Write In Between

Friday, February 27, 2009

Catechism Trivia

My latest column at Today's Catholic Woman, on Catholic Exchange.

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Still have VHS Tape Player? Good Catholic tapes on sale!

Women of Grace ministries is liquidating their VHS inventory.... go here for very low prices on Catholic programming.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Writer's Wednesday -- Roch A. Kereszty, OCist

Our assimilation to Christ is so real that according to Paul those who partake of the one (eucharistic) bread become one body, the extension of the body-person of Christ into the world (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). In other words, just as the personal body of Christ expresses his divine life and communicates his divine love to us, so much our bodies share in the same task. In our bodily, social reality we are to become the manifestation of the bodily reality of Christ in this world. Whatever work we do, in performing our duty we will try not only to do a good job but also make our work into an expression of the love that comes from Christ.

----Fr. Roch A. Kereszty, O Cist. , Wedding Feast of the Lamb. 2007.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Final Article in the Vocation series

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News of My Death

It’s a curious thing: announcing to the world that you are not dead.

Mark Twain once sent a cable to a U. S. newspaper after his obituary had been mistakenly published. His note read, “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated…”

Recently, news of my death was reported by my high school alumni website, on their “in remembrance” page. A younger alumna visited the site and knew my family. Suspecting a misprint, she contacted my in-laws who lived nearby. My in-laws called me with the sad news. I looked it up. Indeed, there I was, named with deceased classmates in bold relief.

The alumni webmaster graciously apologized and corrected the error immediately. She mentioned that after I had missed my recent high school reunion, some well-meaning classmate emailed her the news of my death. (It’s weird to imagine the subject of my demise making the rounds of the cocktail party banter!)

Still, it’s a sobering experience — the process of announcing you are not dead, but alive. You think about your own mortality: what your name will look like on some page or gravestone? Hopefully, your name will be spelled right, and your name will have some meaning for someone somewhere.

Just in time for Lent, the news of my “death” serves as a timely reminder of what my life really means.

On Ash Wednesday, we receive ashes upon the forehead, reminding us of our death. There is no escape from it. All temporality is eventually are reduced to dust and ash.

When I was little, there was a fire in my grandmother’s house. No one was hurt, but I remember the think black dust and ash. Much was lost. When the fire department leaves you ask: What survived the heat and flames? What can be found as you sift the ash?

St. Paul contemplated this theme in terms of the “Day” of final judgment.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one's work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire. ( See
1 Corinthians 3: 10-15.)

Even though St. Paul was giving a warning to preachers of the gospel, it carries meaning for all of us who will be judged by Christ.

When the Church puts ashes on our brow…. It makes us think… really think… about our death.

The accounts of saints and martyrs give us a proper approach to death. They understood death for what it is: the end of mortal life, a punishment for sin, and yet, something that Christ has transformed. Death is no longer an end in itself. Jesus is on the other side of the veil. And by understanding the truth about death, the saints could lead lives that proclaimed the truth about life in Christ.

At baptism, we were marked with the sign of the cross. Baptism both cleanses us from sin and welcomes us into the family of God. But it does so by reminding us we are baptized into the death of Christ, so that someday we may also arise with him. It gives meaning to both our life, and our eventual death.

Ultimately, our baptism means we do mean something to Someone after all. We mean something to God and the family of God, being incorporated into Christ and the Church. And because of Christ, we have a future and a hope. If we turn from sin, and believe the Gospel, there is more to this life than what we see and experience here on earth.

Saints and martyrs understood this. This is why the Church celebrates their feast days on the date of their deaths! It is a birth to new life in heaven!

In Lent, we get down to essentials. Just like the saints of old, we must understand the truth behind our beliefs if we intend live a Christian life in its fullness. Lent gives us the tools to make a fruitful assessment.

For forty days in Lent, we link our life with the forty days Jesus spent in the desert; entering solemn days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This desert experience also puts us in touch with our mortality.

These Lenten practices are intended to produce a “dying” to self: we hunger, we thirst, we need God, and we need each other. But this dying away signifies more than mere dying alone… it is meant to announce the budding of new life in Christ.

Knowing this “Good News,” we can better live these Lenten days. Lent, then, becomes a kind of holy addition by subtraction. By pruning back, we grow more fruitful in the days ahead: grateful for the grace of redemption that springs forth on Easter Sunday.

So, that, one day, after years of faithful practice, when the news of our death is finally announced, it will not be treated as a sad end, or a final remembrance, but as a birth day… announcing we are not dead after all, but alive in Christ.

©2009 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Writer's Wednesday -- Hildegard of Bingen

I'm the secret Fire in everything, and everything smells like Me.

The living breathe in My sweet perfume,
and they breathe out praise of Me.
They never die
because I am their Life.

I flame out--intense, godly Life--over the shining fields of corn,
I glow in the shimmer of the fire's embers,
I burn in the sun and the moon and the stars.
The secret Life of Me breathes in the wind
and holds all thing together soulfully.

This is God's voice.

---St Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), Hymn.
Taken from the book, Incandescence.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Next article in the Vocations series

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Where I am writing lately....

I have been lovingly shamed by one of my editors over at Catholic Exchange, for not posting links to my recent series of columns on "vocation." Guess I've been busy writing!!!!!!

So, here's the reminder: my column is called "Embracing the Catechism" on CE's new channel called "Today's Catholic Woman." It appears each Friday. If you'd like to catch up on the current vocation series, in progress, go here. Don't forget to bookmark TCW and look for me on Fridays.

While my work often interrupts my blogging, you can always find my most current projects over at patgohn.com.

Oh, and Cheryl.... thanks for the nudge!

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Redeeming Valentine's Day

This link will take two minutes to read.  It's worth it.  And if you don't know about theology of the body, Christopher West's site is a good place to start!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Gregory Floyd

One of the hardest things for [my wife Maureen] was that from the time of the accident she had never been able to hold Johnny. He had gone from the ambulance to the hospital and had been wired up, in traction, and lying on the bed, unconscious. Every motherly instinct in her craved to hold him and comfort him, to take away the pain, to do anything to make it better. But she could not. To hold him one last time was a need eclipsed only by desire...

We walked... into a smaller room. There, lying on a bed, eyes covered with bandages, was our beloved little boy. Small. Blond. Freckled. Cold. Dead. Immediately we reached out to touch, to embrace. There was nothing to do but weep. "Oh Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. We love you so much." I kissed his forehead. I brushed that impossible blond hair with my hand. Maureen reached for his lips and moved her hands up and down arms and legs so full of life a few short hours ago. We touched his torso but not too closely for fear of moving a bandage. The moment was excruciating, yet sacred. Only it was we who were being crucified. "Would you like to hold him?" one of the nurses asked. "Yes, let's give him to his mother." Maureen sat down and the three of us picked him up and laid him in her arms. And there we were. Mother and son. Mary and Jesus. Maureen and John-Paul.

Some moments are so sacred that one dare not clothe them in anything but silence. I watched as Maureen held her dead child in her arms, and listened as she drew her child to her breast and touched his face with hers. "John-Paul, it was such a privilege to be your mother. It was such a privilege to carry you in my womb. I labored to give birth to you and when you were born I nursed you and fed you and loved you. It was such a privilege to watch you grow up. You were such a good boy, Johnny, and I love you so much, and we can't wait to see you again. Oh, Johnny, I'm so sorry this happened to you. I'm so sorry. Pray for us, Johnny." There she was, touching him, kissing him, stroking him.

Never was a poem written, a painting painted, a song sung that could touch that moment. Time stood still for this maternal lament coming from the recesses of her mother's heart, broken, shattered, uncomprehending, yet filled with faith and love so strong that it knocked the very darkness clear across the room. Rocking her son in her arms as she had done a thousand times before...

There were no words to describe the pain... I had always thought the death of a child was the greatest cross a parent could be asked to bear. And here we were, staggering under its weight.

Yet, beneath the darkness that surrounded us, there it was: one glowing ember. Not yet near enough to give light. But real. A reminder. And it spoke, saying, "I will carry you."

----Gregory Floyd, A Grief Unveiled: One Father's Journey through the Death of a Child.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sad news: the death of husband, father, and writer, Michael Dubruiel

A shot heard round the Catholic blogosphere is sudden death of Michael Dubruiel, author and blogger, and dear husband to author and blogger, Amy Welborn.

Please keep Michael and the family in your prayers. Support the children's college fund by buying Michael's great book about The MASS here.

A very poignant final article from Michael here.

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Writer's Wednesday - Anthony DeStefano

Christians, especially, know that the funeral is not the end of the story. We know we are meant for eternity. Therefore, we know we possess an inherent value and dignity just by being human. And since our fellow human beings have the same value and the same dignity -- whatever their situation or physical condition -- we have an obligation to care for them and treat them as brothers and sisters. Moreover, when we see injustices being committed against them, we have the responsibility to interceded on their behalf.

In addition to all this, people who believe in heaven know that what we do in this life affects the next. Someday -- maybe sooner than we think -- we are going to be asked to give an accounting of ourselves -- how we lived, what things were important to us, how generous we were, how frequently we obeyed or disobeyed God. In a word, we are going to be judged.

True believers, therefore, are intensely interested in this life. They may not always live up to their beliefs, but you can be sure that they won't be sitting around doing nothing, waiting for God to bring them to heaven. They will be as active and energetic as they can be in this world.

---Anthony DeStefano, A Travel Guide to Heaven.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II

O Blessed Trinity,

we thank You for having graced the Church

with Pope John Paul II and for allowing

the tenderness of Your Fatherly care,

the glory of the cross of Christ,

and the splendor of the Holy Spirit,

to shine through him.

Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy

and in the maternal intercession of Mary,

he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd,

and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of

ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving

eternal communion with You.

Grant us, by his intercession,

and according to Your will,

the graces we implore...,

hoping that he will soon be

numbered among Your saints.


Prayer approved by the Diocese of Rome.

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