honored to be numbered among the women writers behind this effort. Stay tuned, more about the column on Friday when it debuts!

A happy new year to you all!

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